One variety of lamb chops: lamb loin chops. Cut from the short loin.

A Lamb Chops Lesson

The term “lamb chop” tends to get thrown around far too loosely. While there are multiple cuts that do qualify as lamb chops, it is important to recognize the differences in each. In this article, we will be focusing on Lamb Loin Chops and Lamb Rib Chops (aka Rack of Lamb). Take a quick lesson on where these cuts come from on the lamb, their unique textures and flavors, as well as the best methods for cooking either one. Soon enough, you’ll get to be the teacher and pass this knowledge onto your friends and family.

Loin Chops vs Rib Chops: Where do they come from?

The biggest difference in these two varieties is where they originate from on the lamb. Firstly, Lamb Loin Chops come from the short loin of the lamb. This region is located in the back of the lamb between the shoulders and hind legs. It holds quite tender and flavorful meat that is best for hot and fast cooking. The short loin is made up of two separate sections: the tenderloin and the striploin. This is identical to the beef porterhouse, which comes from the cow’s short loin and also contains the tenderloin and short loin cuts. When cut into “steaks”, the short loin becomes Lamb Loin Chops.

lamb loin chops
Lamb Loin Chops. Cut from the short loin.

Secondly, Lamb Rib Chops come from the ribs of the animal. As in any animal, there are two separate sections of ribs in a lamb, one on either side of the body. In total, there are 16 ribs per lamb, but you will only find a maximum of 8 per rack. A “Rack of Lamb” is the name given to the full section of 8 connected ribs. When sliced into chops, they become rib chops, or the popular nickname “Lamb Lollipops”. This nickname is given to these chops due to their lollipop-like shape.

Loin Chops vs Rib Chops: What is their flavor and texture?

Both Lamb Loin Chops and Lamb Rib Chops have a similar flavor and texture. To most, lamb has a “gamey” taste, but we prefer the words “robust” or “well-balanced”. The reason for this unique flavor is due to the way lambs are grass-finished when they are raised. Doing so increases the quantity of Omega-3 fatty acids in the lamb – an incredibly healthy addition to any person’s diet. This particular feeding method and elevation in fatty-acids creates a grassy or “gamey” taste that differentiates this meat from its close neighbor, beef. While this tends to be an acquired taste to many, using the proper seasonings and cooking method will manifest a cut of meat than none can resist.

Both varieties of lamb chops have similar textures as well. Despite neither cut being overly marbled, each manages to have a great deal of tenderness when cooked properly. In fact, many lamb lovers stand by the fact that the loin chops are the most tender cut of lamb. That being said, rib chops are not far behind. Due to both cuts possessing a bone within, an extra level of tenderness and flavor is acquired. These bones also assist in preventing the lamb from drying out while cooking, especially at the recommended high heat levels.

Loin Chops vs Rib Chops: What is the best cooking method?

In general, both Lamb Loin Chops and Lamb Rib Chops (or “Lollipops”) are best when grilled on high heat. Since these chops are quite small, they do not take very long to cook all the way through. Even at a high heat, the inside of the lamb will reach a minimum of 145°F without scorching the outside. If you don’t have access to a grill, then pan-searing lamb loin or rib chops is a safe second option.

Rack of lamb. Always frenched for prime presentation.
Rack of Lamb. Each rib sliced on its own are Lamb Rib Chops, aka “Lamb Lollipops”.

However, if purchased as a Rack of Lamb rather than Rib Chops, the best cooking method will be roasting in the oven. To create a delectable, textured crust, you’ll want to pan-sear or grill the fat cap of the lamb rack on high heat. You can do this to start or finish the cooking process. If searing to finish, remove your lamb from the oven at about 140°F and use the searing to bring the internal temperature up to the 145°F minimum. This will leave you with a perfectly roasted interior and a wonderfully textured crust on the exterior. Follow along with our Head Chef Matt Tofil in this cooking video as he instructs you on how to perfectly roast a Rack of Lamb!

The More You Know!

Now that you’re a pro on all things lamb chops, be sure to spread this info with friends and family. Teach them everything we’ve taught here, and soon enough you will be the official meat master in your family! If we got you salivating while reading this, feel free to shop Lamb Loin Chops and Rack of Lamb here!

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