If pork chops and beef steaks are the only chops you sear, it’s time to try lamb chops. Lamb chops have a distinctively rich and savory flavor, and while they’re fancy enough for a dinner party, quick-cooking lamb chops also add variety to weeknight meals.
These easy lamb chops are rubbed with fresh thyme, seared in a hot skillet, and topped with a decadent (and oh-so-simple!) pan sauce flavored with dry white wine, a squeeze of lemon juice, and a knob of butter.
Lamb Chops 101
Surprise — you can buy lamb chops at your local grocery store! While lamb isn’t allotted the same volume of real estate afforded to beef, pork, or chicken, you’ll still find a good number of cuts available. The two most popular types of lamb chops are loin and rib chops. (You may also see blade or sirloin chops in the meat case; these cuts are a bit tougher, so they take slightly longer to cook and have a gamier flavor.)
Lamb loin chops look like mini T-bone steaks with both the loin and filet sold as part of the steak. Lamb rib chops are a carnivore’s lollipop — they’re the individual servings cut from a rack of lamb. You may see the chops “frenched” (cleaned of the fat and meat along the bone), leaving only the tender meat at the end. Frenching the chops is for appearance only, so if you don’t feel like tackling the task, you can ask your butcher to do it or skip it altogether.
Purchase lamb chops that are about one-inch thick, so that you can brown both sides without overcooking the center (for lamb, you are looking for a medium-rare cook, or 145oF).
Make a Simple Pan Sauce for the Finishing Touch
After searing the lamb chops, you’ll move them to a cutting board to rest. Don’t rush to clean the skillet, because the little brown bits (also known as the fond) that are clinging to the bottom of the pan will become the foundation of your sauce. You’ll then sauté minced shallots, crushed garlic, and a fresh sprig of thyme in the rendered fat until glossy and brown, then deglaze the pan with white wine or chicken broth and lemon juice, being sure to scrape up the fond. The acidic punch of lemon juice balances the richness of the lamb and butter (which gives the sauce body).
Serving Lamb Chops
Serve the chops with mashed potatoes or polenta to catch the pools of sauce. Lamb chops are smaller than similar cuts of beef or pork, so plan on two loin chops or two or three rib chops per person.
If you have a skillet and a thermometer you can make these easy, delicious lamb chops.
- 8 lamb loin or rib chops (1-inch thick)
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves, plus 1 large sprig
- 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
- 1 small shallot, finely chopped
- 1 large garlic clove, smashed
- 1/2 cup dry white wine or low-sodium chicken broth
- 1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
- Chef’s knife and cutting board
- Measuring cups and spoons
- Citrus reamer
- 12-inch cast iron or stainless steel skillet
- Wooden spoon
- Heavy-duty aluminum foil
1. Season the lamb. Remove the lamb chops from the refrigerator and massage the chopped thyme, 1/2 teaspoon of the salt, and pepper into the meat. Set the lamb chops aside at room temperature for 5 minutes.
2. Cook the lamb. Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Add the lamb chops and cook until a rich, brown crust forms on the bottom, 4 to 6 minutes (if you’re using thicker lamb chops, this could take up to 10 minutes).
3. Turn the lamb. Flip the lamb chops and continue to cook until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the meat registers 145°F, 4 to 6 minutes more.
4. Transfer to a plate. Transfer the lamb chops to a plate and cover with aluminum foil. Pour off all but 2 tablespoons of the rendered fat.
5. Cook the shallot, garlic, and thyme. Reduce the heat to medium. Add the shallot, garlic, and thyme sprig to the pan and cook until shallot softens and begins to brown, about 1 minute.
6. Deglaze the pan. Deglaze with the wine or broth and lemon juice, scraping any browned bits from the bottom of the pan.
7. Finish the sauce. Cook until reduced by half, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in the lemon zest, remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 2 tablespoons butter. Cook until the butter melts and the sauce thickens slightly, about 1 minute. Taste and season with more salt and pepper if needed. Pour the sauce over the lamb chops and serve immediately.
Make ahead: Lamb chops can be seasoned with salt, pepper, thyme, and lemon zest up to 1 hour in advance and refrigerated.
Storage: Refrigerate leftovers in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
Cooking lamb blade or sirloin chops: To cook 4 (1-inch-thick) lamb blade or sirloin chops, season the chops as instructed above. Cook for 6 to 7 minutes per side or until deeply browned and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the meat registers 145°F. You may need to cook the chops in 2 batches to avoid crowding the pan.