Can you eat Lamb rare? Safety Tips and Guidelines

Can you eat Lamb rare? Safety Tips and Guidelines

Lamb is a delicious and popular option for many dinner tables, but the question remains: can you eat Lamb rare? While we may be accustomed to ordering our beef or pork on the rare side, Lamb presents different circumstances to consider before indulging.

In this comprehensive article, we will dive into the potential risks of consuming undercooked Lamb and whether it is safe and healthy for you to do so.

Additionally, we will explore cooking tips for entertaining at home to ensure you can enjoy your Lamb while still prioritizing your health and safety. Read on to have all your questions about eating Lamb rare answered.

Is It Safe To Eat Lamb Rare?

The safety of eating rare or medium-rare Lamb is a topic of debate. While some prefer meat cooked this way for enhanced tenderness and flavor, it is important to take precautions to avoid foodborne illness.

First and foremost, proper handling and storage of the meat is crucial in ensuring its safety. The Lamb should be stored at the correct temperature and not left at room temperature for too long.

Additionally, cooking the Lamb to an internal temperature of at least 145°F (63°C) is necessary to eliminate harmful bacteria. This is particularly important for certain cuts like ground lamb, which are more prone to bacterial contamination.

It’s worth noting that harmful bacteria like E. coli, Salmonella, and Campylobacter are commonly found on the surface of Lamb. As a result, searing the outer layer is crucial when cooking the Lamb rare.

Although, even when Lamb is handled and cooked properly, there is still a risk of foodborne illness. Symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea can occur if harmful bacteria are consumed.

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!!!Quick Fact: While rare or medium-rare Lamb can be a delicious and safe option, it is essential to follow proper handling and cooking procedures to minimize the risk of illness.

Can You Eat Ground Lamb Rare Or Medium Rare?

Unlike whole chops, loins, or other cuts of Lamb, ground lamb cannot be consumed rare or medium-rare.

Once ground, the bacteria on the meat’s exterior is spread throughout, and therefore, it requires a higher temperature for safe consumption.

Failure to cook ground lamb to the proper temperature increases the risk of food poisoning.

To ensure safety while cooking ground lamb, it should be prepared to a temperature of at least 160°F. Since the meat is cooked throughout, so it doesn’t require any rest before being served.

Remember to properly cook your ground lamb to savor its delicious flavor while also ensuring your well-being.

What is the Target Temperature for Rare Lamb?

For those cooking lamb chops, there are several options for achieving the rare perfect doneness; oven, pan, or grill.

Can you eat Lamb rare? Safety Tips and Guidelines

Let the lamb rest for 5 minutes after cooking and ensure the temperature reaches 120 degrees Fahrenheit (50 degrees Celsius) internally.

For consistency and precision, utilize a meat thermometer every time.

Can you eat Lamb rare?

The answer to this question depends on the cut of Lamb you are preparing and how it is cooked.

Whole cuts such as chops, loins, and roasts can be rare or medium-rare if handled and cooked properly. Ground lamb should always be cooked all the way through to an internal temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit to eliminate the risk of foodborne illness.

For those who choose to prepare their Lamb Rare, it is important to follow the guidelines and take precautions to ensure it is safe for consumption.

If you have doubts or concerns about consuming undercooked Lamb, it’s best to err on caution and cook your meat to the proper temperature.

Can You Eat Lamb Rare? Lamb Cooking Temperatures and Doneness Chart

Doneness Level  Optimal Internal Temperature
Rare  120 degrees F (50 degrees C)
Medium Rare 130 degrees F (54 degrees C)
Medium 140 degrees F (60 degrees C)
Medium Well 145 degrees F (65 degrees C)
Well Done 160 degrees F (70 degrees C)

Can You Eat Lamb Rare? Safest Temperature and Doneness To Eat Lamb

For the perfect lamb experience, we recommend cooking cuts like the rack or loin chops to a juicy medium-rare, with an internal temperature of 130°F (54°C). This way, you get a deliciously pink center and a caramelized outer sear, providing the best of both worlds.

The outer sear is a must to ensure safety and eliminate any bacteria on the surface. It’s a simple yet effective way to remove potential risks while keeping the meat moist and flavor-packed.

For lamb burgers or ground lamb, we suggest sticking to a well-done cook, reaching an internal temperature of around 160°F (70°C). This ensures the meat is thoroughly cooked and tasty, like grass-fed beef.

Can You Eat Lamb Rare? Best Lamb Cuts To Enjoy Rarely

To all the carnivores out there, let’s explore which lamb cuts are best served rare! Please remember only top-quality Lamb should be considered for rare servings.

In general, you may serve any cut of Lamb that can be cooked and sliced rare. This rule of thumb should guide your choices.

Can you eat Lamb rare? Safety Tips and Guidelines

Some prime examples include: 

  • Lamb Loin Chops – Our Lamb Loin Chops come pre-portioned into single-serve pieces, molding a miniature T-Bone that will make your mouth water.
  • Rack of Lamb – Rack of Lamb is a classic dish, typically prepared by cutting into individual portions and served medium rare. However, with a high-quality cut of Lamb, rare doneness can be achieved for an exceptionally succulent and tender experience.
  • Lamb Rib Chops – Individual lamb rib chops are served in distinguished portions, an experience much akin to lamb loin chops.

Can You Eat Lamb Rare? Lamb Cuts To Avoid Eating Rare

Knowing the lamb cuts that can be eaten rare is only half the story. To avoid the risks of eating undercooked Lamb, it’s essential to know the Lamb cuts to prevent in their rare form. Unfortunately, this list is not short, as most lamb cuts should never be eaten rare.

Take, for instance, significant bone-in lamb cuts like the leg and shoulder. Due to their size, determining their internal temperature is a guessing game, so they are best eaten at medium doneness. Or, if you’re craving rare meat, transform them into leg and shoulder steaks, pan-fry, or grill them until they reach the optimal internal temperature of 120F/50C.

While we’re on the topic, never think of eating ground lamb, burgers, sausage, kebabs, or offals rare, as the large surface area makes them too risky to eat. The same goes for lamb stuffing, a delightful meal of ground lamb and vegetables used to stuff lamb legs.

Eating rare lamb cuts isn’t a matter of choice – it’s about safety. So unless you’re sure it’s safe, stick to medium doneness to avoid risks.

Can you eat Lamb rare cold?

Eating Lamb cold or rare is about more than just taste preferences. It all comes down to how the meat was preserved. If you’re a fan of the unique, cool flavor of chilled rare Lamb, indulge – but only if the heart is fresh out of a sealed bag in the refrigerator.

On the other hand, if the Lamb has been sitting on the counter for more than two hours, don’t take any risks. Bacteria has likely multiplied to dangerous levels, so it’s best to heat up and cook the meat to completion before consuming.

With the risk of bacterial growth and possible foodborne illness, it’s usually best to dispose of any meat sitting out.

Can you eat Lamb raw?

While Lamb tartare is a popular delicacy among global foodies, it’s not a risk-free dish in terms of food safety. As experts in this field, we advise against consuming raw meat, including Lamb, due to potential health concerns. It’s imperative to prioritize food safety and be mindful of the consequences of consuming raw meat.

If you are going to make Lamb tartare, please see our safety checklist:

  • Make sure you utilize lamb meat of high quality from a source that you have complete confidence in.
  • For the tartare, strictly choose boneless Lamb that has been frozen before.
  • Avoid using ground lamb while preparing Lamb tartare.
  • Ensure your hands, knife, and cutting board are impeccably clean.

To ensure the freshness of your Lamb Tartare, avoid leaving it uncovered at room temperature once prepared.

For a serving, freeze the prepared dish for at least fifteen minutes before the presentation.

Who Should Not Eat Lamb Rare?

Individuals with specific comorbidities must never eat rare Lamb, notably when pregnant, immunocompromised, or currently ill, particularly with a gastrointestinal illness.

The elderly and young children are also highly discouraged from consuming undercooked Lamb.

Remember, to mitigate health risks, ensure your Lamb is thoroughly cooked.

How to Safely Prepare and Cook Lamb Rare

Achieving a perfectly cooked, medium-rare lamb is an art that requires attention to detail and proper technique. Before cooking, defrost in the fridge overnight if frozen. Before prep, wash your hands and sanitize your tools using a clean board and knife.

Can you eat Lamb rare? Safety Tips and Guidelines

Preheat your pan or grill to medium-high heat. To ensure bacteria is eliminated, adequately sear all sides of the Lamb, and to achieve that juicy, rare interior, use a meat thermometer to get an accurate internal temperature reading.

Please wait for the meat to reach 120 to 125 degrees Fahrenheit (50 degrees Celsius), remove it from the heat source, and let it rest for 5 minutes. At this point, the internal temperature should read between 128 degrees Fahrenheit to 130 degrees Fahrenheit, the perfect medium-rare.

For consistent and safe outcomes every time, rely on the accuracy of a modern digital meat thermometer. Your tastebuds (and health) will thank you!

Tips For Cooking The Best Lamb

Lamb is a versatile meat that can be enjoyed in many cuts, from the succulent shoulder to the flavorsome chop and the savory roast. The mouth-watering lamb chop is a must-have among the lamb cuts on your dinner table. You can buy them as individual chops or a whole rib roast, which you can cut into pieces after cooking.

Cooking a whole rib roast may take a bit longer, but it’s more forgiving in terms of cooking time and difficulty overcooking the meat, resulting in tough, chewy Lamb. On the other hand, cooking individual chops requires less cooking time, yet it requires careful attention to avoid overcooking the meat.

Lamb shoulder may be larger and require more time to cook to perfection, but its unique blend of flavors makes it worth the wait.

1/Invest In A Digital Meat Thermometer

If you frequently cook meat, particularly Lamb, then a meat thermometer is an indispensable tool in your kitchen.

These affordable gadgets always guarantee the perfect cooking temperature, resulting in perfectly cooked Lamb, pork, chicken, and steak.

You don’t need to break the bank to invest in a high-quality meat thermometer like this one.

Check out the internal temperatures required for various doneness levels of lamb cuts, including chops, roasts, and more.

  • Cook rare Lamb until it reaches a temperature between 115-120°F.
  • To cook medium-rare Lamb, aim for a temperature of 120-125°F.
  • For medium Lamb, cook it to a temperature range of 125-135°F.
  • Cook Lamb to medium well by heating it until it reaches a temperature of 135-145°F.
  • If you prefer well-done Lamb, ensure it has been cooked to a temperature of 150°F or above.

2/Try Making A Brine For Your Lamb

For a flavorful lamb dish, consider bathing the meat! Brining is an excellent technique that enhances tenderness and moisture as it fortifies meat with salt and water. This is particularly useful for leaner cuts. The recipe below is fully customizable, depending on your preferences and ingredient availability in your pantry.

Key tip*: Allow your brine to cool fully before submerging your Lamb. Hot brine can precook the outside of the meat, compromising texture.

For those of us who love Lamb, the taste can be heavenly, but the gamey smell can throw us off. Here’s a pro tip to help with that. Brining your Lamb adds flavor and removes excess blood from the meat, making it less gamey. Bonus, your Lamb will also have better moisture retention and overall texture!

If you want your brining liquid to cool down fast, try simmering half the water first, then add the rest after removing the pot from the stove. Want to speed things up even more? Pop that liquid into the fridge or freezer. Brining won’t make Lamb lose its natural lamb flavor.


  • 3.5 cups of water
  • 1/2 cup red or white wine or your favorite vinegar (you can optionally just use water)
  • 1/4 cup Kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons of brown or white sugar, honey, or maple syrup

Optional Flavor Add-Ins

  • 2 teaspoons black peppercorns
  • 3-4 bay leaves
  • 2 sprigs of fresh rosemary
  • 1 sprig of fresh thyme
  • 6 thick-cut lamb chops*


Place a medium-sized saucepan on the stove to start bringing your lamb chops. Add all the ingredients except for the chops. Don’t worry about your chops just yet – keep those in the fridge until step 4 to prevent spoiling.

Next, bring the water, wine or vinegar, salt, sugar, and herbs to a gentle simmer over medium heat. Don’t let the water boil, but ensure the sugar and salt completely dissolve.

Once dissolved, remove the saucepan from the stovetop and let the brining liquid cool completely. Pour it into a bowl or Tupperware container and place it in the fridge or freezer to speed up the process.

After the brine has cooled, take a large freezer bag and put the lamb chops inside (you may need two). Pour the brine into the bag, seal it, and place it in the fridge for 30-60 minutes. Stay within this timeframe unless you’re brining a lamb shoulder or other tougher cut of meat.

When you’re ready to cook the lamb chops, remove them from the brine and pat them dry. Go ahead and follow your preferred cooking method. But, as the brine helps flavor your Lamb from the inside out, you may not need to add any more salt to your chops.

Note: **This recipe for brining is versatile enough to allow for shoulder cuts and others, though for larger cuts, ensuring ample coverage may require a proportionate increase in salt and liquid.

1/Generously Season Your Lamb Before Cooking

Proper seasoning is essential to the success of any lamb dish. If you’re short on time and can’t make a brine, don’t fret!

Ensure you generously coat your Lamb with a good amount of salt, allowing the flavor to shine.

For an added kick, consider adding some pepper to the mix. Additionally, rubbing the lamb chop in a bit of olive oil before seasoning can help the salt adhere and improve the crisping process.

Remember, Lamb is generally leaner than other meats, so a bit of added fat can bring out its subtle flavors and create that perfect crisp texture.

2/ Let Your Lamb Rest Before Carving And Eating

Resting your meat is a critical step that many often overlook when cooking meat. It’s the secret to achieving the juiciest, most tender, and flavorful Lamb you’ve ever tasted.

Here’s why: As your lamb cooks, its juices move toward the center and away from the heat source. If you rush the resting process and slice too soon, all those precious juices will end up on your plate instead of in your Lamb, where they belong.

Allowing your Lamb to rest undisturbed for just a few minutes before slicing and serving gives it time to reabsorb those delicious juices, resulting in a more succulent and flavorful meal.

The exact resting time depends on your cut and thickness- a roast can rest for up to 20-30 minutes, a lamb rack for 10-15 minutes, and smaller chops for 5-10 minutes.

Keep in mind that meat often continues to cook during its resting period. We suggest taking your Lamb out of the oven about 10°F below the desired final temperature, as it will reach that temperature from residual cooking during its rest.

Remember to cover your meat in foil, as this will help keep it warm and prevent moisture from escaping.

3/ Try Making A Delicious Marinade!

Marinades are a surefire way to infuse flavor and moisture into meats, specifically Lamb. Whether using a lean or fatty cut, this culinary technique tenderizes the meat by slowly breaking down its cellular structure using added acids, like vinegar, citrus juice, pineapple juice, or wine. Also, herbs, garlic, sugars, salt, and spices can be added to create just the right flavor for your taste buds.

It’s important to note that marinading and brining aren’t interchangeable. Brining is only necessary for tougher cuts to soften the texture, while marinades are used to pump up the flavor.

If you’ve already brined your chops, try using a dry rub with herbs and spices for an extra pop of flavor. Marinades are a versatile and delicious addition to any meat preparation routine!


  • 6 cloves of garlic, finely minced
  • 1.5 tablespoons of fresh rosemary leaves, finely chopped (sub for 1.5 teaspoons dried rosemary)
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 lemon, zest, and juice
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider or rice vinegar
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 pounds of lamb chops or lamb loin


For juicy and succulent Lamb, follow these easy steps:

1)Combine all the ingredients – except the meal’s star – in a bowl. Then, place the Lamb in a single layer in a glass dish.

2)Pour the marinade over the Lamb, rubbing it into all sides for an even and delicious flavor.

3)Cover the dish with plastic wrap and leave in the fridge for at least one hour. For an even tastier dish, leave it overnight!

4)Cook your Lamb to your desired internal temperature, ensuring you let it rest before serving.

Can You Eat Rare Lamb Leftovers?

Consuming leftover Lamb that is cooked rare is not advisable, as bacteria can spread to the meat during storage, regardless of safe refrigeration.

To avoid foodborne illness, it’s always best to fully reheat lamb leftovers. Plus, let’s be honest, cold, leftover rare Lamb is less appetizing than juicy, freshly cooked meat.

Not just limited to Lamb, these safety tips also apply to steak. To preserve the tenderness and juiciness of your leftovers, try cooking your Lamb to at least medium doneness, ensuring an internal temperature of 140 degrees Fahrenheit (60 degrees Celsius) or higher.

Common Foodborne Pathogens Associated With Undercooked Lamb or Any Meat

Lamb and mutton are delicious, but like all meats, they can harbor harmful bacteria before and after slaughter.

To prevent food poisoning caused by consuming Lamb that is rare or improperly stored or prepared, beware of common foodborne pathogens like E. coli, Salmonella, Staphylococcus aureus, Norovirus, and Campylobacter.

Make sure to cook Lamb thoroughly. Searing the outer surface not only enhances the flavor but also helps ensure that any unwanted bacteria have been removed, leaving a perfectly pink and juicy center.

What should you avoid when eating lamb medium rare?

Cooking Lamb to medium rare is an art that requires precision and care. You certainly don’t want to overcook it and dry it out. The first step in mastering this technique is getting an instant-read thermometer. It’s an indispensable tool that will help ensure you cook your Lamb perfectly each time.

Once you have the thermometer, you can start preparing your Lamb. As soon as it hits the pan, keep an eye on it and check its temperature. You want the meat to reach an internal temperature of 145°F (63°C). Any higher than that, and you risk compromising the flavor and juiciness of the meat.

Remember, you don’t have to leave the Lamb in the pan to cook through. You can place it in a hot oven to give it extra time to cook after it reaches the desired temperature. A little spare time in the range never hurt anyone.

After cooking, it’s essential to let the Lamb rest for a few minutes before serving. This will help the juices redistribute and make for a lump of more flavorful and tender meat. Serve it up cold or at room temperature – it’s delicious either way.

Lastly, always remember that there is a difference between lamb medium and Lamb medium rare. Lamb medium is closer to beef medium, while lamb medium rare is still raw in the center.

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What are some recipes for lamb medium rare?

Lamb is a delicacy that has many distinctive flavors and can be paired with various ingredients such as mint jelly, rosemary, and garlic. To enhance the richness of this meat, some culinary experts recommend using pan drippings to create a savory sauce.

Fresh herbs like thyme, sage, or rosemary can be added for extra flavor. When onions are used instead of shallots, they provide a sweeter flavor that tantalizes the taste buds.

While Lamb is widely popular in restaurants worldwide, be cautious when purchasing it. It is important to identify meat that has been ethically sourced. Look for labels such as “grass-fed” or “pasture-raised” instead of buying from a butcher shop, as these animals are not raised for their meat.

To learn more about the origin of the meat, don’t hesitate to question the seller and explore different ways to savor the excellent taste of this delightful meat.

When purchasing meat, ensure it is pristine and doesn’t have blood or fat seeping from under the skin. Cooking meat requires vigilance, as overcooking can lead to a mushy chew. Keep an eye on the meat from when it hits the heat to when it starts to lose color.

Remove the heat promptly, and allow the tenderized meat to rest before serving. Remember, meat is still subject to further cooking even after removal from the heat, so don’t put it back on too soon!

Final Thoughts: Can you eat Lamb Rare?

Lamb is an incredibly flavorsome meat that makes a great alternative to the standard beef, pork, and chicken enjoyed across the US. Whole cuts like chops and loins can be served rare or medium rare, depending on your preference.

Simply expose the Lamb to high heat to kill off potentially harmful bacteria. Aim for an internal temperature of 120F before letting it rest for 5 minutes. Remember, any lamb cut that can be sliced is best served rare.

However, it would be best if you avoided rare ground lamb, lamb burgers, lamb kebabs, and bone-in lamb cuts such as leg or shoulder. It’s also important to note that young children, older people, those suffering from an upset stomach, or those with a weakened immune system should steer clear of rare Lamb.

If you have leftovers, it’s best to reheat until medium, and don’t eat Lamb raw. Be sure to watch out for common foodborne pathogens, including E. Coli, Salmonella, and Norovirus. Stay safe and enjoy the unique flavor of Lamb!


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