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What are Lamb Chops?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 16, 2024
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Lamb chops are cuts of lamb which are made by cutting at an angle perpendicular to the spine, generating a single serving of meat which is traditionally cooked and served with the bone in. Parts of the ribs and vertebrae are usually present in lamb chops, depending on the region of the lamb the chops are cut from. This meat chop is a common offering in the spring, when lambs are plentiful, although year-round demand for lamb has led some farmers to breed their sheep on a staggered schedule to ensure that this tender, flavorful meat is available consistently.

A lamb is a domestic sheep under one year of age. Lamb meat is very tender, due to the young age of the animal, and it has a very distinctive flavor which lacks the gaminess of meat from older sheep. Many cultures around the Mediterranean and Middle East have a tradition of eating lamb, and lambs were once associated with ritual sacrifice in this region of the world.

The best chops come from the loin, rib, and sirloin. These lamb chops are tender, easy to cook, and evenly textured. Lesser cuts come from the shoulder or leg, and generally require more work. In all cases, high-quality lamb chops are light red, with an even distribution of fat and finely textured meat. While marbling in lamb isn't the holy grail that it is in beef, unevenly distributed fat generally results in an inferior flavor.

There are a number of ways to prepare lamb chops. They can be baked, broiled, grilled, or cooked on the stovetop, and they can be seasoned with a variety of herbs, marinades, and sauces. Lamb chops usually cook quickly, because they are thin, and if they are cooked to a medium or rare temperature, they are juicy, tender, and moist. Well-done lamb tends to be a bit dry, and it can become stringy. For safety, lamb chops should be cooked to at least 145 degrees Fahrenheit (63 degrees Celsius).

Dry rubs such as herb or spice rubs often work very well for lamb, and some cooks like to use a dry rub to create a crust, sealing in the juices from the meat and yielding a more tender, flavorful finished dish. If you marinate lamb before cooking, be aware that acidic marinades break down the meat, and can yield a mushy end product if the lamb is marinated too long.

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Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a DelightedCooking researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
By anon247164 — On Feb 13, 2012

Please don't cover the lamb. It's real simple. Use a hot cast iron pan, salt and pepper, let them cook and turn. remove. Allow them to rest. Done!

By lonelygod — On Jun 28, 2011

Does anyone have any great rubs or marinade they can share that will make lamb chops taste more delicious?

I am currently using a store brand meat rub, and it is not to bad, but I find it a bit bland. I would really like to come up with some better rubs for my lamb chops and am willing to make them myself.

As for a marinade, I have tried making my own out of Balsamic vinegar, and it just didn't turn out very well. I would love to find a marinade that is easy to make and tastes great.

By MrSmirnov — On Jun 28, 2011

There are a lot of people who believe eating lamb is unhealthy, but it is actually not true. Like anything it depends on how much you eat of it and what cut of meat you are getting. If you eat any meat that is a fatty cut, it's not going to be that healthy.

Lean lamb chops are a great source of vitamin B-12, which I personally find one of the harder vitamins to get enough of. I used to have to take a supplement for vitamin B-12, but as soon as I started eating lamb my blood work got better and I was able to quit taking the B-12.

Has anyone else had a positive experience with integrating lamb chops into your regular weekly meal schedule?

By KaBoom — On Jun 27, 2011

@Monika - I love lamb chops as well. I really think lamb is a very underrated meat! I've met a lot of people who've never even tried it and I always tell them they're missing out.

My favorite way to cook marinated lamb chops is on the grill. I usually do this with lamb loin because as you said the shoulder chops aren't as tender.

I've managed to get my whole family hooked on lamb chops so we usually eat them about once every week and a half.

By Monika — On Jun 27, 2011

I just love lamb chops! My mom never made them when I was growing up but I discovered them when I was about 18. I tried an Indian food dish that was cooked with lamb and I've been hooked ever since!

I'm not wealthy woman so usually I make do with lamb shoulder chops. As the article said they definitely aren't as tender as other cuts of lamb. However I've found that if you braise them in some red wine they turn out delicious and tender. I've never tried them in the crock pot but I think that's next on my list.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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