My Account

The Five Primal Cuts of Lamb: A Quick Guide

The Five Primal Cuts of Lamb: A Quick Guide

Cooking this flavourful meat is easier than you think!

When was the last time you cooked lamb?

It may be one of the less common household meats in North America (we tend to think of beef and chicken first), but its distinct gamey taste and intense, complex flavours are just a few of the things that make it a unique yet often overlooked alternative that’s full of possibilities.

Whether you’re roasting a whole leg of lamb with rosemary and thyme or frying up some lamb chops with parsley and lemon, it’s important to pair it with light flavours so as not to compete with the naturally robust flavour profile.

The five primal cuts of lamb are shoulder, breast, rack, loin, and leg. From here it’s easy to break down what part of the lamb you’re working with to make sure it comes out perfect every time.

  1. Shoulder. This large cut is made up of the neck, blade, and arm, and accounts for over a third of the weight of the whole carcass. Since it’s such a well used muscle, the meat here can be tough (try cooking with moist heat to counteract this). While most commonly diced for hearty stews or ground into patties for delicious lamb burgers, the meat from the shoulder is also tasty when cut into chops and steaks and then roasted or braised.

  2. Breast. Best for slow roasting, this cut from the lower part of the front half of the lamb tends to be quite fatty, but it’s oh so flavourful! Make sure you look up some recipes on your cut before you start cooking, as the meat here can get tough if cooked incorrectly. As a general rule, try cooking slow and low with moist heat for the best results.

  3. Rack. Great for quick roasting or grilling, this is a valuable cut due to its mouth-watering tenderness, intense flavour, and rich amounts of vitamin B12. Made up of about eight tasty rib eyes (or rib chops), these can be cooked separately or whole. If you’re cooking it whole, try “frenching” the ends of the bones with decorative tips for an elegant looking Crown Roast.

  4. Loin. One of the more prized parts of the animal, this primal cut is great for roasting (just be careful not to dry it out!). It’s naturally quite tender, so we’d recommend a dry heat method here. Although they’re a smidgen less flavourful than rib chops, these cuts are a lot more economical, which makes it a favourite for many chefs.

  5. Leg. The back two legs of the lamb produce this classic holiday roast. Leg of lamb can be cooked whole for a longer roast, or cut into steaks for a quicker meal. Both options yield incredibly juicy, intensely flavoured dark meat you don’t have to wait for a holiday to enjoy!



Leave a comment

Don't miss a meat!Subscribe to our newsletter