Grilled Lamb Loin Chops with Bearnaise Sauce turns a routine Saturday evening into a special occasion every time. Bits of rosemary and garlic cling to the lamb chops creating a fragrant, succulent lamb dinner cradled in herbaceous Bearnaise perfection.
Grilled lamb is also our family’s go-to for Easter dinner, even if it’s snowing. One of the reasons I love grilling lamb chops for Easter and holiday dinners is it how impressive it turns out with minimal effort.
What is a Lamb Loin Chop?
Loin chops are from the lamb‘s back, just behind the ribs, and tend to be cut into thick chops, meatier than rib chops.
It’s is a favorite for the grill because it is tender, flavorful and cooks quickly. And if you’re anything like me, you’ll enjoy eating the meat off the bone. I know it may sound weird, but for me, it is the best part of bone-in chops.
Taste and Servings:
Taste: Loin chops are especially appealing to those ordinarily put-off by the robust flavor of leg or shoulder portions. The loin area along the back doesn’t get worked like the heavier muscles which results in a more mild lamb flavor.
Servings: Plan for 2 loin chops per person for a dinner portion and for large appetites, like teenage boys, figure 3 each.
Seasoning, Marinade, and Sauces for Lamb Chops:
Lamb is unique in flavor all on its own, so seasonings or marinades with complementary herbs are preferable to heavier barbecue type rubs.
Fresh herbs like rosemary, thyme, savory, chives, cilantro, and sage are all excellent choices to complement and enhance lamb loin chops.
- Salt needs 40 minutes to work and penetrate, so any rubs or dry seasoning with salt should be allowed to rest on the meat for at least 40 minutes, up to overnight, depending on the amount used.
- Marinades with lemon or other acids should only be on the meat for a couple of hours, otherwise, the acid will toughen the meat. Always use a glass dish with an acid-based marinade—aluminum and stainless steel can react with the acid and affect the meat.
- Lean lamb chops, closely trimmed of fat, benefit from luxurious sauces like the Bearnaise Sauce Recipe below or our savory Mushroom & Blue Cheese Ragout.
How to Grill Lamb Loin Chops:
The dry heat of the grill or oven creates amazing browned edges and renders the layer of outer fat in just minutes. Ideally, you’ll want to treat loin chops like a high-end steak and cook only to medium-rare for the best texture and flavor.
- Loin chops are like mini T-bone steaks—on one side of the chop is the lamb loin, on the other side is the fillet. The fillet side is smaller and will cook quickly, so point that side out away from the hottest part of the fire.
- Untrimmed chops with a thicker layer of exterior fat should be trimmed to 1/8-inch before grilling to reduce flair-ups.
- Cook to medium-rare (between 130-135 degrees), and use an instant-read thermometer to test for doneness.
- Let the meat rest for 10 minutes, tented with foil, before serving.
Check Labels and Know the Source:
Just like the beef, pork, and chicken we buy, we look for meat raised without growth hormones or antibiotics from producers who make animal welfare a priority.
New Zealand, Australia, and the United States are the major players when it comes to buying lamb in U.S. supermarkets.
Here in the U.S. and Australia, hormones and antibiotics are approved to be used in lambs for slaughter, though the use is less widespread in Australia. New Zealand does not permit hormone use in lambs, and antibiotics are only allowed therapeutically (to treat sickness), which is something I’ll keep in mind when shopping.
There are numerous lamb producers in Australia and the U.S. (especially local farmers) who take great care to graze their livestock naturally and do not use hormones or antibiotics for growth stimulants. It’s worth the effort to read the label and ask the question.
- 12 lamb loin chops
- 12 cloves garlic , chopped
- 2 - 3 tablespoons fresh rosemary , coarsely chopped
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- Arrange lamb chops on a rimmed baking sheet. Generously season with salt and pepper on both sides and drizzle with olive oil.
- Rub garlic and rosemary over chops incorporating with the olive oil, until evenly covered. Cover the pan with plastic wrap or transfer to a container or zip-type bag and refrigerate 4 to 6 hours.
- Light a charcoal grill and once the coals are hot, spread on only one side of the grill to allow for an indirect cooking zone on the other side. If using a gas grill, light all the burners and heat grill to 450 degrees. Reduce heat to low before placing lamb on grill.
- Place lamb directly over hot coals, cover with the lid and cook for 2 minutes. Remove lid and turn the chops, cooking on each side for about 2 minutes to sear each side. Cover with lid after turning each time.
- Grill lamb until medium-rare, 8 to 10 minutes total, depending on size. Once browned on all sides, check internal temperature.
- If the thickest part of the meat is within 5 degrees of medium-rare temp, rotate to the indirect heat zone. If using a gas grill, simply turn off one of the burners to create an indirect heat zone.
- The chops should have an internal temperature in the thickest part of the meat of 125-130° for medium-rare, 135° for medium.
- Once done, remove chops from grill, tent with foil, and allow to rest for 10-15 minutes. Serve with Béarnaise Sauce.
Total Time includes marinating, cooking and resting the meat.
Side Dish Recipes for Grilled Lamb:
Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Roasted Garlic Aioli
Greek Quinoa Salad
Grilled Vegetable Medley
Vegetable Tian: Classic Gratin
Grilled Beets and Asparagus with Fried Goat Cheese
Rosemary Roasted Fingerling Potatoes with Gochujang Aioli
- 1/4 cup fresh tarragon leaves , coarsely chopped
- 2 small shallots -- minced (about 3 tablespoons)
- 1/4 cup dry white wine
- 1 tablespoons champagne vinegar or tarragon vinegar
- 3 *egg yolks
- 8 tablespoons butter -- melted
- Pinch of white pepper
- Sea salt , to taste
- In a small saucepan, combine 2 tablespoons of the chopped tarragon, the minced shallots, 1 tablespoon vinegar, and 1/4 cup of wine over medium heat.
- Simmer until reduced by about half--the easiest way to tell is to tip the pan to see the amount in the corner of the saucepan. Remove from heat and cool slightly.
- In a food processor, blend 3 egg yolks, a pinch of white pepper, and the tarragon reduction. With the processor running, slowly add the butter in a steady stream until all 8 tablespoons have been added.
- The sauce consistency should be like a thin gravy. For thicker sauce, gently heat the sauce on low in a saucepan while stirring until desired consistency is reached.
- Remove from the processor and whisk-in remaining tarragon. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
Sauce can be made in advance and kept warm set in a hot water bath until ready to serve, or refrigerate and gently reheat before serving.
*Raw egg is not recommended for infants, the elderly, and pregnant women. To minimize the risk of salmonella, use pasteurized eggs available in some supermarkets or easily pasteurize eggs at home. Alternatively, the sauce can be gently heated.
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