Can you eat lamb rare or medium rare?

Generically, lamb meat refers to meat obtained from domestic sheep.

In specific terms, especially in places like the United States and United Kingdom, lamb meat typically refer to the cuts of flesh derived from sheep in their first year.

Whatever the case may be, nothing still confronts the fact that lamb meat is derived from an unvaried specie of animal, and just like beef  from cattle or capretto from young-star goat, its preparation is quite flexible — pointing to the fact that it can be made to taste exactly how the heart desires.

In other words,

Lamb meat or chops can be eaten rare, medium rare or fully cooked if you like. Lamb meat typically has the majority of its bacteria concentrated on the surface as opposed to being spread on the inside and outside, thus a quick sear on both sides is typically more than enough to render it safe for consumption.  

There’s bacteria, but mostly at the surface

Rare meat, as the name implies, is the rarest any cut of meat can be while still labelled as “cooked”. In other words, the rawest any cooked meat can ever be.

The successive variations include

  • Medium rare: which comes after rare and contains a slightly higher percentage of meat cooked on the inside,
  • Medium: slightly more done than medium rare.
  • Medium well: nearly close to a fully cooked meat, and
  • Well done meat: which is basically meat that is fully cooked through from inside out.

To cook lamb meat until rare means to retain the highest percentage of rawness while still achieving a perfectly seared outside.

This is typically done on a hot barbecue grill or griddle which additionally imprints attractive grill marks to boost the aesthetic value.

Rare cooking of lamb is made possible by virtue of the fact that bacteria on the meat is mostly concentrated on the outside rather than on the inside.

The population inside are insignificant (in terms of health effects), except of course, if the meat was inappropriately handled. Thus, a quick sear on both sides destroys the bacteria and renders the meat safe to eat.

Because cooking lamb meat “rare” is more than possible, and also safe, all other variations after rare are perfectly fine to opt for too.

Other meats you can eat rare

If you’re an avid meat eater, it’s no magic that you’ve already guessed the first entry on this list correctly.

That’s right, steak!

Another one is goat meat or mutton. All these have in common with lamb meat is the level of bacterial concentration on the outside which is mostly higher than on the inside, and thus the chances of you searing, serving, eating and then getting sick out of it is super low since the concentration on the inside is very little and our immune system is more than equipped to tackle such minority.

Meats that you can’t eat undercooked

Right up there is the category of meat deemed safe to consume rare or medium rare if you like. Whatever you do, make sure to stick to this category, and only this category.

Other types and forms of meat especially poultry and meat obtained from games such as deer or antelope may have bacteria spread everywhere from inside out at considerable levels, and eating them undercooked exposes one to a great risk of disease.

Some of them are pretty sensitive, and can have bacteria multiply significantly in them during handling. So if you’re not sure how you handled a meat, where it’s coming from, or you’re pretty sure you had the meat sit out for more than 2 hours at room temperature, only cook it through completely and avoid rare, medium rare and all those fancy techniques of meat cooking.

Below is the list of meat to avoid undercooking

  1. Poultry: Ensure meat is no longer pink in the middle and the juice run clear and it’s steaming hot throughout.
  2. The entrails and internal organs of animals
  3. Liver
  4. Sausages
  5. Rolled joints of meat
  6. Kebabs
  7. Minced meat

When you shouldn’t eat rare lamb

While a nicely seared rear meat is easily anyone’s bae, you want to completely steer clear of the temptation if you fall into any of these categories:

  1. You’re compromised.
  2. You’re pregnant.
  3. You’re sick.
  4. You’re old.
  5. You’re a child.

In all states, there’s a whole lot going on inside of your body which makes you easily vulnerable to bacteria.

The first three specifically should eliminate undercooked meat completely from their diets because of the risk of toxoplasmosis, while healthy children and old people may still enjoy medium rare and other successive stages of lamb preparation since the concentration of bacteria is super low.

Quick table for what lamb meat to eat rare and not

s/n Type of lamb meat Cook rare?
1 Lamb burgers No
2 Lamp ribs Yes
3 Lamb rump steak Yes
4 Lamb offal No
5 Lamb chops Yes
6 Lamb leg Yes
7 Lamb breast Yes
8 Lamb shoulder Yes
9 Lamb lion Yes
10 Lamb rack Yes
11 Lamb neck Yes
12 Minced or ground lamb meat No
13 Lamb tartare No


Can you eat lamb rare cold?

Eating lamb rare cold would depend on two thing, how your taste buds feel about it, and most importantly, how the meat was preserved in the first place.

If you like the taste of cold rare lamb, go ahead and dig in, but only when the meat is actually coming out from the refrigerator in a sealed bag.

If not, and if left on the counter for more than 2 hours, then return to the heat and cook until completely cooked through (yes, completely cooked through), before eating. The meat has likely harbored huge levels of bacteria which may cause problems when ingested.

In my opinion and that of the United States Department of Agriculture, the best thing to do with meat of such category is to throw it away!

Can you eat lamb raw?

No, you shouldn’t eat lamb meat raw no matter the circumstance.

All cuts of meat contain variety of bacteria that live on them whether on the outside, inside or both, and ingesting these directly could pose serious health effect, especially when the bacteria in question are pathogenic.

Medium rare is more than enough stretch for goodness sake, isn’t it?

The best practices with lamb meat (and other meat too)

Avoid keeping meat on the counter: Store meat as soon as you can in the refrigerator. This will prevent bacteria from multiplying too fast and spreading everywhere on the meat which increase your chances of getting sick.

Avoid storing meat at the top shelve in the refrigerator: Juice may leak out from the meat container and spread over other items in the refrigerator which will lead to their contamination. When storing meat, use a sealed container and store at the bottom shelf. If thawing, do the same too.

Avoid cross contamination: Clean any utensil, plate, board or item that has come in contact with raw lamb meat to prevent cross contamination.

Do not wash before cooking:  The water can splash to other surfaces and spread bacteria.

Do not let sit on the counter for more than 2 hours: Bacteria can grow rapidly at this temperature and within this time frame and render the meat unsafe to eat.

Do not thaw on the counter: Avoid thawing lamb meat on the counter for the reason mentioned above.

Final Thoughts

Lamb is safe to eat rare or medium rare. The risks of getting sick is low due to the fact that bacteria is mostly concentrated at the surface rather than the inside, and the method of cooking ensures that these bacteria are destroyed before eating.