Can you eat lamb rare? You certainly can and in fact, most lamb cuts are best served either rare or medium rare at most.
The key is knowing which cuts of lamb to eat rare and which to avoid, along with proper preparation, food safety, and cooking to ensure your lamb is both tasty and safe.
Today's comprehensive article covers the following key areas and will answer all your questions about can you eat lamb rare:
- Is It Safe To Eat Lamb Rare?
- What is the Target Temperature for Rare Lamb?
- Lamb Cooking Temperatures and Doneness Chart.
- Safest Temperature and Doneness To Eat Lamb.
- Best Lamb Cuts To Enjoy Rare.
- Lamb Cuts To Avoid Eating Rare.
- Who Should Not Eat Lamb Rare?
- How to Safely Prepare and Cook Lamb Rare.
- Can You Eat Rare Lamb Leftovers?
- Can You Eat Lamb Raw?
- Food Borne Pathogens Associated With Undercooked Lamb.
Is It Safe To Eat Lamb Rare?
It is safe to eat lamb rare or mutton as long as the outer surface is thoroughly seared. Similar to beef, harmful bacteria like E. Coli are typically found on the meat’s exterior.
That said, you should still be mindful and use a handy meat thermometer when cooking the lamb to rare doneness to guarantee your safety.
Although, this is only true for certain cuts like lamb rib chops. Other cuts, such as ground lamb, should never be eaten rare, as this raises the chances of consuming bacteria that wasn’t removed while cooking.
What is the Target Temperature for Rare Lamb?
Wether you are cooking lamb chops in the oven, pan or grill, the internal target temperature to eat lamb rare is 120 degrees Fahrenheit (50 degrees Celsius). You can achieve this by letting the lamb rest for 5 minutes after cooking, leaving you with the perfect rare doneness.
As always, we suggest utilizing a meat thermometer to attain consistent and precise results every time.
Can You Eat Lamb Rare? Lamb Cooking Temperatures and Doneness Chart
Optimal Internal Temperature
120 degrees F (50 degrees C)
130 degrees F (54 degrees C)
140 degrees F (60 degrees C)
145 degrees F (65 degrees C)
160 degrees F (70 degrees C)
Can You Eat Lamb Rare? Safest Temperature and Doneness To Eat Lamb
In our experience, we found most lamb cuts, whether a rack of lamb or lamb loin chops, taste best when served medium rare. So, the meat’s internal temperature should reach 130 degrees Fahrenheit (54 degrees Celsius).
It will have a nice, juicy pink center, and seared exterior. This way, you still get the best of both worlds, enjoying a tasty cut of lamb while ensuring it is safe to eat with any potential bacteria on the surface removed due to the outer sear.
However, we suggest cooking lamb burgers or ground lamb well-done, which calls for an internal temperature of approximately 160 degrees Fahrenheit (70 degrees Celsius). Most ground meats, including grass-fed ground beef, taste better when cooked thoroughly.
Can You Eat Lamb Rare? Best Lamb Cuts To Enjoy Rare
For all the carnivores out there, let’s go over which lamb cuts you can consume rare. Keep in mind, that you should only use top-quality lamb when planning to eat lamb rare.
A good rule of thumb is that any cut of lamb you would cook and slice may be served rare. Some prime examples include:
Can You Eat Lamb Rare? Lamb Cuts To Avoid Eating Rare
Now that you know which lamb cuts you can eat rare, let’s review which lamb cuts you should avoid eating rare. This list is A LOT longer since most cuts of lamb should not be consumed undercooked.
For starters, it is preferred to avoid large, bone-in lamb cuts like a leg of lamb, lamb spare ribs, or lamb shoulder. These cuts are simply too big to judge whether or not the internal temperature is precise. Thus, it is recommended to eat such lamb cuts at medium doneness.
If you do want to eat these lamb cuts rare, you should slice them into lamb leg steaks or shoulder steaks. Then, pan-fry or grill until they reach the optimal internal temperature (120 degrees Fahrenheit / 50 degrees Celsius).
As we mentioned earlier, ground lamb or lamb burgers should never be cooked rare. The large surface area on ground lamb causes it to be too dangerous to eat.
This same rule applies to lamb sausage, lamb kebabs, and lamb stuffing (usually ground lamb and vegetables used to stuff a leg of lamb). Lamb offals, and organ meats in general, are also not to be consumed rare.
Who Should Not Eat Lamb Rare?
People with certain comorbidities should never eat lamb rare, including:
- Those who are pregnant or immune-compromised / immunocompromised.
- You should also avoid rare lamb or mutton if you are currently ill, especially with an upset stomach or more serious gastrointestinal issues.
- Elderly and young children are also urged against consuming lamb rare.
How to Safely Prepare and Cook Lamb Rare
If frozen, defrost the meat safely in the refrigerator overnight in its original packaging.
- Take the lamb out of refrigerator for 1 hour before cooking, keeping covered the meat covered at all times.
- Always wash and clean your hands before prep. Use a clean chopping board and knife during prep.
- Preheat pan or grill on medium-high heat.
- Ensure you get a thorough sear on all sides of the lamb to ensure the exterior is completely cooked and the surface bacteria is killed off.
- Use a meat thermometer to check for doneness and receive an exact internal temperature reading.
- Take off the grill or pan once the temperature reaches 120 to 125 degrees Fahrenheit (50 degrees Celsius). Let it rest for five minutes, which should reveal a final internal temperature reading of 128 degrees Fahrenheit to 130 degrees Fahrenheit, a nice medium rare doneness. Now you are all set to safely eat lamb rare!
The handiness and accuracy of a modern digital meat thermometer cannot be overstated when it comes to getting a safe and consistent temperature to eat lamb rare every time.
Can You Eat Rare Lamb Leftovers?
Even if you store meat safely and kept covered in the fridge, we would strongly advise against eating lamb rare leftovers. Lamb may pick up bacteria during storage, so it is always safest to fully reheat leftovers to lessen the chances of consuming such bacteria.
Besides, cold, leftover rare lamb is surely less delicious than juicy, freshly cooked lamb.
We suggest applying our very same tips to reheat steak and preserve juiciness by cooking your leftover lamb to at least medium doneness, meaning the meat has an internal temperature of 140 degrees Fahrenheit (60 degrees Celsius) or greater.
Check out our guide to lamb leftover sandwich ideas for some tasty inspiration for your lamb leftovers.
Can You Eat Lamb Raw?
Due to food safety concerns, we always advise against eating any raw meat, including raw lamb. With that being said, many people enjoy eating lamb tartare, with the primary ingredient being uncooked lamb.
There’s no guarantee that eating raw meat is ever safe, no matter how popular this dish seems to be amongst global foodies.
If you are going to make Lamb tartare, please see oursafety checklist:
- Use high-quality lamb meat from a source you trust 100%
- Only use boneless reviously frozen lamb for tartare.
- Do not use Ground Lamb for Lamb Tartare.
- Ensure your hands, knife and chopping board are extremely clean.
Once prepared, do not keep Lamb Tartare out at room temperature uncovered.
Place the prepared lamb tartare in the freezer for at least fifteen minutes before serving to ensure freshness.
Common Food Borne Pathogens Associated With Undercooked Lamb or Any Meat
Lamb and mutton, like most meats, are susceptible to bacterial contamination before and after slaughter. Among the more harmful yet common food borne pathogens to cause serious food poisoning associated with eating lamb rare if not stored, prepared and cooked safely include :
Since bacteria is often removed while cooking, it is essential to make sure your lamb is well seared before serving. This will guarantee that even though the center is pink, the bacteria is removed from the outer surface.
Conclusion : Can you eat lamb rare?
- It is safe to eat lamb rare.
- Target internal cooking temperature should be 120F then rested for 5 minutes.
- A good rule of themb is any lamb cut that you can cut and slice can be cooked to rare.
- Do not eat any of the follwoing rare : ground lamb, lamb burgers, lamb kebabs, bone in lamb cuts such as leg or shoulder.
- Young children, elderly, those suppering from an upset stomach or are immuno compromised should all avoid eating lamb rare.
- Best to reheat rare amb leftovers until medium.
- We advise against eating lam raw.
- Most common food borne pathogens associated with undercooked meat including lamb are : E Coli , Salmonella & Norovirus.