Preparation & Cooking - California Lamb

Preparation & Cooking

Our Kitchen

Cooking California Lamb

Lamb is a favorite meat and grilled around the world. From the Mediterranean to the Middle East, Central Asia to Indonesia, Australia to New Zealand.

Increasing interest in ethnic foods makes lamb a favorite grilling choice here, too. Lamb’s rich full-flavor stands up to the kiss of flame and the heat of fire, so the grill is its best friend. For quick and easy meals, select cuts like chops, butterflied leg, and fillets or strips; grill over direct heat. Thicker cuts, such as whole legs and shoulders take more time, so sear and move to an area of indirect heat. For a change of pace, try smoking whole legs or shoulder roasts. Flavor with a dry rub, or inject with a marinade, sear over high heat, add chips and take it slow and low, checking for doneness with a meat thermometer.

Tips for Cooking Lamb

  • Best flavor and texture results when lamb is cooked just to medium rare (145°F).
  • Use an instant read thermometer for best results.
  • Always remove from the heat 5 to 10 degrees below desired doneness. Wrap in foil and let rest for 10 to 20 minutes before slicing and serving.
  • Large cuts like butterflied leg of lamb feed a large crowd and the varying thickness provides a range of doneness to please the pickiest of diners.
  • Slender cuts like lamb rib chops take only minutes to grill.
  • Check out the Handy Chart for Cooking Lamb.


The perfect quick way to cook thick lamb chops or steaks. Preheat broiler to high. Arrange well-trimmed lamb on rack in broiling pan; place 3 to 4 inches from heat and cook 10 to 15 minutes, turning once, until medium rare (145°F) or desired doneness. Season and serve immediately.


Heat a small amount of oil in a heavy frypan or stockpot and brown stew meat or lamb shanks on all sides. Remove drippings and season as desired. Add a small amount of liquid, e.g., water, stock, or wine, etc. Cover pan tightly and simmer or, using an ovenproof pan, place in oven at 350°F and cook until lamb is fork tender. Browned lamb may also be turned into a slow cooker and cooked according to directions provided with cooker.


Place thin chops, steaks, or patties of ground lamb in a very hot, heavy frypan and sear on both sides. Then, cook, turning occasionally and removing any drippings as they accumulate, until medium rare (145°F) or desired doneness.


Heat small amount of oil in heavy frypan almost to smoking; add lamb and cook, turning occasionally, until desired doneness.


Arrange roast, fat-side up on rack in roasting pan, and sprinkle with seasoning as desired. Insert meat thermometer in thickest part, being careful not to place against the bone. When thermometer registers 140°F (for medium rare) or 155°F (for medium), remove roast from oven and let stand, covered with foil and towel, in warm place for 15 to 20 minutes before slicing.


California lamb is an ideal meat for grilling with delicious results from just a little salt and pepper, or marinades, herbs or dry rubs.
Grill loin or rib chops, cut 1 to 1 1/2-inches thick, over medium hot coals about 3 to 5 minutes per side until medium rare (145°F) to medium (160°F).

To grill bone-in leg of lamb, indirect heat in a covered barbecue is the preferred method. Cook about 1 1/2 to 2 hours, adding a handful of fresh charcoal about every 30 minutes, until the meat is medium rare (145°F). Remove from grill at 140°F, cover with foil and let stand 5 to 10 minutes before slicing.

Grill butterflied leg of lamb, boned and flattened, over hot coals for 20 to 25 minutes per side until (140°F) for medium rare and let stand 5 to 10 minutes before slicing.

To learn additional cooking tips, check out our Cooking with Lamb Video.