Easy lamb shoulder chops recipe you can make year-round. Enjoy different flavor profiles by switching up the marinade and sides.
How to Cook Lamb Shoulder Chops
Lamb shoulder chops require significantly shorter cooking time than other cuts. The easiest and fastest method to prepare them is to cook them on the stove top in a heavy bottomed skillet (such as cast iron) or a grill-pan.
There are two types of lamb chops depending on which part of the animal’s shoulder they are cut from – blade chops and arm chops.
Arm chops are smaller but well marbled which makes them particularly juicy. They contain a cross-section of round arm bone in the middle and have less fat.
For this post we used the larger blade chops which have a good amount of fat and are also nicely marbled (=deliciousness). Below you can also see the elongated, thin cross-sections of shoulder blade that remain in the chops.
Step by Step Process
Step 1. If you have the time – make a marinade and let the chops spend some quality time in it.
We highly recommend that you marinate them, even if only for half an hour. It is so worth it. Consult our Lamb Chops Marinade Recipes List for ideas and tips.
If you don’t have the time – nicely season the chops with salt and pepper on each side before cooking them. You can add cumin, garlic powder etc. to the salt and pepper or use your favorite premixed seasoning.
Step 2. Heat a 10 or 12 inch skillet over medium-high heat for about 3 minutes. Add about a tablespoon of olive or vegetable oil. Alternatively, heat a grill-pan and generously brush it with oil.
Next place the chops in the skillet (or grill-pan) and cook for 3 to 4 minutes per side, depending on how big and thick they are. Flip only once and do not futz with the temperature:).
TIP: Normally a marinade should be completely scraped off the chops before placing them in the pan, especially if on the acidic side. With this particular marinade we kept some of the bits of shallot, rosemary, and preserved lemon on the meat’s surface for the desirable aromas they released in contact with the hot skillet. Once they began to char we simply scraped them off.
For demonstration purposes we used a grilling cast iron skillet for two of the chops and a small cast iron one for the third one for kiddo. Generally, it is better if you cook all the chops simultaneously in separate skillets than in batches. They will be ready to serve at the same time.
When will they be done?
The exact cooking time depends on how thick and how large your chops are.
Lamb shoulder chops are usually cut about an inch thick and are cooked medium rare when the internal temperature is 125-130 F and medium when it gets to 135 F.
For juicy, pink center and nicely browned flavorful outside go with 3.5 minutes per side. Use a food thermometer to be sure you do not overcook them.
Step 3. Rest the chops before you serve them.
Simply move them from the pan to a plate/serving platter and let them sit for 3-5 minutes. You can also cover them loosely with foil to keep them warm.
What to Serve with Lamb Chops
As a rule of thumb select the sides for your lamb chops in accordance with the culinary direction in which the marinade took you.
- For example, if you made a Middle Eastern style marinade, you can use this recipe for feta cheese, pine nuts and mint couscous.
- In this case with our Mediterranean inspired marinade we made a hearty barley salad with kalamata olives, Italian parsley, feta, red sweet drop peppers and red onions. Rosemary butter gold potatoes would have been good too.
- Serve lamb chops prepped in Indian inspired curry marinade with garlic naan and dal, mango chutney and rice, or spicy mustard peas.
- If you didn’t use a marinade and instead only seasoned your chops a simple garden salad with fresh herbs will go nicely or perhaps an orzo or other pasta salad.
And so on. Lamb is such a versatile meat that it goes well with hundreds of sides – from lentils and chickpeas to grilled veggies.
Juicy lamb shoulder chops are shamefully easy to prepare. They also do not take very long - this simple recipe is all you need to enjoy them year-round. Use our Mediterranean inspired marinade or the suggested alternatives.
- 4 lamb shoulder chops (blade or arm, about 8 oz each, about 1 inch thick))
- 2 tbsp olive oil or vegetable oil
- salt & pepper to taste
- 1 shallot, diced or finely sliced in half circles
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 sprigs rosemary, leaves torn off
- 1 tsp coarse salt
- 1/2 tsp pepper
- 1/3 cup olive oil (extra virgin preferred)
- 1 tbsp minced preserved lemon rind (substitute with zest of 1 lemon)
- 1 tbsp preserved lemons liquid (substitute with 1 tbsp lemon juice)
Prepare the marinade by mixing all the ingredients together. Pour it in a gallon plastic bag or a glass container with a lid.
Lightly season the lamb shoulder chops with salt & pepper and add them to the bag or container with the marinade. Make sure they are completely smothered. Seal or cover and let marinate for up to an hour at room temperature on the counter or up to 12 hours refrigerated.*
Over medium-high heat heat a 10 or 12 inch heavy skillet for about 3 minutes. Add a tablespoon of oil. (Work in batches of 2 pork chops**).
Scrape off the marinade from the lamb chops and discard.
Cook chops for 3 to 4 minutes per side. Flip only once.
If you want to be sure they are cooked medium-rare use a food thermometer. Lamb shoulder chops are medium-rare just under or exactly at 135 F.
Remove the chops form the pan and let them rest on a plate for 3 to 5 minutes. You can cover them loosely with foil to keep them warm.
Serve right away.
*If you make a marinade in the morning you can refrigerate them smothered and covered during the day and take them out to bring them to room temperature before cooking when it is time for dinner.
**If your circumstances allow for it, heat two skillets on adjacent burners and cook two chops per skillet instead of working in batches of two chops and one skillet.
Craft Beer Pairings
We enjoy lamb chops almost as often as we do pork chops and dinner is always a breeze to prepare. Because we live in Colorado, known for its quality American lamb, we feel lucky to have access to various cuts of fresh meat. Colorado lamb is truly superior in quality, one of the best in the world and a prized local product. Just like our awesome craft beer.
Lamb meat famously stands up to bold flavored and strong ales such as Belgian/Trappist ales, especially dubbels and Belgian strong golden ales, but also barley wines, barrel aged brown ales, winter warmers, porters and stouts. Try pairing with beer among these styles during the colder months.
For lamb shoulder chops aggressively flavored with herbs you will also enjoy hoppy lagers brewed with Noble hops and dry-hopped pale ales which can echo the herbal notes and their carbonation will still cut through the richness of the meat.