Lamb is a delicious and nutritious meat that can be used in a variety of dishes. Like other meats, it’s best when fresh, but sometimes you may have leftover cooked lamb that you want to save for later.
Freezing is a great way to preserve cooked lamb so it stays tasty and safe to eat for months.
How to Freeze Cooked Lamb
Freezing cooked lamb is easy to do at home with minimal effort. Here are some tips for freezing lamb correctly:
Portion the Lamb
- Cut or shred the cooked lamb into portions suitable for your future uses. Common portion sizes are 1-2 cups for stews or curries, or 4-6 oz for single servings.
- For diced or shredded lamb, spread portions on a baking sheet so they freeze individually.
- For larger cuts of meat, wrap tightly in plastic wrap or foil before freezing.
Use Freezer Bags or Containers
- Place portions of lamb in freezer-safe zipper bags or airtight containers. Make sure to remove as much air as possible before sealing to prevent freezer burn.
- Label the bags or containers with the type and date of freezing so you know how long it’s been frozen when you go to use it.
- Freeze cooked lamb as soon as possible, within 2 hours of cooking for food safety. Don’t let it sit at room temperature.
- Arrange bags or containers flat in one layer in your freezer so they freeze quickly and evenly. Avoid over-stacking.
- Most lamb stays fresh in the freezer for 4-6 months. Ground lamb or offal cuts like liver may only last 1-3 months.
- Always thaw frozen cooked lamb in the refrigerator, allowing 12-24 hours depending on portion size. Do not thaw at room temperature.
- Once thawed, use within 3-4 days. Do not refreeze thawed cooked lamb.
- For quick use, thawed lamb can be microwaved briefly just until heated through.
Tips for Freezing Different Types of Lamb Dishes
Freezing cooked lamb depends somewhat on the particular cut and dish you have prepared. Here are some freezing tips for common lamb meals:
Chops and Steaks
- Lamb chops and steaks freeze well individually wrapped or separated in containers.
- Frozen chops or steaks are great to pull out for quick dinners. Thaw overnight in the fridge then cook as desired.
- Whole lamb roasts freeze nicely too. Allow the meat to cool completely before wrapping tightly.
- Portion into meal-sized amounts before freezing if desired. Thawed roast can be used in stews or shred for sandwiches.
- Form ground lamb into patties or meatballs before freezing, with parchment between for easy separation.
- Frozen ground lamb works well in many casseroles, sandwiches, flatbreads, etc. Crumble apart after thawing.
Lamb Stew or Curry
- Cool stews or curries completely before transferring to bags or containers to freeze. Leave some headspace to allow for expansion.
- Defrost frozen lamb stews or curries overnight in the refrigerator before reheating on the stovetop until piping hot.
Soups with Lamb
- Allow lamb soups to cool then freeze in bags or containers, leaving headspace.
- Reheat frozen lamb soups slowly over medium heat, stirring frequently until fully heated and thickened again before serving.
Storing Frozen Lamb Properly
Follow these storage guidelines to keep frozen lamb safe and tasty:
- Always freeze cooked lamb promptly, within 2 hours of cooking. Never let sit out at room temperature before freezing.
- Store frozen lamb in a freezer set at 0°F or below. Consistent freezing prevents texture changes.
- Avoid storing frozen lamb for longer than recommended (4-6 months for most cuts). Use within 1 year for absolute best quality.
- Check bags or containers for holes before freezing. Securely sealed packages prevent freezer burn.
- Organize your freezer so older frozen lamb gets used first before newly frozen meals. Follow FIFO (first in, first out).
- If frozen lamb gets frostbitten or dried out, trim off any damaged parts before use. Use immediately after thawing for best flavor and texture.
How to Use Frozen Lamb
Previously frozen lamb works beautifully in all kinds of dishes. Here are some delicious ways to enjoy thawed cooked lamb:
- Braised lamb shanks or lamb stew make cozy meals. Brown the meat then simmer with vegetables in broth.
- Diced lamb makes great curry fillings. Sauté with spices and serve over rice.
- Ground lamb can be seasoned and pan-fried for burgers, meatballs, or meat sauces.
- Roast lamb slices excel in sandwiches, flatbreads, and panini. Caramelize in a hot pan before serving.
- Marinated lamb chops or kebabs are perfect for quick grilling. Defrost then grill until lightly charred.
- Hearty lamb soups and chilis are easy weeknight meals. Gently reheat once thawed.
- Fill stuffed peppers, cabbage rolls, or eggplant with spiced ground lamb. Bake until hot and tender.
- Layer baked lamb lasagna with sauce, noodles, cheese, and veggies for a crowd-pleasing casserole.
No matter what you like to make, previously frozen lamb cooks up just as tasty as fresh. Now you can store leftovers safely for future meals.
Frequently Asked Questions
Freezing lamb may be new to you, so here are answers to some common questions:
How long does cooked lamb last in the freezer?
Most cuts of cooked lamb will maintain quality for 4-6 months in the freezer. Ground lamb may last 1-3 months before drying out or picking up freezer odors.
Can you freeze raw lamb?
Yes, raw lamb chops, steaks, roasts, etc. freeze well for 9-12 months. Portion and wrap tightly before freezing. Thaw in the refrigerator before cooking as desired.
Is it safe to refreeze thawed lamb?
No, do not refreeze previously frozen lamb once it has thawed. Cook within 3-4 days for food safety and best quality. Refreezing causes texture changes and potential bacterial growth.
What happens if you freeze cooked lamb too long?
Over time in the freezer, lamb may develop freezer burn or rancid flavors. A year is the absolute maximum recommended freezer time. Discard if the lamb smells, looks, or feels off.
Can you freeze lamb stew?
Yes, stews and curries with lamb freeze very well. Cool completely before freezing in airtight containers, leaving headspace. Reheat gently until hot before serving.
How do you thaw frozen lamb?
Always thaw frozen lamb slowly in the refrigerator, allowing 12-24 hours depending on portion size. Do not thaw at room temperature or in hot water. Cook immediately after thawing.
Can you cook lamb from frozen?
Smaller cuts like chops may be cooked directly from frozen by adding extra cook time. For larger roasts or stews, it’s best to thaw completely first for even cooking.
How can you tell if frozen lamb has gone bad?
Signs of spoiled frozen lamb include an off smell, unusual dull or slimy texture, unnatural color changes, or visible ice crystals. If in doubt, throw it out!
Can you eat lamb rare after freezing?
Previously frozen lamb should always be cooked thoroughly to 165°F for food safety. Cook beyond rare, even if you prefer less done fresh lamb.
Hi, I’m Julie, the passionate foodie and founder of Juliesfamilykitchen.com. I created this blog out of a drive to prove someone wrong, and then I realized how much I truly enjoy cooking and trying new recipes. In my free time, when I’m not running around after my kids or spending quality time with my partner, you can usually find me in the kitchen experimenting with new dishes.