Can Lamb Be Pink in the Middle?

Published Categorized as Cooking Tips
A photo of roast lamb

Find out everything you need to know about making delicious, safe to eat lamb with these simple tips.

Lamb is a gamey meat that can be prepared in a variety of ways, all of which are delicious!

But you want to make sure that you cook it good, because eating undercooked meat won’t have a great ending for you and the people at the table.

If you followed the recipe down to the letter and yet your lamb turned out slightly pink in the middle, you’re probably wondering whether or not it’s safe to eat now.

Lamb can be slightly pink in the middle, as color is not an indicator of whether it’s fully cooked. The only reliable indicator for lamb’s doneness is its internal temperature. Lamb should have a minimum internal temperature of 145°F (63°C) to be considered safe to eat.

If you are interested in learning more about preparing lamb and making sure that it’s delicious and safe to eat, this article will give you all the information you need.

Let’s get started!

Is Pink Lamb Undercooked?

Pink lamb can be undercooked, but the color really isn’t the determining factor.

Heat is. This is because it’s heat that kills the bacteria on the outside and the parasites on the inside of the meat.

As long as the internal temperature at the thickest part of your lamb is at least 145°F (63°C), the lamb is considered fully cooked, says the USDA. So even if you see some pink, this is pretty normal and isn’t any cause for alarm.

However, if you are making minced or chopped lamb, it’s best to make sure that it’s not pink in the middle and cook it to 160°F (71°F). Since it’s a smaller amount to heat up, minced or chopped lamb shouldn’t be pink in the middle when it’s heated to the proper temperature.

How to Measure Lamb’s Internal Temperature

The best way to measure the internal temperature of your lamb is to use a meat thermometer. If you don’t have one, it’s a good idea to invest. Otherwise, you will risk eating undercooked meat and possibly getting a foodborne illness.

All you have to do is stick the thermometer into the thickest part of the lamb meat, being sure not to touch any bone, and wait 2-3 seconds. This will ensure that you are getting the actual internal temperature, instead of the temperature of a thinner part that heats through quicker.

Then just read what the thermometer says, and if the temperature is at least 145°F (63°C), the lamb is done!

Should You Rest Lamb Before Serving?

According to the USDA, lamb should rest for at least 3 minutes before you serve it.

Letting it rest actually helps the lamb become more juicy and flavorful. This is because the juices would pour out if you chopped it right away, but letting it rest gives the juices a chance to redistribute and soak into the meat.

All you have to do is remove the cooked lamb from the heat and leave it out on the skillet or plate. Let it sit there for about 3-5 minutes before digging in. Or, if it’s a full roast, you can let it sit for 10-20 minutes before you carve it.

Is Undercooked Lamb Safe to Eat?

Though it is common for people to cook lamb to be rare, it isn’t very safe.

There is always a chance that you could get some sort of foodborne illness when you are eating undercooked lamb, and the only way to minimize this risk is to cook it to the correct temperature of 145°F (63°C). 

If you eat undercooked lamb, you could develop food poisoning symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, or diarrhea, none of which would be pleasant. This is always a risk when eating undercooked meat, so if you don’t want to get sick, it’s best to cook the meat fully before consuming.

Our Tips for Preparing Lamb

Roast the lamb at a gentler temperature

Roasting lamb at a gentler temperature will make it cook slower, but it is worth the extra time. When you cook lamb at a low temperature, it will become super tender and juicy, and turn out a lot more flavorful as well.

If you are the type of person who likes the outside of your lamb to be brown and crusty, you can start by cooking it at a higher temperature (around 425°F) for 10-15 minutes, then change the temperature to 325°F and cook it for the remaining time.

This way, you will get a nice brown crust with really tender, flavorful meat.

Bring the lamb to room temperature before cooking it

Taking the lamb out of the fridge 15 minutes before you plan to cook it is a good rule of thumb.

Doing so will help it get closer to room temperature, which will make it cook faster and more evenly. It will be a similar tenderness all throughout and minimize dryness on the outside portions.

Just be sure that you don’t let your lamb sit out too long before cooking it. Keeping it at room temperature for more than 1-2 hours could cause bacteria to grow, making your lamb unsafe to eat. Just to be extra cautious, it’s advised that you shouldn’t keep it out for more than 1 hour before cooking.

Final Words

When it comes to lamb, it’s perfectly fine for it to be a little pink when you eat it. All that matters is that it’s been cooked to the correct internal temperature, because this is what determines whether it’s safe to eat or not.

For the best results, you should let your lamb sit for no longer than an hour before you cook it and make sure that you let it rest for a bit before cutting into it. With that, you should be all set.