Smoke-Grilled Rack of Lamb

This Easter Sunday, Melissa Cookston, the “Winningest Woman in Barbecue,” offers a twist on a special-occasion favorite with her Smoke-Grilled Rack of Lamb recipe, perfect for outdoor cooking for Easter, Mother’s Day or other springtime entertaining. A high-res photo is included. This recipe, taken from “Smokin’ in the Boys’ Room,” won the Exotic category in the prestigious Memphis in May World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest.

A trailblazing female food entrepreneur, Cookston is a 7-time world barbecue champion; owner of Steak by Melissa, a successful steakhouse in Southaven, Mississippi, and Memphis BBQ Company, a successful barbecue restaurant with locations in Horn Lake, Mississippi, Fayetteville, North Carolina, and Dunwoody, Georgia; an author of two cookbooks, “Smokin’ in the Boys’ Room” and “Smokin’ Hot in the South;” and a celebrated southern Delta chef who is sponsored by Smithfield Foods.


“Springtime lamb is one of my favorite items to cook on the grill,” Cookston says. “I believe the best flavors can be achieved by setting up a 2-zone grill and giving the lamb just a little bit of smoke flavor before finishing it off with a quick sear. If you have a gas grill, a 2-zone fire is as simple as turning one side to low (or off, depending upon the size of the grill) and one side to medium high or high. With a charcoal grill, it’s almost as easy. Simply use 80% of your coals on one side of the grill, placing approximately 20% on the other just to provide some heat.”


  • 2 racks of lamb, frenched
  • 2 tablespoons Memphis Barbecue Company Ultimate BBQ Rub
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • ½ cup Memphis Barbecue Company Original BBQ Sauce


  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, coarsely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon chopped Italian parsley
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon coarse ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon fresh oregano, coarsely chopped
  • 5 to 6 fresh basil leaves, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon orange juice


  1. In a small bowl, whisk together all marinade ingredients. Place racks of lamb in a large resealable plastic bag and pour in marinade.  Seal tightly, pressing out as much air as possible, and marinate for 4-6 hours, turning the bags every 2 hours.
  2. Prepare a grill for a 2-zone fire.  As grill is heating, remove racks from marinade, discarding marinade.  Pat racks dry, taking time to clean the frenched bones. Brush meat with mustard, then sprinkle with BBQ Rub. Cover bones with a piece of foil to ensure they don’t char, then allow racks to sit out of fridge for 30 minutes before placing on grill.
  3. Place lamb on cooler part of the grill, using 1-2 chunks of cherry or pecan wood in the grill if possible.  Allow to cook for 30 minutes to 1 hour (will depend on type of grill and temperature) or until internal temperature reaches 125 degrees.  Place racks on hotter part of grill and sear, brushing with BBQ Sauce.  Remove racks when temperature reaches 135-140 degrees.  This will give you a rack of lamb with medium doneness.
  4. Remove from grill, allow to rest, and slice between the bones to cut into chops.

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