Pan-Roasted Rack of Lamb Recipe

With nothing more than a pan and some butter, garlic, and herbs, you can make an astoundingly delicious rack of lamb. Here's how.

Vicky Wasik

Why It Works

  • An optional dry-brining step pre-seasons the meat and dries the exterior for faster browning, but isn't absolutely necessary.
  • Basting the racks all over keeps the hot fat in contact with the meat, which leads to even cooking.
  • Butter, garlic, and thyme infuse the racks with deep flavor.

Rack of lamb is arguably at its best when the fat is given enough heat to sizzle, melt, and baste the rosy meat. This method delivers just that, cooking the rack from start to finish in a pan while basting it with melted browned butter that's infused with garlic and herbs. If you want, you can alter this recipe by starting with the reverse sear: put the seasoned lamb on a wire rack set in a rimmed baking sheet in a low 250°F oven and cook until the eye of the loin registers your target temperature on an instant-read thermometer, then transfer to the hot skillet with butter, garlic, and herbs just long enough to give it a good final sear.

Recipe Facts

Active: 30 mins
Total: 45 mins
Serves: 2 to 4 servings

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  • Two 4-bone racks of lamb

  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

  • 1 tablespoon (15ml) vegetable or canola oil

  • 4 tablespoons (60g) unsalted butter

  • 2 medium cloves garlic

  • A few fresh thyme sprigs


  1. Season the racks all over with salt and pepper. If you have more than 1 hour and up to 24 hours before you need to serve the lamb, set the racks uncovered on a wire rack set in a rimmed baking sheet and refrigerate until ready to cook. If not, proceed immediately to cooking.

  2. In a large stainless-steel, cast iron, or carbon steel skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add racks meaty side down and cook until lightly browned, about 2 minutes. Using tongs, turn racks meaty side up and cook until lightly browned on the underside, about 2 minutes (the ribs curve, so the underside won't make complete contact with the pan). Stand the racks, so the bones are pointing upwards, and sear so that the underside is lightly browned (you may need to lean the racks against each other to keep them from falling).

  3. Add butter, garlic, and thyme to the pan and let melt. Lower heat to medium and cook the lamb, flipping the racks often and basting constantly with the hot butter, until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the eye of the loin registers 130°F (54°C) for medium-rare or 135°F (57°C) for medium, about 20 minutes (though please note that the cooking time will vary heavily depending on the size of the racks, which range from quite small to big and meaty); make sure to spend some time basting the ribs side of the racks so that they cook there too.

  4. Let rest 5 minutes, then carve into individual chops and serve.


Special equipment

12-inch stainless-steel, cast iron, or carbon steel skillet, tongs

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Nutrition Facts (per serving)
465 Calories
38g Fat
1g Carbs
31g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 2 to 4
Amount per serving
Calories 465
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 38g 49%
Saturated Fat 19g 95%
Cholesterol 129mg 43%
Sodium 716mg 31%
Total Carbohydrate 1g 0%
Dietary Fiber 0g 0%
Total Sugars 0g
Protein 31g
Vitamin C 1mg 7%
Calcium 21mg 2%
Iron 3mg 14%
Potassium 329mg 7%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)