This recipe for pan-fried lamb rib chops, also called lollipops, is made all in one pan. They’re almost too easy to make! The flavors are simple—whole garlic cloves, rosemary sprigs and fennel seeds—but a brief stint in ripping hot olive oil builds a wonderful foundation of flavor for the chops to get seared in.
Pan-fried lambs chops may be our favorite way to enjoy lamb. Aside from the fact that they cook incredibly fast (which we love), lamb rib chops have the perfect balance of fattiness to meatiness, they sear up incredibly well, and a couple of chops are all you need per person for a meal thanks to how flavorful they are. Served with a simple side dish and this quick lamb dinner can be as casual or elegant as you’d like.
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Ingredients to Make Pan Seared Lamb Chops
- Garlic: you’ll need a few cloves of garlic for this recipe. Simply smash them with the side of a chefs knife and add them to the pan. This will add a nice garlic flavor without taking over.
- Rosemary: fresh rosemary pairs incredibly well with lamb (and garlic). The dish takes on a lovely earthy flavor and the rosemary gets slightly fried, making it nice and crisp.
- Fennel Seeds: another great pairing is fennel seeds and lamb! If you aren’t keen on fennel seeds you can also use cumin seeds.
- Lemon: fresh lemon slices add bright tartness and take on a nice char in the pan.
- Lamb Rib Chops: This recipe uses lamb rib chops, which are also often referred to as lamb lollipops. Lamb rib chops are smaller than the other two types of lamb chops—shoulder chops and loin chops—and feature a long slender rib, giving them that “lollipop” look. They might be small, but don’t let that fool you on how much flavor they have. And if you can’t find lamb rib chops, you can also use lamb loin chops—they’ll just need a bit more time in the skillet.
- Kosher Salt and black pepper
How to Make Pan Seared Lamb Chops
The process of pan-frying rib chops couldn’t be simpler. Most recipes call for a neutral, high-heat oil like vegetable, canola or grape seed to fry them in. Olive oil generally isn’t suited for searing things over high heat because it has a lower smoke point. But since they cook so quickly, we prefer to sear lamb rib chops in olive oil.
The key to making really good pan-seared lamb rib chops is to get a cast-iron skillet ripping hot before adding the chops. Since these chops are smaller, they cook faster. Which means you have a small cooking window to infuse these chops with flavor and get some nice browning on them.
Cooking lamb rib chops in a really hot skillet is essential for developing a nice golden sear.
- Preheat a large cast-iron skillet.
- Generously season the lamb chops with salt and pepper.
- Add oil to the pan and swirl to coat.
- Add garlic, rosemary and fennel and cook 1 minute, stirring frequently.
- Add chops and cook until deep golden brown on both sides.
- Sear lemon slices until browned.
Storage & Leftover Tips
- Store any leftover cooked lamb rib chops in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
- Gently reheat cooked lamb chops in a 200-degree oven until warmed through or in a skillet over medium-heat.
What Internal Temperature to Cook Lamb Chops to
Single lamb rib chops cook so quickly that checking the internal temperature can be more of a hassle than helpful. But if you have an instant-read thermometer, go right ahead and use it! Using internal temperature as a guide for cooking meat is always a good idea.
Lamb rib chops are best served medium-rare or medium. Any more and the meat will start to dry out and lose some of its tenderness (which is what makes them so good!).
- 125°F (52ºC) for rare
- 135°F (57ºC) for medium-rare
- 140°F (60ºC) for medium
How Long to Pan Sear Lamb Rib Chops
- A good rule of thumb to follow for single-cut rib chops is 1½ minutes per side over medium-high heat. This length of time and temperature will result in medium-rare chops.
- If you like lamb on the rare side, drop the cook time down to one minute per side.
- If you prefer lamb to be prepared medium, or medium well cook for 2–2 ½ minutes per side.
- And lastly, if you choose to use double ribs chops, sear the meat on all four sides, about 2 minutes per side.
Serving Lamb Chops
- Make them a full meal and serve the lamb chops over a med of Mashed Celery Root Potatoes
- For a light, summery meal, serve these lamb chops with Roasted Green Beans or Sautéed Broccoli.
- We also like to serve lamb chops with Garlic Naan and homemade Hummus.
- Our Miso & Za’atar Potato Salad is a perfect pairing!
- Add a pat of Black Truffle Butter for even more depth of flavor and savoriness.
- Serve with a simple side salad such as this Butter Lettuce Salad, Garden Salad or Caesar Salad.
You’ll know they are done cooking when their internal temperature reaches 125ºF for rare or 135ºF for medium-rare. The chops will have a nice golden crust and rosy pink interior.
We’ve got a recipe for grilling lamb chops!
Garlic, rosemary and fennel seed is a great go-to seasoning. We also like Za’atar, cumin seeds, and herbs de Provence.
We like to marinate lamb chops in yogurt with some sumac and lemon zest. It’s simple and effective. (Similar to soaking lamb chops in milk.)
Pan Seared Lamb Chops
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 cloves garlic, smashed
- 2 sprigs rosemary
- 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
- 8 lamb rib chops (¾- to 1-inch think), seasoned with kosher salt and black pepper
- 1 lemon, sliced
- Heat a large cast-iron skillet (12-inch) over medium heat for 5 minutes. Add oil, garlic, rosemary and fennel seeds and cook 1 minute.
- Increase heat to medium-high; add rib chops in a single layer and cook until golden brown on first side, 1½–2 minutes. Move garlic and rosemary around the pan to avoid burning, setting on top of chops if needed. Flip chops and continue to cook until golden brown on second side, 1½–2 minutes more.
- If you have an instant-read thermometer, cook to desired doneness by temperature; insert the thermometer into the center of the meat, but not touching the bone (125°F for rare, 135°F medium-rare, and 140°F for medium).
- Transfer chops to a serving platter and drizzle oil and spices over top. Add lemon slices to now-empty hot pan and sear for 1 minute on each side; add to platter with chops and serve.
More Lamb Recipes to Try
- Our Lamb Vindaloo is a deliciously rich braised lamb dish that’s perfect with Cilantro Lime Brown Rice or naan.
- Lamb Tikka Masala, featuring our Tikka Masala Simmer Sauce, is another rich and full-flavored dish to try. You will fall in love with this one!
- Looking to grill some lamb chops? We’ve got just the recipe! Try our Grilled Lamb Loin Chops.
- Make use of ground lamb in our Spicy Ground Lamb Tacos or make Lamb Kofta with all the fixings!
- If you love meatballs, we’ve got lamb meatballs too! Stewed in a saucy tomato broth that is outrageous!
- Pull out the Instant Pot for a show-stopping dinner of Lamb Shanks or our Moroccan Stew.
More About Rib Chops
Lamb rib chops are cut from the rack of lamb, or the top part of the back attached to the ribs. This cut of meat is incredibly tender and flavorful.
Most often when you purchase either a rack of lamb or lamb rib chops, the chops have been “frenched.” When rack of lamb or lamb chops are frenched it means the last inch or so of meat attached to the ends of the ribs have been trimmed away, leaving a bare bone. This French trimming method gives the chops a more refined, elegant look. You can easily do this yourself, but nowadays lamb rib chops are already sold this way, or your butcher can do it for you quick.