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Rack of Lamb with Dijon & Panko Crust

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Who says elegance can’t be easy? Rack of lamb is a dish worthy of special occasions, yet so quick and effortless, it’s doable any night of the week!

Rack of Lamb with Dijon & Panko Crust

Photo by Johnny Miller (Clarkson Potter, 2021)

Rack of lamb is often thought of as a special occasion dish because of the price, but it’s actually quick and easy to prepare. This classic French preparation is the way I learned to cook it over 20 years ago when I was an apprentice at L’Auberge Chez Francois, and it’s still my favorite method. You sear the racks in a blazing-hot pan, brush them with Dijon mustard, coat them with seasoned panko, and then finish cooking them in the oven. The meat turns out exceptionally flavorful, especially considering how simple the recipe is.

Pair rack of lamb with roasted potatoes, mashed potatoes, or potatoes au gratin. As for vegetables, French green beans, roasted asparagus, or ratatouille would all be delicious options.

“Made this last night for dinner and it was not only delicious but simple to make.”

Jan

What You’ll Need To Make Rack of Lamb with Dijon & Panko Crust

rack of lamb ingredients

  • “Frenched” Lamb Rib Racks: You’ll need two 8-rib racks of lamb for this recipe (count on about 4 ribs per person). When purchasing, look for racks that are already “frenched,” meaning the rib bones are exposed and most of the fat layer has been removed. Even if the racks are frenched, they will likely need a bit more prep to remove additional fat and silver skin. I recommend asking your butcher to do this for you, as it is the only time-consuming part of the recipe, but there are great YouTube tutorials if you have to do it yourself.
  • Olive Oil: Used to sear the lamb and also adds richness to the panko coating.
  • Dijon Mustard: Flavors the lamb and also helps the panko mixture adhere to the meat. Its sharp, tangy flavor contrasts beautifully with the rich taste of the lamb.
  • Panko: Japanese breadcrumbs that create the crust for the lamb. Panko is lighter and crunchier than traditional breadcrumbs, providing a crispy texture contrast to the tender meat.
  • Thyme: An aromatic herb that infuses the crust with a subtle, earthy flavor, complementing both the lamb and Dijon mustard.
  • Jump to the printable recipe for precise measurements

Step-by-Step Instructions

Step 1: Season the Racks

To begin, sprinkle the lamb evenly with 1 teaspoon each salt and pepper.

seasoning rack of lamb with salt and pepper

Step 2: Sear the Racks

Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a heavy cast-iron or oven-proof stainless-steel skillet over high heat. With your exhaust fan on, sear the lamb for 4 minutes on the first side, or until nicely browned. (The bones of the racks will hang over the edges of the skillet; that’s okay.)

searing lamb on the first side

Turn the racks over and sear for 4 minutes more. Don’t worry about searing the ends; they’ll brown in the oven. (Although the lamb is eventually covered with mustard and panko, searing it first caramelizes the surface of the meat and gives it a highly flavorful crust.)

searing the lamb on the second side

Step 3: Prepare the Panko Coating

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine the panko with the remaining teaspoon of oil, the thyme, ¼ teaspoon salt, and a few grinds of black pepper.

panko coating ingredients in bowl

Toss until the panko is well-coated with the oil and seasonings.

mixed panko coating

Step 4: Coat the Racks with Dijon and Panko Mixture

Using a spoon or brush, spread the mustard all over the meat – you can do this right in the pan (after you’ve removed it from the heat), using tongs to maneuver the racks – then arrange the racks fat/meatier-side up in the skillet.

racks of lamb coated with Dijon mustard Sprinkle the panko mixture over the mustard coating on the top and sides of the racks (don’t worry about the bottom sides), pressing with your hands to adhere.
lamb coated with panko mixture

Step 5: Roast in the Oven

Slide the pan into the oven and roast for 15 to 18 minutes, or until a thermometer inserted into the center of one of the roasts registers between 135°F/57°C (medium) and 140°F/60°C (medium-well).

cooked rack of lamb in skillet

Step 6: Carve and Serve

Transfer the racks to a cutting board, cover with foil to keep warm, and let rest for 10 minutes. Cut into single or double chops.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I tell when rack of lamb is perfectly cooked?

I find that it’s hard to get an accurate read on a meat thermometer for rack of lamb, so I’d suggest using the timing guidelines given here instead of (or at least in addition to) an instant-read thermometer. The USDA recommends cooking lamb to a temperature of at least 145°F/63°C, but many people prefer it rarer. I think an internal temperature of 135°F/57°C (medium) is perfect, as the meat continues to rise several degrees while resting. If you’d prefer, cook a bit longer to meet USDA guidelines.

I don’t have an oven-proof skillet. How should I finish cooking the lamb?

If you don’t have an ovenproof skillet, simply transfer the racks to a foil-lined baking sheet before roasting. Add a few extra minutes cooking time since the pan won’t be hot.

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Rack of Lamb with Dijon & Panko Crust

Who says elegance can’t be easy? Rack of lamb is a dish worthy of special occasions, yet so quick and effortless, it’s doable any night of the week!

Servings: 4
Prep Time: 15 Minutes
Cook Time: 25 Minutes
Total Time: 40 Minutes

Ingredients

  • Two 8-rib "frenched" lamb rib racks (1½ to 2 pounds each), trimmed of fat and silver skin (see note)
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • ½ cup panko
  • ¼ teaspoon dried thyme (or ¾ teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme)

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F (205°C) and set an oven rack in the middle position.
  2. Sprinkle the lamb racks all over with 1 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon of pepper.
  3. Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a heavy ovenproof skillet (cast-iron or stainless-steel; see note) over high heat. With your exhaust fan on, sear the lamb for 4 minutes on each side, or until nicely browned. Don’t worry about searing the ends; they’ll brown in the oven. (The bones of the racks will hang over the edges of the skillet; that’s okay.)
  4. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine the panko with the remaining teaspoon of oil, the thyme, ¼ teaspoon salt, and a few grinds of black pepper. Toss until the panko is well coated with the oil and seasonings.
  5. Using a spoon or brush, spread the mustard all over the meat – you can do this right in the pan (after you’ve removed it from the heat), using tongs to maneuver the racks – then arrange the racks fat/meatier-side up in the skillet. Sprinkle the panko mixture over the mustard coating on the top and sides of the racks (don’t worry about the bottom sides), pressing with your hands to adhere.
  6. Slide the pan into the oven and roast for 15 to 18 minutes, or until a thermometer inserted into the center of one of the roasts registers between 135°F/57°C (medium) and 140°F/60°C (medium-well). Keep in mind that these temperatures account for the fact that the temperature will continue to rise several degrees while the meat rests. Transfer the racks to a cutting board, cover with foil to keep warm, and let rest for 10 minutes. Cut into single or double chops.
  7. Note: The only time-consuming part of the recipe trimming the fat and silver skin off the racks. I recommend asking your butcher to do this for you, but if you have to do it yourself, this is a good tutorial.
  8. Note: If you don’t have an ovenproof skillet, transfer the racks to a foil-lined baking sheet before roasting.
  9. Note: I find that it’s hard to get an accurate read on a meat thermometer for rack of lamb, so I’d suggest using the timing guidelines given here instead of (or at least in addition to) a thermometer. The USDA recommends cooking lamb to a temperature of at least 145°F/63°C, but many people prefer it rarer. I think an internal temperature of 135°F/57°C (medium) is perfect, as the meat continues to rise several degrees while resting. If you'd prefer, cook a bit longer to meet USDA guidelines.

Pair with

Nutrition Information

Powered by Edamam

  • Per serving (4 servings)
  • Calories: 1,577
  • Fat: 145 g
  • Saturated fat: 61 g
  • Carbohydrates: 6 g
  • Sugar: 0 g
  • Fiber: 1 g
  • Protein: 59 g
  • Sodium: 977 mg
  • Cholesterol: 302 mg

This website is written and produced for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and the nutritional data on this site has not been evaluated or approved by a nutritionist or the Food and Drug Administration. Nutritional information is offered as a courtesy and should not be construed as a guarantee. The data is calculated through an online nutritional calculator, Edamam.com. Although I do my best to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures should be considered estimates only. Varying factors such as product types or brands purchased, natural fluctuations in fresh produce, and the way ingredients are processed change the effective nutritional information in any given recipe. Furthermore, different online calculators provide different results depending on their own nutrition fact sources and algorithms. To obtain the most accurate nutritional information in a given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe, using your preferred nutrition calculator.

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Comments

  • Jenn is the best . Her recipes are easy to follow. All that I have tried taste great!

    • — Lenny on February 18, 2024
    • Reply
  • Made this last night for dinner and it was not only delicious but simple to make. I make a recipe similar to this for lollipop lamb chops and the panko crust falls off. This was so much easier and quick. Thanks again Jen for another winner!

    • — Jan on February 12, 2024
    • Reply
  • Hoping to make this for Christmas. Can I use a Gluten Free Panko?

    • — Angela on December 17, 2023
    • Reply
    • Yep! Enjoy 🙂

      • — Jenn on December 17, 2023
      • Reply
  • Hi Jenn, I checked 4 similar recipes online for this dish, and your recipe is the easiest to follow. It’s crisp and concise, and showing the step by step process via pictures is a game changer. Thank you for the recipe and it’s super delicious! I will definitely make this again.

    • — SK on December 9, 2023
    • Reply
  • I never rate recipes though that’s usually how I find the ones I want to try. This recipe is stupid delicious!! My kids were giggling while they ate because it was so good. Total keeper!

    • — ELam on October 25, 2023
    • Reply
  • Made this lamb recipe tonight and unfortunately wasn’t our favorite cause the lamb tasted gamey. Not sure if I did something wrong, but followed recipe exactly and while the meat was well cooked, the gamey taste and smell was undeniable. My mom said it was cause the recipe had no garlic and that marinating with garlic would have killed the gamey smell/taste. Also, will say that it took me a solid 30 min to trim the fat and get the tendon off the 2 racks. Lamb is a lot of work. Will probably be a year before I approach this type of meat again.

    • — Tara on August 8, 2023
    • Reply
  • Very tasty! My son is heading to New Zealand to study abroad and lamb is a very popular dish there. I thought I would make this meal to introduce him to lamb because he has never had it before. My whole family enjoyed it very much. Thank you Jenn!

    • — Karin Walker on February 2, 2023
    • Reply
  • Hi, I’m a big fan– have made many of your recipes 🙂 Do you think there is a way to modify this for a leg of lamb? I’m searching for ideas for Christmas dinner, and love this idea but the leg is already purchased. Thanks!

    • — Lauren on December 18, 2022
    • Reply
    • So glad you like the recipes! Unfortunately, this wouldn’t work with a leg of lamb — sorry!

      • — Jenn on December 21, 2022
      • Reply
  • Will be making this at Christmas! Do you have a sauce that you would recommend to drizzle over the lamb? Love all of your recipes 🙂

    • — Aunt B on December 4, 2022
    • Reply
    • You could use a red wine sauce like the one in this recipe, but I really don’t think it’s necessary with these (plus you’d lose the crispy topping).

      • — Jenn on December 6, 2022
      • Reply
  • Hi Jenn
    I love this rack of lamb recipe. A hit in the household. Do you have a dinner bun recipe that you can share.

    • — Ann Dowling on October 31, 2022
    • Reply
    • Hi Ann, So glad you enjoyed! I have a wonderful dinner roll recipe in my first cookbook. If you don’t have the book, I’m happy to email you the recipe – just email me directly at jennifer@onceuponachef.com and I’ll send it to you.

      • — Jenn on October 31, 2022
      • Reply
  • Looking for comments: I want to try this recipe but am wondering…does the panko crusting just fall off when you cut the rack into chops?

    • — Terry on October 26, 2022
    • Reply
    • Hi Terry, the panko clings pretty nicely to the lamb when you cut them. Hope you enjoy!

      • — Jenn on October 27, 2022
      • Reply
  • Anyone who loves rack of lamp must try this! Lately this website and books have become my 1st go to for recipes.

    • — Gail on June 4, 2022
    • Reply
  • Just made this for Easter dinner. It was amazing. Followed exactly all the directions and it came out perfectly (medium).

    • — Marai on April 18, 2022
    • Reply
  • Absolutely fantastic. Thought I’d miss my usual garlic and rosemary “crust” for rack of lamb. But no. This is perfect: lets the lamb shine practically on its own.
    You have done it again Jenn! Thank you.

    • — Louise Samson on April 13, 2022
    • Reply
  • Thank you Jen for the recipe. I would like to make it next Sunday. What do you recommend to accompany it?

    • — Ana Maria on April 11, 2022
    • Reply
    • Hi Ana Maria, I would serve this with roasted potatoes (there’s a recipe in my first cookbook; if you don’t have it I can email it to you) or potatoes au gratin along with roasted asparagus or carrots. This roasted beet salad would be a nice starter. Hope you enjoy!

      • — Jenn on April 11, 2022
      • Reply
      • Jenn: I just bought some lovely lamb loin chops, 3/4 – 1″ thick and was wondering if you could give me an idea of how long to cook them. I didn’t see a recipe for chops though but thought you’d know cooking times.
        Thanks so much.

        • — Pamela on August 31, 2023
        • Reply
        • Hi Pamela, I really like to grill them. I do 3 to 4 min. per side for medium rare to medium. 🙂

          • — Jenn on September 2, 2023
          • Reply
  • I have been making rack of lamb this way for years and happy to see that Jenn makes it the same way. I have fresh rosemary from my herb garden and add that to the mustard mixture. I came to the same conclusion that using a cast iron pan for searing and roasting was the easiest and did this when I made it the last time.

    • — Glen on April 10, 2022
    • Reply
  • Do you let the bones hang out of pan while in the oven? Was wondering if the bones could be covered in aluminum foil to prevent them from burning, either in the pan or on a baking sheet.
    Really looks so delicious.

    • — Sunny Drohan on April 7, 2022
    • Reply
    • Hi Sunny, Yes they do hang out of the pan. In my experience, they don’t burn at all, but feel free to cover with foil if you like.

      • — Jenn on April 7, 2022
      • Reply
  • seems like these chops cry out for a sauce of some kind..(just looking at the photo)

    • — joe on April 7, 2022
    • Reply
  • I like to do as much as possible ahead of guests’ arrival. Could I make this recipe and refrigerate until time to do the last part in the oven?

    • — Debbie on April 7, 2022
    • Reply
    • Hi Debbie, I wouldn’t recommend it from a food safety perspective. But the searing doesn’t take long so you could do that step shortly before your guests come and then pop them in the oven shortly after they arrive. Hope that helps!

      • — Jenn on April 8, 2022
      • Reply
  • Jenn, is there a way to get this recipe working with the mustard part (my wife hates mustard). Thanks, Albert

    • — Albert on April 7, 2022
    • Reply
    • Hi Albert, You could use mayonnaise instead, and I’d add a little minced garlic and lemon to it to give it some flavor. I’d love to know how it turns out!

      • — Jenn on April 7, 2022
      • Reply
    • I am so glad you asked this question. I, too, am not a mustard fan. But are there any suggestion other than mayo? I’m not much of a mayo fan either, but I’m sure that cooking it wouldn’t be much of a big deal and I wouldn’t be able to taste it. I have been dying to try lamb and this recipe is the perfect chance to!

      • — Dyana on April 8, 2022
      • Reply
      • Hi Dyana, You could also try plain yogurt.

        • — Jenn on April 8, 2022
        • Reply
  • When you say “sprinkle the lamb evenly with 1 teaspoon each of salt and pepper”, do you mean each rack gets seasoned with that amount of salt and pepper, or is that amount meant to cover both racks? Thanks so much.

    • — ksan on April 7, 2022
    • Reply
    • That’s the total amount (so 1/2 teaspoon for each rack). Sorry for the confusion; I will clarify in the recipe. 🙂

      • — Jenn on April 7, 2022
      • Reply
  • I have made this recipe pretty much as written and cooked them on the Weber grill, searing first over coals then finishing them over indirect heat (no coals). Delicious. Your suggestion of 135 internal temp. is perfect, it is helpful to take temp. in several areas. Thanks for the inspiration, now a trip to Costco is in order.

    • — lowandslow on April 7, 2022
    • Reply
  • This lamb recipe looks delicious and straightforward. I am wondering if you had any recommendations for cast-iron skillets?

    • — Megan on April 7, 2022
    • Reply
    • Hi Megan, I love my Lodge cast-iron skillets, and they’re so affordable.

      • — Jenn on April 7, 2022
      • Reply

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