Hazelnut-Crusted Lamb Chops Recipe

Lamb chops are a classic dish that can be found on menus worldwide, but we take it to a whole other level of flavor in this recipe thanks to a unique hazelnut crust and minty pesto. Mint and lamb are both quintessential springtime ingredients, and their pairing has been enjoyed for centuries in various cultures across the world, according to Ksenia Prints of At the Immigrant's Table. This recipe takes cues from Persian cuisine by combining the rich nuttiness of hazelnuts and the bright, herbaceous notes of mint and parsley with tender, juicy lamb with to comprise one delicious meal.

Instead of cooking individual lamb chops, this recipe keeps the chops together as a rack. Cooking the lamb this way allows the chops to baste each other with their natural juices during the roasting process, resulting in much more moist and flavorful meal. The rack also makes for an impressive presentation, both when served whole or cut into individual portions. Keeping the bones attached helps the lamb retain its shape and texture throughout cooking.

Despite its elegance, this dish is surprisingly simple to prepare, making it an excellent choice for a special occasion meal when you're short on time and high on pizzazz. Whether you serve it for date night or a meal with friends, this recipe is bound to impress.

Gather the ingredients for these hazelnut-crusted lamb chops

To make these herbaceous, nutty, and flavorful lamb chops, you will need to start in both the pantry and the fresh food market. To make the mint pesto, grab fresh mint leaves, fresh parsley leaves, grated Parmesan cheese, pine nuts, and garlic cloves. For the chops themselves, you will need (in addition to lamb rib chops) extra-virgin olive oil, lemon, salt, pepper, finely chopped hazelnuts, fresh thyme leaves, and Dijon mustard. With these ingredients, you will be able to create a delicious and flavorful hazelnut-crusted lamb chop dish, complemented by a refreshing mint pesto sauce.

Step 1: Combine herbs in food processor

Make the mint pesto: Combine mint, parsley, Parmesan, pine nuts, and the 2 whole garlic cloves in a food processor.

Step 2: Pulse herbs

Pulse until coarsely chopped.

Step 3: Add oil

With the processor running, gradually add ⅓ cup olive oil until well blended.

Step 4: Season

Add lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Step 5: Finish processing

Pulse again to mix. Set aside.

Step 6: Preheat oven

Preheat oven to 400 F.

Step 7: Season with salt and pepper

Make the lamb: Season rack with salt and pepper.

Step 8: Mix nuts and garlic

Mix hazelnuts, thyme, and the remaining 2 cloves minced garlic in a bowl. Set aside.

Step 9: Coat rack with mustard

Spread mustard on the entire rack.

Step 10: Spread hazelnut mixture

Spread the hazelnut mixture on top of the mustard, pressing it in to coat.

Step 11: Cover bones with foil

Cover exposed bones in tin foil to prevent burning.

Step 12: Heat olive oil in skillet

Heat remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil in an ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat.

Step 13: Sear chops

Sear chops for 2 minutes on the bottom and the flatter side (do not worry about the concave side).

Step 14: Transfer chops to the oven

Transfer the skillet to the oven and roast for 20 minutes for medium-rare, or until an instant-read thermometer measures 130-135 F in the deepest part of the meat.

Step 15: Rest chops

Rest the chops for 5 minutes.

Step 16: Cut rack into chops

Cut the rack into 8 individual chops.

Step 17: Serve chops with pesto

Serve lamb chops drizzled with mint pesto.

Can I cook the lamb chops cut individually instead of as a rack?

Yes, you can cook individually cut lamb chops instead of joined together in a rack. While cooking the lamb as a rack allows the chops to baste each other with their natural juices during the roasting process, resulting in incredibly moist and flavorful meat, individual chops will still be delicious when prepared properly.

If you opt for individual chops, follow the same instructions for seasoning and coating them with the hazelnut-herb mixture. However, instead of searing the rack as a whole, you'll need to sear the chops individually in the skillet. Make sure to get a good sear on both sides of each chop before transferring them to the oven.

Individual chops will cook a bit faster than a rack since they're not insulating each other. Start checking their internal temperature a few minutes earlier than the recipe specifies for the rack, after about 15 minutes. Aim for an internal temperature of 135 F in the thickest part of each chop for medium-rare doneness.

What other sauce or topping can I serve with these lamb chops instead of the mint pesto?

Mint complements the hazelnut-crusted lamb chops beautifully, but there are several other sauce or topping options that would also pair well. A classic red wine reduction sauce would provide a rich, velvety counterpoint to the crunchy hazelnut crust and succulent lamb. The bold, slightly acidic flavors of the red wine would help cut through the richness of the dish. Alternatively, a vibrant chimichurri sauce made with parsley, oregano, garlic, olive oil, and red wine vinegar could offer a zesty, herbal contrast to the nutty lamb chops. The bright flavors would complement the dish nicely.

For a simpler approach, you could top the chops with a lemon-garlic butter sauce. The tangy lemon would balance the richness of the lamb, while the garlic would enhance the savory notes in the hazelnut crust. If you prefer a fresh, uncooked topping, consider making a herb salad or gremolata to serve over the chops. A mixture of finely chopped parsley, lemon zest, and garlic will provide a burst of flavor and acidity to cut through the decadence of the dish.

Can I prepare these lamb chops in advance?

This hazelnut-crusted lamb chop recipe is absolutely well-suited for make-ahead preparation. The easiest thing to make ahead is the vibrant mint pesto that accompanies the dish, whose flavors will only deepen and improve with time. For best results, make the pesto one or two days ahead of time, then store the pesto in the refrigerator until you're ready to serve it. Let the pesto come to room temperature before serving to allow the flavors to fully bloom and reach their peak aroma and taste. Another thing you can make ahead is the hazelnut crust mixture, which can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for one day. 

By preparing these components in advance, you can streamline the cooking process, ensuring that the lamb chops are the focus of your efforts on the day you plan to serve them. On the day of the meal, all you'll need to do is simply sear the chops, coat them with the pre-made hazelnut crust, and roast them while you bring the pre-made pesto to room temperature. With all these components made in advance, this impressive and flavorful dish can be a completely stress-free endeavor!

Hazelnut-Crusted Lamb Chops Recipe
5 from 20 ratings
This recipe takes cues from Persian cuisine by combining the rich nuttiness of hazelnuts and bright notes of mint and parsley with tender, juicy lamb.
Prep Time
20
minutes
Cook Time
25
minutes
Servings
4
Servings
Lamb chops with mint pesto on white platter
Total time: 45 minutes
Ingredients
  • 1 cup fresh mint leaves
  • ½ cup fresh parsley leaves
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • ¼ cup pine nuts
  • 4 cloves garlic, 2 whole and 2 minced, divided
  • ⅓ cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 8 lamb rib chops, trimmed and joined in a rack
  • 1 cup finely chopped hazelnuts
  • 2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
  • ¼ cup Dijon mustard
Directions
  1. Make the mint pesto: Combine mint, parsley, Parmesan, pine nuts, and the 2 whole garlic cloves in a food processor.
  2. Pulse until coarsely chopped.
  3. With the processor running, gradually add ⅓ cup olive oil until well blended.
  4. Add lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
  5. Pulse again to mix. Set aside
  6. Preheat oven to 400 F.
  7. Make the lamb: Season rack with salt and pepper.
  8. Mix hazelnuts, thyme, and the remaining 2 cloves minced garlic in a bowl. Set aside.
  9. Spread mustard on the entire rack.
  10. Spread the hazelnut mixture on top of the mustard, pressing it in to coat.
  11. Cover exposed bones in tin foil to prevent burning.
  12. Heat remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil in an ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat.
  13. Sear chops for 2 minutes on the bottom and the flatter side (do not worry about the concave side).
  14. Transfer the skillet to the oven and roast for 20 minutes for medium-rare, or until an instant-read thermometer measures 130-135 F in the deepest part of the meat.
  15. Rest the chops for 5 minutes.
  16. Cut the rack into 8 individual chops
  17. Serve lamb chops drizzled with mint pesto.
Nutrition
Calories per Serving 1,406
Total Fat 132.6 g
Saturated Fat 41.5 g
Trans Fat 0.0 g
Cholesterol 179.6 mg
Total Carbohydrates 13.3 g
Dietary Fiber 6.8 g
Total Sugars 2.3 g
Sodium 850.9 mg
Protein 44.6 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
Rate this recipe