Lamb is incredibly flavorful on its own, but this yogurt marinade for lamb chops takes it even further. I created this flavor combination thanks to inspiration from our time in Morocco, where I fell in love with the incredible magic that citrus, lamb, and cumin create together. While this marinade noticeably works after just a couple hours in the fridge, I recommend leaving it longer if possible. Ideally, get it going early in the morning for dinner that night.
This recipe is developed for lamb chops, but honestly it works on other cuts as well. For Gustavo’s birthday, I applied this marinade to an entire lamb leg, and then cut slits in it and stuffed halved garlic cloves inside. The marinade worked wonders there too!
Notes on This Recipe:
Garlic: even though this recipe uses a lot of garlic, the flavor isn’t very noticeable in the finished dish. If you love garlic, use a few more cloves! If you’re not a fan, though, feel free to cut back.
Parmesan: please, pretty please, grate your own Parmesan. It takes less than a minute, and the flavor of real grated Parmesan is a world apart from the stuff in the tube. If you don’t believe me, have a friend give you a side-by-side taste test sometime. You’ll never look back.
Excess unused marinade: if you have more marinade than your lamb needs, great! The excess may not be the ideal sauce because of its very strong flavor. Instead, I like to throw it in a pan with some rice and heat the mixture together to make an incredibly flavorful side dish for the lamb.
Used marinade: to be safe, discard the extra used marinade that has come into contact with your raw lamb. The only way to ensure that it’s safe to use is to bring it to a full boil to destroy any bacteria in it. I’ll admit that this is something I do pretty regularly, but I’m always careful to make sure to bring it up to a safe temperature. (And I never do this when serving guests, just to be extra safe!) When in doubt, be safe and throw the used marinade away.
Lamb cooking methods: this recipe is just for the yogurt marinade for lamb chops. Once they’re marinated, how you cook them is up to you! I’d recommend grilling them if you have the option, or pan-frying them if you don’t. (Ideally in a cast-iron pan!) If neither of those methods works for you, baking is an option too. Whatever method you choose, make sure the lamb is at least 145 degrees Fahrenheit (63 Celsius) internally before removing it from the heat and allowing it to rest for at least three minutes.
Marinade-infused rice: as I mentioned, the excess marinade is great with rice! While I’m cooking the lamb, Gustavo will whip up a batch of rice. Then I throw the rice in the pan with the excess marinade and fry it together until the marinade lusciously coats the rice. It’s a delicious side dish that really brings out the flavor of the marinade on the lamb! (To be clear, this is with any extra leftover clean marinade. I’m not talking about the used marinade on the lamb.)
The Process for Making Yogurt Marinade for Lamb Chops:
Prepare your ingredients. You’ll start by blooming the saffron in hot water. Crumble the saffron finely (or use a mortar and pestle if you have one!). Stir it into a bit of hot, not boiling, water. In about 10 minutes, the saffron will richly infuse the water with its unmistakable flavor. Pour the saffron threads in too! Mincing the garlic pretty finely will help ensure that it blends into the sauce rather than standing out on the lamb in lumpy chunks.
Mix and use the marinade. Once you’ve bloomed the saffron, minced the garlic, zested the orange, and grated the Parmesan, make your marinade! It’s as simple as mixing together all the ingredients. From there, slather the mixture over your lamb chops, put them in an airtight container, and leave in the fridge for three to 12 hours. Finally, cook them according to your preferred method!
Yogurt Marinade for Lamb Chops
For the marinade:
- generous pinch of saffron
- 2 tablespoons hot water
- 1 teaspoon orange zest
- 2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- 5 garlic cloves
- 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 1/2 teaspoons cumin
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
- ½ teaspoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon Himalayan salt
- 2 pounds lamb chops (excess fat removed)
- Prepare your ingredients. Crumble the saffron into a small bowl containing the hot water. Set aside for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, mince the garlic. If you haven’t already, zest the orange and grate the Parmesan cheese.
- Mix and use the marinade. Mix together all of the ingredients and stir until thoroughly combined. Slather the lamb in the marinade, place in an airtight container, and refrigerate at least 3 hours or ideally up to 12 hours. Before cooking the lamb according to your preferred style, wipe off most of the excess marinade and sprinkle with salt.