This no-fail roasted leg of lamb recipe, with a special Mediterranean seasoning, will give you the BEST lamb roast every single time. Follow my simple tips for how to cook lamb leg, so that it is tender and packed with loads of flavor. This lamb recipe comes with meltingly delicious potatoes for the perfect meal in one pan, and if you're looking for some color and crunch, add a big Greek salad (more ideas below).

Roast leg of lamb with potatoes on platter over a bed of rice

My go-to lamb roast

For some, beef tenderloin, roast turkey, or even ham may be the celebratory roast of choice. But where I come from, nothing beats a tender, oven-roasted leg of lamb for all occasions, but particularly for Easter. Not only is it delicious, but it makes a dramatic centerpiece for a special dinner, especially served over gold potatoes.

If you have not cooked lamb leg in the oven before, it is easier than most people think! With a simple technique and my bold, garlicky lamb seasoning, you will have the perfect lamb roast every time.

I’m excited to share my family’s go-to roast lamb recipe, but first some basics and no-fail tips for beginners.

What is leg of lamb?

Bone-in lamb leg is a large and impressive cut that comes from the back haunches of the animal, and it usually weighs anywhere from 5 to 7 pounds (a larger leg will serve up to 12 people). A boneless leg of lamb will weigh about 2 pounds less.

Lamb leg is usually sold without the shank. If you’d like to buy one with the shank attached (as I have in this recipe), ask for “shank-on leg” or “American leg.” A shank-on leg is beautiful for presentation, but that’s about it. So, if you’d rather have the shank removed, feel free to go with that! You will not compromise on flavor.

Expert tips for buying lamb leg

Lamb leg is available in most grocery stores at the meat counter. Here are some tips for buying lamb:

  • Buy from a reputable butcher. This is not a cheap cut of meat necessarily, so buy from a place that you can trust, and ask all the questions you need to.
  • Look for market weight. Avoid buying baby lamb or mutton, which is older and tougher meat.  
  • For less “gamy” taste ask the butcher to trim the fat. They will trim the thick outer layer of fat, which typically covers this cut of lamb and tends to make the meat taste strong and gamy. Keep in mind that a little bit of fat insulates the meat and keeps it nice and tender.
Leg of lamb with potatoes

Best way to cook lamb leg

Whether boneless or bone-in, the perfect leg of lamb should be either oven-roasted until blushing pink on the inside (with an internal temp around 130°F) or roasted long and slow for several hours until the meat is very tender and falls apart to internal temp around 175°F (I often use the slow cooker for that).  

In this recipe, I go for perfectly pink meat. A good meat thermometer will take the guesswork out of the equation and help you get perfectly pink lamb every time – no gray, rubbery meat here!

Remember that the roasted meat will rest for some time (at least 15 to 20 minutes or so) before serving. During this time, the meat will continue to cook, and its internal temperature 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.

Cooking time for leg of lamb

How long the lamb will take in the oven depends on how you like it. For a medium cooked lamb, which is perfectly pink on the inside, budget about 25 minutes per pound or until the internal temp registers somewhere around 130°F (about 1 ½ to 2 hours in a 325 degrees F-heated oven). And for falling apart lamb, budget about 40 to 45 minutes per pound or until the meat's internal temp registers 175°F (this can take 5 to 6 hours in in a 325 degrees F-heated oven).

Internal temp guide for cooked leg of lamb

Always keep in mind, as mentioned earlier, the meat will rest for a bit after you take it out of the oven, and its internal temperature will rise as it sits. To me lamb leg is best when cooked to perfectly pink on the inside (internal temp somewhere around 130°F) or when cooked long hours until falling apart tender (internal temp somewhere around 175°F). Here is a quick table:

  • 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. About 1 ½ to 2 hours or so.
  • 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.
  • Falling-Apart Tender Lamb: About 40 minutes per pound or until the internal temp registers 175°F. This can take about 6 hours or so.
Leg of lamb with roasted potatoes

Should I marinate lamb leg before cooking?

You do not need to marinate lamb leg for long hours if you don’t have the time. But first, make sure you season the lamb well with kosher salt and black pepper. And for best flavor, give the meat a good rub with fresh garlic, spices, and dried herbs (see my lamb seasoning below). I like to make some slits in different parts of the meat to insert fresh garlic and some of the rub or seasoning – it makes a difference!

If you do have the time, you can let the meat sit in the seasoning for a few minutes or stick in the fridge for a couple of hours.

Ingredients: What you’ll need for this lamb roast recipe

There is the lamb, the Mediterranean seasoning, and if you like, potatoes and onions

  • 4- to 5-pound leg of lamb bone-in, fat trimmed – Make sure a little fat remains, as this helps the meat remain juicy
  • Extra virgin olive oil – Any rich, flavorful EVOO would work here
  • Garlic cloves, peeled and sliced – To stick directly into small cuts made in the lamb meat.
  • Gold potatoes and a yellow onion, peeled and cut into wedges (optional)

Seasoning

The Mediterranean lamb seasoning here is more of a wet garlic rub that is loaded with big Mediterranean flavors. Here is what's in it:

How to make roasted leg of lamb:

Cooking lamb leg in the oven is easier than most people think. Here is the step-by-step tutorial for the perfect lamb roast (print-friendly recipe to follow):

  • Take lamb out of the fridge. Be sure to take the lamb out of the fridge about 1 hour before cooking to get it closer to room temperature. This will help it reach a higher temperature faster in the oven, reducing cooking time and ensuring more juicy meat.
  • Prepare the seasoning or rub. This rub is best prepared in a food processor. Combine 15 peeled garlic cloves, 2 tablespoons dried oregano, 2 tablespoons dried mint flakes, 1 tablespoon paprika, ½ tablespoon nutmeg, ½ cup olive oil and the juice of 2 lemons. Run the processor until the rub is smooth. Set aside for now.

    Spice mix and marinade for leg of lamb
  • Salt and broil the lamb leg. Season the meat generously with kosher salt and black pepper. Place the lamb on a wire rack and place it on the top rack of the oven, under the broiler. Broil in the oven for 5 to 7 minutes on each side until it gets some color. It helps to rotate the lamb while it is under the broiler so it gains color evenly.

    Inserting garlic pieces in leg of lamb
  • Season the lamb. Remove the lamb from the oven and allow it to cool enough to handle. Peel and slice 5 garlic cloves. The slices should be quite large – even just halving each clove lengthwise would work. the wire rack with the lamb leg into a deep roasting pan and pour 2 cups of water into the bottom of the roasting pan. Make slits all over the meat and insert a slice of garlic into each one.Apply the wet rub to the lamb (make sure it is covered on all sides). Ensure the lamb is in the middle of the wire rack.
  • Season the potatoes. After peeling and cutting 8 gold potatoes and 1 yellow onion into wedges, add them to a bowl and season with 1 teaspoon paprika, 1 teaspoon garlic powder, and some kosher salt. Arrange the potatoes and onions in the roasting pan around the lamb. (If you're going for slow-roasted lamb, don't add the potatoes to the pan yet).

    Leg of lamb before roasting
  • Roast (two options): For medium lamb (pink on the inside), cover the roasting pan with the meat and potatoes with foil (make sure it's tented over so it doesn't touch the lamb). Roast on the middle rack of a 325 degrees F-heated oven for 1 hour. Then remove the foil and roast for a little longer until you reach slightly less than your desired doneness. Be sure to check internal temperature with a meat thermometer to prevent over or undercooking.

    For slow-roasted lamb (fall-apart meat), leave the potatoes out for 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 4 to 4 ½ hours. Add the potatoes and onions and return the pan to the oven, covered, for 1 to 1 ½ hours or so. Remove the foil and return the pan to the oven for another 15 to 20 minutes.

    Leg of lamb on oven rack with potatoes and onions
  • Rest. Remove the lamb and potatoes from the oven and let it rest for 15 to 20 minutes before serving. While the lamb rests, it will continue to cook a little and its internal temperature will rise a few more degrees. For medium-cooked lamb, internal temp should register around 130°F and for long, slow-cooked lamb with falling apart meat

Sides to serve with lamb leg

I love to serve this leg of lamb recipe with 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. My Middle Eastern rice pilaf is also a good option (you would not need the potatoes) Add a salad such as: Greek saladfattoushchickpea salad, or tabouli. A little tzatziki is the perfect accompaniment to this Greek lamb.

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 the meat, 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 the thawed or refrigerated meat in the oven, covered, with a bit of liquid in the baking pan until warmed through.

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4.86 from 184 votes

Perfect Roasted Leg of Lamb

Suzy Karadsheh
roast leg of lamb with potatoes on platter over a bed of rice
This easy no-fail roasted leg of lamb recipe, with a special Mediterranean seasoning, will give you the BEST lamb roast every single time! Remember, the best lamb leg is either cooked to perfect pink inside (internal temp somewhere around 130°F) or until the meat falls off the bone (internal temp somewhere around 175°F or beyond). Just avoid cooking your lamb to the in-between stage which can be tough. I like to cook some potatoes in the same pan to complete the meal. Add a big Mediterranean salad of your choice, you can't go wrong with Greek salad for this one.
Prep – 1 hour
Cook – 1 hour 25 minutes
Cuisine:
Greek/Mediterranean
Serves – 8 people
Course:
Entree

Ingredients
  

  • 1 4 to 5 pound leg of lamb, bone-in, fat trimmed
  • Salt and pepper
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 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 teaspoon paprika, more for later
  • 1 teaspoon all-natural garlic powder
  • Fresh parsley for garnish, optional

For the rub:

  • 15 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 2 tablespoons dried oregano
  • 2 tablespoons dried mint flakes
  • 1 tablespoons paprika
  • ½ tablespoons nutmeg
  • ½ cup Extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 lemons, juice of

Instructions
 

  • Bring the leg of lamb to room temp. 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.
  • Prepare the seasoning. To make the rub or seasoning, in a food processor, combine the rub ingredients. Blend until smooth. Set aside (or in the fridge, if preparing in advance).
  • Salt the meat. When ready, pat the lamb dry and make a few slits on both sides. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Sear the Lamb. Turn the oven on broil. Place the leg of lamb on a wire rack and put it directly on the top 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.
  • Apply the seasoning or rub. 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. Add two cups of water to the bottom of the roasting pan.

For Medium Roasted Lamb Leg

  • 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.
  • Cover and roast. 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 15 to 20 minutes or until the lamb temperature registers 125 degrees F.
  • Let rest. Remove the pan from the oven and let the leg of lamb rest for about 15 to 20 minutes before serving (the lamb will continue to cook and its internal temperature will continue to rise to around 130 degrees F).
  • Serve. Place the roast lamb and potatoes in a large serving platter over a bed of rice, you like. Garnish with parsley. Or, you may carve the lamb first, then arrange the sliced lamb with the potatoes over the rice.

For Fall-Apart Slow Roasted Lamb

  • Cover and roast the lamb. Follow the recipe to step #5, and once seasoned, 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 4 to 4 ½ hours.
  • Add the potatoes and onions to the 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. Return the pan to the oven, covered, for 1 to 1 ½ hours or so.
  • Uncover and return the pan to the oven for another 15 to 20 minutes.
  • Rest. Remove from the oven and tent the lamb with a piece of foil. Allow it to rest for about 15 minutes (its internal temperature should be at 175 degrees or beyond for fall-apart tender lamb).

Video

Notes

  • Quick buying tip: Avoid buying baby lamb or mutton, which is older and tougher meat. Ask the butcher to trim the thick layer of fat. 
  • How long to roast leg of lamb? For best results follow the recipe for medium roasted lamb or for fall-apart tender lamb (anything in between may be tough). Here is a quick guide for oven roasted lamb leg at 325 degrees F (and remember that with the resting time, the lamb will continue to cook and its internal temperature will rise. The following should be the temps after the lamb has rested): 
    • 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.
    • Fall-Apart Tender Lamb. About 40 minutes per pound or until the internal temp registers 175°F or beyond.
  • This recipe is featured in 25+ Mediterranean Easter Recipes.
  • Storage and freezing instructions: Leftover lamb roast will keep in the fridge for 3 to 4 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 (like paprika and nutmeg).

Nutrition

Calories: 514.5kcalCarbohydrates: 38.1gProtein: 41.5gFat: 22.2gSaturated Fat: 5gPolyunsaturated Fat: 2.4gMonounsaturated Fat: 13.1gCholesterol: 114.3mgSodium: 129.3mgPotassium: 1374.5mgFiber: 6.1gSugar: 3gVitamin A: 628.4IUVitamin C: 51.2mgCalcium: 86.4mgIron: 6.1mg
Tried this recipe?

*This post first appeared on The Mediterranean Dish in 2016 and has been recently updated with new media and information for readers' benefit

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I'm Suzy; born and bred right on the shores of the Mediterranean. I'm all about easy, healthy recipes with big Mediterranean flavors. Three values guide my cooking: eat with the seasons; use whole foods; and above all, share! So happy you're here...
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Comments

  1. 5 stars
    The rub is killer! My roast was only 3.5lbs so I guess that wasnt long enough to get my potatoes and onions cooked. Should the foil have been sealed tightly around the pan? I roasted at 25 minutes per pound and the meat was absolutely perfect! The rub was also perfect. I'm just not sure about the water in the bottom of the pan under the rack, it didn't seem to get hot enough to steam the veggies. I ended up putting the potatoes and onions in the air fryer for about 8 minutes after spraying a little olive oil and adding some more salt and pepper. Delish. Also I used some powdered rosemary in the rub and it was great. Thank you.

  2. 5 stars
    Great recipe!

    One note: the "gaminess" of lamb is affected by the breed of the animal. Sheep with fleece have stronger-tasting fat. I raise Katahdin lambs, which are hair sheep. They have a lovely mild flavor and delicious fat.

    Depending on where you live, you might be able to get locally-raised lamb - be sure to ask what breed you are getting.

  3. I followed the instructions for a 6 lb leg of lamb and it was still red and jiggly after 2 hours even though the thermometer placed in multiple places was 135 degrees. And the potatoes were still hard. The whole family had to wait an extra hour for Easter dinner. I was not happy ;(

  4. 5 stars
    This was labor intensive, but worth it. I had a 4-lb, bone-in leg. I ended up cooking it for three hours covered and a half an hour uncovered. I like rosemary with my lamb, so I made the rub as instructed, but I sprinkled some dried rosemary over the top.

  5. The slow roasted looks delicious but I do have a question. The recipe says to cook it for a total of 5 to 6 hours. The video shows a total of 4 hours. Which is correct?
    Thanks.

    1. Hi, Maryann! This is a tricky questions because it depends on the size of your lamb, and your oven (ovens do vary a bit). If you are cooking a 4-5 lb. lamb, I would start checking for doneness at the 4 hour mark, but be aware it may take longer to cook. Fall apart tender lamb is considered done when its internal temp hits 175 degrees F.

  6. Hi! This recipe looks delicious but I have a question. The two different roasting methods (perfect pink inside versus falling apart) both roast at the same temperature, which makes me think that the longer roasting time will just result in overcooked meat, which usually is not more tender. In other recipes I've used slow roasting usually is at a lower temperature, so I just want to make sure I'm not missing something. Falling apart sounds perfect! Also, in your video, is your roast done using the falling apart cooking time? Thank you!

    1. Hi, Eileen. You're not missing anything. The temp should stay the same, but you want to roast it a good, long time for fall apart tender lamb. In the video (an most often) this is the method Suzy uses. Hope you enjoy it!

  7. 5 stars
    Fantastic as always, I just love cooking and reading everything you write. Tonight it is Mediterranean Leg of Lamb. Thank you Suzy, you are great !!