Lamb ribs, rubbed with tasty fennel rub and smoked low and slow for a perfect combination of flavor, aroma, and texture.
There's nothing quite like perfectly smoked lamb ribs. The succulent meat, the rich flavor, the crispy bark... it's all heavenly. And when you add a fennel rub to the equation? Well, that's just next level.
The key to great smoked lamb ribs is all in the preparation. First, you'll want to choose a good quality lamb rib - look for well-marbled meat with a healthy layer of fat. Next, it's all about the rub.
A fennel rub will give the lamb a nice fragrant flavor, without being too overpowering. Just mix together some fennel seeds, salt, pepper, and a few other base spices, and rub it all over the lamb. Then it's time to smoke.
Smoking lamb ribs is pretty simple - just set your smoker to 225 degrees Fahrenheit and let it do its thing for 3-4 hours. If you're using a charcoal smoker, you'll want to add some wood chips for flavor (we like hickory or applewood).
Once the lamb ribs are cooked through, they're ready to enjoy. Serve them up with your favorite sides and share with your friends and family!
I know many people avoid lamb ribs because they tend to be on the fatty side. I personally like the added flavor, but if it bothers you feel free to remove some of the fat before or after cooking.
The dried fennel rub is The One and makes for great lamb seasoning providing a subtle anise flavor which is a pleasant surprise to the tangy lamb.
Beats and Eats (music pairing with Lamb Ribs)
Smoked Lamb Rack Ingredients
This is a simple ingredient list. It's just a rack of ribs plus the dry rub mix. You will be hard-pressed to find ground fennel anywhere, so you'll have to buy fennel seeds and grind them yourself. Don't worry fennel seeds are readily available in most markets/stores. The presence of brown sugar balances the flavor keeping the fennel in check, while also helping with caramelization.
- Lamb Ribs
- Fennel Seed
- Garlic Powder
- Brown Sugar
- Kosher Salt
- Black Pepper
Smoking Racks of Lamb Ribs (Step by Step)
This smoked lamb ribs recipe is as simple and hands-off as they come for a barbecue recipe, but don't let this fool you. These ribs are delicious. The fennel rub provides a nice crusty exterior texture while also helping to trap in the juicy succulence of the slow-smoked lamb rib.
You really don't need step by step directions and I feel guilty for calling them out. It's simply rub the ribs with seasoning and slow-smoked a few hours at low temperatures. Keep in mind smoking time will vary depending on grill type.
Step 1: Remove the ribs membrane
Peel the thin skin membrane from the back of the ribs. It will be slick and slippery so use a paper towel for a better grip.
Step 2: Season and marinate
Place the ribs on a wire rack lined baking sheet. Apply the rub generously on both sides including the meaty side and the bone side
Step 3: Smoke slow and low
Prepare your smoker for low and slow indirect heat grilling. Place the whole rack of ribs on the grill grate. Smoke at 225-250 degrees F for a few hours. Cooking time will vary depending on size of the ribs and cooking temperature. Loosely cover the ribs with aluminum foil. Let the lamb rest 5 minutes or so.
Using a carving board and a sharp knife cut the smoked slab into individual ribs and enjoy.
In most parts of the country ribs are slathered in sauce. Trust me when I tell you sauce is absolutely unnecessary for these lamb ribs. However, if you going to ignore my reco and the strongly preferred please refrain from using any commercial sauce. Either try this beet greens salsa or some other herb-based sauce. I like my ribs with either fries or slaw or both. Feel free to pair any of the sides below:
Expert Rib Cooking Tips
- Definitely remove the thin membrane that covers the bone side of the ribs.
- To remove the skin take a butter knife and slide it under the bone-side skin creating just enough space to peel the skin away with your hands. The skin will be slick so grabbing with a paper towel will likely be necessary.
- Be generous with the application of the rub applying to both sides. However, do reserve some to add as a finishing touch to ribs once they're done cooking
- Fennel with its strong licorice flavor profile can be tough to eat when used in too high of quantity, so tread lightly as a little goes a long way.
- Lamb ribs are a very fatty cut, so feel free to trim some of the fat away with a sharp knife before cooking.
- The fennel rub not only adds great flavor, but it helps form a nice crust on your ribs.
- I skipped slathering these beauties in traditional bbq sauce and opted for a salsa verde, but zhoug sauce also works great.
- Serve these ribs with side dishes like Southern potato salad, green beans, baked beans, or collard greens slaw.
Where To Find Lamb Ribs
Lamb ribs or "Denver" ribs, as they are called are not easy to find. You'll need a local specialty type grocery store or a local butcher. I've been fortunate to live in cities like Chicago and Austin where quality butchers are present.
I bought these beauties from my guys at Salt and Time Butcher Shop in my neighborhood. You gotta start with good product to end with great product. All is not loss if lamb ribs aren't available, as beef or pork are suitable replacements to pair with the rub.
What Kind of Wood Is Best For Smoking Ribs?
I prefer a fruitwood like apple or a hardwood like oak for these ribs. Cherry is also a good pairing with lamb. Whether you have cherry, apple, pear, etc. go with what is available to you. Just don't use mesquite as that super strong flavor will overpower everything else. Checkout this guide for pairing wood with smoked ribs for more detailed breakdown.
For similar recipes you might like try these:
Making This Recipe
If you’re looking for a delicious and impressive dish to serve at your next party, look no further than the best lamb ribs in the world. This recipe is easy to follow and produces succulent, tender ribs that will have your guests asking for seconds.
So fire up the smoker and get ready to wow your guests with the wonderful flavor of these smoked lamb ribs!
If you make these delicious smoked lamb ribs or any other from the site, please come back and leave me a comment below with your feedback. Definitely take a photo of the dish and be sure to tag #foodfidelity so that I can see them.
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- 1 rack Lamb (Denver) Ribs
- 1 tablespoon Ground Garlic
- 2 tablespoon Paprika
- 1 tablespoon kosher Salt
- ½ tablespoon Cumin
- 1 tablespoon Course Black Pepper
- 1 tablespoon Ground Fennel
- ½ tablespoon Brown sugar
For the spice rub
- Combine all spice ingredients in a mixing bowl and mix thoroughly.
Prepare the ribs
- Place rack of ribs meat side down. Remove membrane (thin paper like skin on back of ribs). Easiest way to do this is to use a butter knife to slide under the skin at the middle part of the rack. Once loosened use pliers or a paper towel to slowly pull the membrane away from the ribs.
- Generously season both sides of the ribs with the rub. Let the ribs sit for an hour in the refrigerator. When ready to cook remove from the refrigerator and let come to room temperature.
- Prepare smoker for indirect smoking. Once temperature of 225 degrees is reached, place ribs in the smoker and close the lid and smoke for 4 hours. I use a rib rack to smoke them upright but if not smoke them bone side down.
- Remove, let cool. Top off the ribs with an additional application of the rub.
- Rub works well on beef and pork ribs as well.
- Use coarse spice ingredients for more texture