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Roasted Rack of Lamb with Red Wine Cherry Sauce

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When you want an elegant dinner for a special event, this succulent Roasted Rack of Lamb with Red Wine-Cherry Sauce delivers!  With a rub of garlic and thyme this succulent rack of lamb roasts up moist and tender in just 15 minutes!  Serve this impressive entrée with an easy pan sauce made of red wine, fresh (or frozen) cherries and herbs.  

Lamb with red wine cherry sauce on a plate with mashed potatoes.

When I asked my husband what he wanted for our 55th anniversary dinner, I was not at all surprised to hear him say…a rack of lamb!  Lamb is his favorite.  He devoured his fair share of this perfectly roasted rack of lamb. And that red wine cherry sauce is so good with the lamb!  ♥️

What is the best lamb to buy, American, Australian or New Zealand?

In Australia and New Zealand, there are restrictions that only animals under 12 months old, without incisors, can be labeled and sold as “lamb.”  The United States does not have that  age restriction on their American lamb.

American lamb is the largest and meatiest of the three choices.  Most American lamb is raised in Colorado and the midwestern states.  The lambs feed on both grass and grain and harvested at different ages than Australian and New Zealand.  American lamb tends to have a more lamb-y or gamey taste when prepared.  

Australian lamb is a medium size animal that are entirely grass-fed on open pasture and harvested at 7 to 11 months of age.  They are leaner and have a more mild flavor than the American lamb.

New Zealand lamb is the smallest breed of the three and is also entirely grass-fed on open pasture and harvested between 6 and 10 months of age.  The meat is very tender and buttery when cooked.  New Zealand lamb is less expensive than the American or Australian lamb.

Ingredients for Roasted Rack of Lamb with Red Wine Cherry Sauce:

ingredients needed for rack of lamb

When purchasing a rack of lamb look for one that has already been Frenched or ask your butcher to French it for you.  I Frenched this rack of lamb myself and it is an easy process.  You simply remove the meat and fat between the ribs on the first few inches of the bone. It gives the rack of lamb a more elegant look but you can definitely skip this step.

There are a couple of advantages to a “Frenched” rack of lamb.  First, a french rack makes a nice presentation when served.  Second, it removes unnecessary fat that smokes up the kitchen while roasting. 

  • Rack of lamb
  • olive oil
  • Fresh thyme
  • Garlic
  • Salt/pepper
  • Shallot
  • Fresh Cherries
  • Red Wine
  • Chicken Broth
  • Butter
  • Flour

Another benefit of a Frenched rack of lamb is, those long bones make a nice handle if you are inclined to pick up the chop like a lollipop.

ingredients needed for red wine cherry sauce

How to Roast Rack of Lamb :

We like our lamb roasted to medium-rare, which is 125°F on an instant-read thermometer.  For this 1-1/2 pound, 8-rib rack of lamb roasting in a hot 450° oven, it will take 15 minutes to reach that target.  Then it will take another 10 minutes of rest time before slicing and serving.  That gives you plenty of time to prepare the red wine-cherry sauce and any additional sides.  

Roasted rack of lamb sliced into individual servings and placed on a serving plate.

The following is a brief run-down of the process to roast the lamb and whip up the sauce.  Be sure to scroll to the bottom of the post for the recipe card with full instructions and tips

  1. Prepare the lamb.  Pat the lamb with paper towels to remove any moisture; then wrap each lamb bone with foil. Score the fatty side of the lamb with shallow cuts.  Brush the lamb with olive oil.  
  2. Make the garlic herb rub. Mix the thyme, garlic, salt, and pepper together and rub it into the scored area. Let the lamb sit at room temperature for 1 to 1-1/2 hours.
  3. Roast the lamb. Transfer the roast to the oven and roast to the targeted doneness.
  4. Let the lamb rest. Remove the lamb from the oven and set on a carving board and tent with foil; let it rest for 10 minutes.  

Helpful tips

  • Before you roast the lamb, line a small sheet pan with foil, this will be a huge help when it is time to clean up. 
  • When you score the fat on the lamb only cut through the fat and not into the flesh.
  • Preheat to 450°F and set the oven rack to the upper third position.

For the best results, use an instant-read meat thermometer  and check the meat intermittently or use a leave-in meat thermometer  so you don’t have to open the oven frequently. The above links are affiliate links from ThermoWorks  . They make the best thermometers we have ever used and we highly recommend them.

Prepare the Red Wine-Cherry Sauce:

This is a slightly thickened sauce that really compliments the roasted lamb with enough to drizzle on mashed potatoes as well.   It takes but a few minutes to put together.  

  1. Set a small saucepan over medium heat, add the oil and sauté the shallot and garlic, for 1 minute; then add the cherries, wine and the chicken broth.  Boil the liquid until reduced by half, about 5-8 minutes. 
  2. While the liquid is reducing, add the butter and flour to a small dish and mash together with a spoon until you have a paste.  Stir the paste into the hot liquid until the sauce thickens.  Remove from the heat and whisk in the thyme leaves.  Transfer to a dish and keep warm. 

There you have it!  It is very doable and very delicious.  

What to Serve with Your Lamb Dinner:

This entrée just begs for mashed potatoes and we whipped up a bowl of creamy ricotta mashed potatoes.  A side of steamed green beans and a crisp green salad with mint, cantaloupe,e and blue cheese completed the dinner.  

Lamb with red wine cherry sauce on a plate with mashed potatoes.

What about dessert?  Oh, yes!  This vanilla panna cotta with strawberry sauce is rich and creamy plus it is a “ make-in-advance” dessert for a no-stress finale.  

More Recipes You Will Love:

This lavender pistachio rack of lamb is seriously gourmet. You will feel like a five-star chef when you prepare this dinner.

Our butterflied herb-roasted leg of lamb is easy to prepare and makes a great dinner for special events as well as a casual family dinner.

These braised Greek lamb shanks slow roast until the meat falls off the bone. The meat makes a rich, savory sauce that goes perfectly with mashed potatoes.

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Lamb with red wine cherry sauce on a plate with mashed potatoes.

Roasted Rack of Lamb with Red Wine Cherry Sauce

This succulent, perfectly Roasted Rack of Lamb with Red Wine Cherry Sauce has a rub of garlic and thyme and an easy pan sauce made of red wine, fresh cherries and herbs.
4.91 from 11 votes
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Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Additional Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 55 minutes
Servings: 4 Servings
Calories: 565kcal
Author: Pat Nyswonger


For the Rack of Lamb:

  • 1 rack of lamb with 8 ribs (Frenched) about 1-1/2 pounds
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
  • 3 garlic cloves minced or grated
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper

For the Red Wine-Cherry Sauce:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil or bacon drippings
  • 1 shallot finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic grated or minced
  • 8 ounces fresh cherries pitted and halved
  • 1 cup dry red wine
  • ¾ cup chicken broth
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 tablespoon butter softened
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • Fresh thyme sprigs for garnish


Prepare the Rack of Lamb:

  • Line a small sheet pan with foil. Remove the rack of lamb from the refrigerator, pat with paper towels to remove any moisture, then wrap each bone with foil.  
  • Score the fatty side with shallow cuts spaced about 1-inch apart.  Score only through the fat and not so deep as to cut the flesh.  
  • Brush the entire surface with olive oil. 
  • Combine the thyme, garlic salt and pepper in a small dish and sprinkle the surface of the lamb, rubbing into the scored fatty area.
  • Place on the sheet pan, bone side down, fat side up and and cover with plastic wrap. Allow the lamb to sit at room temperature for 1 to 1-1/2 hours. 

To Roast the Lamb:

  • Preheat the oven to 450°F   Set the oven rack on the upper third position.
  • Remove and discard the plastic wrap from the lamb. Using a digital oven meat thermometer, Insert the prong into the center of the eye of the lamb.
  • Transfer the sheet pan to the preheated oven and roast for 15 minutes or until an the thermometer reaches 125°F for medium rare.  
  • Remove the sheet pan from the oven and transfer the lamb to a carving board, tent with foil and allow to rest for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile as the lamb is roasting and resting, make the sauce:

  • In a small saucepan set over medium, heat the olive oil and sauté the shallot and garlic, for 1 minute, add the cherries, wine and the chicken broth.  Bring to a boil and cook until reduced by half, about 5-8 minutes.  
  • In a small dish, mash the butter and flour together and stir into the cherry mixture, cook until the sauce is slightly thickened.  Stir in the thyme leaves, taste and adjust seasoning.
  • Transfer the sauce to a small dish and keep warm.  

To Carve and Serve:

  • Remove the foil from the bones and grasp the ends of the bones, standing the meat up on end. 
  • Slice between the rib bones.  Spoon a puddle of red wine-cherry sauce in the center of each serving plates and add a scoop of mashed potatoes.
  • Arrange two ribs on the potatoes and spoon the wine-cherry sauce over the potatoes and lamb. 
  • Garnish with fresh thyme sprigs 


Serving: 1 | Calories: 565kcal | Carbohydrates: 16g | Protein: 35g | Fat: 36g | Saturated Fat: 15g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 19g | Trans Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 115mg | Sodium: 696mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 9g

Pat Nyswonger

Pat is a wife, mom of four adult children, and grandmother to seventeen beautiful children. She is a self-taught home cook and loves creating delicious meals for her family and friends. Her kitchen is the hub of activity in her home, and she loves to entertain.

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Recipe Rating


Monday 10th of April 2023

I made this for Easter and the only thing I did different was a quick seat of the lamb before putting in the oven as well as immersion blended the cherry sauce. It was delicious! Thank you so much for this recipe!

Dahn Boquist

Monday 10th of April 2023

I'm so glad you enjoyed it! I love how the cherry sauce brings out the flavor of the lamb, and it's such a great addition to an Easter dinner. Thank you for the comment!

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