How to Cook Lamb Perfectly, According to Gordon Ramsay

It's so much easier than you think.

February 20, 2020
Photo by Food52

"My dinners at home are startlingly simple," Marilyn Monroe once said in an interview with Pageant Magazine. "Every night, I stop at the market near my hotel and pick up a steak, lamb chops or some liver, which I broil in the electric oven in my room. I usually eat four or five raw carrots with my meat, and that is all. I must be part rabbit; I never get bored with raw carrots."

I used to resist cooking lamb—maybe because it was never a part of my diet growing up—until I read that interview. I thought to myself: If Marilyn could subsist on the other red meat, then I could too. Surely it must be worthy enough to forgive the raw carrots (which I hate).

It may be that lamb has yet to fully make its way into the home cook's kitchen in the States, not least because it can be more expensive than beef and often harder to find. Growing up in the suburbs of Atlanta, for instance, I remember how hard it was to get my hands on lamb in any form at my local grocery store. Thank goodness it's more readily available now, and that more and more Americans are acquiring a taste for it—because when cooked well, lamb can be really delicious.

How to Cook Lamb

What's important to know about lamb is that it's really not so different than beef. And when you have a gorgeous cut, like a rack of lamb, you can cook it the good ol' Gordon Ramsay way—which is to say, lightly pan-sear it first, then baste it with an herby, garlicky butter, and finally finish it off in the oven until it's still pink and juicy in the middle.

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It comes out perfectly every time.

Our Best Lamb Recipes

1. Herb & Mustard-Crusted Rack of Lamb

This simply prepared (it's rubbed in a paste of just Dijon mustard, garlic, and herbs) rack of lamb is best served with equally unfussy vegetable sides, like grilled asparagus or baby artichokes.

2. "Greek" Lamb with Orzo

This contest-winning lamb recipe calls on pantry staples—like spices, canned tomatoes, olives, and orzo pasta—to create a feast-worthy dish that, flavor-wise, is so much more than the sum of its parts.

3. Lamb Burgers with Tzatziki & Arugula

We promise you won't miss the beef in this extra-juicy lamb burger slathered in a minty-garlicky yogurt sauce (aka tzatziki) and piled high with fresh, peppery arugula.

4. Rack of Lamb with Parmesan-Herb Crust

Described as "fabulous" and "amazing," this rack of lamb gets an extra one-two-punch bonus of flavor and texture thanks to the Parmesan-herb crust.

5. Pomegranate Roast Lamb

Make the most of pomegranate season by taking them the savory route in this roast lamb; it'll fit in just about anywhere, from a cozy fall dinner to a wintry weekend supper.

6. Lamb Stew with Butternut Squash

Speaking of cooler weather, when the temperatures are low, you'll want to add this hearty, soul-warming lamb stew with chunks of butternut squash to your rotation.

7. Lemon-Oregano Leg of Lamb

This leg of lamb will stand out as a showstopping centerpiece on any dinner table, giving no indication that it was actually quite easy to prepare.

8. Lamb Meatballs With Yogurt Sauce

Perfect for parties or picnics, these bite-size lamb meatballs with an herby yogurt dipping sauce are impossible to eat just one of.

Do you cook lamb at home? Let us know in the comments below.

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Rabross
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    Josh Dormont
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    Odalis Fox
Eric Kim was the Table for One columnist at Food52. He is currently working on his first cookbook, KOREAN AMERICAN, to be published by Clarkson Potter in 2022. His favorite writers are William Faulkner, John Steinbeck, and Ernest Hemingway, but his hero is Nigella Lawson. You can find his bylines at The New York Times, where he works now as a writer. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram at @ericjoonho.


Rabross February 24, 2020
We cook lamb a lot given that in Australia we all grew up eating it at diiner time with three veg. Quite often my mum would cook lamb forequarter chops and serve them up at breakfast time with maybe a fried egg and then send us off to school.

I'm now in my early sixties and I have a few simple tried and true recipes that we always fall back on. If we are cooking for the masses then I will slow cook a lamb shoulder which I simply salt, pepper and sprinkle with dried oregano and drizzle with olive oil and place on a trivet of halved garlic heads. Add some water and cover loosely with baking paper and then cover the whole pan with foil. Bake for 7 and a half hours at 140/150 degrees celsius then remove foil and baking paper and cook for a further half an hour. We find that the garlic imparts a nice flavour into the meat and when pulled we have a ton of meat to serve with roast potatoes and a salad and later pizzas with tzatiki. My wife's go to recipe for a leg of lamb is cover it in strawberry jam and bake it. The lamd becomes sweet and the gaminess is reduced. Alternatively, I will bone out a leg and butterfly it and simply salt and pepper it and sprinkle dried oregano over it, insert some garlic slivers into the meat and then give it a baste with melted mint jelly and lemon juice and either cook it on the barbecue or in the oven and serve it with roast potatoes and salad or veggies such as dutch carrots and asparagus. My last favourite version is lamb backstraps. Once again salt, pepper, dried oregano and olive oil and barbecue for a few minutes until just cooked. We serve this on a bed of baby rocket, baby English spinach, tossed with a balsamic dressing and add pistachios and crumbled fetta and maybe some bottled but drained well artichoke hearts. Simply to die for and a good dinner party main meal.
judy February 21, 2020
Love Lamb, but NOT American Lamb. The breeders have bread out the lamb flavor. for some reason Americans are not very amenable to a good bold lamb flavor. So I look for New Zealand or Australian Lamb and use that when I can find it. If not, I'm not really very happy with lamb in America any more. It tastes like a crow between beef and pork, not lamb at all. That being said, lamb really is pretty easy to make. Recently we have downsized significantly. WE are now in a studio apartment with only a good quality toaster oven. Lamb works beautifully baked in this oven. Chops or cutlets I crust with a marinade of chopped fresh garlic, rosemary and lemon juice in olive oil with salt ant pepper. Let sit for several hours in fridge. Bring to room to cool room temp. Put on my baking pan and cover with foil. I know that sounds like I am going to steam them, but if I don't, the fat smokes too much and I set off the smoke alarm!! 20 minutes at 325, take them out and let them sit for 10 minutes. Tender, just over medium rare, tasty and so good. What I did last time was cut off the extra fat and make lardons of it to reduce the overall fat on the lamb and excess fat in my oven. Baked a potato BEFORE I cooked the lamb. (remember only one small oven) While the lamb was being, I cut up the baked potato, julienned some red and yellow peppers, onions and quartered criminology mushrooms. cooked down the lardons util almost completely rendered, tossed in teh veggies and sautéed in the fat, leaving the lardons in. sprinkled with salt and pepper. While I was doing that I steamed some spinach, squeezed on some lemon and salt. And the lamb was ready. Absolutely perfectly cooked lamb, lamb lardon sautéed miser veggie hash, and steamed spinach. So good. I have made this will colcannon as well. Lots of options. Lamb is a breeze to cook. Don't forget braised lamb shanks in your slow cooker. And if you have a regular size oven, to roast a butterflied leg of lamb with rosemary garlic and lemon rolled into it. I recently thought about buying. that leg of lamb, cutting into thirds so that I can get it into my toaster oven. Easter is coming, so maybe..... I cannot cook beef or pork without it being tough and dry. But lamb....THAT is another story....give it a try. so good.
Josh D. February 12, 2020
Flip the method. Start in the oven and finish off on the stove and you're much more likely to get an even cook. This is what Cooks Illustrated, Milk Street, and Food Lab all preach. Easy, reliable, and consistent.
Odalis F. October 17, 2018
I call lamb my other white meat. I have been using it extensively for years. Whole left for holidays!