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Ingredient of the Month: American Lamb

This month’s ingredient of the month is sponsored by the American Lamb Board. Read the article and then take the quiz to earn one Continuing Education Hour. Earn additional Continuing Education Hours by studying the Curriculamb Culinary Education Program.

Lamb is the meat that comes from sheep that are less than a year old. It is made up of bundles of muscle fibers held together by collagen and silverskin. Collagen is a soft, white connective tissue that breaks into gelatin when heated. Silverskin is a tough, rubbery, silver-white connective tissue that does not break down and should be trimmed before cooking. Lamb is a primary protein in many countries throughout the world, especially in regions of North Africa, the Middle East and parts of Europe. American lamb is a popular menu item thanks to the larger cut sizes, its distinctive flavor profile, freshness and tenderness.

American sheep are reared on a high-quality natural forage diet. Depending on quality, American lambs are marketed directly from the range or pasture while others are grain-finished for a short period of time before being processed. The most common breeds of sheep in the U.S. are Dorset, Hampshire, Rambouillet and Suffolk, known for their large sizes. The leading sheep producing states in the U.S. are Texas, California, Colorado, Wyoming and South Dakota.


American lamb is naturally nutrient rich. It is an excellent source of high-quality protein. On average, a 3-ounce serving of lamb has 175 calories and meets almost half of an average adult’s daily reference value for protein. Lamb is an excellent source of vitamin B12, niacin, zinc and selenium. It is a good source of iron and riboflavin.

Compared to other meats, lamb contains less fat marbling throughout the meat. With much of the fat limited to outside edges (the fat cap), it is easily trimmed if desired. Forty percent of the fat in lean lamb is monounsaturated fat, the same kind found in olive oil. A 3-ounce serving of lamb delivers approximately 100 mg of the essential omega-3 fatty acid, alpha linolenic acid. A 3-ounce serving of lamb provides nearly five times the amount of alpha linolenic acid compared to a 3-ounce serving of beef.

Values provided by the American Lamb Board, referencing the USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 17 (2008)

Cuts of Meat

The four primal cuts, or major sections, of American lamb are:

Popular fabricated or ready-to-cook cuts are:

Culinary Uses

Interesting Facts

 There are more than six million sheep in the U.S. and more than 80,000 sheep farms and ranches that are mostly family-owned and operated.

About the American Lamb Board

The American Lamb Board is an industry-funded research and promotions commodity board that represents all sectors of the American Lamb industry including producers, feeders, seed stock producers and processors. The Board, appointed by the Secretary of Agriculture, is focused on increasing demand by promoting the freshness, flavor, nutritional benefits and culinary versatility of American Lamb. The work on the American Lamb Board is overseen by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Board’s programs are supported and implemented by the staff in Denver, Colorado.

Check out “Curriculamb,” a FREE comprehensive culinary education resource on American lamb and has been ACF-approved for 4.5 continuing education hours.