These Smoked Lamb Chops are smoked then grilled hot and fast and cut into individual lollipop portions for an elegant appetizer or serve two per person for an entrée.
Don’t be intimidated by lamb. These are easy and absolutely delicious and one of the most flavorful cuts. When smoked, it really balances out the traditional gamy flavor.
Lamb is one of my favorite things to make for a dinner party or date night in. It’s also one of the most requested items we get for catering events. It’s easy to see why. These smoked lamb chops (also referred to as lamb lollipops) are filled with amazing flavor.
And if you’re scared of the slightly gamy nature of lamb I can assure you some of that is tamed by the sweet smoke and herb crust. The added texture and flavor from grilled lamb is also a great finishing touch, basically making this a reverse sear style of cooking.
Plus these flavors are pure fall to me with all those fresh herbs! Yum.
What Is a Lamb Chop?
The chop simply references a steak from lamb. It can come from many areas of a lamb including an rib roast, shoulder, or other more traditional area where steaks come from. This recipe is using an entire lamb rib roast and cutting them into “chops” when we are done.
“Frenched” lamb references the trimming of your rib bone predominantly for presentation sake. A lamb “lollipop” is specific to a rack of lamb, or lamb chop, that is served with just one bone versus the whole rib. It’s great as a finger food because you can hold it by the bone (hence lollipop), or served on a dish.
To prep your lamb chops simply trim any excess fat and silver skin. Trimming any excess fat allows the smoke to infuse into the meat versus the fat. Lamb chops cook fairly fast on the smoker (even set to a low temperature), so that fat won’t all render out if you leave it all there. So trim away.
*Pro Tip: Buy them already frenched if you can! It’s no easy task 😉 to get all those bones trimmed and clean.
Lamb Seasoning: Herb Paste
Fresh herbs and lamb go together like peanut butter and jelly, so we’re making a paste out of our favorite herbs with a touch of sweet. In a food processor add a combination of sage, rosemary, and thyme (feel free to add some parsley if you’re feeling the Simon and Garfunkel vibe), with some garlic, shallots, salt, pepper, honey, and olive oil. Pulse until combined and it’s ready for the lamb.
Apply the paste liberally to your lamb chops. Next, you’re ready to smoke the lamb.
How To Smoke a Rack of Lamb
We serve the dish in individual chops (or lollipop). For ease of cooking, we’re smoking as a whole rack to focus on a tender interior, and smoking the lollipops (the rib rack as individual cuts) separately dramatically increases the likelihood of over cooking. So keep the rib rack together to ensure a consistent cook.
- Set your smoker to 225 degrees using fruit wood (we use PNW apple). You can do this on whatever smoker you have (whether an offset, pellet grill, or kettle grill). For these we’re doing it on our Big Green Egg for simplicity of going from a low smoke to a high heat for the finish.
- Next, you’ll want to place the coated lamb on the smoker and cook for around 45 minutes, or until the internal temperature of the center of the rib rack is 120 degrees (F) internal temperature (IT).
- Then pull the lamb, and increase the heat. Get it hot and set it up for direct cooking targeting 450 degrees F over direct heat.
- Grill the lamb for two minutes per side for a sear. The lamb is already at your desired temperature, so the quick sear gives the nice crust to form.
- Rest and slice the lamb chops. Resting for 10 minutes allows carry over cooking to occur and for the juices to redistribute in the meat as the temperature stabilizes.
*Note: if you are cooking to medium, smoke the meat until the IT reaches 135 degrees, then transfer to the final step, and sear.
Smoked Lamb Chop FAQs
USDA suggests 145 for medium-well doneness as they define the safe cooking zone. In reality, the ranges for lamb are like beef. 115 – 120 for rare, 120 – 125 for medium-rare, 130- 135 for medium, and so on. When you are buying quality meat from a trusted source, you should feel confidant in cooking rare or medium rare.
A rack of lamb will have 8 bones. For an entrée consider 2 lamb chops per person (1 per person as an appetizer portion).
Yes! But it won’t have that sweet smoke deliciousness. You can roast it in your oven, or cook it in your grill over medium heat. Finish on a hot cast iron pan for that crusty sear. Use the oven for the low portion, and the cast iron pan for the finish.
Using an instant read thermometer like the Thermoworks Thermapen One, take the temperature in the center of the rack, inserting probe only halfway into the meat. You want to be sure you are temping the meat in the center.
Pairing Wine with Lamb
Lamb is fantastic with a variety of wines. Cabernet Franc is one of my favorite pairings. But since I live in Oregon’s Willamette Valley, I always have a few bottles of Pinot Noir around, and Pinot Noir is another excellent match for lamb (especially the bolder and darker styles) from both Oregon and the Burgundy region of France. The fruity and savory components of a good Pinot pairs perfectly with the herb combo and earthy and slightly gamey flavors of the meat.
More Smoked Lamb Recipe Ideas
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This recipe was originally published September of 2018 and updated in October of 2020 with new guided recipe, nutritional information, and smoking steps.
I’d drop the honey and sprinkle kosher salt on towards the end. Little sweet for me. Every thing else was great!
Eric, thanks for the feedback and we love when folks alter the recipe to their own flavor!
Erin @ Platings and Pairings says
I once went to a tailgate where Lamb Lollipops were served and I was obsessed. I think they’re the perfect tailgating food because they come with their own built in handle! Your version looks amazing Mary – Thanks for breaking things down for us!