Smoked lamb rack cooked low and slow over coals and hickory wood. Prepared with simple paprika and garlic dry rub, this easy barbecue recipe balances lamb’s gamey flavor with smoke and spice.
Smoked rack of lamb is a quick and easy way to enjoy one of the best lamb cuts for barbecue. Requiring only minimal preparation and just one hour on the smoker, this dinner classic can feed everyone when you’re short on time.
There’s no better way to enjoy lamb rack than fresh off the smoker or grill. Lamb’s tough texture is broken down by cooking at low temperatures, while our dry rub seasoning blend helps balance out its strong gamey flavor.
Serve up the perfect rib platter with our smoke lamb rack recipe. From meat preparation to smoking woods, here’s how to smoke rack of lamb from scratch.
What is Rack of Lamb?
Rack of lamb is a meat cut comprising the animal’s main rib section. Most butchers sell them as a single side or 8 rib chops, or a double rack of 16 ribs, which is both sides of the rib section.
When lamb rack is smoked over low heat the bones release collagen and marrow into the meat, tenderizing and flavoring it. It can be an expensive meat cut, but the results are well worth the cost.
The protein-rich meat looks incredible served on the rack and can serve as the centerpiece for your barbecue dinner platter before you carve it into single chops for your guests.
These differ slightly from our smoked lamb ribs recipe in the way that the lamb is prepared and served. The rack bones have not been cut down but instead have been Frenched for presentation. Also, we’ll be smoking and presenting these with the rack intact, instead of cutting down to single or 4-rib cuts.
How to Buy Rack of Lamb
Lamb rack should be available at most meat counters, but for the best quality meat go to your nearest butcher.
Most butchers will French trim lamb ribs as standard, which is a meat preparation technique whereby the butcher removes excess sinew or meat from near the bone. However, some butchers can go overboard with this, so ask them to leave some loin meat around the rib-eye.
The age and breed of the lamb can result in a variety of colors, but when choosing the meat, buy brownish-pink with white fat and avoid anything gray. You should also pass if it’s excessively bloody or has yellow, greasy fat.
Our dry rub seasoning uses a blend of kosher salt to help dry brine the meat, as well as smoked paprika, garlic powder, and ground cumin. Because lamb has a deep and unique flavor, we don’t want to go overboard with sugars or spices. Instead, we want to add a delicate layer of flavor to complement lamb’s gamey flavor, as well as the hickory smoke.
Our simple lamb dry rub recipe contains:
- smoked paprika
- ground white pepper
- ground black pepper
- ground chipotle pepper
- onion powder
- garlic powder
- kosher salt
- ground cumin
Find the full quantities in the recipe below.
Best Wood for Smoking Lamb Rack
Lamb has a strong and slightly gamey flavor, so the best wood chips to use are bold ones like hickory or mesquite. Hickory will have a nuttier flavor, while mesquite will have a smokier one. Applewood or cherrywood will pair well with the lamb’s flavor if you want a fruitier taste.
Pecan is another solid option, but it’s more subtle. You could always try out a combination of these wood chip flavors and see what works best.
Times & Temperatures
Lamb requires to be smoked for 30 minutes per pound of meat at 225°F (107°C) to reach an internal temperature of 145°F (63°C) for medium doneness. For our smoked rack of lamb, expect a cook time of approximately 1 hour.
While our lamb rack is 2lbs, the rib bones will slow down the rate of cooking slightly. Instead, we will pull the meat at 135°F (57°C) and leave it to rest for 10-15 minutes before serving. This resting time will allow the meat temperature to continue to rise while also allowing the juices to reabsorb. The end result? A perfectly cooked and tender rack of lamb.
- Bring your lamb rack to room temperature by taking it out of the refrigerator about one hour before cooking. This will help ensure it cooks evenly throughout.
- For doneness, always go by meat internal temperature, not cook time. Use a digital meat thermometer for the most accurate results by inserting the probe into the thickest part of the rack’s meat, between two of the rib bones.