Looking to switch up your grilling recipes ? Or is Easter just around the corner, and lamb simply must be on the table ? In either case, if you’re thinking about lamb, you’re thinking about lamb chops (usually).
And you might wonder if lamb chops are easy to grill.
Well, I’ve got the answer and I’m going to share it with you, including how to make sure you don’t mess up.
So are lamb chops easy to grill ?
Yes, lamb chops are easy enough to grill. They require as much attention as grilled steak. If you’ve done that before, then you’ll be fine with grilling lamb chops as well.
Being juicy, red meat, lamb chops need only a few minutes to be done to rare or medium-rare.
This amounts to 3-4 minutes on each side for medium-rare doneness, on a high heat grill.
Of course, there is some preparation to be done before you actually put the lamb on the grill. This way your lamb will be tender, juicy, and very well seasoned.
If you’re someone who loves the flavor of lamb on its own, then you might not need as much seasoning. Some do need it though, and for that you need a good marinade.
The lamb chops you use matter
Let’s talk lamb cuts, so we can understand exactly what we’re grilling here.
There are several ‘lamb chop’ cuts, and which you use may change the difficulty or grilling time.
So, we have :
- rib lamb chops, the most common
- lamb loin chops (near the hip)
- lamb shoulder chops
Now, rib chops have the most fat marbling, which is going to give you a nice and tender grilled lamb. These are going to reach medium-rare and come off the bone nicely in a few minutes, about 7.
They’re also the most common and expensive kinds of lamb chop.
Loin chops are a bit less flavorful and also tougher than rib chops. This is because the animal will move around a lot, and the loins are used quite a bit, which hardens the muscle.
As such, these will have a little less fat marbling than rib chops.
And finally, lamb shoulder chops are the toughest of the 3. Still tender, but when compared to the rib there’s a clear difference.
So for best results I recommend you use lamb rib chops. If you use other cuts, be sure to marinate them properly and for longer.
Marinating lamb chops makes grilling them easier
Why marinade lamb chops before grilling ?
For one thing it mellows out the strong lamb flavor that some people might dislike.
The usual seasonings for such a marinade are olive oil, a bit of lemon juice, minced garlic, and a whole lot of fresh rosemary. And salt and pepper to taste.
Another reason to marinade your lamb before grilling is to take care of any unwanted toughness that might occur. A marinade containing vinegar, wine, or lemon juice will start to slowly break down and tenderize the meat.
This works especially well with mutton cuts.
If you do choose to marinade your lamb chops, please be sure to let them sit in said marinade for at least 2 hours, if not a full 24 hours before grilling.
And as with beef, take the lamb chops out of the fridge, and let rest at room temp for half an hour, so they warm up and bit and grill easier that way.
The leftover marinade can either be discarded, or cooked as a sauce on the stove, depending on your mood.
Always check internal temperature when grilling lamb
When grilling lamb, especially if it’s marinated, it’s going to be very hard to judge doneness by sight alone. Many things will throw you off, including charred pieces of marinade (like onions or rosemary).
So, it’s best to have a meat thermometer, so you can gauge the internal temp of the lamb.
At the point where it needs to be taken off the grill, is should be at 130 F for medium-rare.
And of course, you need to let the meat rest for about 10 minutes, in which time its internal temperature will also increase by about 5 degrees F, before coming down.
Lamb grills a lot like beef (rare to well done)
Since lamb is red meat, it will behave very much like a steak when you cook it. This includes grilling as well.
Which also means that you should not let this cut of meat sit on the grill for too long.
As with beef, lamb chops go from rare to well done, and how you like your lamb will be the guideline for how long to leave the lamb chops on the grill.
On average, for a high heat grill, you will need:
- About 6 minutes for rare lamb chops
- 7 for medium-rare
- 8 for medium lamb chops
- and 9 minutes for well done lamb chops
Of course, you need to rest the meat after taking it off the grill. This means another 10 minutes, aside from the cooking times.
If you’ve already marinated your lamb, and left it to marinate for 24 hours, then even at a medium the lamb should be fairly tender.
And whatever you used as a marinade will handle grilling well enough, In fact, some ingredients (like bell pepper or onion) might not be bad with a bit of char and smoke flavor.
How to grill lamb chops
Now let’s get to the actual recipe. You know how easy it is to grill lamb chops now, you know to marinade it beforehand, and you know that you should let it rest after you take it off the grill.
This recipe serves 4 people, provided you have a good side dish prepared. This includes a marinade.
For grilled lamb chops, you will need:
- 8 lamb chops, preferably rib
- 1/4 of a lemon, including grated rind
- 6-7 tablespoons of olive oil
- 6 sprigs fresh rosemary
- 4 minced garlic cloves
- freshly cracked pepper, salt to taste
- aluminium foil to wrap around the bone when grilling
Really, that’s all you’re going to need.
In a large bowl, prepare your marinade. Mix everything together, and pour into a large ziploc bag. If you haven’t got bags large enough, you have two options:
- use two smaller bags, and add 4 lamb chops in each bag
- add the lamb chops directly to the bowl of marinade and cover with saran wrap, making sure to touch the surface of the lamb so it’s not exposed to any air.
Whichever method you use, the end result should be as tightly sealed a lamb chop as you can. Try and remove all the air from the container, as it will help keep the lamb and marinade fresh.
Now, let the lamb sit in the fridge for 2 hours at least, or better yet you can leave it overnight. Even 24 hours is okay, but don’t overdo it.
When you’re ready to grill the lamb, make sure to take it out of the fridge at least a half hour before.
The lamb, like beef, needs to reach room temp before you throw it on the heat. Cooking cold lamb will only cook the outside and not the inside.
Once your lamb is up to room temp (about 74 F) it’s ready for the grill.
Heat the grill to high, and prepare the lamb. Either pat/wipe the marinade off the meat, or leave it on, depending on how you like those ingredients grilled.
If you used lemon rind I suggest you pick that off the meat. The aluminium foil should be added to the bone now.
Place the lamb on the hot grill, and let it sit for 3 minutes undisturbed, with the lid on. After the first 3 minutes, flip on the other side. It should come off easy enough.
Once 4 minutes have passed (so a total of 7 minutes), check the internal temp. It should read 135 F. If it does, take the lamb off the grill and let it rest for 10 minutes.
Grilling lamb is an easy enough job, if you’ve grilled a steak before.
It might sound a little daunting at first, since lamb is usually a fancy meal. But it lends itself to a grill well enough, and it’s bound to be delicious when marinated.
In fact, the main problem with lamb (aside for cooking it too long) is lack of proper seasoning, which can be fixed by marinating for several hours, with plenty of flavors.
All in all, trying your hands at grilling lamb is the best experience to judge if it’s easy or not. So why not give it a go ?