This past Easter, my wife suggested we try something different than what we’ve had every year.
So, we got a whole leg of lamb, bone-in. I watched a video online for how to bone it out, and I did it perfectly on my first try.
You have to make sure you get the musk glands out of it as you bone it. There are 2 of them, so make sure you get both of them.
If not, you are in for some nasty leg of lamb.
Anyway, I boned it out, cooked it in the oven with some Moroccan spices, and it turned out to be our new go to Easter meal from now on. The sweet spices are very aromatic, and the warm spices add a depth of flavor you should not miss.
I did not marinate it in anything other than liberal amounts of EVOO, and salt, black pepper, rosemary, and thyme.
I cooked it with cinnamon, turmeric, nutmeg, a small pinch of cloves, and some Sriracha sauce mixed together.
The results were outstanding & our guests were asking for my recipe.
We will be having this again soon.
Thanks for all the great recipes Elise.
So we are going to have real chef advice/criticism here. I am sure there is a chef that works for this website or consults on things or whatever. The leg of lamb in the picture is on the medium side of medium rare and to be honest it’s just plain medium haha. However i’m sure if you follow this recipe and insert a thermometer in the outer center of the meat it will turn out how you like it. Probably just a tiny error and they went with it for the picture, no biggie. To be honest go ahead and bring that lamb out at 120 degrees and let it rest and it would be fine. You could probably cook it to a 115 internal temp and let it rest and it would work it’s way up close to 120. Different sizes will vary but I think 5 degrees internally is a fairly accurate reading of the carry over heating this size of cut will do. Cooking instructions absolutely right. The one they mentioned at 325 the whole time is outdated and I think they know that. Go ahead and get the outside seared/crusted/basted off. The outside will crisp up because it has a fat cap, and that fat will drip over the meat throughout the cooking process and just make things tasty. Haha I was bored. And thank you website for not putting an awful mint jelly or something with this. Who the hell eats mint jelly that’s under 85? If you like mint jelly sorry i’m not putting you down necessarily, but this is something that came about for meats that were pretty much spoiled or rotten before refrigeration. For whatever reason it just hung on through the years, at mostly bad restaurants. Pretty nice looking crust on the lamb even though its not quite even. Lol i’ll stop.
If I am going to cook two 6 pound boneless legs of lamb can I cook them into he same oven following this recipe?
Hi Whitney, the cooking time will be longer. How much longer I don’t know.
I’m cooking a bone-in leg of lamb (12.6 lbs) for my friends – any idea on how to cook this? everything I see is for boneless (not an option at this point). My friends and I have been reminiscing about leg of lamb that we used to have for Easter. My mom used to make it and unfortunately she has passed and I have no clue!
Hi Stacey, cook it the same way you would cook a boneless leg of lamb, but note that it will take longer to cook through because the bone acts as an insulator. Estimate 12-13 minutes per pound total cooking time, and check at least a half hour before you expect it to be done.
Elise – you have another lamb recipe http://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/grilled_butterflied_leg_of_lamb/ that is also perfection – one way we have done it for smaller portions is to grill half and freeze half with the marinade for later grilling – believe it or not the frozen with marinade version is even better than fresh (or at least as good) – you’ve got lamb down girl!
Orange, navel if available
½ to 1 tsp. lemon juice
1. Mix jellies about a ½ cup currant to ¼ cup mint. Amount need not be exact but keep 2 to 1 ratio of currant to mint.
2. Grate and add rind of the orange and some of the juice
3. Add a little lemon juice to cut sweetness.
Note: We usually make this in a mini Cuisinart but it can be done in a bowl. Keeps forever in refrigerator. This was my mother’s recipe.
Elise, your recipes and pictures are amazing. Thank you for your great work! I’ve never made lamb before and this has inspired me to try it out. I really like the idea of searing the lamb first. I have never heard of that. When I cook ribs I will usually cook them low and slow then sometimes I will turn on the broiler to crisp them up a little at the end. Have you ever tried this with lamb?
Thanks Arthur! Many people have success with the low and slow and sear at the end method with different types of roasts. I haven’t tried it with the lamb, but I’m guessing it would work just fine.
I just finished cooking my lamb. My son is making a Greek yogurt sauce for our Gyros. It’s gonna taste great! Thanks for the recipe.
What does one do with the leftover marinade? (for the person who dose not like to waste). Toast some italian bread and pour lightly over toast and serve with your next meal. You’re in for a lovely surprise. Best wine for this lamb recipe is a chianti,or any wine similar to the chianti. Maybe a 1-or-2. Never a full bodied or robust wine, no white wine either, it would destroy the dish.
Whatever you do with the marinade, make sure you boil it for 10 minutes first. It’s been in contact with raw meat, you want to make sure all the microbes are destroyed before eating. ~Elise
Hello fellow friends of Lamb,
I read a post here from someone who was concerned about the use of wine in the marinade. While Chianti is a great choice for such a dish, I found there were concerns of many who also can no longer drink wine due to personal choice. I found a 12 oz. bottle of white balsamic vinegar works quite well for this marinade as a rich non alcoholic alternative to wine. Again, I plugged the fat cap side with whole garlic cloves (about 40) and seared it on a flat iron cast iron pan and then finished it at 325 in the oven. Instead of a steel rack, I cut large potatoes in half lengthwise and added a traditional large cubed mire-poix to the bottom of a large/deep roasting pan. After cooking, the 1/2 vegetables can be pureed, and then added to the drippings as enrichment your pan style gravy The lamb cooked to 130-140 internal and had a consistent done-ness from med rare to med well across the whole leg. (also mint jelly is a must for this dish)
To Brenna, regarding buying wine:
A few of the cheaper wines sell “individual” bottles, usually can find them at the supermarket, for a buck or two. Really a great way to buy wine for cooking.
Also, there’s alway TwoBuckChuck from TJ’s, which is my go-to for cooking wines, plus the missus keeps it on hand.
To Elise: why not just use a remote probe thermometer, instead of opening the door to check temps? I’m a big smoker (BBQ, that is), and opening the door/cover is a big no-no. Besides the time it takes for temps to recover, it also throws any humidity/moisture right out of the pit/oven.
And I totally agree with pulling lamb at 130°, resting it to 135. But on a big hunk of meat, one needs to pull it out of the fridge at least an hour before cooking.
Hi Dankser, couldn’t agree more regarding the remote probe thermometer. An excellent way to test for temperature without messing up the cooking time because of opening and closing the oven. Also agree on the coming to room temperature point. I’ve adjusted the recipe. Thank you. ~Elise
Cooking time given in recipe is far off! Needs at least another 20-30 min. cook time.
I made curry with leftovers.
chicken broth, greek yogurt, raisins, coconut milk, onions, peppers, curry powder etc.
You need to double that cooking time even for medium-rare.. Roast for 20 min at 450 and then lower to 325 for an additional 20-25 minutes per pound on a boneless.. and 30-35 minutes for bone in..
Don’t have too much cooking experience as the “man of the house” but willing to try something new. Picked up the leg of lamb at the store, follwed the directions (about 95%) – it came out perfect and we had a great dinner! THANKS!
This marinade is phenomenal! I used the recipe exactly as called for, for, except I added 1 extra tablespoon of fresh Rosemary and Thyme. I cooked an 8 lb bone-in leg of lamb JUST as directed. It was my first time to cook lamb, and it was a crowd pleaser served medium rare. Absolutely wonderful and so easy. I marinated the meat overnight to provide the best flavor!
Because of the number of people I’m serving and the cuts available, I am roasting 3 boneless legs that are about 3.25 lb each. Can you tell me what adjustments I should make to the cooking time? Thank you
Hi Christina, your guess is as good as mine. ~Elise
I never buy wine and though I’m not opposed to using it for cooking I have a hard time bringing myself to buy a whole bottle when I’ll only be using a cup. In order to make this recipe do I need to use wine or is there something else I could use instead?
I would just skip the wine and orange juice and use 2 tablespoons of lemon juice and 1/4 cup of olive oil instead. ~Elise
Fourty-four years old and I’d never before eaten lamb. My roommate enjoys lamb chops, so when I came across this recipe I asked her if we (the Royal We, as I’m the cook around here) should try it.
Wow! What a fabulous roast! Perfectly cooked, tender, juicy…
I have to give credit where it’s due: I’m really good at following directions. haha
This recipe is very thorough. It addresses everything. If you follow the recipe, you can not go wrong – and it produces an amazing dish.
My thanks to Elise and Simply Recipes .com.
I’m so glad you liked it Brett!
As we live in Alaska, usually, the only meat we eat is moose, deer and reindeer, all wild organic, and being fishermen, of course we eat wild salmon and halibut. But I recently purchase an organic boneless leg of lamb for a Greek dinner I’m hosting, and am eager to try your marinade and cooking instructions and will serve tzatziki and rosemary roasted small Alaskan red potatoes, along with a Greek Salad. For appetizers, spanikopita. I will let you know how it all turns out. I sure like the convection-type roasting, sounds interesting. Thanks
I did the leg of lamb as described as it sounded great but soon after being placed in the oven as directed, the entire oven began to smoke. We are in full winter in upstate NY so leaving the doors and windows open was not so great.
How do you keep the oven from smoking? From the drip pan?
Try adding a cup of water to the roasting pan (under the rack) so that the dripping fat hits the water. ~Elise
I plan to serve leg o’ lamb for Christmas dinner with friends and family. Question: How do I assess how many pounds to plan to prepare for 14 people? I will have a bone in leg — or two legs?
You might want to plan for two legs and have leftovers. Unless some of your 14 are small children or people who you wouldn’t expect to eat much lamb. ~Elise
Someone above asked about what to do with leftovers… well I’ll share my use for your consideration.
I love leftovers and with my lamb I boil up some extra wide egg noodles and add frozen petite peas with pearl onions at the end so as not to overcook the veggies. I cube the leftover lamb and add it on top of the bed of fresh noodles and drizzle a small amount of leftover gravy. I use Kitchen Bouquet to spice up my gravy and glaze.
This is also a perfect way to prepare a couple of lunch meals to warm up in the Microwave.
As a young man I spent 4 years as a jackaroo on a large sheep station (850,000 acres) in Western Australia.
We ate mutton about 360 days a year and we knew how to cook it.
It was never pink, but never dry or tough.
We carved it across the grain (shorter fibres, more tender).
Thank you so much for your effort.
My stove has only 2 options: bake and broil (hi/low) and don’t have a roast option. How would you suggest me to cook.
Use the “bake” setting. ~Elise
I cooked a boneless leg of lamb this past weekend and first marinated it in hard apple cider, balsamic vinegar, and lemon juice with freshly chopped rosemary, italian herbs, and garlic. The roast came out medium to medium-well at a set temp of 145 so I would reduce that by 5 next time to have it a bit more rare.
I made a red wine gravy with the reduced marinade and beer which was perfect as a gravy on the side, but which was a bit too intense for the kids. Served it with roasted new potatoes and green salad.
I see how everyone would miss this small but important part but about the smoke filled kitchens…it says to put a cup or so of water in the pan so it doesn’t smoke up the kitchen. I’m trying it now and so far no smoke.
Hi Margie – I only recently added that note, to add some water to the pan. Glad to know that it’s working for you! ~Elise
I grew up with a 100% Irish mom who roasted lamb at every special opportunity she had. Her method was to slice lots of garlic and take a paring knife, poke holes everywhere and stuff garlic slices in the holes. Then she would rub the outside with Olive oil, and very lightly salt. She always baked it in a roasting pan, starting with an inch of water. In the roasting pan she placed well washed potatoes in their skin and then very slowly baked it for a few hours. There was never pink Lamb meat at our house. The potatoes were always delightful with the lamb fat crisping the skins and the faint hint of garlic. Thanks for your ideas and recipe – I was wondering how the “rest of the world” cooked their Easter lamb!
First time trying to roast a leg of lamb. Same comment as Mary above–kitchen filled with smoke from the dripping fat! Yikes seemed like a big disaster. Now have a fan going and the back door open to clear the smoke. Just turned the temp down to 300, will check in a minute, if still smoking will put it into a pan. Not sure how this would not smoke up any kitchen.
Can I get a boneless lamb shoulder instead of leg? Can I just get any white wine for the marinade part? as I saw some comment here mention not to use white wine as it will spoiled the dish.
I suggest that you check out the recipes for lamb shoulder roast in Food Blog Search for some ideas on how to roast lamb shoulder. As for cooking with wine, you should always use a wine that you like to drink. If you don’t usually drink wine, you can’t go wrong with a New Zealand sauvignon blanc. ~Elise
I just made this earlier today and it was awesome! Thanks for the recipe – everyone in my family loved it!
Tried this method but got overwhelmed by the smoke created by the dripping fat. I had to switch the roast into the pan and take the battery out of the smoke alarm in order to finish. I like this method for roast beef, but the lamb had too much dripping fat.
Thanks a lot. Just used this recipe for my first Christmas dinner as a divorced bachelor with my kids. Ground up some clementines as I didn’t have oranges or orange juice. It was great! The 10-12 mins per pound didn’t work for me but it could certainly have been the oven. Thanks again!
Out of curiosity why the chianti as a wine? would a merlot be too much, what happens to the flavor of the dish with a full bodied red?
Thank you for the great recipe! My lamb-abilities stink! I am practicing for a Christmas party. It’s cooking, after marinating for 24 hours in your scrumptious marinade. I ALWAYS overcook lamb, so that’s my challenge here.
One question: Is there a version of your recipe for convection ovens? I am cooking it with the methods you suggest, mimicking convection styles.
Typically when you are cooking using the “convection” setting of your oven, you need to lower the temperature by 25°F and expect that whatever it is you are cooking will be done in a shorter time period. For this recipe I do not have a time guideline for convection. I would just use a very good meat thermometer and keep my eye on it. ~Elise
I have made leg of lamb many times, I use my father’s recipe. What I do is this:
When I get my lamb I get it deboned. I then take garlic, rosemary, and thyme I then chop up the garlic(very) fine and mix all together. I then cut holes into the lamb,
Then I poor it all over the lamb and rub it in with extra virgin olive oil. I put a medium sized potato in the corner of the baking dish, with water about half way up the lamb. At the same time the lamb is cooking the potatoes are roasting. I cover it with tin foil and cook it at 350 f for 30 to 40 minutes depending on how I want it, medium to rare. It’s a old family recipe passed down from daughter to daughter.
I checked out this recipe, cuz I couldn’t remember cooking times.
Here’s an experiment I tried out of the blue, as my cooking is very much on-the-fly, gonzo-style like my mamma taught me:
I boned the lamb. Then I made a schmear in my mortar & pestle of:
• Fresh, wild, rosemary that grows on the slopes behind my house in Spain, that I got tonight on my dog walkies.
• Lots of garlic
• A big glug of extra virgin olive oil. Hey, I live where they grow it, so I use E.V. for normal cooking.
Then I rubbed in 1/2 of the schmear, inside and out, and let it sit for a while.
But for inside, left behind by the boning, I chopped up a whole bunch of fresh mint and mixed this in with the remainder of the schmear. This, I stuffed into the inside, and bound the openings closed with some kabob sticks.
Rather than use a rack, I placed the bones on the bottom of a roasting dish and set the stuffed leg on top… cooked bones make exceptional stock!
Then I bunged in some onions, potatoes and carrots and then went by your cooking times.
The whole house is filled with lamby-minty cooking smells. Yum.
Wow. This was my first roast of any kind and since ours was smaller we cooked it for less time, and we skipped the plastic bag, just using the ceramic baking dish for the marinade over night and the cooking. Wow. It was so good! My toddler even wolfed it down. That’s a serious endorsement. Thanks for the advice. I came out looking like a pro. We served it over a big green salad dressed with olive oil, balsamic, garlic minced and salt since it was a pretty heavy dish for us. And finished it off with anis tea for dessert.
This was the first recipe I tried from your site but it will not be the last. Excellent! My friends and family were still talking about the entire dinner the next day. (Roasted potatoes, roasted carrots, and steamed garden-fresh green beans. Using two ovens, of course.) For dessert I made the snickerdoodle cookies. these were also a big hit.
P.S. I thought the cleanup was actually easier than when you roast the lamb in the pan.
If you have a whole leg of lamb frozen and cannot use it all, thaw the lamb, cut off that which you will not use immediately. I always cut some into stew size pieces. While the lamb is roasting I make the stew and sometimes also make true shepherd’s pie which is made with lamb, not beef. (hence the name shepherd’s pie). Once these are made you can put them into dinner size containers and have easy comfort meals on cold winter nights. You don’t have to make these things the same day. Just refrigerate and make them within two days of thawing. Goood luck.
Did you trim the roast of excess fat? Or did you just roast it as is?
As is. As with prime rib, you want that fat or the roast will get dried out. You can trim it off from individual servings after it is served. ~Elise
This recipe was great!! I used the leftover lamb for sandwiches, and instead of mayo, etc., I made a cucumber/yogurt sauce with fresh mint, garlic and lemon juice. This sauce with thinly sliced leftover lamb and fresh tomatoes on a crusty roll made it a great winter treat!! Thanks for the marinades and recipe.
I am going to make the leg of lamb recipe for my husband and mother in law for easter dinner- I am starting with a blue cheese and pear salad( romaine lettuce, red onion,sliced pears, blue cheese, candied pecans in a light dressing) I am having baked potatoes and steamed broccoli and carrots. I am finishing the meal with an orange trifle. I cant wait for everyone to try the lamb. Thanks for the recipe
Delightful recipe…I was looking for an Easter recipe, one that I thought I could use and then keep warm for 2-3 hours in a crock pot. I’m salivating at the prospect (my kids don’t like lamb and I don’t get many opportunities to enjoy it!) Many thanks.
I recently had dinner at a friends’ house. She rubbed a boneless skinless leg of lamb (about 2lbs) with a mixture of crushed rosemary & kosher salt, and roasted in the oven on an olive oil slathered baking sheet – she served cubed caramelized butternut squash, and flash sauteed brussels sprouts with pecans & brown butter. I am unsure if it was the marvelous champagne before dinner, the exquisite cabernet with dinner, or she is simply a magician, but I’ve never tasted such a delectable meal that was sooo simple! I’m going to try it tomorrow night with 2 2lb lamb roasts, but I’ll be serving roasted red potatoes, a salad with cranberries & walnuts with a cherry poppyseed dressing, and baklava for dessert. I was thinking about serving a Rioja instead of a traditional cab – any comments about this? Thanks!
I like to make a lamb curry with the leftovers. I simply make an Indian-style tomato base sauce and add the lamb, raisens, cashews and a touch of cream at the end to make a delicious curry. Serve over rice and watch it disappear before your eyes!!
This looks wonderful! Lamb dishes always make me think of spring.
One suggestion: Instead of 1/2 cup of orange juice, try substituting 1/4 cup of Blood Orange Vinegar. I know it’s an obscure ingredient, but you won’t believe the rich, complex orange flavors it brings to a dish. You’ll have no trouble using the rest of the bottle other marinades, salad dressings and sauces.
Also, great tip on not including salt in the marinade.
Used above marinade & instructions for yesterday’s Easter dinner — spectacular meal! Oven thermometer and meat thermometer are essential tools. Served lamb with roasted new potatoes, stirfried asparagus (olive oil & Kosher salt), lamb gravy, red wine & rolls preceeded with fresh spinach salad (spinach, purple onion, sliced strawberries, sliced almonds & poppyseed dressing)and finished with strawberry shortcake (brush angel food slices with butter & brown in the oven, top with vanilla icecream while cake is hot, then add berries & fresh whipped cream). Easy dinner with rave reviews!
What did you end up having for side dishes beyond the mint jelly? We are going down to the NYC for the weekend, however, my wife just invited her cousin over for Easter dinner on Sunday and I’m now scrambling for ideas as to what to cook in a shorter amount of time as I won’t have all day to cook and this super yummers.
Hi Jeff, a favorite side is scalloped potatoes with caramelized onions and gruyere. Roasted new potatoes would also be great.
What I did with the above roast is I cooked it, and then cut of 2/3 of it and brought it to a dear friend of mine who is a teacher with 3 kids and who is in the middle of moving. One third of it stayed with my folks who had plenty and enough for leftovers, and the rest was enjoyed by a somewhat overwhelmed-at-the-moment family.
In your case, given that the roast is already frozen, it would be very hard to divide it in half without defrosting it. You could defrost it, divide in in half and use one half for stew meat, and then just cook a 2 lb roast. I would probably just roast the whole thing and eat roast-lamb sandwiches for lunch for a few days.
I am sure this group of lamb lovers can help me with my wonderful problem!
I have a 4lb boneless organic leg of lamb in the freezer. There is no occasion in the forseeable future when I would have the need for the whole roast.
What I need is to eat that great piece of meat!
As I see it, my choices are 1)to roast the entire piece and hope for suggestions from you as to re-cycling the leftovers.
The 2) choice is to divide it and roast one half.
Then the other half could be stew. Or again, suggestions from you.
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