How to choose the right cut of lamb for your Easter dinner


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With Easter just around the corner, lamb is finding its way onto dinner menus across America. This richly flavorful meat derives from sheep that are less than a year old and features prominently in the notoriously heart-healthy Mediterranean diet.

Although it’s a red meat, lamb is fairly healthy when consumed in moderation. In addition to protein and iron, it’s an excellent source of many B vitamins, which play an important role in metabolism by helping produce energy, among other things. Lamb also contains high amounts of zinc, which does everything from supporting cell function to maintaining one’s taste buds and appetite.

Fat content of course varies, and some cuts of lamb have less fat than beef, while others have more. While lamb does contain some saturated fat, its monounsaturated fat has been shown to decrease the risk of heart disease. Plus, lamb that has been grass-fed contains omega-3 fatty acids, which are heart healthy and usually associated with fish consumption.

(If you're not psyched about having lamb for Easter, here are some alternatives. And here are some tasty appetizers.)

Since lamb tends to be less readily available than beef and poultry, you may be confused standing in front of the meat case, trying to determine which cut to buy. Our handy guide is here to help:


Full of flavor, the rib section is often used to make rib chops or rack of lamb. Fattier than other options, these cuts also come with a hefty price tag.


Lamb loin is exceptionally tender and requires an attentive chef to make sure it doesn’t wind up overcooked. Loin remains one of the leanest cuts available and can be prepared as either chops or a roast.  


The lamb leg offers immense versatility and can be prepared as a roast, steak, kabob cubes and more. Like the loin, the leg is tender and lean, and these cuts are cheaper than rib options.


Lamb shanks, located on the lowest part of the leg, are fairly cheap as well as healthy. Shanks tend to be tougher, making them a perfect choice for osso bucco or braised dishes.