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This Rosemary & Garlic Oven Roasted Rack of Lamb is a perfect centerpiece for an elegant holiday dinner without requiring any fussy or difficult skills! Juicy, tender, and perfectly cooked to a medium-rare with a crusty exterior made with garlic, herbs, and lemon zest, this is one of the best cuts of lamb and makes an easy and impressive main dish for entertaining!
Looking for the perfect main dish for a special occasion? You might also like my Garlic Herb Butter Beef Tenderloin Roast, Bacon-Wrapped Pork Tenderloin, Prime Rib Roast with Horseradish Sauce, or Slow Roasted Oven BBQ Beef Brisket.
Rosemary & Garlic Oven-Roasted Rack of Lamb
A perfectly cooked, medium-rare oven roasted rack of lamb is mouth-wateringly delicious. The individually carved lamb chops are juicy, rosy and so rich and tender. They present beautifully, either plated individually and served to guests or delivered up family style on a carving board or serving platter at the table.
An important thing to remember with lamb is that the flavor of the meat itself is so good that you don’t want to go overboard with the seasonings and herbs. They are intended to complement and highlight the flavor of the lamb, rather than overpower and dominate it.
Rosemary & Garlic Oven Roasted Rack of Lamb is Perfect for Special Occasions, Holidays, and Entertaining
Carved into individual chops, one rack of lamb perfectly portions itself into two chops per person so it’s just right for four people. If you have more people at your table, you can easily roast multiple racks of lamb at the same time, then stand them against each other with the ribs crossing for an even more impressive display.
Roasted rack of lamb is a great alternative for Christmas, New Year’s, Valentine’s Day or Easter dinner. Honestly, it’s probably easier than most of the more traditional alternatives!
And really, why wait for a holiday when rack of lamb is easy enough to be prepared any night of the week? Lamb isn’t nearly as popular in the United States as other meat options, but it really should be! It is generally quick and easy to prepare and really versatile!
If you haven’t cooked lamb at home before, give this a try and let me know what you think!
What is Rack of Lamb?
A rack of lamb is one of the best cuts of lamb that comes from the ribs. It’s such a wonderful cut of meat that it makes serving a restaurant quality meal at home almost entirely effortless, especially if you buy your rack of lamb already frenched for you.
Frenching is a technique where the rib bones are exposed by cutting away the fat and sinew covering them, and most of the lamb that you will find in many American grocery stores will already come frenched, or you can ask a butcher to do it for you.
But if you want to French a rack of lamb yourself, this tutorial from Simply Recipes has great step-by-step photos to explain the process.
Rack of Lamb Marinade
Make the herb seasoning ahead of time and marinate the lamb overnight if you would like, or just spread it over the meaty portion of the lamb and let it sit while the lamb comes to room temperature for an hour before roasting.
I like to keep it simple with just olive oil, fresh rosemary and thyme, some cloves of garlic, and the zest of one lemon.
Cooking Temperature for Lamb
We enjoy lamb cooked to a perfect medium-rare. For the record, I think rack of lamb is one of the easiest cuts of meat to cook without using a thermometer to check it’s temperature just by making sure the oven is properly preheated and cooking according to the times in the recipe below.
But you certainly can use a digital meat thermometer to gauge where your lamb is a temperature scale to determine doneness.
For those who may want their lamb cooked to a different degree of doneness than medium-rare, here is a temperature chart that you will hopefully find helpful:
- Rare: 120-130 degrees F (very red inside still)
- Medium-Rare: 130-140 degrees F (bright pink inside)
- Medium: 140-145 degrees F (light pink inside)
- Medium-Well: 145-150 degrees F (barely any pink left)
- Well-Done: 150-160 degrees F (no pink at all)
Remember that the rack of lamb will need to rest for 10 minutes after you pull it out of the oven so the juices can redistribute. During this time the temperature can continue to rise another 5 degrees or so.
So for example, if I was targeting a final temperature of 130 degrees F for a perfect medium-rare, I would take the lamb out of the oven when it reached 125 degrees F and let it rise the final 5 degrees on it’s own before slicing.
What to Serve with Rack of Lamb
When planning what to serve with rack of lamb, keep in mind that the main dish itself is rich on its own. Because of that, I like to serve it with vegetables like oven roasted asparagus, baked butternut squash, or the honey steamed broccolini from this post.
More Lamb Recipes You Might Enjoy
- Slow Roasted Lamb Shoulder with Pomegranate Apricot Glaze
- Baked Greek Feta Meatballs
- Shepherd’s Pie
- Lamb Barbacoa
- Pan Seared Lamb Loin Chops
- 1 rack of lamb (typically 8 to 9 ribs)
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 2 tablespoons fresh rosemary
- 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
- 6-8 garlic cloves
- Zest of 1 lemon
- Coarse salt & freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- Remove the rack of lamb from the refrigerator and place in a baking dish. Season both sides of the lamb generously with salt and pepper.
- In a food processor, combine the olive oil, rosemary, thyme, garlic cloves and lemon zest and pulse until finely chopped. This can be done by hand by finely chopping the garlic and herbs, then stirring into the oil in a small bowl if you do not have a food processor.
- Rub the marinade over the seasoned lamb and allow to sit at room temperature for 1 hour before roasting so that it will cook evenly. [See Recipe Notes]
- Heat oven to 450 degrees F. Place the lamb with the fat side up on the baking sheet and roast for 15 minutes before rotating the baking sheet to ensure even cooking and roasting for another 10 minutes for medium-rare meat or 15 minutes for medium doneness (although in my opinion, lamb should is best served medium-rare). If using a digital meat thermometer, medium-rare will be between 130-140 degrees F and medium is between 140-145 degrees F. But the internal temperature will continue to rise about 5 degrees after the rack is removed from the oven, so if you are shooting for an end temp of 130, you will want to pull the lamb when it reaches 125 degrees F.
- Transfer the roasted rack of lamb to a cutting board and allow to rest for 10 minutes so the juices can redistribute before slicing into individual chops for serving. Use a sharp knife to slice between the bones, then serve immediately.
- Alternatively, you can seal in a ziploc bag and return to the fridge to marinate for up to a day. If refrigerating, be sure to allow the lamb to sit outside of the fridge for an hour to come up to room temperature before roasting.
- When roasting meat in the oven, it's very important that the temperature be correct to help gauge cooking times. If the oven is too warm or too cool, it can make a big difference in the doneness of the meat. A simple oven thermometer can help you check to be sure your oven temperature is running true.
- Lamb cooking temperatures: Rare (120-130 degrees F, very red); Medium-rare (130-140 degrees F, bright pink); Medium (140-145 degrees F, light pink); Medium-well (145-150 degrees F, barely any pink); Well-done (150-160 degrees F, no pink left). For the record, I highly recommend not cooking your rack of lamb to be well-done. It will be very dry and nothing like a juicy, medium-rare rack of lamb.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 590Saturated Fat: 20gCholesterol: 94mgSodium: 70mgCarbohydrates: 1gProtein: 18g