Smoky and Tender Lamb Ribs: A Delicious Delight for Your Taste Buds

When it comes to succulent and flavorful ribs, lamb ribs are a real game-changer. Whether you prefer cooking them in the oven, on the grill, or a combination of both, the result is always tender riblets bursting with taste.

Lamb ribs oven baked and smothered with honey garlic sticky sauce.

A Versatile Lamb Ribs Recipe

Prepare to be amazed by the versatility of this lamb rib recipe. It offers two different cooking methods: slow cooking in the oven or on the grill. Regardless of which method you choose, you’ll end up with mouthwatering ribs that are ready to absorb the flavors of a delicious sauce. You can opt for a sticky honey, rosemary, and garlic glaze or an Asian-inspired hoisin barbecue sauce. The process is simple, and the results are simply scrumptious!

What Are Lamb Ribs Called?

Lamb ribs, also known as lamb riblets or Denver style ribs, are comparable to pork spare ribs. These delectable cuts of meat are often referred to as lamb spare ribs. The rib tips are usually removed, giving the lamb rack its distinctive rectangular shape.

Where Are the Riblets Cut From?

Lamb ribs are derived from the breast primal cut. After being separated from the breastbone, the racks are split. Ribs two to nine are typically the meatiest. The weight of a typical rack ranges from 1 to 1.5 pounds, depending on the size of the lamb.

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Raw racks of lamb ribs side by side - top and bottom.

Lamb Rack vs Lamb Ribs

It’s important to note that a lamb rack, also known as a rack of lamb, is different from lamb ribs. A rack of lamb is cut from the rack primal, separated from the shoulder and the loin. The rib bones are frenched, resulting in incredibly tender meat. On the other hand, lamb ribs are part of the breast and are not as tender. They constitute the lower portion of the rib cage.

Are Lamb Ribs Tough?

Yes, lamb ribs can be tough, but fear not! With the right cooking technique, you can transform them into incredibly soft and tender meat that effortlessly separates from the bones and tantalizes your taste buds.

How to Cook Lamb Ribs

To achieve the perfect tenderness, lamb riblets are best slow-roasted, grilled over indirect heat, sous-vide, smoked, or braised. The key is to allow enough time for the connective tissues and fat to melt slowly, lubricating the meat and infusing it with flavors. A final burst of high heat, along with a flavorful sauce or spice rub, completes the process.

Where to Buy Lamb Ribs?

For high-quality lamb spare ribs, we recommend purchasing from reputable sources like D’Artagnan. They offer responsibly-raised Colorado lamb that ensures excellent taste and texture. If you can’t find lamb ribs near you, simply ask your local butcher or the meat department of your grocery store, and they should be able to special order them for you.

How to Prepare Lamb Ribs for Cooking

Preparing lamb spare ribs for cooking is an essential step. Follow these steps for fall-off-the-bone tender meat:

  • Start by patting dry each rack with a paper towel.
  • Remove the translucent membrane that holds the ribs by lifting it with a knife and peeling it off completely.
  • Place the racks on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet, season with kosher salt and black pepper, and position with the meaty side up.
  • Cover with another parchment paper sheet and tightly wrap with aluminum foil.
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This method of wrapping the ribs in their own juices offers several advantages. It prevents the ribs from drying out, makes clean-up easier, and ensures food safety by creating a barrier between the meat and the aluminum foil.

How to prepare lamb ribs - step-by-step.

Oven Lamb Ribs

When cooking lamb ribs in the oven, follow these steps for a delicious outcome:

  1. Slow cook the prepared ribs in the oven at 275 to 300°F for about 1 hour and 45 minutes.
  2. Brush the ribs with your choice of glaze (honey, rosemary, and garlic or barbecue sauce).
  3. Place them back in the oven for another 20-25 minutes to allow the fat and glaze to create a crisp exterior.
  4. For an extra appetizing touch, broil the ribs for 5 minutes, keeping a close eye on them.

How to cook lamb ribs in the oven - workflow.

Grilled Lamb Ribs

Grilling lamb ribs requires a dual heating zone for juicy and tender meat:

  1. Slow cook the wrapped racks near the heat source on a grill set at 275-300°F, mimicking oven slow cooking.
  2. After approximately 1.5 hours, remove the foil and paper and place the ribs directly on the grill grate over direct heat.
  3. Brush both sides of the ribs with barbecue sauce and grill for a few more minutes per side to achieve a good crust.
  4. Transfer the racks to a platter or carving board, brush with sauce once more, and cover with foil for about 10 minutes.

Lamb ribs on the grill.

How Do You Know When Lamb Ribs Are Done?

Determining the doneness of lamb ribs is simple:

  • When the meat has significantly pulled off the bones and is tender when probed with a fork, the ribs are nearly done.
  • There’s no need to take an internal temperature; just trust your instincts.
  • If you have racks from a smaller animal, adjust the cooking time accordingly.
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Grilled lamb ribs with hoisin barbecue sauce.

Serving Lamb Spare Ribs

Choose sides that complement the glaze or barbecue sauce you used to smother the ribs. For honey, garlic, and rosemary-glazed ribs, fresh Mediterranean salads seasoned with olive oil and lemon juice are a perfect match. Barley salad, green salads, couscous, mashed potatoes, rice pilafs with dried fruit, or herb-roasted potatoes also pair well. If you opted for the hoisin barbecue sauce, consider serving the ribs with grilled green onions, Asian-inspired cucumber salads, coleslaw, jasmine rice with cilantro, or scallion pancakes.

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Don’t miss out on these other delicious lamb recipes:

So, gather your friends and family, fire up your oven or grill, and indulge in the smoky and tender pleasure of lamb ribs.