This easy grilled rack of lamb recipe is seasoned with za’atar paste for a succulent main course perfect for a simple summer meal on the grill!
*This post is sponsored by American Lamb Board. All content and opinions are my own.
Want to know the best part about grilling a rack of lamb?
It’s so incredibly easy (like the easiest of all cuts of lamb actually, ok maybe except for a burger) yet looks so stunningly impressive on a plate.
And this specific recipe for grilled rack of lamb that uses a simple za’atar paste as the seasoning is even easier.
No complicated rubs or marinades, just a spreadable paste slathered on the lamb and then grilled!
Can’t beat that for a grilled summer meal.
GRILLING A RACK OF LAMB
There’s no shortage of recipes for roasting a rack of lamb in the oven but when it’s summer time and the weather in New York finally allows for enjoyable dinners outside, the grill is the only thing I want to cook on.
Gotta make up for those 7 months we basically hibernate here and I stare at my grill cover on the deck through the slider!
If you’re like most people, you may be intimidated by the appearance of a rack of lamb.
I get it. I used to be one of them.
But once you see how truly easy this recipe is and taste how wonderfully tender and flavorful the meat becomes, I think you’ll be wondering what all that hesitation was about!
That said, this recipe is totally doable with any other type of lamb chop instead of a rack like lamb loin chops, sirloin chops or even shoulder chops if you can’t find a rack or just want to use a different cut.
INGREDIENTS FOR ZA’ATAR GRILLED RACK OF LAMB
To start, you’ll need to purchase a “frenched” rack of American lamb.
All that means is the meat is stripped away from the bones to create that “lollipop” appearance where the bone is visible on one end.
And that bone does come in handy when you’ve done the best you can with a fork and knife but need to pick up the lamb chop with your hand to eat the rest!
You can always “French” the rack yourself but most stores will sell an already Frenched rack of lamb or, you can just ask the butcher to do this for you.
Most racks of lamb will have about 6-8 bones and be enough to serve about 4 people.
As for the other ingredients needed to make this grilled rack of lamb recipe, you’ll just simply need some salt, pepper and za’atar paste.
Za’atar is a middle eastern spice blend that usually combines roasted sesame seeds, ground sumac (a spice used in these easy beef kafta kabobs), thyme, marjoram, oregano, salt and pepper.
Za’atar pastes/spreads are also sold as a pre-made seasoning option. They’re simply the spice blend combined with extra virgin olive oil.
You can either purchase the za’atar spread for this recipe or, mix the spice blend with olive oil yourself until it’s a spreadable consistency.
HOW TO GRILL A RACK OF LAMB
There’s three simple parts to this easy lamb recipe: season, sear, grill on indirect heat.
Let’s break them down:
Step 1 – Season
Generously season the lamb with salt and pepper.
Take about three tablespoons of the za’atar spread and coat both sides of the lamb with it.
Let the lamb rest with the seasoning on it for at least 30 minutes. This can be done up to 8 hours in advance with the rack of lamb kept in the refrigerator.
Make sure the lamb is brought to room temperature before grilling.
Step 2 – Sear
Preheat an outdoor grill with all burners on to 525°F.
Once the grill is hot, place the seasoned rack of lamb on the grill, meaty side down.
Sear until the lamb is charred and grill marks appear, about 4-5 minutes.
It’s important to stay close to the grill during this step and watch for any flare ups. The olive oil in the za’atar spread can easily catch fire and you don’t want the lamb to burn.
Spray any flare ups with a water bottle or shift the lamb away from the flames.
You may also want to cover the exposed portion of the bones on the rack with aluminum foil if you want to avoid them becoming charred/blackened.
I didn’t so you can see how they blackened a bit. This doesn’t bother me but if you prefer they don’t, just lightly wrap them before placing on the grill.
Step 3 – Grill on Indirect Heat
Once the lamb is seared, turn the burner or burners off on one side of the grill and reduce the others to a medium flame.
Flip the rack of lamb over and place on the unlit side of the grill.
Grill over this indirect heat at about 375°F for another 12-15 minutes until the internal temperature reaches your desired doneness. See the temperature chart below for more info.
Remove the lamb from the grill and let it rest on a cutting board covered for about 10 minutes before slicing.
HOW LONG TO GRILL A RACK OF LAMB
I prefer to cook lamb by temperature not time.
Different cuts can range in thicknesses and ovens, grills, etc. all vary, so using an instant read digital meat thermometer is really the most reliable option.
Follow the table below for your preferred doneness.
LAMB COOKING TEMPERATURES:
Medium – 145°F
Medium-well – 155°F
Well done – 165°F
Note that these are the temperatures you want to pull the lamb off the grill at.
As the lamb rests, the temperature will continue to rise a bit.
I prefer to pull my meat off the grill (or out of the air fryer if making air fried lamb chops) at 135°F with a 10 minute rest for medium-rare.
If you decide to use this recipe on lamb chops instead of a rack of lamb, you’ll want to adjust to a shorter sear and grill time and still use the temperature table as your guide.
CARVING AND SERVING GRILLED RACK OF LAMB
To carve, use a sharp chef’s knife or carving knife and simply cut between the bones for individual chops.
Alternatively, you can cut them as “double chops” and make cuts every other bone which is a nice presentation for serving as well.
Drizzle any accumulated juices from resting on top of the lamb chops and serve with additional za’atar spread for drizzling on top and minced fresh herbs of choice.
Since I think of this grilled rack of lamb as a summer meal, I gravitate towards side salads and other grilled vegetables for serving.
This gluten-free millet tabbouleh is a perfect pairing with its bright lemon herby flavor. Plus, lamb and tabbouleh are basically two peas in a pod.
CHOOSING AMERICAN RACK OF LAMB
As always, sourcing the rack of lamb you’ll be grilling is first priority when making a recipe like this.
The lamb is what shines in this simple preparation so it’s important you choose the best.
American lamb is the most tender and flavorful and always my preference.
Za’atar Grilled Rack of Lamb
- 1 – 1 1/2 pounds rack of American lamb
- 3 tablespoons za’atar paste, *see note
- Kosher salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- freshly minced parsley for garnish
- Season both sides of rack of lamb generously with salt and pepper.
- Using a spoon, spread the za’atar paste all over both sides of the lamb. Place in a dish, cover and let marinate for at least 30 minutes up to 8 hours/overnight.
- When ready to grill, preheat an outdoor grill to 525°F.
- Once hot, place the seasoned rack of lamb on the grill, meaty side down. Sear the lamb for 4-5 minutes until charred/grill marks appear. Stay close to the grill while doing this to monitor for any flare ups, making sure to not let the lamb catch fire.
- Once seared, turn off the burner(s) on one side of the grill and lower the other burners to reduce the temperature to 375°. Flip the rack of lamb over and grill on the indirect heat side of the grill for about 13-15 minutes (this is an estimate and will vary so it’s best to use a digital thermometer for most accurate results) until internal temperature reaches your desired doneness (see above for a temperature chart)
- Remove the rack of lamb to a cutting board. Cover with foil and let rest for 3-10 minutes before slicing.
- Garnish with parsley and serve with additional za’atar spread if desired.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.
Gina Matsoukas is an AP syndicated writer. She is the founder, photographer and recipe developer of Running to the Kitchen — a food website focused on providing healthy, wholesome recipes using fresh and seasonal ingredients. Her work has been featured in numerous media outlets both digital and print, including MSN, Huffington post, Buzzfeed, Women’s Health and Food Network.