Enjoy the perfect smoked rack of lamb in just a few easy steps. The flavor is legendary!
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Read on for relevant information and step-by-step pictures (2 mins)
About This Recipe
Smoking lamb rack is, in our experience, one of the most satisfying ways to address the tender texture of the meat and enhance its unique flavor. Smoldering hickory perfuming the rack as the fat sizzles and moistens it is a gustatory nirvana experience.
This recipe calls for a higher smoking temperature than typically used with lamb, but for a good reason and with delicious results.
What is the Best Wood to Smoke Lamb?
Hickory is excellent for smoking lamb – its rich, slightly sweet flavors are a worthy match for lamb’s own strong, meaty taste.
If you are a fan of gentler smoke, applewood and cherrywood are among the best alternatives for those lighter nuances. Or you can combine hickory with a fruit wood for a balanced combination.
Among the less common choices we suggest olive wood (like we used with this leg of lamb). The smoke it produces has a fantastic aroma that is so well suited to this red meat.
How to Smoke a Rack of Lamb – Step by Step
By way of flavoring the meat before it goes in the smoker we like to use a simple spice rub so as to not distract from the wood smoke aromas.
For us this is a mix of coarse salt, pepper and dried oregano. Feel free to add garlic powder, or substitute with rosemary or use your favorite rub.
The workflow is straightforward and overall looks like this.
Prep. Trim any excess fat from the rack of lamb and brush it with olive oil. Next, rub it well with the spice blend of your choice and let it sit for a little bit. In the meantime set up your smoker, charcoals and wood of choice according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
Smoke. Place the rubbed rack of lamb as close to the heat/smoker source as you can and close the lid. This will create an appetizing sear and dry the surface so that the smoke sticks better to it. After 5 – 10 minutes move it away from the direct heat and allow it to cook through. If needed, replenish the charcoal and smoking wood to continue smoking at a constant temperature (see below). Be sure to allow a rest of 5-10 minutes before carving the cooked rack.
Top Tips for Smoking Lamb Rack
- Be sure that the meat is at room temperature before you carry it over to the smoker.
- Position the rack with the fat side up. This will ensure that the fat melts into the meat and saturates it with flavor, while keeping it moist.
- Do your best to maintain the smoker temperature.
- You do not need to spritz or mop this cut of lamb, it will cook fully before it has a chance to begin drying.
What is The Best Temperature for Smoking A Whole Lamb Rack?
We recommend the 275F to 300F range as the best temperature for smoking lamb rack.
Here is why.
The meat is naturally tender and does not require connective tissue to melt over a prolonged time.
There also isn’t that much fat to be rendered from a lamb rack. It is absolutely fine to smoke it for less time at a slightly higher temperature. And because it has a large surface area relative to its size even a little bit of time in the chamber or box infuses a generous amount of smoke magic.
How Long to Smoke a Rack of Lamb?
The short answer is about 35-40 minutes. But this is only a guideline – you need to smoke it until it is done which can happen earlier or after the expected time.
The optimal temperature for lamb rack is in the 135-145 F range. Smoke the meat just until the internal temperature reaches 135 F for medium-rare or 145 F if you would rather dip into medium doneness.
The precise time for smoking lamb rack will depend on:
- how big the rack is (smaller if from Australian or New Zealand animal and significantly larger if from domestic animal such as Colorado lamb).
- how stable of a temperature you were able to maintain (this should not be difficult considering the short estimated duration of smoking)
Carve the Smoked Rack into Rib Chops
Allow sufficient rest time before you carve the smoked rack of lamb so that the juices can re-distribute and the meat remains succulent.
The easiest way to address the rested rack is to first cut it in half, then into double chops and then single.
Note that the typical rack of lamb has eight ribs, occasionally the animal will have a ninth one and then you’d get a bonus chop!
TIP: If you’d like to sear the already rested and cut rib chops you can do so over a hot grill or skillet on the stove top. Be sure it is a high temperature, quick sear so as to simply brown the outsides and not cook further. If someone in your party really wants a medium-well rib chop you can simply sear theirs a bit longer.
Serving and Sides Ideas
We recommended the pepperiness of arugula, presented as a simple salad with shaved red onion, olive oil and balsamic reduction (or try beersamic). You can simply serve it on a cutting board alongside the rib chops as shown below.
Grilled veggies such as asparagus, romaine hearts, mini tomatoes (skewer them or use a grilling basket), mini red bell peppers and green onions are among our other favorites. We typically toss them in olive oil, salt and pepper and grill/smoke them on the grill rack nearest the smoker box once we pull the lamb to the indirect heat area. They cook really fast and also benefit from the smokiness.
You Might Enjoy
- 1 rack of lamb, Frenched, excess fat trimmed
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tsp kosher salt (or to taste)
- 1 tsp black pepper (or to taste)
- 2 tsp dried oregano (or to taste)
- wood chunks or chips (hickory or a fruit wood), as needed
- Set up your smoker as per the manufacturer’s instructions and preheat to 275 – 300 F*. Add your choice of wood chips or chunks also per the specifications of the manufacturer.
- In the meantime mix the spices** for the rub. Brush the rack with olive oil, just enough for a thin coating. Then liberally rub all sides with the seasonings blend.
- Place the rack directly onto the grill/smoker rack with the fat side up and as near to the heat source as possible. Smoke for up to 10 minutes and then pull it further away from the heat source to continue smoking it until the internal temperature reaches 135 F for medium-rare***. (Replenish the charcoal and smoking wood if needed to maintain the 275 – 300 F range.)
- Transfer the lamb rack onto a cutting board and let rest for 5-10 minutes. You may loosely tent it with foil. Carve it in half first, then into doubles and finally into single rib chops. Serve.
*We recommend the 275F to 300F range as the best temperature for smoking lamb rack. Refer to the relevant section in the post for detailed explanation.
**The spice rub suggested here is minimal. Feel free to add/substitute flavors such as garlic powder or rosemary or use your favorite rub for smoking red meats.
***135 F must be measured in the center of the rack. This is ideal for rib chops, you can safely go up to 140 F. Past that the meat might begin to dry out. See the post regarding ideas for searing the cut chops.
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 400Total Fat: 29gSaturated Fat: 12gTrans Fat: 2gUnsaturated Fat: 15gCholesterol: 98mgSodium: 751mgCarbohydrates: 5gFiber: 1gSugar: 0gProtein: 31g