Can You Eat Lamb Rare?

Salmonella food poisoning is normally associated with undercooked chicken or eggs. But some people think that eating some types of “pink” lamb or mutton can also pose a risk. So, can you eat lamb rare?

Yes, you can safely eat lamb rare or medium rare. The risks of getting foodborne illness are low because the bacteria are mostly at the surface rather than inside. Plus, the cooking method ensures that these bacteria are destroyed before eating. According to the FSA, Lamb chops and steaks are fine to have pink, but lamb mince isn’t. 

Read on to learn more about how to prepare and eat lamb safely.

Can You Eat Lamb Rare?

It depends on how the lamb has been prepared. A rare, or pink, lamb dish that has been seared well on the outside is fine because the heat kills any bacteria on the outer surface.

But minced or diced lamb should never be served rare. It must be thoroughly cooked and browned.

The same goes for lamb burgers. When lamb meat is minced to make a burger, any bacteria from the meat’s surface can get spread throughout the burger. As a result, rare or undercooked burgers can cause food poisoning.

Others Meats that should not be served rare:

  • poultry
  • pork
  • sausages
  • offal, including liver
  • burgers
  • kebabs
  • mince

How Can You Tell if Your Lamb is Rare?

The color, juiciness, and internal temperature of your cooked lamb determine if it’s rare, medium-rare, or done. Searing lamb to perfection begins with figuring out the correct cooking time and remembering two main things:

  • Lamb meat carries on cooking while resting, so remove it from heat before reaching your goal temperature.
  • After cooking, leave your seared lamb alone – this helps delicious juices to return to the meat.


Once you’ve started using a thermometer, you’ll never look back. Thermometers ensure you eat the best lamb every single time.

Here’s a good tip: measure at the center of your lamb cut.

And here are the temperatures we recommend:

  • Rare 60°C
  • Medium-rare 60–65°C
  • Medium 65–70°C
  • Well done 75°C


Press the outside center of your lamb lightly with tongs or a fingertip to judge its degree of doneness. As a rough guide:

  • Very soft = rare – bright red, raw center
  • Soft = medium-rare – pink with a red center
  • Springy = medium – pink inside and outside
  • Firmer = well-done range – brown inside
  • Hard as a rock = burnt. Uh-oh. This goes in the bin!

Can you eat lamb rare cold?

Eating rare lamb cold depends on two things:

  1. How do your taste buds feel about cold meat?
  2. How did you prepare and preserve the lamb?

If you enjoy the taste of cold foods, go ahead and dig in. However, it would help if you only ate lamb rare cold when taken out from the refrigerator in a sealed bag.

If your lamb is on the counter for 2-3 hours, then return to the heat and cook again before eating. If you don’t store rare lamb properly, it may cause problems when ingested.

According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), the best thing to do with lamb meat of such category is to throw it away!

Who shouldn’t eat lamb rare?

While a nicely seared rare lamb is easily anyone’s favorite, you want to curb the temptation if you fall into the following categories:

  • You’re pregnant
  • You have a compromised immune system.
  • You’re sick.
  • You’re old.

In all these states, you’re easily vulnerable to bacterial infections and other foodborne illnesses. If you’re sick, or pregnant, eliminate all undercooked meat completely from your diet. Healthy children and old people can enjoy medium-rare, and other stages of lamb preparation since the chances of infection are super low.

Is Raw Lamb Tartare Safe to Eat?

Things get trickier here. When eating raw food, your risk of getting a foodborne illness increases. However, don’t let that stop you from enjoying raw lamb because, when prepared correctly with fresh ingredients, eating raw food can be a fantastic culinary experience.

So yes, raw lamb tartare is only safe to eat if freshly prepared. Eating raw lamb tartare is a risky business, so you should take extra caution. It is important that you are working with the highest quality lamb meat when making lamb tartare.

This dish is prepared using minced lamb meat. You can add onions, capers, pepper, Worcestershire sauce, and other spices and herbs to the raw lamb tartare to give it a rich and savory flavor. Lamb tartare is often topped with an egg yolk and served with rye bread or toast. The dish is usually served as an hors d’oeuvre or appetizer, but it can also be the main course.

Cooking Tips For Serving Rare Lamb

  • Wash your hands after touching raw lamb meat, and avoid contaminating other food in the kitchen by storing it separately in the fridge. Plus, you need to use different chopping boards and knives
  • When cooking lamb burgers, cut into the middle to check that the meat is no longer pink, it is steaming hot throughout, and the juices run clear.
  • It is completely safe to serve steak and other whole cuts of lamb rare on the inside, as long as you’ve sealed them properly by searing them quickly at a high temperature on the outside.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Salmonella, and what does it do?

Salmonella is one of a group of bacteria that live in animal intestines and are excreted through feces.

People can become infected via contaminated food and may experience “tummy bug” symptoms including, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal cramps.

They can also spread the infection to other people, although maintaining good hygiene by washing your hands before handling food and after using the toilet can minimize this risk.

Can you eat lamb rare or medium-rare?

Lamb is best eaten pink and juicy, from rare to medium. Overcooking lamb chops can result in dry meat. That said, if you prefer meat well done, you can always cook it longer.

Is it safe to eat undercooked lamb?

Yes, it is safe to serve whole cuts of lamb rare or blue (seared on the outside) as long as they have been sealed and cooked quickly at a high temperature on the surface to kill any bacteria on the meat’s surface.

Can I get sick from eating undercooked lamb?

A rare, or pink, lamb chop that’s been cooked well on the outside should be fine because any bacteria on the surface will have been killed by the heat. However, rare and undercooked burgers can have harmful bacteria and may cause food poisoning if not fully cooked.

Can I get food poisoning from minced raw lamb?

Lamb steaks and chops are safe to be eaten rare as long as they’re seared. Salmonella bacteria present in minced raw lamb can only be killed at a high temperature, meaning infected meat that has not been cooked thoroughly could risk food poisoning.

Is raw kibbeh safe to eat?

Yes. It is possible to eat the kibbeh dish safely if the lamb meat is cooked to 160 Fahrenheit. Plus, there are many preparation alternatives available for the kibbeh dish, such as frying or baking.

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