Lamb ribs are often demonized as too fatty. Well, move over baby back because lamb riblets = FLAVOR galore.
If you ever have the good fortune to treat yourself to the cut of lamb lower on the backbone, then honey, you better get yourself some lemons and garlic and make this recipe because it doesn’t get any better than this.
For those in-the-know, lamb riblets are a rare prize. They’re primal, unexpected, and relatively affordable. One bite and you can forget about cutting them into itty-bitty sections. You’ll be too busy sitting at the coffee table eating right off the rack.
So, in the spirit of using the whole animal, why not experiment with something new? After all, unpopular cuts are often cheaper and more flavorful. Case in point, the time I barbecued short ribs and ended up LOVING LIFE. Well, these lamb ribs are the same. Big on flavor, maybe a tad chewier than you’re used to, but so worth it in the end!
So real quick: what’s the difference between rack of lamb and lamb ribs?
Lamb ribs are lower on the ribs (think away from the spine) and have less meat overall. They have more sinews and are often discarded. Rack of lamb is higher up on the ribs (near the spine) and contain more meat overall.
Rib Lessons: Low and Slow or Hot and Quick?
Familiar with beef and pork ribs, I wondered whether lamb ribs would take as long. Usually I slow cook ribs for 6 plus hours. With oven roasted rack of lamb, a thicker rib cut near the back bone, hot and quick is the way to go. Ultimately, I decided to cook these thin ribs low and slow followed by a brief, high-temperature finale for caramelization.
creamy lemon-garlic marinade, roasting tips, and recipe
Best Way to Cook Lamb Riblets (Spare Ribs)
After looking at no less than 15 sources, I’m convinced the best way to cook lamb ribs is between low and slow and hot and quick because the meat needs time to get tender but you also need some hot, dry heat to melt the fat and develop a crust. This is why I’ve retested and updated this recipe to include a 3 hour bake at 300F followed by a 30 minute roast at 400F.
Do you remove the membrane or trim the fat from the lamb ribs?
When working with pork ribs, I often grab hold of the “silver skin” membrane with some paper towel and pull it off, but I opted to leave the fat and membrane attached. If you plan to smoke or barbecue though, I suggest trimming the fat and removing the membrane so the smoke can penetrate through.
What I love most about these ribs are the little flavorful pockets of umami that is caramelized fat marrying with salty lemon garlic sauce. You may find yourself working your way around some fat pockets, but hey, fat is flavor.
More Adventurous Recipes You Might Like
Lemon Roasted Lamb Ribs
- 1 recipe lemon garlic sauce
- 3 pounds lamb ribs 2 racks
- 2 tsp sea salt
- 1 tsp black pepper
- Preheat oven to 300°F.
- Pour half of the lemon garlic sauce over the ribs and marinate at room temperature for 30 minutes (or refrigerate overnight).
- Season the racks front to back with salt and pepper and wrap individually with foil. Place on a sheet tray lined with foil for easy clean up and bake for 3 hours. Remove the foil and flip the ribs. Apply extra lemon garlic sauce and increase the temperature to 400°F. Roast for 30 minutes longer. Rest before cutting for at least 15 minutes. Serve with extra lemon garlic sauce.
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My husband and I love lamb so much we started raising our own sheep a few years ago. Having an abundance of lamb in the freezer is wonderful but it has left us with some cuts we have never prepared before. My first endeavor with a package called “back ribs” was inedible. After about a year I was ready to try again. I stumbled across your recipe and decided to give it a go. Amazing! I took your advice and did the racks wrapped in foil for three hours at 300 degrees. Took them out of the foil and did… Read more »
I’m so happy you took a chance on back ribs again. They’re fickle, but when done well, can be such a treat. I’m honestly jealous you have a freezer full:) Enjoy them. I’m sure raising sheep is a ton of work. Maybe some day, I’ll give it a try. Thanks for sharing!
Superb recipe! Great texture and taste!
Thanks for the feedback!
Saw this cut at a new butcher that just opened in our Brooklyn neighborhood. We love most lamb, but had never cooked this cut so I hesitated to buy it. However, decided to take a chance. Followed your cooking technique and it was perfect. From now on I will buy this cut anytime I see it is available. Awesome!
Awesome! So happy you liked it. I don’t see it often, but when I do, I snatch it up and make this recipe.
the recipe calls for 3 hours bake but at the top of the recipe it says 1 hour and 40 minutes, that is so misleading and it threw my timing off for company!
There’s an inconsitency, is it 300 degrees as in the description or 350?
Oh dear. Silivia, I’ve got your back. I know those ribs are in the oven for guests and the truth is that the temperature range is forgiving. Let me explain: When I first posted the recipe, I called for a shorter bake time and higher temperature. Hence, the confusion. Over time, I’ve adjusted the recipe for a longer bake time–3 hours at 300F then 30 minutes at 400F–so that the results are a bit more tender. Looks like I updated the recipe but not the top portion where the time is (Sorry about this). Good news! The ribs will be… Read more »
Thank you and bless you. I did not put them in foil yet, I did that one time and it was way too fatty. Planning on putting them in foil after a lot of the fat is rendered. I am so impressed by your reply.
I cooked this recipe today with local certified organic lamb grazed in the wild mountains of New Mexico (Shepherds Lamb) and I have to say it was out of this world. I will be making this a staple in our cooking. The three hours in the oven creates a melt in your mouth texture, and the final crisping brings it to perfection. We only needed 15 minutes at 400 degrees at the end. Thank you very much and all blessings to you for sharing this!
I really appreciate that your recipe doesn’t need sugar or honey. My first try at lamb ribs (any ribs) I just browned on stovetop then put in oven for over an hour, with some water and I can’t remember, maybe soysauce. It worked out. But your recipe here skips the spatter mess on stovetop, I like that a lot! I made more of your sauce and served kale at the side with it. Delicious! Thank you