Mediterranean Rack of Lamb Recipe photo by Taste of Home
Total Time
Prep: 10 min. Bake: 30 min.
Learn how to make a perfect rack of lamb with this comprehensive guide and step-by-step instructions.

Updated: Apr. 17, 2024

A rack of lamb is always an impressive centerpiece on a dinner table. Crusted with a carefully selected blend of herbs and spices, then cooked perfectly to your level of doneness, it’s the ideal entree to serve for spring holidays like Passover and Easter, a romantic dinner at home, or any special occasion with family and friends.

For the uninitiated, a rack of lamb can seem intimidating. It’s a large piece of meat, it can be pricey, and it’s not something you make every day. But we’re here to reassure you: With this easy roasted rack of lamb recipe, even beginners can master the technique and treat themselves to an elegant feast. Read on to learn all about how to cook a rack of lamb.

What’s the best cooking method for a rack of lamb?

A rack of lamb (and lamb recipes, in general) can be grilled, broiled or roasted. For beginners, a roasted rack of lamb is the easiest and most fail-safe method. Since it’s a lean, tender cut of meat (similar to a beef tenderloin roast), roasting the lamb at a relatively high heat for a shorter amount of time helps keep it juicy. This makes a rack of lamb a great choice for grilling, too.

Your total cook time will vary depending on the size of the rack of lamb and your individual oven, but it should take 30 to 40 minutes total. For best results, rely on an instant-read thermometer rather than the cooking time to tell if your lamb is done (an internal temperature of 135°F for medium-rare).

How to Choose the Best Rack of Lamb

A rack of lamb is a section of the ribs between the shoulder and the loin. There are eight ribs in a full rack of lamb, and they are often sold split into half-rack portions for easier preparation. Butchers will also sell an unsplit rack of lamb—also known as a “double rack” or a “hotel rack”—containing 16 ribs. In that case, both sides of the ribs are still connected by the backbone. Here’s a butcher counter tip: If buying a rack unsplit, ask the butcher to crack the backbone to make the meat easier to carve.

Look at the color of the meat. The older the animal, the darker the meat will be, ranging from pale pink to pinkish-red. A younger lamb will almost always yield a more delicate flavor and more tender meat. You may also wish to check whether the lamb was grass-fed or grain-fed. Grass-fed lamb, like grass-fed beef, is generally leaner and more flavorful, so it’s worth seeking out.

How to Prepare a Rack of Lamb for Cooking

When learning how to cook a rack of lamb, a little bit of prep work is key, so make sure the following is completed before you set to work on the recipe.

First, on every rack of lamb, there’s a tough sheet of gristle across one side called the “silver skin.” This should be removed prior to cooking (just like when you make pork tenderloin) to make the lamb more tender and easier to carve once cooked. If you don’t feel comfortable removing the silver skin yourself, you can luckily turn to your local butcher to do this for you when purchasing.

Second, look for a frenched rack of lamb; just ask your butcher to do it, if it hasn’t been done already. Frenching is when the meat between the tips of the rib bones is cut away. Frenching does not impact the final taste or texture of lamb. It is simply an aesthetic choice that makes for a more appealing presentation.

Rack of Lamb Ingredients

A tray of raw meat with spices and herbsTMB Studio

  • Rack of lamb: This is a lean and tender cut of lamb recognized for its delicate taste and impressive presentation. For best results, season generously, and take care not to overcook the lamb, as this cut easily becomes tough when overdone.
  • Lemon zest: The acidity of lemon adds a lovely brightness that enhances the mild flavor of the lamb.
  • Oregano: This earthy, aromatic herb is common in an array of lamb recipes, particularly those in Mediterranean and Greek recipes.
  • Garlic: The robust flavor of garlic complements a roasted rack of lamb and pairs well with lemon and oregano.

Directions

Step 1: Prepare the oven

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Place the lamb in a shallow roasting pan.

Editor’s Tip: No preliminary searing is required. Some rack of lamb recipes where the lamb is roasted at a higher heat—usually 400° or more—will often have you sear the lamb on the stovetop to give it some color before roasting in the oven. This lower oven temperature allows the outside of the lamb to get plenty of color in the oven while leaving the inside perfectly tender and juicy.

Step 2: Season the lamb

In a small bowl, combine the lemon zest, oregano, garlic, oil, salt and pepper. Rub the mixture over the lamb on all sides.

Editor’s Tip: There are countless other types of herbs and seasoning choices for lamb. Once you master the basics of how to cook a rack of lamb, you may explore some of the variations listed below, or create your own enticing dry rub recipes.

Step 3: Cook the lamb

A plate of rack of lamb with lemons and herbs on a tableTMB Studio

Bake the lamb for 30 to 40 minutes or until meat reaches desired doneness (for medium-rare, a thermometer should read 135°; medium, 140°; medium-well, 145°). Let it stand for at least five minutes before carving. To serve, garnish with fresh oregano and lemon slices if desired.

Editor’s Tip: Keep in mind that the lamb will continue to cook as it rests (a process known as “carryover cooking”). Therefore, you may want to pull the lamb from the oven when it reads about five degrees less than your final desired internal temperature.

Rack of Lamb Variations

  • Grill the rack of lamb: To prepare this recipe on the grill, reference this grilled lamb with mint-pepper jelly. The main modification is that you will want to marinate your lamb in the herb mixture for several hours or overnight prior to cooking on the grill.
  • Change up the herbs: Other great herb combinations for this rack of lamb recipe include mint and parsley, rosemary and thyme, or fresh basil.
  • Spice it up: Try adding an array of spices to the rub mixture. We especially love the earthy spice blend used in this recipe for Mediterranean kofta meatballs.

How to Store Rack of Lamb

Cooked lamb lasts for up to three days in the refrigerator, or up to two months in the freezer. Let the lamb come to room temperature before wrapping it tightly in storage wrap or foil and placing it in an airtight container to store.

Can you make rack of lamb ahead of time?

No, we don’t recommend making this lamb ahead of time. It can be difficult to roast a rack of lamb recipe ahead then reheat it without overcooking it. We recommend roasting your rack of lamb just before your main event and serving it freshly prepared.

How do you reheat rack of lamb?

Lamb can be tricky to reheat without overcooking it. For this reason, a roasted rack of lamb is often best enjoyed at room temperature (just don’t let your food sit out longer than two hours for food safety reasons). If you prefer your leftovers to be warm, however, the best method for reheating lamb is to warm it in a preheated 325° oven wrapped in foil with a bit of water or broth. Warm until the lamb is just heated through.

Rack of Lamb Tips

A plate of rack of lamb with lemon on a tableTMB Studio

What do you serve with a rack of lamb?

Lamb has a distinctive flavor that is both earthy and delicate. Choose side dishes that complement those characteristics without overwhelming them. Mint sauce is a famous pairing with lamb, but if you’re not a fan, a spiced, savory chutney would go beautifully. As one of the more traditional Mediterranean recipes, something like roasted Greek potatoes with feta cheese or a salad side like quinoa tabbouleh salad would go well with this recipe.

Why is my rack of lamb tough?

A tough or dry rack of lamb is typically overcooked. Investing in an affordable instant-read thermometer is your best ticket to success when making a rack of lamb recipe since the temperature is key. As extra insurance, you may wish to marinate your rack of lamb overnight before roasting. Try one of these quick and easy marinades on your next attempt.

What can you do with leftover lamb?

To make the most of leftover lamb, remove the meat from the bone, and use it in recipes calling for cooked lamb, like lamb gyros. Lamb can also be a great addition to a dish like this Mediterranean bulgur bowl or can be a substitute for the pork in Mediterranean pork and orzo.

Watch how to Make Mediterranean Rack of Lamb

Perfect Rack of Lamb

Prep Time 10 min
Cook Time 30 min
Yield 4 servings.

Ingredients

  • 2 racks of lamb (1-1/2 pounds each)
  • 1/4 cup grated lemon zest
  • 1/4 cup minced fresh oregano or 4 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • Optional: Fresh oregano and lemon wedges

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375°. Place lamb in a shallow roasting pan. In small bowl, combine the lemon zest, oregano, garlic, oil, salt and pepper. Rub over lamb.
  2. Bake 30-40 minutes or until meat reaches desired doneness (for medium-rare, a thermometer should read 135°; medium, 140°; medium-well, 145°). Let stand 5 minutes before cutting. If desired, serve with fresh oregano and lemon Wedges.

Nutrition Facts

1/2 rack: 307 calories, 19g fat (6g saturated fat), 100mg cholesterol, 241mg sodium, 3g carbohydrate (0 sugars, 1g fiber), 30g protein.

Rack of lamb is elegant. It’s special. And it will have your guests thinking you went all out. They don’t have to know how simple rack of lamb really is to prepare. —Susan Nilsson, Sterling, Virginia