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Springtime is the perfect time for grilled or smoked lamb. Really any time is good for this deliciously rich meat, but Spring has long been the traditional season for lamb. So now, you’re headed to your local butcher shop to pick up some meat to cook, but what cuts of lamb do you get? What are the best lamb cuts?

There are a variety of different lamb cuts available, all of which can be very good when cooked properly. Each cut has unique variations and characteristics. Some are better on the grill, while others can be smoked low and slow to a delicious finish. To truly expand your outdoor cooking skills and grill lamb perfectly, it is important to understand the types of lamb cuts and how they differ. 

In this article, we’ll break down the different cuts of lamb and what to look for when buying lamb. Let’s take a look: 


cuts of lamb | lamb cuts | different cuts of lamb
Source: The Spruce


9 Different Lamb Cuts Available Today

As you’ll see below, there are a variety of different lamb cuts available. Depending on how much the muscle each is cut from is worked, they’ll have different levels of leanness or marbling, tenderness, flavor, etc. This also impacts the cooking method that works best for each cut.

Here are 9 popular lamb cuts:



One of the larger cuts of lamb (and one of the five lamb primal cuts), the shoulder comes from the top of the front legs. Because this is a muscle that is usually worked harder than other parts, the meat from the shoulder is very lean. But, it does still have some good marbling and is very flavorful. 

The shoulder will take a while to become tender so this makes it a great cut to smoke and slow-roast. You can maximize the flavor and tenderness of the meat by cooking lamb shoulder on the bone, allowing you to easily pull apart the meat with a fork when it is done.


Shoulder Chop

There are several different variations of lamb chops that come in different shapes and sizes, depending on the part of the lamb they’re cut from. One example is a shoulder chop. A shoulder chop (also called arm chop or blade chop) is a smaller cross-section cut from the larger shoulder cut that we just talked about above. 

Shoulder chops require less cooking time than other lamb cuts, making them a good option to grill over higher heat for an easy, quick, and delicious meal.


Bone-In Leg

The leg is going to be the leanest cut of lamb. Similar to the shoulders, the legs contain hard-working muscles, giving this cut a delicious, strong flavor. Another large cut compared to other types, usually weighing 7-8 pounds, a bone-in leg of lamb is great for any special occasion or holiday get-together not only because of its great presentation but it will also feed a lot. 

This is another cut that is great for low-roasting and smoking whole to get a delicious exterior bark (thank you Maillard reaction!) and soft tender interior. Plus, the bone adds an even richer flavor to the meat.




leg of lamb | cuts of lamb | lamb cuts
Source: Serious Eats


A BRT or boneless leg roast is one of the most versatile cuts of lamb when it comes to cooking it. You can slow roast or smoke it whole, trim it into smaller pieces and grill it on kebabs,  cut it into smaller roasts or individual chops to cook over a two-zone grill setup, or even butterfly it and grill it.


Sirloin Chop

Another type of chop, sirloin chops are large, meaty cuts that are cut from the leg of lamb. These are easily identified by the crosscut piece of round leg bone within the middle of the meat. Less expensive compared to the prized rack and loin chops, sirloin chops can be just as tender and flavorful when cooked properly.



Taken from the lower part of the leg, lamb shanks are available in both hind shanks and fore shanks. Also a popular menu item at many restaurants across the country, when they are slow-cooked, lamb shanks practically fall off the bone. Another lean cut that is still big on flavor, the meaty lamb shank contains a high amount of collagen, which makes it perfect for cooking low and slow or even slowly braising in a simmering broth.


Rack/Lamb Chops

Cut from the upper ribs, the rack is an icon of fine dining menus throughout the country and is usually the most expensive cut of lamb, with highly tender and delicious meat. The rack of lamb consists of the first 8 ribs and will usually weigh about 2 pounds total. 

Surprisingly easy to prepare at home, the impressive presentation of a rack will give you a restaurant-quality meal that is versatile for entertaining. You can keep the rack together and slow roast it or cut it apart into what are known as lamb chops (aka cutlets) and grill them individually over higher heat. Individual bone-in lamb chops are what are also sometimes referred to as lamb lollipops.

A rack of lamb can come in two variations as well:

Frenched Rack: A few inches of meat have been removed from the end of the bones.

Crown Roast: Two frenched racks are tied together resembling a crown.


Loin Chop


lamb loin chops | cuts of lamb | lamb cuts
Source: DeBragga


Another prized cut, loin chops are cut from the waist of the lamb and are lean, tender, and deliciously flavorful. Because of their popularity, these are often one of the most readily available cuts at your local butcher shop and sometimes even available at the grocery store. 

Easy to prepare and cook on the grill, loin chops are usually 3 to 4-ounces each and have a distinct “T” shaped bone that runs through the top of the meat. Hence why they are sometimes called T-bone chops. Marinating them for 4 to 6 hours before grilling can help flavor and tenderize the exterior of the meat even more.

You can also have a great small roast by keeping a few loin chops together in one piece.



Somewhat of an underrated cut of lamb, the neck is an inexpensive piece that can be slow-cooked whole or chopped into smaller chunks for kebabs or stews. Slow roasting lamb neck will really bring out all the flavors of the meat. While seasoning smaller chunks in salt, pepper, and paprika and cooking slowly over the indirect heat side of your grill makes for an easy and delicious meal.


Selecting Good Quality Lamb

When it comes to great-tasting lamb, the quality of the meat you are getting is just as important as the type of lamb cuts you choose and the cooking technique you use.

Your local butcher, smaller specialty grocery stores, or even top online meat wholesalers are the best places to find good quality lamb. There are a couple of things to look for and keep in mind to ensure you get quality lamb meat. These include:

  • Always buy free-range or organic when possible.
  • Look for even higher welfare and care certifications like Certified Humane or RSPCA Approved (Australian).
  • Get lamb meat that is light pink with red streaks running through the bone and evenly distributed smooth white fat. (Keep in mind that marbling is not as much of a factor as it is with beef selection, but in lamb just look for fat that is distributed evenly. 
  • American lamb, which is usually grain-fed, will have a milder flavor compared to New Zealand or Australian lamb which is usually pasture-raised and grass-fed. If you’re new to the taste of lamb you may prefer trying American first, but don’t be afraid to try lamb from the more robust varieties. It is all delicious!


free range lamb | cuts of lamb | lamb cuts


Try Out Different Types Of Lamb Cuts Today

Now you should have a deeper understanding of what differentiates the different cuts of lamb and also what to look for when you buy the meat. Lamb is something everyone should try at least once, as its tenderness and robust flavor are absolutely mouth-watering. Pair it with your favorite stout or porter beer and you’ll have a delicious flavor combination. Use a two-zone grill setup and experiment with cooking different cuts of lamb to find your favorites. 

If you want to try a step-by-step recipe straight from the pros that shows you exactly how to grill a rack of lamb perfectly, check out our online video/class for Frenched Rack of Lamb Chops for only $7.98! 


Or check out the BBQ Champs Academy All-Access Pass to dive into our in-depth online classes to learn how to cook everything from a perfectly smoked brisket to a championship-quality grilled steak and everything in between, just like the award-winning pitmasters and grillmasters!

Make sure to also subscribe to the BBQ Champs Academy YouTube channel to stay on top of the latest insider tips and BBQ news straight from the pros!

The weather is warming up and you’re itching to start grilling more. You may have perfected grilling the perfect steak or smoking a delicious brisket and you are wanting to try something new. Springtime has long been the traditional season for lamb. Grilled lamb is absolutely delicious, and when cooked the right way, results in tender and delicate meat with a rich flavor that is not too overpowering or “gamey”. 

If you haven’t tried it yet, you’re missing out! But, if you are wondering how to grill lamb the right way, we’ve got you covered. We went straight to the Champion Grillmasters to find out what you need to know:


Start with Quality Meat

As we have mentioned before when dealing with other types of meat, ensuring you are starting with good quality meat will have a significant impact on the taste of the final result. 

Your local big-box supermarket will usually not have a huge selection of lamb cuts. Specialty grocery stores, your local butcher, or even high-quality online meat wholesalers are the best places to find good lamb. 

When buying your lamb to grill, you want to look for meat that is light pink with evenly distributed smooth white fat and red streaks running through the bone. This meat will be the most tender and have a mildly-robust flavor. If the meat is darker (almost purple) and has yellow fat, it was an older sheep and the meat will be tougher and have a more “gamey” taste. Marbling is not as important in lamb as it is with beef selection, but just make sure the fat is evenly distributed. 

If you are new to the taste of lamb, American lamb, which is often fed grain versus grass-fed, will have a milder flavor compared to New Zealand or Australian lamb which is pasture-raised. Once you’ve tasted lamb that is properly cooked, don’t be afraid to venture out to those more robust lamb varieties.

The best cuts of lamb for grilling are going to be the rack/rib chop, loin chop, leg, rump, and shoulder.


Trim Excess Exterior Fat

Some cuts of lamb may have some exterior fat around the edges. Go ahead and trim this off. The meat will remain tender without it. This fat won’t add any additional flavor and trimming it off will help reduce any oil-induced grill flare-ups

Also, leaving it on can actually cause the lamb to cup up, as the connective tissue under the fat layer shrinks when it heats up, causing uneven cooking.


trim lamb chops | how to grill lamb | how to grill lamb chops
Source: Kingsford


Let it Sit First

You don’t want to immediately take your lamb out of the refrigerator and put it on the grill. In doing this, because the meat is cold, you’ll quickly increase your chances of the outside charring too much before the interior of the meat is cooked to temperature. This quickly leads to overcooked meat.

So, you want to let the meat sit out at room temperature for about 30 minutes before it goes on the grill. This will make properly grilling the lamb much easier. First, pat the meat dry with a paper towel after pulling it out of the refrigerator, lightly season it with salt, and cover it with aluminum foil to let it sit.


Use Seasonings & Flavors That Complement the Meat

Lamb is a rich-flavored meat that, unlike other types of meat, can hold up to bold seasonings, spices, and aromatics. If you want to add some seasoning to the lamb (more than salt and pepper) or use a marinade, some specific ingredients help enhance the natural flavor of the meat. These include:


  • Garlic
  • Rosemary
  • Onion
  • Lemon zest
  • Mint
  • Lemongrass
  • Cilantro
  • Basil
  • Thyme
  • Parsely
  • Yellow curry


You don’t want to go overboard with the seasonings and end up masking the meat’s natural flavor. Use just enough to lightly coat the exterior and amplify the meat itself.


Coat the Meat With Oil Before it Hits the Grill

Lamb has a tendency to stick to a hot grill more than other meats. So, it is important to make sure the meat has a good coating of oil before it goes on the grill. This can either be done by brushing it shortly before cooking it or marinating it overnight. 

Lamb does well with marinades that are oil and lemon-based and this provides an opportunity to work in some of those spices and aromatics. 

It also helps to use a paper towel dipped in oil and coat the grill grates before the meat goes on also. 


Use a Two-Zone Grill Setup

Like many other types of grilled meats, with lamb you want both a seared exterior crust and a nice tender interior. Using a two-zone grill setup is the best way to make this happen. With two-zone grilling, you have one side where you can cook directly over the direct heat above the fuel/heat source and the other side is the indirect heat side which is away from the heat source.

Two-zone grilling gives you the versatility to sear the exterior to a deep brown first (without charring) and then grill for longer periods over lower heat without overcooking the meat. Cooking the lamb for the majority of the time over the indirect side will slow roast it and create a much more flavorful result. 


two zone grill setup | how to grill lamb | how to cook lamb on the grill
Source: Weber


Cook to Proper Temperature, Not by Time

At this point, you may be wondering how long to grill lamb for to cook it perfectly. The important thing to understand is that you should cook to the proper temperature versus relying on cooking times. This is why it is important to have a good quality thermometer on hand.

To grill lamb properly using a two-zone method, the indirect zone of your grill should be 225 degrees Fahrenheit, while the direct zone is between 350 and 450 degrees Fahrenheit. For medium-rare lamb, you want to cook the meat until it reaches 135 degrees Fahrenheit in the center away from the bone. If you prefer medium, leave it on until it reaches 150 degrees Fahrenheit. Anything more than medium can quickly result in a very tough and gamey tasting piece of lamb. 

After you pull the meat off the grill, let it rest and the internal temperature will rise roughly another 10 degrees, bringing it to the final desired temperature. Per the USDA, the minimum final internal temperature of lamb is 145 degrees Fahrenheit. 


Don’t Be in a Hurry to Carve It

Just like when grilling steak, an important tip for delicious and juicy lamb is not to immediately carve it and serve as soon as it comes off the grill. As touched on above, after removing it from the grill, cover it with aluminum foil and let it rest for roughly 5 minutes. 

This not only allows for the carryover cooking to bring the internal temperature to the desired point, but it also allows the juices to redistribute throughout the meat. This results in a perfectly flavored, tender, and juicy result.

*Bonus tip: Always make sure to cut lamb against the grain. 


You Can Cook Delicious Grilled Lamb Like The Pros

Lamb is deliciously tender meat with robust flavors all its own, and something everyone should try at least once. No matter if you are grilling lamb chops or kebabs, the tips we covered above will help you end up with a delicious final result. 

Now, if you want a step-by-step recipe that shows you exactly how to grill lamb perfectly, check out our online video/class for Frenched Rack of Lamb Chops for only $7.98!

Are you planning on trying your hand at grilled or smoked lamb soon? Do you have any other tips on how to grill lamb that you’ve discovered? Tell us about it in the comment box below. We want to hear from you!


Make sure to also check out our YouTube channel for insider info and BBQ news straight from the pros. Click “Subscribe” to stay on top of all the latest from BBQ Champs Academy!

Join us in our one-of-kind online BBQ classes for even more insider secrets and cooking techniques straight from the Champion Grillmasters and Pitmasters here at BBQ Champs Academy. Master how to cook everything from a perfectly grilled steak to deliciously tender beef brisket and more.

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