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.
This post was sponsored by the American Lamb Board, as always the thoughts, opinions, recipes, photos, and content are all my own.
Pan-fried lambs chops may be my favorite way to enjoy lamb. Aside from the fact that they cook incredibly fast (which I 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.
Buying lamb rib chops
Alright, before we even get started cooking these chops, we first need to chat briefly about what kind of chops you’ll need. 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 thay fool you on how much flavor they have.
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 givesg 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.
This recipe calls for single rib chops, but you can also use double lamb rib chops for a bigger cut of meat. 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.
When purchasing any kind of meat, I try to be very intentional to choose my meat based on quality and where it’s from. When it comes to lamb, I always seek out American Lamb to support American farmers and becuase the quality is top notch.
How to pan-fry lamb rib 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 grapeseed to fry them in. Olive oil generally isn’t suited for searing things over high heat because it has a lower smokepoint than, say, grapseed oil. But since they cook so quickly, I prefer to sear lamb rib chops in olive oil—it’s healthier, which I’m all about, and it adds more flavor than any of those oils I just mentioned will.
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 we have a small cooking window to infuse these chops with flavor and get some nice browning on them.
Cooking them in a really hot skillet is essential for getting a nice golden sear on them. And we want that sear because browning equals flavor.
Let’s walk through the 5 simple steps to pan-searing lamb rib chops:
- Preheat a large cast-iron skillet.
- Meanwhile, season the lamb with salt and pepper (be generous!)
- Pull together the remaining ingredients—oil, garlic cloves, rosemary sprigs, and fennel seeds.
- 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.
How long to pan-fry lamb chops
There are a few things that will determine how long lamb rib chops should cook in a pan: thickness of chops and how you prefer your lamb to be cooked.
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. Conversly, 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
What temperature to cook lamb rib chops to
Single lamb rib chops cook so quickly that checking the internal temperature can be more of a hassle than helpful sometimes. But if you have an instant-read thermometer, go right ahead and use it! Using 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!).
Here are internal temperature guidelines for lamb:
- 125°F for rare
- 135°F for medium-rare
- 140°F for medium
What to serve with lamb chops
- Mashed Celery Root Potatoes
- Easy Roasted Green Beans with Lemon & Garlic
- Garlic Naan Bread
- Kale Salad with Apples, Pistachios & Goat Cheese
- Roasted Garlicky Brussels Sprouts
- Miso & Za’tar Potato Salad
If these chops aren’t reason enough, The American Lamb Board has launched #TheLambChallenge, a giveaway to help you find inspiration in the kitchen and to support America’s Farmers and Ranchers.
Here are the deets:
Try two different lamb dishes, or two different cuts and…
- Double a lamb recipe to share with another family (or save for a quick anytime meal)
- Experiment in the kitchen with a new lamb recipe (or make your own!), think grilling, roasting, braising
— Share your two lamb meals on Instagram using the #TheLambChallenge hashtag and tagging @FanofLamb, by June 30.
— 10 lucky winners that complete the challenge will receive a $200 gift certificate to their favorite restaurant or butcher shop!
— PLUS, for every person that completes the challenge, the American Lamb Board will donate $50 to Feeding America.
A go-to recipe for lamb rib chops that can be as elegant and refined or as casual and quick as you’d like. The key is to drop the chops in a preheated cast-iron skillet to achieve that crispy golden exterior. And don’t forget the garlic, fennel seeds and a few sprigs of whatever hearty herbs you have on hand—these are the major flavor players.
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 cloves garlic, smashed
- 2 sprigs rosemary
- 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
- 1 lemon, sliced
- 8 American lamb rib chops, ¾- to 1-inch think, seasoned with kosher salt and black pepper
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.
Make sure the lamb rib chops are French trimmed (the last inch or so of meat attached to the ends of the ribs have been trimmed away, leaving a bare bone.) Your butcher can do this for you as well.
- Serving Size: 2 rib chops
- Calories: 346
- Sugar: 0g
- Sodium: 120mg
- Fat: 22g
- Saturated Fat: 6g
- Carbohydrates: 0g
- Fiber: 0g
- Protein: 35g
- Cholesterol: 113mg
Keywords: lamb rib chop, pan-fried lamb rib chops, lamb lollipops, lamb chops,
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