Inherently flavorful, lamb chops require minimal effort to taste good. Simply season them with salt, pepper, garlic, and rosemary, then quickly fry them in a cast-iron skillet.
The result: wonderfully juicy meat with browned, crisp, delicious fat. Even the leftovers are good!
Lamb isn't as popular in the United States as beef, and that's unfortunate. Lamb meat is very flavorful and as long as you don't overcook it, it's tender and juicy.
Pan-fried lamb chops are surprisingly easy to make. It's one of those dishes that they serve you at restaurants, and it seems all fancy and complicated. But in fact, it's as easy as fast food (though certainly not as cheap).
Since they're quite expensive, I don't make them very often. But when I do, everyone raves about them. They are so juicy and delicious!
You'll only need a few simple ingredients to make this tasty recipe. The exact measurements are included in the recipe card below. Here's an overview of what you'll need:
Single-rib lamb chops: I usually buy them at Whole Foods at the meat counter, although I often spot them at the supermarket too.
Kosher salt and black pepper: If using fine salt, you should reduce the amount you use, or the dish could end up too salty.
Spices: I use garlic powder and dried rosemary. Sometimes I add a sprinkle of cumin as well. Another tasty option instead of the rosemary, and the one I use in the video below, is dried thyme.
Ghee: Perfect for high-heat cooking and very flavorful! You can also use avocado oil, or even olive oil - especially if it's marked as suitable for high-heat cooking.
Making this recipe is easy! My preferred method is pan-frying the chops in a cast-iron skillet. Scroll down to the recipe card for the full details. Here's an overview of the steps:
Your first step is to season the chops with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and dried rosemary.
Then you cook them in a cast-iron skillet for 2-3 minutes per side. If they're thick, you should also cook the edges, especially the ones with the fat strip.
Before serving, let them rest for a few minutes. That's it!
Lamb chops are usually quite thin, and lamb is best cooked to medium-rare (unless it's slow-cooked, such as these slow cooker lamb shoulder chops).
So your main concern when frying these chops is to avoid overcooking them. Unless very thick, they only need 2-3 minutes per side on high heat.
That's why I don't remove them from the fridge prior to cooking them. Cooking them chilled helps ensure that I don't accidentally overcook them. (I do the same with steaks).
Frequently asked questions
They are taken from the ribs of the lamb. What we call a rack of lamb is when the ribs are cooked together. The chops are exactly the same ribs but cooked individually.
These chops contain lots of fat, both marbled inside the meat and a layer of fat that surrounds the ribs. This fat is tender and flavorful (more so than beef fat, in my opinion), and when browned in a cast-iron skillet or grilled it turns into a delicacy.
Apart from salt and pepper, I like to season lamb with any of the following: garlic powder, onion powder, oregano, rosemary, thyme, and cumin. Paprika and smoked paprika are also good with lamb.
When it comes to rib chops, which is what we're cooking here, they shouldn't be tough if you avoid overcooking them. As for shoulder chops, those are indeed tough and require low and slow cooking to become tender.
The best way to vary this recipe is to experiment with different spices. In addition to the spices I use, good options include paprika, ground cumin, and dried thyme.
You can also use olive oil instead of ghee for frying, especially if it's marked as suitable for high-heat cooking.
Since this recipe is ready so quickly, I like to serve it with a side dish that I can make ahead and keep in a warm oven until it's time to eat.
I usually go with roasted Brussels sprouts or with roasted cherry tomatoes. A simple salad also goes well with this dish and nicely balances out its richness. Good options include cucumber salad, arugula salad, and tomato salad.
Although they taste best when fresh, you can keep cooked chops in the fridge, in an airtight container, for 3-4 days. To prevent them from drying out, reheat them very gently, covered, in the microwave on 50% power.
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Pan-Fried Lamb Chops
- 6 single-rib lamb chops about ½-inch thick
- ½ teaspoon Diamond Crystal kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon dried rosemary or thyme
- 1 tablespoon ghee for frying
- Sprinkle the lamb chops with kosher salt, pepper, garlic powder, and dried rosemary.
- Heat a large cast-iron skillet over high heat for about 3 minutes. Add the ghee and brush to coat.
- Add the lamb chops. Depending on their thickness, cook them for 2-3 minutes on each side, aiming for an internal temperature of 135 degrees (medium-rare).
- If the chops are thicker than ½-inch (some are ¾-inch thick), cook the edges too for about 1 minute, especially the edge with the strip of fat.
- Remove the cooked chops to a platter, loosely cover them with foil, and allow them to rest for 5 minutes before serving.
- The CDC recommends cooking whole cuts of lamb to 145°F, then allowing the meat to rest for 3 minutes before eating.
- The nutrition info is from the USDA database.
- Although they taste best when fresh, you can keep cooked chops in the fridge, in an airtight container, for 3-4 days. To prevent them from drying out, reheat them gently, covered, in the microwave at 50% power.