Spicy Mint Pesto with Grilled Lamb Chops

Mint Pesto with Lime and Red Chile Flakes | mjskitchen.com


From the title of this post and the pictures, you’ve probably figured out that this post is more about the mint pesto than the lamb.  I could just sit and eat this Spicy Mint Pesto with a spoon.  To heck with the lamb chops. 🙂 Not really, we do love lamb chops and get some great ones at Costco.  Bobby always grills them and then I make a simple little sauce to go with them.   During the summer when my spearmint goes bonkers, as mint always does, I love making this spicy mint pesto, which, as all lamb lovers know, mint is a great complement to lamb.

To make this pesto, just throw all  of the ingredients into a blender and blend.  The recipe calls for 1 cup of packed mint which is a good bit of mint.  Of course if your mint is like mine, you won’t even be able to tell that you’ve picked any.  This pesto freeze quite well, so at the end of the season, it’s a great way to put up some of that mint so you can enjoy it during the colder months.


Mint Pesto with Lime and Red Chile Flakes | mjskitchen.com


Spicy Mint Pesto for Lamb Recipe

Recipe author:  MJ of MJ’s Kitchen

Yields about 3/4 cup
Prep Time: 15 minutes


For the Spicy Mint Pesto

2 Tbsp. toasted pinon nuts (pine nuts)*
1 cup packed mint leaves
¼ cup olive oil
Juice from one lime
3 cloves roasted garlic or 1 small raw garlic clove
1 Tbsp. minced onion
1 tsp. honey or maple syrup
½ tsp. red chile flakes*
1/8 tsp. salt or to taste

The Lamb Chops

6 to 8 thick lamb chops
Salt and fresh cracked pepper


For the Spicy Mint Pesto

  1. Lightly toast the pinon nuts.
  2. Put all mint pesto ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.
  3. Transfer to a serving container and refrigerator until ready to use.
  4. For longer storage, cover with plastic wrap.  Lay the plastic directly in contact with the pesto to prevent it from oxidizing and darkening.

For the Lamb Chops

  1. Prepare the BBQ grill for a medium heat.
  2. Salt and pepper both sides of the lamb chops.
  3. When the grill is hot, grill for 5 to 6 minutes per side for medium rare, turning once.  Grill a minute longer for medium.



Grilled Lamb Chops with Spicy Mint Pesto | mjskitchen.com

Kitchen Notes

Grow mint in a large container to keep it from taking over your garden. mjskitchen.comPiñon nuts (Pine nuts) – The piñon nuts could be substituted with walnuts, almonds, pecans or pumpkin seeds.  However, if you use walnuts, I would omit toasting them because, toasted walnuts can be overpowering in a pesto IMO.

The Mint – If you don’t grow mint, you should. It is the easiest thing in the world to grow and is quite forgiving when ignored. However, it does take over, so I’ve had found that it grows best in a large pot, which yields more than enough fresh mint for the summer, dried mint for the winter and frozen mint and mint pesto for year round.  The only mint I grow is spearmint which makes a nice pesto.  Would another mint work?  Possibly.  If you try it with another type of mint, please let me know.

Red Chile FlakesAleppo chile flakes and New Mexico red chile flakes both work great in this recipe.  Because both can be quite spicy, and the fact that this pesto gets spicier the longer it sits, 1/2 teaspoon was plenty for us.  I haven’t tried this pesto with other chile flakes but I’m sure it would work with your favorite.

Other uses for this Spicy Mint Pesto

  • Sandwich spread – Our favorite sandwich with this pesto consists of thick slices of bologna, fried in butter.  Toast the bread or rolls, spread one slice with the pesto and one very lightly with Dijon mustard.  Add the bologna, thinly sliced sweet onion, and lettuce.
  • Toss with pasta and a few sauteed vegetables.
  • Add to rice dishes or sauteed vegetables.
  • Serve with other grilled meats or roasted leg of lamb.


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74 Responses to “Spicy Mint Pesto with Grilled Lamb Chops”

  1. plasterers bristol October 29, 2015 at 2:36 am #

    mmm looks tasty. Always looking for new recipes, thanks for sharing.


    • mj October 29, 2015 at 10:32 am #

      Thanks! Hope you get a chance to try this! We had it just the other night. Trying to use up the mint before the first freeze. 🙂

  2. Rashida October 3, 2014 at 9:36 am #

    Mint pesto is my mother’s favourite but we never used pine nuts, will try.
    Your pictures are truly doing justice to the dish.

  3. Ramona July 16, 2014 at 7:29 pm #

    I have mint on my deck as well… this pesto sounds like a must make recipe soon. 🙂

  4. Terra July 15, 2014 at 6:17 pm #

    I love how versatile pesto recipes can be. What a lovely idea to create a mint pesto for lamb, it sounds really delicious! Yum, Hugs, Terra

    • mj July 16, 2014 at 8:58 am #

      Thanks Terra! I love all of the pesto recipes out there. There are many that I want to try.

  5. Soni July 14, 2014 at 2:39 pm #

    Ooh love the chili in your pesto! A little spice has never done any harm : ) ! Would love to try! The lamb chops look delicious too!

  6. Dedy@Dentist Chef July 14, 2014 at 2:07 am #

    Wow, definitely must try recipe..
    i can imagine the bursting minty flavour of it, i guess i’m gonna try this recipe with cashew nuts!!!

    • mj July 14, 2014 at 10:12 am #

      Thanks Dedy! Oh I love the idea of cashews! I need to buy them more often because I never have them around and I bet they would be delicious in the pesto.

  7. Thalia @ butter and brioche July 13, 2014 at 11:08 pm #

    YUM. love a good pesto – never thought to make pesto out of mint though, definitely something i need to try. thanks for sharing mj!

    • mj July 14, 2014 at 10:11 am #

      Thanks so much Thalia! Even though I’ve always loved the standard basil pesto, I think the mint pesto is more refreshing and has a very unique savory flavor.

  8. David Crichton July 13, 2014 at 12:07 pm #

    Summer on a plate. It’s so much better than our big standard mint sauce we have in the UK.


    • mj July 14, 2014 at 10:09 am #

      Thanks David! Now I’m curious as to the standard UK mint sauce. 🙂

  9. The Squishy Monster July 13, 2014 at 11:03 am #

    My gf just said I could have at it with her mint patch…I know what I’m making!

    • mj July 14, 2014 at 10:08 am #

      Have fun! Hope you enjoy it and thanks for stopping by!

  10. Hotly Spiced July 12, 2014 at 5:24 pm #

    I love lamb chops for dinner and am always looking for an interesting topping. This pesto looks amazing. I love the vibrant colour and it has excellent flavours that compliment the lamb well xx

    • mj July 14, 2014 at 10:03 am #

      Thanks Charlie! Looking for another complement for lamb was how this recipe evolved. Was getting tired of chile jelly. 🙂

  11. Nami | Just One Cookbook July 12, 2014 at 9:33 am #

    Using mint in this pesto sounds so refreshing on hot summer days when our appetite is very low (it was 90F with humidity in Tokyo today). I love the idea of spreading on French baguette to make a sandwich or pasta. It’s great that you can blend everything together and it’s done! 🙂

    • mj July 14, 2014 at 10:01 am #

      Thanks Nami! You gotta love those blend and serve dishes! 🙂

  12. Vicki Bensinger July 11, 2014 at 5:40 pm #

    I love lamb chops but my family never wants to eat them. I may have to try these on my own with this mint pesto. Sounds yummy!

    • mj July 11, 2014 at 6:02 pm #

      Thanks Vicki! That’s a shame that your family doesn’t like lamb. I don’t eat it much but when we do, we enjoy it tremendously.

  13. Carol at Wild Goose Tea July 11, 2014 at 5:25 pm #

    I have a mint patch in my garden and I love pesto. Tooooooo perfect. I had to pin this. Thank you!

    • mj July 11, 2014 at 6:01 pm #

      Thanks Carol! thanks for pinning it as well!

  14. Gloria July 11, 2014 at 2:15 pm #

    I love pesto ..I think I should try your version of mint pesto…loved the lamb chops too..drooling already…

    • mj July 11, 2014 at 6:00 pm #

      Thanks Gloria! I hope you do get a chance to try it.

  15. Swathi July 11, 2014 at 9:22 am #

    That is summery pesto and touch of spiciness that I liked it. Great recipe Mj.

    • mj July 11, 2014 at 6:00 pm #

      Thanks Swathi!

  16. joyti July 10, 2014 at 9:36 pm #

    My parents’ mint always goes bonkers in summer too 🙂

    This sounds delicious! Happy summer to you 🙂

    • mj July 11, 2014 at 5:57 pm #

      Thanks so much Joyti! Happy summer to you as well!

  17. Nisa Homey July 10, 2014 at 9:20 pm #

    MJ, I came for the recipe and thank you for the pine nuts subs as I do not get them here and was looking around for subs…..with mint added I am sure it would be a hit with my family.

    • mj July 11, 2014 at 5:55 pm #

      thank you and you are most welcome! I realize that not only pine nuts not accessible in many places, but they can also be outrageously expensive. Almond is a really good substitute as the flavors are closer than that of walnuts or pecans.

  18. Viviane Bauquet Farre July 10, 2014 at 8:13 pm #

    What a great complement — and you’re right, MJ… that pesto sounds good enough to devour on its own 🙂

    • mj July 11, 2014 at 5:53 pm #

      Thanks Viviane!

  19. Liz July 10, 2014 at 11:53 am #

    My mom always kept a jar of mint jelly in the fridge for when we had lamb for dinner. Your pesto seems like a much more elegant option!!!

    • mj July 11, 2014 at 5:52 pm #

      Thanks Liz! I have to admit that I usually have a chile jam in the fridge for lamb, but in the summer we go through it to fast from all of the grilling. However, no problem – as you said, this pesto is a more elegant option. 🙂

  20. Kelly @ Inspired Edibles July 10, 2014 at 8:27 am #

    Your mint pesto looks and sounds exquisite MJ and I love how you’ve spiced it up with the red chile flakes as only you would 😉 — so clever to show it off in the beer mug too; perfect way to showcase its beauty. And who doesn’t love the practicality of toss and blend — especially in the summer when there are so many other ways we would rather be enjoying our time. Perfect. Must try this delight!

    • mj July 11, 2014 at 5:50 pm #

      Thanks Kelly! I have to admit that I have a hard time NOT added chile of some form to a dish. 🙂 Beer mug? Those lamb chops aren’t that big. In fact, they are very small and that “beer mug” is only about 3 inch tall and 1.5″ in diameter. 🙂 Oh yes, I have been doing lots of toss and blend, cut and serve this summer. Haven’t really been doing much “cooking”. It’s just too hot.

      • Kelly @ Inspired Edibles July 13, 2014 at 10:53 am #

        oops! what can I say? I see beer everywhere on a hot summer’s day :). Upon closer look I can see the spout but perspective (size) is sometimes tricky to determine in food photography. Either way, love the look!

        • mj July 14, 2014 at 10:07 am #

          I know what you mean. I usually don’t drink beer, but a nice wheat beer when it’s hot tastes pretty darn good. That silly perspective fools you every time. 🙂

          • Kelly @ Inspired Edibles July 15, 2014 at 6:35 pm #

            the meal that I recall the most (closest to that happy trigger memory) is spicy spaghetti with garlic bread and cold beer. It goes back to my teenage years working as a lifeguard — there was a local pub that hosted staff nights every Monday in the summer — they served up free super spicy (no accident) spaghetti & garlic bread (we bought the beer). Ah youth… 🙂

  21. Evelyne@cheapethniceatz July 10, 2014 at 7:24 am #

    I just so happen to be overrun by mint form my plant. Love this for a pesto and will be making some tonight. And lamb chops is a great pairing. Thanks for the inspiration.

    • mj July 11, 2014 at 5:47 pm #

      Thanks Evelyne! If you do get a chance to make it, please let me know how you like it. And you’re are welcome. 🙂

  22. Bam's Kitchen July 10, 2014 at 4:56 am #

    MJ that sounds so refreshing. I love sauces as it adds such a lovely second dimension to dishes and perfect with your little lamb lollies. Take care, BAM

    • mj July 11, 2014 at 5:47 pm #

      Thanks Bam! I’m with you – I love adding sauces to meat.

  23. Angie (@angiesrecipess) July 9, 2014 at 10:11 pm #

    The pesto made with mint must be particularly refreshing and tasty!

    • mj July 11, 2014 at 5:46 pm #

      You got that right! 🙂 Thanks Angie!

  24. Bill July 9, 2014 at 3:39 pm #

    I’ve got mint growing in my herb garden and you’ve given me the perfect use for it with this post. I don’t make lamb chops very often but I really do love them. Thanks for some inspiration to get some chops on my grill this summer and use up some of my mint. Great post, MJ!

    • mj July 11, 2014 at 5:44 pm #

      Thanks Bill! I think you would really like this combination. It’s quite flavorful.

  25. wok with ray July 9, 2014 at 12:43 pm #

    This is just in time for me as my mint in the backyard is growing like crazy. I would do the same thing with that glass of mint pesto – eat it by itself with the spoon. Love the color — it is so vibrant. I hope you are having a beautiful week. 🙂

    • mj July 11, 2014 at 5:39 pm #

      Thanks Ray! Pesto certainly is a great way to use mint and it has so many uses. We really like it on those fried bologna sandwiches. 🙂 I am having a beautiful week – thank you! Hope you have a wonderful weekend!

  26. Judy @Savoring Today July 9, 2014 at 7:19 am #

    I am loving all the different flavors of pesto I’m seeing right now — so creative and delicious. The great thing about pesto is how versatile it is to use, even to make salad dressings. This sounds great for lamb — yum!

    • mj July 11, 2014 at 5:36 pm #

      Thanks Judy! Other than mint, the only other pesto I’ve made has been basil. I really need to adventure outside of those two. Cilantro pesto sounds pretty good.

  27. Asmita July 9, 2014 at 7:09 am #

    Hi MJ,
    Never made pesto at home but this is one recipe I would love to try out. Love the addition of mint. Very refreshing!!

    • mj July 11, 2014 at 5:30 pm #

      Thanks Asmita! You really should try making a pesto. It’s so easy and if you love mint – this is the pesto to start with. 🙂

  28. Bill July 8, 2014 at 6:31 pm #

    I have gobs of mint, mostly spearmint, out by the machine shed. This should be a good use for some of it.

    On another matter, I roasted my first green chiles of the season tonight. I sprouted some seeds from chiles I bought in Hatch, last fall, and I have 4 nice plants. I’ll find out how they are this weekend when I make “Grits and Green Chiles”



    • mj July 9, 2014 at 11:19 am #

      Thanks Bill! Oh goody, goody! That is SO COOL that you are getting chiles from your the chile you bought here! Please let me know how you like them and how you like grits and green chile. I’ve turned my die hard southern sister into a grits and green chile fan. 🙂

      • Bill July 13, 2014 at 7:21 am #

        Grits & Green Chile have come and gone and didn’t last long. I make mine with blue corn grits that I grind from Posole. I let the grits cook for a couple of hours in a slow cooker before I started the eggs. I added the Green Chile and cheese while I was cooking the eggs. I served the grits with the eggs on top and a sprig of Cilantro picked this morning for garnish. My Chiles had just a bit of heat, but not too much. It was very good and I hope to have some more chiles ready for roasting soon.

        • mj July 14, 2014 at 10:05 am #

          They don’t last long do they? I remember that you make your own blue cornmeal. I bet the blue corn grits were delicious! You must know that I now will need to give them a try. 🙂

  29. Choc Chip Uru July 8, 2014 at 6:13 pm #

    What a great way to make pesto more refreshing 😀
    I love this recipe and want to try it on pasta asap!

    Choc Chip Uru

    • mj July 9, 2014 at 11:17 am #

      Thanks Uru! We added it to a pasta and broccoli dish the other night and it was delicious! Hope you get a chance to try it.

  30. The Wimpy Vegetarian July 8, 2014 at 5:55 pm #

    What a fantastic idea to use a mint pesto with lamb. I could see this with lamb skewers too. I’ve never put honey or maple syrup in my pestos, but it sounds really good, MJ!

    • mj July 9, 2014 at 11:16 am #

      Thanks Susan! The honey really is optional, but it does help to add a touch of sweet to the heat of the chile.

  31. Maureen | Orgasmic Chef July 8, 2014 at 3:56 pm #

    We love lamb chops and always have mint sauce with them but I love the idea of a spicy mint pesto. Brilliant idea and I’m going to make this soon.

    • mj July 9, 2014 at 11:15 am #

      Thanks Maureen! Mint pesto and chile jam are our favorites with lamb. Surprised about the latter? 🙂

  32. minnie@thelady8home July 8, 2014 at 2:47 pm #

    I have pork chops for dinner tonight. Maybe I’ll throw in the pesto too! Sounds amazing.

    • mj July 9, 2014 at 11:14 am #

      Thanks Minnie! Hope got to try it with pork.

  33. Debra July 8, 2014 at 9:48 am #

    I have never cooked lamb. I guess because we didn’t grow up with it. We have a local lamb farmer close who sells at the FM and of course I have the run away mint as well.

    • mj July 9, 2014 at 11:14 am #

      Oh Debra – if you can get local lamb, then I would HIGHLY recommend it. I had a student once who raised lamb and the meat I got from him was incredible. Lamb chops are easier to grill than chicken and we love them. Well, here’s a use for your runaway mint! Thanks!

  34. John@Kitchen Riffs July 8, 2014 at 9:33 am #

    Yeah, mint definitely takes over! As it has in our yard. That’s OK though — we love the stuff. Never made pesto with mint, but I will — this sounds fabulous. And it’s the perfect thing to serve with lamb chops. Wonderful recipe — thanks.

    • mj July 9, 2014 at 11:11 am #

      Thanks John! I finally had to confine my mint in a pot so that I could grow other things. I can’t live without it, but I want other herbs as well. 🙂

  35. Sissi July 8, 2014 at 9:23 am #

    Mint pesto is a totally new idea to me. I love it and already start thinking how I might use it… apart from lamb because this I will certainly test: your photographs are incredibly tempting and convincing!
    (I think I’m becoming an avocado addict because your pesto made me hungry for guacamole 😉 ).

    • mj July 9, 2014 at 11:11 am #

      Thanks Sissi! To be honest, I had never had mint pesto until I made this last summer. Of course then I became a huge fan. Now that you mention guacamole, I bet a scoop of this in guacamole would be pretty awesome!

  36. Nads July 8, 2014 at 7:28 am #

    I use pesto frequently on all kinds of things and generally keep some on hand. This sounds like a really really good change, especially for meat or salad dressing. My mint has been really struggling. I repotted it and moved it and it seems to be coming back. As soon as I have enough I will definitely give this a try. I’ll let you know when I’ve used it. I look forward to doing so.

    • mj July 8, 2014 at 8:53 am #

      Thanks Nads! Wish I could give you some of my mint. It needs a good thinning. 🙂 Hope you enjoy! I know you guys love lamb, so I think you’ll really enjoy this pesto with it.

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