Lamb Buying Guide

Roast lamb can make for a rich and flavourful Sunday dinner, but there are a variety of cuts available to suit different tastes and budgets. This lamb buying guide outlines your options.

Lamb 101

Lamb is richer in flavour than most meats, and also a bit more expensive. That makes it a popular choice for holidays and special occasions. Roast lamb is a favourite in many families, while barbecued lamb chops add a touch of class to any backyard affair. Less expensive cuts, like shanks and mutton, are also delicious but tend to require a bit more prep and cooking time. For inexpensive, everyday meals, you can use ground lamb to make tasty burger patties or stew meat for quick stir-fries. 

Types of Lamb


Lamb Chops

Lamb chops are great for backyard BBQs or broiling in the oven on a rainy day. Although chops can be pricey, they're also very flavourful due to their fat content. How does fat equal flavour? During cooking, the fat turns to oil and seeps into the meat, making every mouthful richer and juicier. Chops should be pinkish-red in colour and uniform in appearance. They're usually sold bone-in. Chops tend to cook quickly, so try to get pieces that are at least 3/4" in thickness for ideal grilling and broiling. Shoulder chops, in particular, should be tenderized by marinating or moist-heat cooking, and are best braised or simmered. Lamb chops pair well with a variety of foods, including asparagus, potatoes and green beans, and can be garnished with garlic, mint or rosemary.

Roast Leg of Lamb

Roast leg of lamb, also known simply as roast lamb, is a great choice for big meals or holidays. A cut weighing six to nine pounds can feed a large family. A leg of lamb includes the meaty front sirloin and shank. You have a variety of choices when shopping for leg of lamb. A semi-boneless leg of lamb is easiest to carve, while boneless or butterflied legs are ideal for stuffing. 

Lamb Shank

A large lamb shank is a delicious choice for a weekend dinner. Although time consuming to prepare, lamb shank is a tender meat, rich in fall-off-the-bone flavour. Hind shanks come from the back legs and are meatier than the front legs or fore shanks. The bones should look reddish and moist, not dry. Shanks are best slow cooked or baked in foil, and can be paired with mashed potatoes, root veggies or polenta. A gravy topping will add zest to your meal. 

Lamb Steak

A great thing about lamb steak is its versatility. It tastes delicious grilled, broiled or roasted. For a quick, easy dinner your family will love, prepare sautéed lamb steaks with a simple rub of garlic, salt, herbs and extra virgin olive oil. Lamb steak goes well with sweet potatoes, rosemary, mint, sautéed mushrooms and green beans. Sliced lamb steak is a wonderful addition in casseroles and salads.

Ground Lamb

Ground lamb can be used for a variety of quick and tasty dinner dishes, including stir-fries, stuffed bell peppers or patties for burgers and sliders. It also adapts well to shepherd's pie, samosas, and meatballs. 

Stew Meat

A hearty lamb stew will work wonders on a cold winter day to warm you and your family. Stew meat is meat trimmed from different parts of the lamb and cut into smallish cubes. The shoulder, neck and shanks are the most flavourful. You can also make your own stewing meat by buying larger portions of lamb and cutting the cubes yourself. Delicious ingredients for you lamb stew include potatoes, carrots, parsnips and peas. Fresh crusty bread is an ideal accompaniment.


Mutton is meat from sheep more than a year old. It's tougher and stronger tasting than lamb, which is typically less than a year old. Mutton is popular in Indian cooking, particularly in curry dishes. You can use it to enhance the taste of your stews, soups, dumplings and shepherd's pies. By slow cooking mutton over a long period of time, you'll tenderize it and bring out the taste. 

Lamb Buying Tips:

• Wash your hands and all utensils and surfaces that come in contact with raw lamb
• Thaw frozen lamb in the refrigerator, not at room temperature 
• To prevent cross-contamination, do not thaw lamb in water with other food items
• Thawed lamb must be cooked within 48 hours
• Do not refreeze lamb after its defrosted as this may cause bacteria to breed

Lamb Storage Tips:

• Refrigerate lamb in its store packaging; the less the meat is handled, the better
• If you must remove lamb from its store packaging, place it in a tightly sealed container or plastic bag
• When storing lamb in your freezer, wrap the meat tightly with either freezer paper or aluminum foil
• Ground lamb can be refrigerated for 2 days or frozen for 3 to 4 months
• Lamb cuts can be refrigerated for 3 to 5 days or frozen for 6 to 9 months

Organic vs. Grass-Fed Lamb

As the names suggest, organic lamb is fed organic varieties of grain and corn, while grass-fed lamb is reared on natural grasses and clovers. Both methods cost a bit more than other approaches but result in a healthier animal. Grass-fed lamb tends to be leaner, while organic lamb has a bit more fat. However, as with most meats, the extra fat also increases the flavour. 
This article is intended as general information. Always be sure to read and follow the label(s)/instruction(s) that accompany your product(s). Walmart will not be responsible for any injury or damage caused by this activity.



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