When you cut into your lamb and are met with pink meat, it can strike fear into any seasoned or non-seasoned cook’s heart, especially when we have trained to believe pink meat is undercooked.
However, times have changed. The same rules may not apply, so we need to evaluate whether or not a lamb can be pink.
Can Lamb Be Pink?
In short, yes, a lamb can be pink. Just like steaks, lamb can be cooked to different degrees of doneness.
Internal Temp for Lamb – When Is Lamb Done?
As long as the lamb has a temperature of 145°F, it is fully cooked. In contrast, ground lamb must have a temperature of 165°F to be cooked completely. Nevertheless, even if lamb is fully cooked, it can have a pink color.
Can I Eat Rare Lamb?
As I mentioned above, ground lamb is safe to eat at 165°F, while chops, rack of lamb, and other larger cuts of lamb are safe to consume at 145°F. Rare lamb has a temperature of 140°F.
It has quite a bit of reddish liquid due to the reaction of myoglobin and oxygen. The exterior of the lamb is seared, but its interior has a reddish, pinkish hue.
When cooking lamb, it must be cooked to the minimum temperature. Unfortunately, rare lamb is below the minimum temperature of 145°F.
While I am not saying you cannot eat rare lamb, I am telling you to proceed with caution. Order your rare lamb from a reputable, established restaurant if you’re dining out.
Do not order rare lamb from any restaurant as it may make you sick.
In contrast, if you are cooking rare lamb on your own, purchase a high-quality cut of meat. Try to visit your local butcher shop or grocery store so you can physically see the meat.
If you are going to purchase lamb online, make sure you read the reviews from previous customers before checking out.
Do not blindly trust online vendors as the product pictured on the website can differ from the lamb you receive. Lastly, follow the lamb recipe exactly as it’s written.
Can I Eat Lamb Medium Rare?
Yes, you can eat medium-rare lamb. Medium-rare lamb is like a rare lamb as it has a similar flavor and texture. Medium rare lamb has a temperature of 145°F, so it is safe to eat.
The outside of the lamb is browned, while its interior is more pink than red.
However, it is more cooked, so there are fewer juices that pool on your plate. In addition to this, the meat is slightly drier than its rare counterparts.
Can I Eat Medium Lamb?
Yes, you can eat medium lamb. Medium lamb has a temperature of 160°F.
Medium lamb can be the perfect middle ground for some people. It does not have too many bloody-colored juices, but it is not overcooked, tough, or dry.
Medium rare has a thicker band of brown on the steak’s exterior and a smaller ring of pink on the steak’s interior.
Wondering if you can eat medium-well lamb? Yes, you can eat medium lamb since it has a temperature of 165°F.
Medium well steaks look similar to well-done lamb. However, they have a slight ting of reddish pink in the meat’s center.
What about well-done lamb? Well-done lamb has a temperature of 170°F, so it is well above the recommended safe temperature for lamb.
Well-done lamb is mostly brown, with little to no pink or red.
What Is the Best Temperature for Lamb?
Most people will argue that medium-rare is the best temperature for lamb.
Of course, there are those in favor of rare lamb. However, medium-rare lamb meets the minimum safe temperature requirement.
In addition to this, medium-rare lamb is tender and moist. If the lamb is cooked above medium-rare, it may dry out, resulting in tough, chewy meat depending on the cut.
Nevertheless, the beauty of cooking lamb is that you can cook it to whatever temperature you desire, whether it be rare, medium-rare, medium-medium-well, or well-done.
How Do You Use a Lamb Meat Thermometer
To measure the temperature of your lamb, you will need a food-grade high-quality thermometer like a probe or infrared thermometer.
Thermometers are the best way to measure a lamb’s internal temperature as they will prevent you from getting a foodborne illness.
To test your lamb for doneness, insert or aim its thermometer at the thickest part of the lamb.
If you use a probe thermometer, ensure it does not touch the bone. If the probe touches the bone, it may give you an inaccurate reading leading you to believe the lamb is cooked when it isn’t.
Leave the thermometer in the lam for 2-3 seconds to ensure you get an accurate reading. If the lamb has a temperature of 145°F, it is cooked.
Don’t forget t let your lamb rest before slicing and serving.
Can You Eat Undercooked Lamb?
People have their own definitions of what classifies as undercooked meat. Nevertheless, if it’s below 145°F, it is considered undercooked by the USDA.
Do not consume rare minced or ground lamb or lamb burgers. These lamb products should always be cooked to 145°F.
It is unsafe to eat undercooked lamb, so it could cause food poisoning. Symptoms of food poisoning include diarrhea, headache, fever, nausea, abdominal pain, and vomiting.
Moreover, groups like the elderly or anyone with a compromised immune system are at greater risk of developing food poisoning.
In short, eating undercooked lamb is like asking to get sick. Therefore, eating undercooked lamb simply isn’t worth it.
The next time you cook pink lamb, there is no need to wonder if you are going to poison everybody. Stay calm and check the internal temperature of the lamb.
Even if you cook lamb to 145°F, it can still be pink on the inside. So as long as the lamb has the right temperature, you can confidently serve it without the fear of making others sick.
You might also be interested in the following:
- Can Ribs Be Pink?
- Can Ground Beef Be Pink?
- Can Burgers Be Pink?
- Can Turkey Be Pink?
- Can Chicken Be a Little Pink?
- Can Pork Be Pink?
- Can Sausage Be Pink?
I have been smoking and grilling meat from an early age and enjoy sharing my knowledge and expertise through the hundreds of articles I have written about BBQ. I hope to make everyone’s BBQ journey that little bit easier.