Learn exactly how to smoke a rack of lamb at home on ANY grill or smoker.
Plus a great recipe for Smoked Rack of Lamb with a Rosemary Garlic Rub that’s smoked and then REVERSE SEARED to perfection.
Sure to please even the most discerning guest.
Like a prime rib or pork roast, a rack of lamb is a beautifully presented and mouth watering feast to prepare for a special occasion, or even just to cook for that special someone.
But did you know a smoked rack of lamb can take this magnificent dish to even new heights?
Unlike our method for smoked lamb chops, the rack is smoked whole, with the bones frenched, and then carved after it is finished
Because it is a smaller, more tender, and leaner cut of meat, it also usually cooks faster than a whole leg of lamb.
Your chosen wood smoke adds an extra dimension of flavor while cooking low and slow on your smoker or grill perfectly roasts the lamb to a perfect medium rare while maintaining maximum flavor and juiciness.
Smoking a whole rack of lamb also results in a beautiful presentation and can then served however you like it, either carved into single chops or royally decadent double thick chops.
Today we are going to cover the following:
- What to look for when buying a rack of lamb
- Top seasonings and marinade options
- The best smoking wood choices for a rack of lamb
- The best times and temperatures for smoking a rack of lamb
- How to set up any smoker or grill for a rack of lamb
- How to carve and serve a smoked rack of lamb
That’s a lot to get to…so let’s get started!
What to Look for When Buying a Rack of Lamb
A FULL lamb loin including both the loin chops on the front end and the rack of lamb in the rear.Lamb, for some folks can be a little intimidating.
Especially when you are looking at dropping upwards of $30 on a special cut like a whole rack of lamb.
But, at the end of the day, buying a rack of lamb, which contains the meat from the lamb loin, is really no different than buying a pork roast or a prime rib.
It’s from the same area of the body, where the ribs meet the spine, just on a different animal.
How to Trim a Rack of Lamb
Semi-Frenched Bones that still need some cleaning up.While prime rib and pork roast most of the time have the bones removed, a rack of lamb will still have the bones attached, resulting in a beautiful presentation if they are trimmed correctly.
Here are the conditions you may find the bones in when you go to purchase.
Untrimmed: The entire fat cap is still in place covering over the bones.
Semi-frenched: Some of the fat is removed, and some of the bone is visible
Fully Frenched: Most of the fat is removed from the boes and they are almost entirely exposed.
Ideally, ask the butcher to fully french the bones for you before you purchase the rack of lamb, as this will save you some tedious work at home so you can get right to seasoning and smoking.
Frenching the Bones
If you are unable to have them frenched for you, here is great video from Fine Cooking detailing how to french the bones on a rack of lamb.
You can make your life a lot easier for frenching a rack of lamb, as well as preparing many other proteins like fish, turkey, and chicken, by investing in a high quality boning knife like she uses in the video.
We are big fans of the iMarku Boning Knife, probably because it also happens to be the #1 Rated Boning Knife on Amazon.
Once the fat is trimmed and the bones are frenched, you can move on to seasoning and marinating your rack of lamb to prepare it for the smoker.
Top Seasonings and Marinades for Smoked Lamb
Garlic and Rosemary are a classic pairing with Lamb, and for this presidential dish, we recommend keeping the seasonings simple and letting the beautiful flavors of this prized cut of meat shine through.
For our recipe below, we mix the fresh chopped rosemary and garlic with avocado oil, kosher salt, and fresh cracked black pepper.
Ideally use a HIGH smoke point oil such as avocado or grapeseed oil, especially if you plan to reverse sear at the end of the cook as we go into detail on below.
You should also avoid any BBQ and Spice rubs with a heavy amount of sugar in them if you plane to use high heat searig or else the sugar will burn.
We then coat and marinate the rack of lamb for at least 2 hours, preferably overnight, wrapped in plastic wrap in the refrigerator before placing on the smoker.
Other Seasoning Alternatives
Rack of Lamb is an international delicacy enjoyed the world over, so there are many, many options for seasonings if you are ready to move beyond simple garlic and rosemary.
You could try a variety of Turkish or Middle Eastern seasonings, or even an African or Indian spice rub if you want to elevate your flavors and try something more exotic or with more spice.
Best Smoking Wood for a Rack of Lamb
One of the most fun things about smoking lamb is the freedom you have to play with a lot of different smoking woods and still come out with a great tasting dish.
Lamb pairs well with milder fruitwoods such as apple and cherry, but can still hold up to stronger flavors like mesquite and hickory if you want to go for a bolder flavor.
Because it does not need to smoke all day like a pork shoulder, you don’t risk over smoking as much if you choose a stronger flavored wood.
Usually it’s best to blend a combination of stronger and milder flavored chips, chunks, or pellets if you plan to incorporate those stronger flavors though.
Best Cooking Temperature for Smoking a Rack of Lamb
Relative to something like pork spareribs, a rack of lamb is fairly lean and delicate.
You will need to watch both your cooking temperature and internal temperatures carefully when smoking the rack of lamb.
We like to smoke a rack of lamb a little lower than we do our smoked leg of lamb, just because it will cook a little faster and you don’t have as much room for error if you overcook it
So keep your smoker temperature at about 225°F and no higher if you can help it.
Before we dive in to setting up our smoker and cooking the racks of lamb, here’s a great overview video from Eat More Vegans demonstrating how to he sets up his smoker, positions the lamb racks…
and of course…reverse sears the lamb at the end with what else?
A Blow Torch.
Want to sear your lamb at the end with a flamethrower like he does in the video? Check out one option here:
Don’t worry, we have a simpler, albeit less dramatic way, below for you to get a great reverse sear on your rack of lamb.
Setting up your Smoker for a Rack of Lamb
Vertical or Offset Charcoal Smoker
Fill your firebox or lower charcoal basin with about 1/5 a bag of unlit charcoal and create a small hollowed out depression in the center where you can add your lit briquets.
If your smoker comes with a water pan, like the Weber Smokey Mountain, fill the water pan as well to help stabilize the temperature and add moisture to the cooking chamber.
Light a charcoal chimney about 1/3 way with charcoal and wait about 20 minutes for it to fully ignite. You don’t want TOO many lit briquests initially or the temperature will get too high too fast and be unmanageable.
Fill your water pan first, then add the lit briquets to the center depression you created.
Keep the dampers about 1/2 way to 3/4 open until the temperature is to about 200 deg F. Then slowly close them down until you are maintaining a temperature of 225°F.
This will obviously take longer on a cold winter day than a hot summer one.
Add 1-2 chunks of smoking wood once the smoker is up to temperature and put your rack of lamb on the cooking grate.
Plug your electric smoker in and turn the temperature to 225° F.
While it comes up to temperature, add smoking wood chips, not pellets, to the smoking wood tray.
Fill the water tray if there is one.
Place your rack of lamb on the rack and close the door.
Fill the pellet hopper with your choice of smoking wood pellets.
Plug in the pellet grill and turn the temperature to between 225° F.
When the pellet grill has come up to temperature, place your rack of lamb on the grill grates.
Never used a pellet grill before?
Read our ultimate guide to pellet grills to learn why they are so easy and how to set one up for success every time.
Gas or Charcoal Grill
On a gas or charcoal grill you will likely need to use a smoker box filled with wood chips, or a pellet tube smoker filled with wood pellets.
Think you need a fancy smoker to smoke food at home? Think again. Great smoked food can be made right on your current gas or charcoal grill.
If you are unfamiliar with these gas grill smoking devices mentioned above, no worries, we have you covered!
In the case of a rack of lamb, we would opt for the pellet tube smoker since it will provide you with a longer smoking time without needing to refill at some point like a smoker box.
However either one will work just fine depending on what you have available.
Set up your gas or charcoal grill for indirect cooking with the burners or a small amount of lit briquets on one side and plan for your meat to be on the other side.
Once the temperature of your grill is about 225° deg F., place your smoker box or pellet tube smoker over the lit burners and once smoke begins coming out, place your meat on the opposite side.
When is a Smoked Rack of Lamb Done?
How Long does it Take to Smoke a Rack of Lamb?
With your smoker running at 225°F, it should take between 1 to 1.5 hours to smoke your rack of lamb.
This is NOT one of those meats you can throw on the smoker and then walk away for a long period of time without watching it.
Especially, if its a hot day or your smoker runs hot, make sure to keep a close eye on your rack of lamb internal temperature as it can creep up quickly.
Internal Temperature for a Rack of Lamb
In ur opinion, rack of lamb is best served when cooked to a medium-rare temperature.
Your rack of lamb will be a at beautiful medium rare when you reach a final internal temperature of 125°F, as measured on an instant read meat thermometer placed into one of the thicker sections of the middle of the rack.
Make sure the thermometer is not touching a bone when measuring.
Whenever you are smoking meat, you should always use an accurate instant read meat thermometer so that you can spot check different areas to know precisely when your meat is done and ready to be removed from the smoker.
We never start any cook without our favorite instant meat thermometer from Polawken at the ready standing by.
Another convenient option is to use a wireless dual temperature probe like the one we like from ThermoPro to keep a constant eye on both the temperature of your meat as well as your smoker.
Optionally Reverse Searing a Rack of Lamb
“Reverse Searing” is just a fancy term for searing your meat at the very end, once it is pretty much all the way cooked through, in order to get a nice crispy exterior crust that you sometimes just can’t get from low and slow smoking alone.
In this case, we are not technically going to sear the rack of lamb lamb like we might do with a steak in a pan or like we did with our smoked lamb chop recipe.
Rather, we are going to bring the temperature of our smoker or grill up as high as it will go right at the very end of cooking, and only for a few minutes, in order to get a nice, golden brown crust on the outside of our rack of lamb without overcooking the inside.
With larger cuts of meat like hams and brisket, they usually develop a nice exterior crust naturally just due to the long length of time they spend in the smoker.
However, with a leaner cut like a rack of lamb, reverse searing after smoking brings about both the best flavors AND textures in your lamb.
How to Reverse Sear your Smoked Rack of Lamb
Keep in mind this step is entirely optional and there is nothing wrong with smoking your lamb right up until it reaches your target internal temperature of 135°F as described above.
If however, you wish to reverse sear the meat, you will want to smoke it at 225°F only until it reaches an internal temperature of about 105-110°F. At this point it will still be very rare.
Next, you will either open up all the vents, turn up the burners or temperature settings, or move it to an indoor oven preheated to 500°F.
You need to watch your rack of lamb closely at this point as it may only need maybe 2-4 minutes total at this temperature and to be flipped or rotated once or twice.
Watch for the exterior fat to begin to sizzle and crisp up, watch for the olor to turn from grayish to medium-dark brown, and whatever you do, do no leave it unattended to burn or over cook.
Use your meat thermometer to make sure the internal temperature has reached 125°F and no further. If it is still too rare you can always throw it back in the smoker for another minute or two but if you over cook it, there’s no going back.
How to Carve and Serve a Rack of Lamb
You will then remove the rack of lamb from the hot smoker, grill, or oven and let it rest for at least 10 minutes, uncovered on the counter.
Do not tent with foil, or lay multiple racks on top of each other as this will cause them to continue to overcook.
If you are serving 2 racks, you can cook, serve, and arrange them as a crown roast, or simply prop two racks against each other with the bones interlaced as he does in the video above.
Either way will result in a beautiful presentation to the table.
After the rack of lamb has sufficiently rested, use a good meat slicing knife and only cut the portions you are planning to immediately serve. Leave the rest of the rack intact so that in does not dry out.
We particularly like this meat slicing knife from Mairico.
While you can slice the rack of lamb into single chops for smaller appetites, we usually prefer to serve guests larger double boned chops for an ever more juicy treat.
The outside chops will be more done than the very center if you have guests who prefer various levels of doneness.
Best Things to Serve on the Side
Our favorite thing to serve on the side of a freshly carved lamb chop is ANOTHER lamb chop.
But…you also can’t go wrong with roasted asparagus or brussel sprouts. You can even cook them on the smoker along side the lamb if you wish.
Smashed Red Potatoes and a glass of spicy Australian Malbec will pair nicely against the garlic and rosemary infused lamb.
If you are itching for a sauce to drizzle, check out our sweet and savory and Balsamic Butter Sauce we served over our smoked lamb chops HERE.
What Other Food Can I Smoke?
Looking for some more smoky inspiration?
So glad you asked.
Check out some of our other great recipes of smoked and grilled food to try out at your next outdoor BBQ!
- Smoked Fresh Ham with Dark Rum Citrus Glaze
- Smoked Leg of Lamb with Guinness Marinade
- Smoked Lamb Chops with a Balsamic Butter Sauce
- Smoked Oysters in a Garlic White Wine Sauce
- Smoked Bratwurst with Beer Braised Onions
- Grilled Bratwurst
- Smoked Gouda Cheese
- Perfect Grilled Hamburgers
- Pellet Grilled Steak
- Smoked Pellet Grill Turkey
Trash Can Turkey – OK, technically not made on a grill but one of the most fun ways there is to cook a Turkey…at over 700 degrees in only 2 hours! You’ve got to check it out!
Smoked Rack of Lamb with Garlic and Rosemary - Reverse Seared
- Smoker -or- a Grill with a Smoker Box or Pellet Tube
- Smoking Wood chips, chunks, or pellets
- Boning Knife
- 2 Racks of Lamb preferably already frenched and trimmed
- 4 Tbsp Avocado or Olive Oil NOT extra virgin
- 8 Cloves Garlic finely chopped and crushed into a paste
- 8 Sprigs Fresh Rosemary removed from the stems and finely chopped
- Kosher Salt
- Cracked Black Pepper
Prepare the Rack of Lamb
- If your lamb bones came unfrenched remove the fat cap from the broad side of the lamb and the trim excess fat from in between and around the exposed boes using a boning knife.
- Mix the oil, garlic, rosemary, kosher salt, and pepper in a bowl.
- Coat each rack with the garlic mixture and then wrap in plastic wrap, place in an aluminum pan and marinate in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours, preferably overnight.
Set up the Grill or Smoker
- Light the smoker or set up the grill for indirect cooking with a smoker box and preheat to 225° F.
- Add wood chips to the smoker tray, smoker box, or add a chunks to the firebox/charcoal.
- Once the smoker/grill is up to temperature and smoke is being produced, place the racks on the smoker. An easy way to do this is to position them with the bones facing upwards and interlaced, leaning against each other. Or, you can tie them into a crown roast shape using butcher's twine
- Insert a temperature probe into the thickest part of the middle of one rack to monitor the temperature
Reverse Sear the Rack of Lamb
- Once the rack of lamb has reached an internal temperature of about 105°F, either open the vents, or turn up the temperature or burners as high as they will go.
- If using direct heat, sear the rack of lamb, about 2-3 minutes on each side until brown and sizzling. If turning up the indirect heat in a charcoal or electric smoker, cook at the highest possible temperature for 5-6 minutes or until outside is sizzling and internal temperature reads no higher than 125°F.
- Remove the lamb from the smoker/grill and place on a plate, uncovered, to rest for 5-10 minutes while you finish the sauce. Check that the internal temperature is no higher than 130°F for a perfect medium rare doneness.
Slice and Serve
- Slice the lamb with a meat slicing knife into double boned chops and serve roughly 2 chops per person.