Have you roasted a leg of lamb before? It's actually fairly simple! And this tutorial is all you need to make seriously tender, flavor-packed roasted leg of lamb. A few tips make all the difference, so be sure to read through and watch the video below!
For some, it's roasted turkey. And for others, it may be prime rib or even ham. But where I come from, leg of lamb is hands down the celebratory roast.
Whether boneless or bone-in, tender lamb leg makes a dramatic centerpiece for a holiday table. And don't discount it for a special Sunday dinner that leaves you with great leftovers for sandwiches to to add to salads all week long!
If you haven't cooked a whole leg of lamb before, I know it can be intimidating. You might wonder how to buy it? How to cook leg of lamb? Should I marinate it or do something special to make sure it tastes good? I got you covered!
I grew up on lamb. And I've also spent a good bit of time in the kitchens of some of the most brilliant Mediterranean home cooks I know. This includes my mother in law who is a former restaurant owner and a master of the Levant kitchen. I've learned a ton and have been cooking all sorts of lamb recipes for a while!
In this post, I'll share some tips and answer all your questions about leg of lamb.
Plus, I'm sharing my family's Easter leg of lamb recipe. Seriously tender and packed with flavor, thanks to a tasty garlic-spice rub!
What is leg of lamb? How to buy it?
Bone-in lamb leg is an large and impressive cut that comes from the back haunches of the animal. An average leg of lamb with the bone will weigh anywhere from 5 to 7 pounds.
Lamb leg is available in most grocery stores at the meat counter. But because it's an expensive cut, it's a good idea to buy from a reputable butcher.
Two important tips when buying lamb:
- When you buy leg of lamb, look for market weight. No baby lambs or lamb that is too old (mutton) which has tougher meat.
- Ask the butcher to trim the lamb leg. This means, they will trim the thick outer layer of fat which tends to make the lamb taste strong and gamy. But just keep in mind, a little bit of fat insulates the meat and keeps it nice and tender.
Should I marinate leg of lamb?
Leg of lamb is large cut, but it's actually pretty tender. Because of that, you do not need to marinate it for long hours.
But don't get me wrong, it is still super important to flavor the lamb well.
Three things to ensure great flavor:
- Season well with kosher salt and black pepper
- Insert garlic cloves in different parts of the lamb leg
- Use a bold spice rub with more garlic, olive oil, lemon juice, and dried herbs and spices like: oregano, dried mint, paprika and nutmeg.
How long to cook lamb leg in the oven?
How long to roast a leg of lamb will depend on how you like it. Rare? Medium? Well-done?
I've cooked boneless leg of lamb in the slow cooker for hours, and we loved it that way. But with bone-in leg of lamb, roasting in the oven is my method of choice. My family likes roasted leg of lamb cooked to medium, although I personally prefer it on the medium-rare side.
Here is a quick guide (roasting temperature 325 degrees F):
- Rare: About 15 minutes per pound or until internal temperature registers 125 degrees F.
- Medium-Rare: About 20 minutes per pound or until internal temperature registers 130°F to 135°F
- Medium: About 25 minutes per pound or until internal temperature registers 135°F to 140°F
- Well-Done: About 30 minutes per pound or until internal temperature registers 155°F to 165°F
When measuring the meat's internal temperature using an instant read thermometer, you'll want to insert the thermometer in the thickest part of the lamb leg.
Important Tip: Remember the roasted lamb will rest for some time (about 15 minutes) before serving. During this time, the lamb will continue to cook and its internal tempreture will rise. That's why, it's not a bad idea to take the lamb out of the oven just a tad before it reaches your desired doneness.
Roasted Leg of Lamb Recipe: Step-by-Step
Step 1: Take lamb out of the fridge
Be sure to take the lamb out of the fridge for about 1 hour before cooking to get it closer to room temperature.
Step 2: Prepare the rub
Step 3: Season and broil lamb
Before applying the rub, season with salt and pepper and place lamb under the broiler for a brief time to gain color (it helps to turn it about for even color)
And when the lamb is cool enough to handle, we insert a few garlic cloves in several slits/openings.
Step 4: Apply the rub and add potatoes
Now, apply our flavor-packed spice rub all over the lamb. Add potatoes and onions in the roasting pan (season the potatoes a bit too.)
Step 5: Roast in 325 degrees F oven
Reduce oven temp. Cover roasting pan with foil (make sure it's tented over so it doesn't touch the lamb). Roast on middle rack for 1 hour then remove the foil and roast a few more minutes until we reach desired doneness.
Step 6: Rest
Remove leg of lamb from the oven but let it rest for another 15 minutes before serving.
Serve it with
I love to serve this leg of lamb and potatoes on a large platter, family-style. It may seem odd, but a bed of Lebanese rice (which you can make while the lamb is cooking) really brings this festive meal together. Here are some things I like to serve along:
- Salads: Greek salad, fattoush, chickpea salad, or tabouli
- Dips: creamy hummus, baba ganoush, or tzatziki
Storage and freezer instructions
Leftover lamb roast will keep in the fridge for 3 days or so. Just be sure the lamb has cooled before transferring to tight-lid glass containers to refrigerate.
You can also freeze cooked lamb leg. I typically carve remove the bone and store the lamb in freezer-safe containers or zip-top bags for up to 2 months or so. Thaw overnight in the fridge. Reheat in the oven, covered, with a bit of liquid in the baking pan.
Watch the Video Below for How to Make this Leg of Lamb Recipe:
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Seriously tender and flavor-packed roast leg of lamb, thanks to a great garlic spice rub. Served with potatoes.
Be sure to read the post for important tips and step-by-step tutorial.
- 1 4 to 5 lb leg of lamb, bone-in, fat trimmed
- Salt and pepper
- Extra virgin olive oil (I used Private Reserve Greek EVOO)
- 5 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced; more for later
- 2 cups water
- 8 gold potatoes, peeled and cut into wedges
- 1 yellow onion, peeled and cut into wedges
- 1 tsp paprika; more for later
- 1 tsp all-natural garlic powder
- Fresh parsley for garnish, optional
For the rub:
- Take the leg of lamb out of the refrigerator and leave in room temperature for about 1 hour. In the meantime, prepare the remaining ingredients and make the lamb rub.
- To make the rub, in a food processor, combine the rub ingredients. Blend until smooth. Set aside (or in the fridge, if preparing in advance).
- When ready, pat the lamb dry and make a few slits on both sides. Season with salt and pepper.
- Turn the oven on broil. Place the leg of lamb on a wire rack; place the rack directly on the top oven rack so that it's only a few inches away from the broiler element. Broil for 5-7 minutes on each side or until the leg of lamb is nicely seared. Remove from the oven, then adjust the oven temperature to 325 degrees F.
- When the lamb is cool enough to handle, insert the garlic slices in the slits you made earlier. Now cover the leg of lamb on all sides with the wet rub and place it in the middle of a roasting pan with an inside rack (like this one-->affiliate). Add two cups of water to the bottom of the roasting pan.
- Season the potato and onion wedges with the paprika, garlic powder and a little salt, then add them to the pan on either side of the lamb.
- Now tent a large piece of foil over the roasting pan (make sure it does not touch the lamb) then place the pan on the middle rack of the 325 degrees F heated-oven. Roast covered for about 1 hour. Remove the foil and return the roasting pan to the oven for another 10 to 15 minutes or until the lamb temperature registers 130 degrees F for medium-rare.
- Remove the pan from the oven and let the leg of lamb rest for about 15 minutes before serving (the lamb will continue to cook and it's internal temperature will continue to rise.
- Place the lamb and potatoes in a large serving platter over a bed of Lebanese rice, if you choose to. Garnish with parsley.
- Or, you may carve the lamb first, then arrange the sliced lamb with the potatoes over the rice. Enjoy!
- Tip for buying lamb leg: When you purchase your leg of lamb ask the butcher to trim the fat.
- How long to roast leg of lamb? Avoid overcooking leg of lamb. The following is a quick guide for cooking at 325 degrees F (and remember that with the resting time, the lamb will continue to cook and its internal temperature will rise): Rare: About 15 minutes per pound or until internal temperature registers 125 degrees F. Medium-Rare: About 20 minutes per pound or until internal temperature registers 130°F to 135°F. Medium: About 25 minutes per pound or until internal temperature registers 135°F to 140°F. Well-Done: About 30 minutes per pound or until internal temperature registers 155°F to 165°F.
- Storage and freezing instructions: Leftover lamb roast will keep in the fridge for 3 days or so. Just be sure the lamb has cooled before transferring to tight-lid glass containers to refrigerate. You can also freeze cooked lamb leg. I typically carve remove the bone and store the lamb in freezer-safe containers or zip-top bags for up to 2 months or so. Thaw overnight in the fridge. Reheat in the oven, covered, with a bit of liquid in the baking pan.
- Visit our shop to browse quality Mediterranean ingredients, including extra virgin olive oils and spices used in this recipe.
- Category: Entree
- Method: Roasted
- Cuisine: Greek/Mediterranean
Keywords: Leg of lamb recipe, roasted leg of lamb, roast leg of lamb, lamb roast
*This post first appeared on The Mediterranean Dish in 2016 and has been recently updated with new media and information for readers' benefit