Rack of Lamb with Mushroom Sauce

4.89 from 9 votes
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Roasted rack of lamb is an elegant dish with tender bone-in juicy meat. This recipe is paired with a red wine Zinfandel mushroom sauce for a gourmet dinner at home!

Roasted rack of lamb with mashed potatoes and sauteed mushrooms.

This post is sponsored by Terra d’Oro Winery. All opinions are my own.

When this delicious rack of lamb recipe hits the dinner table, eyes will grow wide, and mouths will water. I’ll show you how to make this beautiful juicy roast in under an hour with a few simple cooking techniques. Are you ready to impress your guests or that special someone?

When cooking lamb, I like to make a sauce to complement the meat. This sauce is made with savory mushrooms simmered in red wine. Grab a wine glass while you’re at it, and give yourself a generous pour- let’s get started!

“Loved it! Thank you!”—Michele H.

Recipe ingredients

  • Lamb: This recipe uses Frenched racks of lamb. Muscle and fat are trimmed to expose parts of the rib bone. I use New Zealand-sourced meat. Look for a 2-pound rack with about an inch of fat above the main eye of the meat.
  • Olive: Use fruity olive oil with a high smoke point for searing and making the mushroom sauce.
  • Seasoning: Sprinkle salt and pepper on the lamb’s surface to enhance the meat’s savory taste.
  • Alliums: Minced yellow onions and garlic add an earthy aroma, boosting the taste of the red wine mushroom sauce.
  • Mushrooms: Use sliced brown mushrooms for a more robust umami taste from the fungi.
  • Wine: I selected a Terra d’Oro 2015 Zinfandel red wine grown at the Deaver Vineyard in Amador County. The wine’s toasty butterscotch and sweet caramel character enhance the sauce’s taste.
  • Stock: Unsalted chicken stock or broth adds dimension and a savory taste to the sauce.
  • Butter: The solidified fat and milk solids help to lightly thicken the wine sauce.
  • Herbs: Freshly chopped thyme adds herbaceous notes. It’s a heartier herb, which pairs well with the rich lamb.

See the recipe card below for all ingredients and measurements (US and metric).

Terra d'Oro 2015 Zinfandel bottle and glass of wine.

How to cook a rack of lamb

Step 1: The lamb will gently finish cooking in the oven. Set the rack to the center position and preheat to 350°F (177ºC).

Prepare and season

Step 2: The Frenched rack of lamb will have a layer of fat on the meat, called a fat cap. Trim it down if it’s more than ½ inch thick. Fat adds flavor and moistens the meat, so don’t remove it all. Dry the surface with paper towels so it sears and browns quickly in the hot pan—season both sides of the rack with salt and black pepper.

Sear the surface of the meat

Metal tongs holding up a rack of lamb on a frying pan.

Step 3: A brief sear on the stovetop in hot olive oil encourages flavor and color development through Maillard browning. The high heat helps the fat on the lamb render and flavor the rest of the roast.

When seared over medium-high heat, the crust will form in about 3 to 4 minutes per side and less than a minute on the bottom and sides. The lamb meat will finish cooking in the oven so that moisture is retained.

Roast the lamb

Step 4: Place the pan with the lamb directly in the oven if using a heatproof skillet. Alternatively, transfer the meat to a foil-lined baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees until the desired doneness is reached. Depending on the size, roasting will take 15 to 30 minutes.

Using a meat thermometer, target an internal temperature of 120 to 125°F for medium-rare and 130 to 135°F for medium. Due to carryover cooking, the temperature will increase about 5 degrees after resting.

Rest the meat

Step 5: After the lamb finishes cooking in the oven, the gorgeous roast is ready to carve, but hold on a second! Resting the lamb chops at room temperature before slicing will help retain the moisture inside that you worked so diligently to preserve.

At least 10 minutes is the optimal time for resting to allow the water squeezed out of the muscle fibers during cooking to reabsorb. Golden crust with juicy, tender meat is just how lamb should be.

Saute the mushrooms

Step 6: As the lamb cooks, there’s time to prepare a delicious sauce for this meal. The good news is that it requires opening a bottle of wine if you haven’t done so already.

The first step is to saute the onions and garlic to mellow out the raw sulfurous notes. Then, add the sliced mushrooms and cook until most moisture is released and the vegetables are softened.

Make the wine sauce

Mushroom sauce in a pan.

Step 7: Add the Zinfandel wine and chicken stock to the sauteed mushrooms. The wine’s deep garnet red color, with clove, allspice, and cracked white pepper aromas, elevates the mushrooms’ flavors and intensity.

As the sauce reduces, the Zinfandel’s flavor becomes even more concentrated. It’s divine! Whisk in the cool butter and chopped thyme to finish.

Serve the rack of lamb

Step 8: Once the meat has rested, carefully cut the lamb rack between the ribs, yielding one to two bones per piece. Serve alongside the hearty red wine mushroom sauce and your favorite side dish.

Flavor variations

Now that you know how to cook a rack of lamb, there are numerous ways to customize the dish. Try these delicious options:

  • Lamb: Instead of a rack of lamb, select lamb chops. They cook quickly and only need a brief sear on the stovetop.
  • Mushrooms: Different types of mushrooms can be used for the sauce, like white button, porcini, bella, or portobello.
  • Wine: Cabernet Sauvignon is a good substitute for red Zinfandel wine. For a lighter taste, use Merlot or Pinot Noir.
  • Herbs: Robust herbs like fresh rosemary, tarragon, or oregano pair well with the lamb. Garnish with chopped parsley or thyme.

Serving suggestions

Frequently asked questions

What types of rack of lamb are available at the market?

There are typically two commercial lamb options. Smaller racks from New Zealand or Australia have a gamey flavor due to a more grass-based diet. Larger racks from America, which tend to be raised in Colorado or the Midwest, have a milder flavor due to the grain-based diet. Adjust cooking times for smaller or larger racks.

How many ribs are in a rack of lamb?

A full rack of lamb consists of 16 ribs (or chops). The butcher typically cuts in half, and it’s sold in the market at a single rack with 8 ribs. I think this size is much easier to cook on the stovetop and then in the oven.

How do you cut a lamb rack?

Place the lamb rack on a cutting board, with the bones pointing down and away from you. Using smooth cuts, slice between the rib bones.

Wooden cutting board breaking down a rack of lamb.

Recipe Science

Use two cooking methods

If the rack of lamb is cooked the entire time on the stove, there is potentially more moisture loss, leading to overcooked and dry meat. The pan can reach 400 degrees within minutes, which is excellent for searing and color development but not for achieving a perfect medium-rare center. The heat transfer is less consistent on the stovetop than in a moderate oven temperature of 350 degrees.

Rack of Lamb with Mushroom Sauce

Roasted rack of lamb is an elegant yet easy to prepare recipe. Tender lamb is served with a red wine mushroom sauce for a gourmet dinner made right at home.
4.89 from 9 votes
Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time30 minutes
Total Time40 minutes
Servings 4 servings
Course Entree
Cuisine American

Ingredients 
 

Rack of Lamb

  • 2 pounds rack of lamb, Frenched
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • kosher salt, for seasoning
  • black pepper, for seasoning

Red Wine Mushroom Sauce

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • ¼ cup minced yellow onion
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 8 ounces brown mushrooms, ¼" thick slices
  • 1 cup Zinfandel red wine
  • ½ cup unsalted chicken stock
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon chopped thyme

Instructions 

  • Preheat the Oven – Adjust the oven rack to the center position. Heat to 350°F (177ºC).
  • Season the Lamb – Remove excess fat from the lamb, leaving a thin layer. Dry with paper towels. Season both sides generously with salt and pepper.
  • Sear the Lamb – In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium-high heat. Once the oil is hot, add lamb fat side down. Cook until browned, then flip over, searing about 3 to 4 minutes per side. Sear the bottoms and sides for 30 to 60 seconds until browned. Cook for 8 to 10 minutes total for searing all sides.
  • Roast the Lamb – Transfer the skillet to the oven and roast the lamb fat-side up. For medium-rare, cook until the center reaches 120 to 125°F (49 to 52ºC), 10 to 20 minutes on a meat thermometer. For medium, cook to 130 to 135°F (54 to 57ºC), 20 to 30 minutes.
  • Rest the Meat – Allow the meat to rest for 10 minutes before slicing. Meanwhile, make the red wine mushroom sauce.
  • Saute the Mushrooms – In a medium skillet, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat. Add onions and garlic, and saute for 30 seconds. Add the mushrooms and saute until softened, about 6 minutes.
  • Make the Wine Sauce – Add the wine and chicken stock to the pan, and turn the heat to high. Simmer until liquid is reduced to ¾ cups. Turn off the heat, and whisk in butter and thyme. Taste and season with salt and pepper as desired.
  • To Serve – Slice the rack into 1 to 2 rib pieces and serve with the red wine mushroom sauce.

Notes

  • Storing: Cool and store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Nutrition Facts

Serves: 4 servings
Calories 368kcal (18%)Carbohydrates 3g (1%)Protein 29g (58%)Fat 26g (40%)Saturated Fat 8g (40%)Polyunsaturated Fat 3gMonounsaturated Fat 13gCholesterol 100mg (33%)Sodium 267mg (11%)Potassium 578mg (17%)Fiber 0.5g (2%)Sugar 1g (1%)Vitamin A 100IU (2%)Vitamin C 1.7mg (2%)Iron 2.5mg (14%)

Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000-calorie diet. All nutritional information is based on estimated third-party calculations. Each recipe and nutritional value will vary depending on the brands you use, measuring methods, and portion sizes per household.

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Jessica Gavin

I'm a culinary school graduate, cookbook author, and a mom who loves croissants! My passion is creating recipes and sharing the science behind cooking to help you gain confidence in the kitchen.

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7 Comments Leave a comment or review

  1. Catherine says

    We don’t eat much meat but when we do, we like it well done. Would it ruin this lamb to roast it till only a tinge of pink remains? What internal temperature would that be?

  2. Justin @ Salt Pepper Skillet says

    Jessica! This looks beyond amazing. Love the technique you used. Can’t wait to make rack of lamb again for the holidays. 🙂

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Hi Justin, it’s so great to hear from you! I hope you get a chance to make the lamb, and enjoy so vino along with too! I know you will make it look and taste stunning 🙂