The etiquette rules on how to serve and eat lamb. Tips to be the ideal host or the perfect guest and avoid any embarrassment.

What lamb etiquette is

Lamb etiquette is the set of rules to properly serve and eat lamb. Such rules help avoid behaviors that can disrespect your hosts or guests, or make you look unpolite.

If you are hosting, follow the etiquette to serve lamb to your guests appropriately.

As a guest, respect the etiquette rules to properly eat lamb at the dining table and avoid offending your hosts or embarrassing yourself.

how to serve and eat lamb

What you should know about lamb

Lambs are young sheep that are typically less than a year old.

The appearance of lamb can vary depending on the specific breed, but they generally have soft, fluffy wool and a plump, round shape. The meat itself is typically a light pinkish-red color with a fine texture and has a slightly sweet, mild flavor.

Etiquette rules to serve and eat lamb

1) How to store lamb

The ideal temperature to store lamb is between 32-40°F (0-4°C). In the pantry, you should store lamb in a cool and dry place, away from direct sunlight. In the fridge, wrap it tightly in plastic or aluminum foil and place it on the bottom shelf. It can last in the pantry for up to 1 day, in the fridge for up to 5 days, and in the freezer for up to 6 months.

Sliced or cooked lamb should be stored in an airtight container in the fridge and can last for up to 3-4 days.

2) How to clean lamb

To clean lamb, use a sharp knife to trim off any excess fat or gristle. There are no significant risks associated with cleaning lamb, but it is important to wash your hands and any tools used to handle the meat thoroughly with soap and hot water to avoid cross-contamination.

Signs that lamb has gone bad include a sour or unpleasant odor, a slimy or discolored appearance, or a sticky texture.

3) How to prepare & cook lamb

Lamb can be eaten raw or cooked, but it is generally recommended to cook lamb to an internal temperature of 145°F (63°C) to ensure food safety. To prepare lamb for cooking, use a sharp knife to trim off any excess fat or gristle and season the meat with your desired spices and seasonings. Common utensils and appliances used to prepare and cook lamb include knives, cutting boards, grills, ovens, and stovetops. Popular ways to cook lamb include roasting, grilling, broiling, and braising.

Popular dishes or types of dishes that feature lamb include lamb chops, roast lamb, lamb stew, and lamb curry. You can also use it in salads and sandwiches, but it is uncommon.

Lamb is not suitable for vegans, but it can be appropriate on a keto or paleo diet. There are no common allergies or food intolerances to lamb. Some religious dietary restrictions may forbid eating lamb, such as in Judaism where, according to some interpretations of the law, lamb is not allowed during Passover.

4) How to serve & present lamb

Lamb can be served for both formal and informal meals. It is appropriate as a main course or appetizer.

The most polite way to serve lamb to your guests is to present it on a clean plate with appropriate serving utensils. The ideal serving temperature for lamb is around 135°F (57°C). There are no specific plates or bowls to serve lamb. It is recommended to use serving tools such as tongs or a carving knife to handle the meat.

You can serve lamb with a variety of seasonings and accompaniments, including garlic, rosemary, mint, lemon, and thyme. Popular sides for lamb include roasted vegetables, potatoes, rice, and salads.

5) Food and wine to pair lamb with

You can pair lamb with a variety of vegetables and fruits, including asparagus, green beans, carrots, eggplant, figs, apricots, and cherries. Vegetables and fruits that may not pair well with lamb include those with strong, bitter flavors such as Brussels sprouts and grapefruit.

Lamb goes well with some cheese and dairy products. Feta, goat cheese, and yogurt are popular pairings with lamb. It is best to avoid strong-flavored cheeses that can overpower the delicate taste of lamb, such as blue cheese.

Lamb can pair well with other meats, such as beef, pork, and chicken. It also goes well with game meats such as venison. It is best to avoid meats that are heavily spiced or have strong flavors that can compete with the lamb, such as spicy sausage. Avoid pairing lamb with fish or seafood, as the flavors can clash.

The best wine pairings with lamb are medium to full-bodied red wines, such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, or Merlot. Avoid light-bodied wines or those with a lot of tannins that can clash with the delicate flavor of lamb. White wines such as Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc can also pair well with lamb, particularly if the dish is heavily spiced. Rosé wine, sparkling wine, dessert wine, beer, or spirits can also be paired with lamb depending on the preparation of the dish.

6) How to eat lamb

The most polite way to eat lamb is with a knife and fork. It is not polite to eat lamb with your fingers. When served as a whole roast or rack, carving the meat at the table using a carving knife and fork is customary. All parts of the lamb are edible, but some parts may be more difficult to eat or less desirable, such as the bone or the tougher cuts of meat.

Lamb etiquette: the worst mistakes

The Rude Index identifies and ranks negative behaviors. 

A high score (8-10) means that the behavior has the potential to trigger a conflict with others. A medium score (4-7) means that the behavior risks making you look inelegant and unsophisticated. Read more about the Rude Index and its methodology here.  

Avoid the most common lamb etiquette mistakes:

  • 8/10. Serving lamb that is too rare, which can be unsafe to eat.
  • 6/10. Overcooking lamb, as it can become tough and dry.
  • 6/10. Serving lamb at the wrong temperature.
  • 4/10. Overpowering the delicate flavor of the lamb with heavy sauces or spices.

Additional information for properly serving lamb

How many calories per serving?

Counting calories is important to stay healthy and correctly plan a menu.

The number of calories in lamb can vary depending on the cut and the preparation. A 3-ounce serving of cooked lamb loin contains about 180 calories, while 100 grams of lamb meat contains around 250-300 calories.

How to buy the best lamb

A crucial factor in lamb etiquette is serving your guests the best product possible.

Season and availability 

Lamb is available all year round, but the best season to buy lamb is typically in the spring, between March and May. This is when lambs are born, and the meat is typically tender and flavorful.

Choose the best

Lamb can be found in commerce in various ways, including fresh, frozen, canned, and dried forms. Fresh lamb can be found at butcher shops, grocery stores, and online retailers. Canned and dried lamb products are less common but can be found at specialty food stores or online.

The most popular varieties of lamb in commerce include domestic lamb, which is raised in the United States and Australia, and imported lamb, which is typically from New Zealand. Some of the most prized varieties of lamb include the Icelandic lamb and the Dorset Horn lamb.

When buying lamb, look for meat that is bright red in color, with a firm texture and little to no visible fat. The meat should have a mild, slightly sweet aroma. Avoid meat that is brown or gray in color, has a strong odor, or appears to be slimy or sticky.

Alternatives to lamb

Common alternatives to lamb include beef, mutton, pork, and chicken. For those who do not eat meat, plant-based alternatives such as tofu or tempeh can be used in place of lamb in many recipes.


  • Consumer’s purchasing intention for lamb meat affected by country of origin, feeding system and meat price: