Best Way to Cook Lamb

Intimidated by lamb? We get it: The flavor is unique and knowing just how to cook each cut can be a challenge. Need help cooking lamb chops, roasting leg of lamb, determining lamb cooking temperatures for your desired doneness and creating marinades that make the most of the cut you’re cooking? Here, Perdue Farms’ corporate chefs share cooking tips, tricks and secrets that only culinary pros know.

Lamb has a unique flavor that stands up to robust seasonings.

Best spices: Cumin, cardamom, all spice, coriander and mustard seed

Best herbs: Woody varieties, like rosemary, thyme and oregano

Lamb Marinade Recipe

This quick and easy recipe works for almost every cut of lamb. The acidity will help to tenderize meat.


  • 3/4 cup dry red wine
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, sliced
  • 1/4 cup fresh rosemary and thyme, roughly chopped


Combine ingredients. Place lamb in a food storage container and pour marinade overtop. Marinate in the refrigerator for two to three hours so that mixture has time to penetrate meat. Season with salt and pepper before cooking.

Taste the Difference That Higher Standards Make

The lamb featured on is brought to you by Niman Ranch and its network of independent U.S. family ranchers located in California, Oregon and Utah. Ranchers are committed to sustainable and humane practices. Lamb is 100% traceable back to its birth ranch.

What you can expect from every lamb product you purchase:

  • Raised on pasture with seasonal grasses
  • Never given hormones or antibiotics – EVER
  • Only fed a 100% vegetarian diet of grasses, legumes and grains
  • Certified Halal
  • Certified Humane®

  1. Preheat oven to 425 F.
  2. Season lamb with salt and pepper.
  3. Preheat cast iron pan over medium-high heat. Place lamb in pan and sear on all sides.
  4. Remove lamb from pan, place on a rack in a roasting pan and place pan in oven. Lamb will cook quickly; watch diligently to prevent burning.
  5. Lamb will continue to cook by five to 10 degrees once removed from oven (a process called carry over cooking). To achieve 132 to 135 F (medium rare) on a large piece of meat, anything above 1 1/2 pounds, remove rack when internal temperature of meat registers 122 to 125 F with a digital meat thermometer.
  6. Rest lamb for 5 to 10 minutes before serving.

Lamb chops are quite flavorful, so seasoning can be as minimal as a sprinkling of kosher salt and cracked black pepper. When cooked, pair with a bright, flavorful sauce, such as chimichurri or arugula pesto. If you prefer a more robust flavor, lamb can hold up to more intense spices without losing itself. Consider a BBQ rub or other complex northern African and middle eastern spice blends.

  1. Preheat a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat for approximately 4 to 5 minutes or until pan reaches 400 F.
  2. Place chops in pan and sear on each side for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes, or until internal temperature reaches 130 F (medium rare) when tested with a digital meat thermometer.
  3. Rest chops for 2 to 3 minutes before serving.

This cut of meat features a significant amount of connective tissue, and should therefore be cooked low and slow to break down and tenderize the meat.

To prepare:

  1. Combine olive oil, salt, pepper, crushed garlic and herbs. Rub mixture over entire surface of lamb. Let marinate for at least four hours, but preferably overnight.
  2. Preheat oven to 250 F. Place lamb in a roasting pan and place pan in the center rack of the oven. Cook until a digital meat thermometer, inserted in the thickest part of the leg, measures 110 F.
  3. Reduce oven temperature to 150 to 180 F. Remove lamb from oven, wrap leg in butcher paper, and replace. Cook for approximately 8 to 10 hours.
  4. Remove lamb from oven and let rest for 20 to 30 minutes, or until internal temperature reaches 130 F (rare) when measured with a digital meat thermometer.

This cut benefits from being marinated before cooking to break down connective tissue. Sirloin can be roasted whole, smoked or cut into steaks and pan seared or grilled.

  1. Marinate lamb overnight in red wine marinade (see above).
  2. Preheat oven or grill to 400 F.
  3. Oven method: Remove sirloin from the marinade and pat dry. Season on all sides with kosher salt and black pepper. Place in a preheated oven and cook until outside becomes caramelized and meat, when tested with a digital thermometer, measure 135 F (approx. 20 to 30 minutes).
  4. Grill method: Remove sirloin from the marinade and pat dry. Season on all sides with kosher salt and black pepper. Place over indirect heat, close lid and flip lamb after 10 minutes of cooking. Check internal temperature 20 minutes into cooking. Remove lamb from grill when meat, tested with a digital thermometer, measures 135 F. Let rest for 5 minutes before slicing.
  5. Smoker method: Using wood of choice, bring smoker up to 250 F. Remove sirloin from the marinade and pat dry. Season on all sides with kosher salt and black pepper, and place on the smoker rack. Remove lamb from smoker when meat, tested with a digital thermometer, measures 135 F (approx. 35 to 55 minutes).


  • 6 lamb shanks
  • 2 large yellow onions, rough chopped
  • 1 large fennel, ends trimmed and sliced into wedges
  • 4 large carrots, roughly chopped
  • 5 large celery stalks, roughly chopped
  • 1 leek, roughly chopped
  • 8 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
  • 2 Fresno chili peppers, destemmed and halved
  • 1/2 bunch thyme
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 3 star anise
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 2 cups dry red wine
  • 1/2 cup sherry vinegar
  • 12 ounces tomato paste
  • 56 ounces canned diced tomatoes
  • 32 ounces beef stock
  • 1/4 cup red harissa paste
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • Salt and black pepper


  1. Lightly coat the shanks in oil, and generously season with kosher salt and black pepper. In a preheated, heavy bottom stock pot, brown the shanks on all sides. (Note: Do not overcrowd the pan; sear one at a time, if neccessary). Transfer browned shanks to a braising pan.
  2. Remove burnt oil from stock pot. Do not remove fond left from searing. Place pot over medium heat and add 2 tablespoons of oil, star anise, cinnamon and cumin seeds. Slowly toast until slightly browned and aromatic. Add the fennel, onions, leeks, garlic, chili peppers, celery and carrots to the pot, and sweat over medium heat for 5 to 6 minutes. Mix in tomato paste and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly caramelized (approximately 5 more minutes). Deglaze the pan with the red wine and vinegar. Cook until the liquid is reduced by one-third. Add the tomatoes, beef stock, sugar and harissa paste to the mixture and reduce by one-third again.
  3. Add the braising liquid, bay leaves and thyme to the braising pan with the shanks. One-half to two-thirds of the shanks should be covered by braising liquid. Cover the pan tightly with aluminum foil, and place into a 325 F oven; cook for 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 hours. When done, meat should be fork tender. Let the shanks rest in the braising liquid for added moisture and flavor.

Skip the jarred mint jelly! To bring out the amazing flavor of your cut of lamb and balance out the fatty mouthfeel and distinct flavor, consider the following:

Traditional Mint Sauce

To make, combine:

  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh mint
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon sugar or honey
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper

Mustard-Based Sauce

The tangy, fermented flavor of vinegar and mustard seed help to balance lamb’s distinct flavor and fattiness. To make:

  • 1/4 cup shallots, minced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1/4 cup chicken stock
  • 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon whole grain mustard
  • 2 teaspoons fresh rosemary, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon honey

Place olive oil in a saute pan with shallots, and gently cook over medium-low heat for 5 to 6 minutes or until translucent. Add wine and stock, and reduce by half. Remove from heat and stir in remaining ingredients.