Pan-seared and then topped with an herbaceous, garlicky sauce, this Lamb Chops recipe is one of the fastest, easiest dinners you can make, but it looks and tastes like an entree from a high-end restaurant. When you want a dinner that’s special and different but that you (yes YOU!) can pull off with complete success, tender, juicy lamb chops are what to cook!
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Why You’ll Love This Marinated Lamb Chops Recipe
- Something Special. Whether you want to change up your weeknight dinner routine or you’re looking for an impressive dish to serve for a special occasion or date night in, this lamb chops recipe won’t disappoint. (Braised Short Ribs are also easy enough for a weeknight, but fancy enough for a special occasion!)
- Surprisingly Easy. If you’ve never made lamb chops before, you may assume that they’re a project. This is not the case! Tenderize the chops with a quick marinade, sear them on the stovetop in under 10 minutes, then make a quick pan sauce—that’s all there is to it. This recipe ranks right up there with Pan-Seared Salmon in terms of ease and speed!
- Big Flavors. Let’s talk about the pan sauce. It’s buttery, zippy from Dijon, and fabulously aromatic because it’s infused with fresh thyme. This, combined with the rich, succulent lamb, makes for an incredibly delicious meal. (Dijon also adds some pep to these Rosemary Chicken Thighs and Cedar Planked Salmon.)
- Ridiculously Tender. Marinating the lamb and cooking it properly ensures that it turns out tender and juicy every time. Follow the tips in this lamb chops recipe and you can’t go wrong! This marinade also inspired some flavor in my Rack of Lamb recipe.
How to Make the Best Lamb Chops
- Lamb Chops. You can use lamb rib chops or loin chops for this recipe.
- Fresh Rosemary. Chop as finely as possible so it adds maximum flavor to this lamb chops recipe.
- Kosher Salt and Ground Black Pepper. The salt isn’t just for seasoning; it tenderizes the meat too.
- Extra-Virgin Olive Oil. The olive oil helps the marinade flavor penetrate the lamb chops.
- Balsamic Vinegar. Vinegar is another ingredient used not just for flavor, but also for helping the meat absorb the marinade.
- Canola Oil. Or another cooking oil suitable for high heat.
- Unsalted Butter. To make the sauce luscious.
- Garlic. Sliced garlic, as opposed to minced, adds some visual appeal in addition to flavor.
- Dijon Mustard. Dijon is a great way to add lots of depth and complexity with a single ingredient.
- Fresh Thyme. The woodsy flavor of time is a fantastic pairing with rich lamb chops.
- Marinate. At room temperature for up to 1 hour or in the refrigerator for up to a day.
- Sear. Just 3 to 4 minutes per side is all you need to cook lamb chops! They are FAST.
- Make the Sauce. Melt the butter in the pan, then add the remaining ingredients. Spoon the sauce over the lamb chops and ENJOY!
- To Store. Store any leftovers from this lamb chops recipe in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
- To Reheat. Place the lamb chops in a baking dish. Add a splash of broth (or spoon any remaining pan sauce over the top), cover with foil, and reheat in a 350 degree F oven until warmed through.
- To Freeze. Store leftovers in an airtight container or zip-top bag for up to 3 months. Defrost in the refrigerator before reheating according to the instructions above.
Meal Prep Tip
If you want to prepare this lamb chops recipe in advance, you can marinate the lamb in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours before you plan on cooking.
What to Serve with Lamb Chops
- Potatoes. Serve this lamb chops recipe with Garlic Mashed Potatoes, Roasted Fingerling Potatoes, or Roasted Potatoes and Carrots.
- Vegetables. Simple side dishes like Roasted Brussels Sprouts, Air Fryer Broccoli, or Sauteed Spinach are perfect with marinated lamb chops.
- Grains. Plate your chops with bright, citrusy Lemon Rice or creamy Farro Risotto.
- Salad. For a lighter dinner, pair these garlicky lamb chops with Shaved Brussels Sprouts Salad or Winter Salad.
Recommended Tools to Make this Recipe
- Cast Iron Skillet. A must-have in the kitchen—and also a must for that perfect sear.
- Instant Read Thermometer. A meat thermometer is the best way to know when your lamb is done cooking.
- Tongs. Makes it easy to flip the lamb chops and cook both sides.
Recipe Tips and Tricks
- Don’t Over-Marinate. It may be tempting to marinate this lamb chops recipe longer for extra tender meat, but because there’s acid in the marinade, it will begin to break the lamb down. The result? A mushy, unpleasant texture. Marinate for 24 hours maximum in the refrigerator or 1 hour at room temperature.
- Avoid Crowding the Pan. If your lamb chops don’t all fit in the pan comfortably, don’t force it! To get a nice sear, they need a little breathing room, so cook them in batches if necessary.
- Let Them Rest Before Serving. Just like Grilled Pork Chops and Thanksgiving Turkey, for the most tender, juicy lamb chops, let them rest before you cut into them. This allows the juices to be reabsorbed, rather than running out all over the plate.
- Know When It’s Done. Over-cooking lamb makes it tough and gamey. We don’t want this! Medium-rare is 135 degrees F on an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the meat.
Lamb Chops Recipe
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- 8 lamb rib chops or loin chops* about 2 pounds—if using rib chops, it will be about 1 rack
- 2 tablespoons fresh rosemary leaves super finely chopped
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 1 tablespoon canola oil
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 6 cloves garlic peeled and sliced
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 4 to 6 sprigs fresh thyme
- With paper towels, pat the lamb chops dry and place in a large bowl. In a small bowl, combine the salt, rosemary, olive oil, and balsamic. Rub all over the lamb. Let stand at room temperature for at least 30 minutes and up to 1 hour before cooking (or refrigerate for 1 day and let come to room temperature prior to cooking).
- In a large, deep skillet (cast iron is great here), heat the canola oil over medium-high. Once it’s nice and hot, add the lamb chops in a single layer (don’t let the chops touch; cook in batches if needed). Sear for 3 to 4 minutes per side. Each side should be a nice, deep golden brown and the inside should be medium-rare (you do not want lamb chops medium or well-done or they will be tough and chewy). Remove the lamb to a plate. Let rest for 10 minutes.
- Add the butter to the pan. Once it’s melted and sizzling, swirl to coat the pan, then add the garlic, mustard, and thyme. Stir and let cook until the thyme is lightly charred and everything smells ridiculously good. Spoon the sauce and sauteed garlic all over the top of the lamb. Enjoy hot.
- *Loin chops look like a mini T-bone steak; rib chops look like a “lollipop.” Both are nice tender cuts that work well here. Avoid shoulder or rib chops, which are tougher.
- *If using rib chops, you can ask the butcher to French them for you if you like (“Frenching” means scraping the excess meat and fat off the tips of the bones so you get a nice “handle.” It’s not mandatory.) You can also buy a whole rack of lamb, then cut it into individual chops yourself.
- TO STORE: Store any leftovers from this lamb chops recipe in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
- TO REHEAT: Place the lamb chops in a baking dish. Add a splash of broth (or spoon any remaining pan sauce over the top), cover with foil, and reheat in a 350 degree F oven until warmed through.
- TO FREEZE: Store leftovers in an airtight container or zip-top bag for up to 3 months. Defrost in the refrigerator before reheating according to the instructions above.
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Frequently Asked Questions
Lamb chops benefit from quick cooking, which keeps them from getting tough. This lamb chops recipe sears them for a few minutes on each side in a skillet on the stovetop.
You don’t need to soak the lamb chops in this recipe, as the marinade will mellow the lamb’s natural flavor and tenderize the meat.
The number one reason for tough, chewy lamb chops is over-cooking. Use a meat thermometer so you know precisely when the chops are done cooking and remove them from the pan immediately.