Rack of Lamb with Dijon & Panko Crust

Tested & Perfected Recipes Cookbook Recipe

Rack of lamb is special occasion-worthy but quick and easy enough to prepare any night of the week.

Photo by Johnny Miller (Clarkson Potter, 2021)

Though we often think of rack of lamb as a special occasion dish because of the price, it’s quick and easy enough to prepare any night of the week. 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 bread crumbs, and then finish cooking them in the oven. The meat turns out exceptionally flavorful, especially considering how simple the recipe is.

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

rack of lamb ingredientsYou’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.

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

mixed panko coatingStep 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 mixtureStep 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).

(If you don’t have an ovenproof skillet, transfer racks to a foil-lined baking sheet before roasting.)

cooked rack of lamb in skillet

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.

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.

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Rack of Lamb with Dijon & Panko Crust

Rack of lamb is special occasion-worthy but quick and easy enough to prepare 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.

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Comments

  • 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
  • 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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