June 30, 2023

Grilling Lamb: 5 Things You Need to Know

American lamb offers seasoned grill masters and weekend warriors alike the perfect opportunity to impress families and friends with a lean meat that delivers unbeatable flavor. 

When you purchase American lamb and fire up the grill, you’re starting a journey that explores diverse flavors and culinary traditions. Grilled lamb’s tenderness, flavor profile and relatively quick cooking time make it a versatile and delicious option for outdoor grilling. 

So what are you waiting for? Read these five key tips for grilling lamb, visit your local butcher and buy American lamb for your summer party. 

1. The Basics of Grilling American Lamb

The first step in grilling lamb is purchasing lamb! Your local butcher will be able to help you select the ideal cut based on your experience level and how much time/effort you want to put into cooking. Here are some quick guidelines:

  • Lamb Chops: Simple to prepare and cook fast. Plus, there are all kinds of chop cuts, including loin chops, rib chops, shoulder chops and sirloin chops. 
  • Ground Lamb: A flavorful substitute for ground meat. Trust us, lamb burgers are the best!
  • Kabobs: These cuts from the leg or shoulder can be skewered with vegetables and grilled.

If you’re looking for something more challenging, check out all of our grilled lamb recipes, where you’ll find everything from grilled leg of lamb to lamb sliders to grilled lamb loin

Other basic tips for grilling lamb include: 

  • Always bring lamb to room temperature before cooking.
  • After taking the lamb off the grill, let it rest for 10 minutes.
  • Always slice lamb against the grain.
  • Don’t overcook lamb! The USDA recommends an internal temperature of 145°F with a 3 minute rest.

Visit our grilling page for more information. 

2. How to Grill American Lamb

If you’ve ever grilled for a group of people, you’re well aware that everyone has an opinion on the best way to grill. We could write thousands of words on the best way to grill American lamb, but we think it’s easier to watch professional chefs do it. Check out these three great videos of grilling American lamb.

Grilled Racks of American Lamb
3. Exploring a Multicultural Feast

Grilling is a global culinary experience dating back to ancient times when early humans started cooking over live fire. Through the millennia, grilled lamb gained popularity in many cuisines around the world, including:

  • Mediterranean: Greece, Turkey and Lebanon have a deep appreciation for grilled lamb. In Greek cuisine, dishes like souvlaki (grilled skewered lamb) and lamb chops marinated with lemon, garlic, and herbs are popular. Turkish cuisine features traditional dishes like lamb shish kebab and doner kebab. Lebanese cuisine is known for dishes like kafta kebabs that are made with lamb.
  • Middle Eastern: Popular dishes include chelo kebab (grilled ground lamb or lamb skewers) and shawarma (grilled and thinly sliced marinated lamb). Grilled lamb is often served with rice, flatbread, yogurt-based sauces, and flavorful spice blends like baharat. A Middle Eastern feast is the perfect way to serve a large group of people this summer. 
  • North African: In countries like Morocco and Algeria, grilled lamb is a staple. Moroccan cuisine is famous for dishes like mechoui (whole roasted or grilled lamb) and brochettes (grilled skewers). These dishes often feature aromatic spices such as cumin, coriander, cinnamon and saffron.

By taking a global approach to grilling this summer, you can serve up centuries-old traditions and recipes centered around lamb, showcasing the unique flavors and cooking techniques specific to this meat.

4. To Marinade American Lamb…

Using a marinade for grilled lamb serves two purposes. First, it elevates the flavor of lamb. Second, the marinade can be used as a basting sauce during grilling, adding more flavor and moisture. Here are three common lamb marinades:

  • Mediterranean marinade: Olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, oregano, thyme and rosemary.
  • Asian marinade: Soy sauce, rice vinegar, sesame oil, garlic, ginger and honey.
  • Moroccan marinade: Cumin, coriander, paprika, cinnamon, olive oil, lemon juice and a touch of honey. 

For optimal flavor, marinade the lamb overnight. If you’re in a pinch for time, marinade lamb before you fire up the grill and make sure to baste often. 

5. …or to Use a Dry Rub

Looking for intense flavors and a bit of a crust on your American lamb? A dry rub will check both boxes. Developing the perfect dry rub depends on where in the world you want your grilling experience to take you. For a simple rub, combine rosemary, thyme, oregano, garlic powder, salt, black pepper and red pepper flakes. This dry rub is herbaceous with just a hint of garlic. 

If you want to go global, we suggest a Moroccan spice rub that uses cumin, coriander, paprika, ginger, cinnamon, cayenne pepper, salt and black pepper. If you’re a barbecue fan, we highly recommend a Texas-style dry rub. Here’s the recipe:

  • 1 tablespoon fresh coriander
  • 1 tablespoon yellow mustard seed
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons paprika
  • 2 tablespoons sea salt
  • 2 teaspoons fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano

Whether you marinade or use a dry rub, American lamb is destined to be the star of your next summer party. Find the perfect recipe for your summer barbeque and start grilling!