Whether you're a seasoned expert in the kitchen or are just setting out on your cooking journey, lamb chops can be an intimidating dish to try your hand at. But it's way easier to cook lamb chops in the oven than you'd think. As with any meat-based protein, there's an art to getting a perfectly juicy and flavorful finished product, and if you try it once, you'll never be afraid of lamb again.
Before you get started, you'll want to make sure you choose a good cut of meat. These days lamb is available at most supermarkets, but it's worth clarifying whether you're getting a sirloin, leg, or shoulder chop (leg and shoulder chops can be delicious, but they require some serious marinating). Keep an eye out for chops that are about an inch thick with an even distribution of fat. Once you have your meat, here's what you need to do:
- Preheat the oven. The goal is to get the lamb to an internal temperature of 140 degrees, but if your oven is too hot, your meat could end up a little tougher than you'd like. A good temperature is somewhere between 375 and 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Prepare the chops. If you're someone who likes to wash your meat, now is the time to do that. Make sure everything's dry before you begin adding spices. Get salt, pepper, and whatever seasonings you like - lamb pairs especially well with classics like garlic, oregano, or rosemary. If you're not that confident in the kitchen just yet, there are plenty of recipes out there that you can follow. Give your chops a nice massage with your chosen seasonings and then let them rest, covering them for at least five minutes but up to four hours. If you're opting for a longer marinating process, it's a good idea to put your seasoned chops in an airtight bag with a little oil to get them extra juicy.
- Get started on the stovetop. The most important part of making juicy and flavorful oven-roasted lamb chops is making sure you get a good sear on both sides of the meat before popping everything in the oven. This way you don't lose any juices to the cooking process. Put a stainless steel, cast-iron, or otherwise oven-proof pan on a stove burner at medium-high heat and heat up some oil or butter. (If you marinated your lamb chops with some oil, no need to add more now.) Put the lamb chops in the pan and let them sear on one side for three minutes, or until they've developed a deep golden crust. Flip them over to the other side for an additional three minutes and remove the pan from the heat.
- Toss them in the oven. Put the oven-proof pan with the lamb chops immediately into the oven. Let them roast for about ten minutes, or until they reach around 140 degrees in the center of the thickest part. If you don't have a cooking thermometer, you can test whether your chops are roasted to perfection by poking them with a knife or fork - if the liquid that releases is clear, they're ready. Be careful not to overcook them because lamb can be a pretty tough meat.
- Let them rest. If you went to the trouble of searing the chops on both sides, don't let your impatience get the best of you now - letting the chops rest for at least two to five minutes will preserve the juices you helped cultivate. This resting process will also allow the lamb chops to continue cooking internally until they hit a sweet spot of 145 degrees.