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What Are Lamb Shoulder Chops?

Melanie Greenwood
Melanie Greenwood

Lamb isn't as popular as beef or chicken in a lot of places, but many people believe that it deserves a place on the table, especially when it comes in the form of lamb shoulder chops. These delicious, tender cuts of meat come from young sheep of a variety of ages, are cut from the shoulder primal, can be differentiated by cut and are sold under a variety of names. With the right information, the savvy shopper can identify lamb shoulder chops easily.

As their name implies, lamb shoulder chops come from young sheep. The same cuts can come from lambs of different ages, however. Lamb shoulder chops from baby lambs come from animals six to eight weeks old, and chops from spring lambs usually means that the animals were five to six months old. Other lambs that might be used to produce lamb shoulder chops include a regular lamb, which is less than a year old, or yearling lamb, which is one to two years old.

Lamb chops are taken from young sheep.
Lamb chops are taken from young sheep.

True lamb shoulder chops come from the shoulder of the animal. In some places, lamb is usually cut into primals, which are large sections. The shoulder is one such primal. Others include rack, loin, shank or breast and leg. Knowing this is important because only lamb chops labeled as shoulder chops are actually shoulder chops. Lamb chops labeled as loin chops or rib chops come from other areas of the animal, such as the loin primal or rack primal.

Lamb shoulder chops are a popular type of meat dish.
Lamb shoulder chops are a popular type of meat dish.

Lamb shoulder chops also can be identified by the color of the meat. Unlike poultry and pork, which typically are pale in their raw state, lamb has a distinct red color, much like that of raw beef. This is because lamb, like beef, includes iron-rich muscle tissue, and the iron in the blood produces the red color. If chops are labeled with terms indicating the age of the lamb, shoppers can differentiate between older and younger animals by color. A light pink means a young lamb, and darker red indicates an older specimen.

Not all stores sell lamb shoulder chops under that name. Butchers shops in different areas and different parts of the world label the same cuts in different ways, and knowing the various names can help shoppers ensure that they get what they want. Lamb chops cut from the shoulder can also be labeled as blade chops or arm chops. If a shopper is in any doubt, asking the butcher will help the shopper get the best lamb chops available.

Discussion Comments


Just a thought, but reading this article has led me to wonder. While it's never discussed that often, especially because lamb isn't as much of a popular dish like beef or chicken, is it possible to eat rare or medium-rare lamb without getting sick? I know that it's not the case for chicken, but in some ways, beef is the exception.

Also, considering the fact that the second to last paragraph compares the texture of lamb to beef, especially with the distinct red color that makes it rich in iron, one can easily assume that eating slightly undercooked lamb is a possibility. However, it's always a good idea to do some research first, as you don't want to take the risk of getting food poisoning.


Lamb is one of those rarer meats that can be rather difficult to find in store. However, butchers almost always have them available. In fact, in some ways, getting your meat from a butcher might be better than looking for it at a grocery store. For the most part, when butchers prepare meat, it comes off as very fresh, and rightfully so.

However, at grocery stores, while the meat might not have reached its expiration date yet, it could very well have been sitting there for a few weeks, which might even lead to freezer burn. Finally, it's always a good idea to be careful at what kinds of meats (and food items in general) are on sale at the supermarket. Some of the store workers put it on sale as a means to test it out, especially if the quality isn't up to par.


Regarding the first sentence of the first paragraph, it kind of leads me to the wonder why lamb isn't normally as popular as other meats, such as beef and chicken. Does anyone have an answer for this? Correct me if I'm wrong, but one reason for this may be because the meat is so expensive, and even more so, it doesn't come in a lot of variations, so to speak. In fact, let's look at chicken and beef to get a clearer example.

When you buy chicken and beef in the store, you don't have to get the fresher meats, such as the frozen breasts of legs, as there are so many other variations as well, even if it all comes off as processed. For example, you can buy chicken patties, chicken fingers, and even chicken strips. While it's true that the meat is mechanically separated, it's still a meat more accessible to a wider audience. On a final note, chicken takes a lot less time to prepare than lamb. The same can be said for beef as well. Overall, while there are definitely those who like to eat lamb, it can be quite a hassle, and seems more suited for special occasions.

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    • Lamb chops are taken from young sheep.
      By: Eric Gevaert
      Lamb chops are taken from young sheep.
    • Lamb shoulder chops are a popular type of meat dish.
      By: Alex Hubenov
      Lamb shoulder chops are a popular type of meat dish.