Perfect recipe for marinated and grilled lamb chops for any occasion.
Παϊδάκια αρνίσια στη σχάρα. Lamb is really a special occasion meal in our family. Perhaps this because it is so closely associated with our Pascha (Orthodox Easter) celebration (which you can read about here), and also because it tends to be a pricey meat protein option. In any case, when lamb is on the menu, you just know that both the meal and the gathering will be amazing.
Although there is a general assumption that Greeks eat a lot of lamb, in our experience this isn’t really the case. In Greece, pork tends to be a more popular meat choice because of its availability and affordability. Also, pork is delicious and makes some of the best souvlakia. Furthermore, many Greeks also follow Orthodox lent and fasting periods, during which the diet is primarily plant-based. All this means that lamb is enjoyed, but not as frequently as you might imagine.
One of our favourite ways to enjoy lamb is as grilled lamb chops, or paidakia arnisia (παϊδάκια αρνίσια) as they are called in Greek. These chops are so tender, so delicious and so perfectly cooked that it’s easy to find excuses to make them for special days. Here are a few occasions that we think deserve to have grilled lamb chops on the menu:
- Anyone’s birthday
- Father’s day
- You-finished-cleaning-the-house-before-noon day
- Mother’s day
- Your-hair-looks-good day
What exactly is a lamb chop?
Our friend Jamie Oliver has published a great guide to various cuts of lamb on his website; this is a valuable resource to have on hand when you are searching for recipes and making a trip to your butcher. As Jamie describes, lamb chops (or cutlets) are the most expensive part of the lamb because they are so tender and flavourful. The chops come from the lamb’s ribs and can either be cooked individually as we have done here or as a rack of lamb. (You can find our rack of lamb recipe here). If you want to get really fancy, you can ask your butcher to scrape some of the meat off the end of the rib bone. This results in a cut called French trimmed and makes an already impressive meal look even more impressive!
What is the best internal temperature for lamb chops?
Contrary to our parents and many Greeks of their generation who prefer to have their meat well, or very well done, the ideal lamb chops really should be cooked until they are still pink inside. For a medium-rare cook you are looking for an internal temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit. This is a great time to get out your meat thermometer, and if you don’t have one, this is a great time to buy one. The worst thing would be for you to spend a lot of money on your lamb chops only to not have them done to your preference.
If you are curious about other cuts of lamb, and the ideal internal temperature for those, we love this resource from American Lamb.
What sides go well with grilled lamb chops?
Lamb chops are rich and delicious and therefore they pair very well with light and fresh sides. We often opt for delicious salads such as our cucumber salad, our fennel salad or a classic horiatiki (village) Greek salad. Other great options are dandelion greens (horta), amaranth greens (vlita) and French fries!
Wondering if we really are friends with Jamie Oliver?
No, we’re not…but we think that we would get along famously if we ever met. Does that count? Also, hey Jamie, reach out to us!
Pin this recipe if you like it!
Looking for amazing sides that you can throw on the grill next to the lamb chops? How about these:
Here’s a great article by Traeger Grills, covering everything you need to know about grilling lamb chops.
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Grilled lamb chops
- Outdoor grill
- Immersion blender, optional
- 12 lamb chops we prefer using lamb rib chops
- 1/3 cup (80 mL) olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- juice of half a lemon
- 1/2 tsp pepper
- 1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves, chopped
- 1 tsp yellow mustard
- 1 tsp salt (to season chops right before grilling)
LADOLEMONO (OIL LEMON SAUCE)
- 1/3 cup (80 mL) olive oil
- juice of 1 lemon (3 tablespoons or 45 mL)
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- Trim the excess fat around the edges of your chops; this will help minimize flare ups during the cooking time.
- Combine all of the marinating ingredients above. We like to emulsify the ingredients using an immersion blender. (This is optional. If you don't have and immersion blender simply whisk the ingredients very well).
- Place the lamb chops in large food storage bag or bowl. Pour the marinade over the lamb chop. Mix well to coat all of the pieces. Place in the refrigerator for 3-4 hours, mixing occasionally.
- During this period, prepare your ladolemono sauce and keep aside.
- A half hour before grilling, take the chops out of the refrigerator and let them sit at room temperature, still in the marinade, for 20-30 minutes.
- Once you're ready to grill, remove the chops from the marinade, and place them on a large plate. Season them with salt. Discard the marinade at this point.
- Prepare the grill by making sure it is clean and the grates are lightly oiled. Pre-heat on high and cover the grill, while it is heating up.
- Lower the heat to medium and place the chops on the grill. Do not cover the grill, this will help minimize flare-ups, and will also help give you nice grill marks. Grill on medium for 4-5 minutes per side. We like our meat medium (with a slight pink inside), and we grill until the internal temperature is approximately 140 degrees.
- Remove the lamb chops from the grill and transfer them to a deep platter or pot. Immediately pour the ladolemono sauce over the lamb chops.
- Let the lamb chops rest 5-10 minutes. The internal temperature of the meat will increase about 5 degrees during this period, achieving the 145 degrees F. which is the recommended safe internal temperature for lamb.