Lamb recipes are an often overlooked choice for the holidays, but it’s one of our family’s favorites! If you want to give a Roast Leg of Lamb a try (perfect for a special occasion) this recipe is absolutely fool-proof!
Roast Leg of Lamb Recipe
My dad can be a bit of a homebody, but there is one surefire way to get him over to our house.
Tell him we’re cooking lamb.
Lamb is such a special treat, but so many people have not had the pleasure of enjoying perfectly cooked, succulent lamb… without that nasty mint sauce!
If you’ve only ever known lamb served with that florescent green jelly, this recipe is going to be a revelation for you in how lamb is supposed to taste. It only takes 5 minutes to prepare this recipe, yet the flavor will make it seem like you’ve been in the kitchen all day!
However, if you’re not ready to splurge of a whole leg of lamb, this recipe can be made using lamb chops (just be sure to sear them before baking) or you can try out one of our other lamb recipes to test the waters, like our Lamb Shepard’s Pie or our Lamb Burgers with Caramelized Onions and Feta.
Leg of Lamb Cooking Time
Unlike beef, lamb should never, ever be cooked until brown throughout – that is a surefire way to tell that it is overcooked.
Lamb should be still pink when you cut into it and an inserted meat thermometer should read at least 145ºF.
And YES, I highly recommend a good meat thermometer for cooking lamb, or any kind of meat, really. I use my thermapen daily and have never had to replace the battery in 4 years of use. Just clean when done and return to the drawer.
The exact cooking time is going to depend on a couple of things – whether you let the lamb come to room temperature before cooking, how big your leg of lamb is, whether the lamb was ever frozen, etc. However, a 5lb bone-in leg of lamb will take approximately 1 1/2 to 2 hours to cook. (The average leg of lamb you will find in a grocery store will be 5-7lbs.)
(By the way, the difference between bone-in leg of lamb and boneless comes down to a couple things: bone-in is going to be a lot cheaper and it’s going to have more moisture. However, it may take a bit longer to cook. you can also save those bones and make a delicious homemade stock afterwards. Yum!)
For best results, you want to let the lamb come to room temperature for about an hour before cooking. You can include preparation time within that hour.
Give yourself extra time – you can always keep the leg of lamb warm on the lowest setting of your oven if it is fully cooked before you are ready to serve. (And if it does end up taking a bit longer than you anticipated, chop up some veggies or fruit and set them out with dip to keep the kids happy as the lamb finishes up.)
|Lamb Leg, bone in||5 to 7 lbs.||Roast 325°||20 to 25 min./lb.||Medium rare 145°|
|25 to 30 min./lb.||Medium 160°|
|30 to 35 min./lb.||Well done 170°|
|7 to 9 lbs.||Roast 325°||15 to 20 min./lb.||Medium rare 145°|
|20 to 25 min./lb||Medium 160°|
|25 to 30 min./lb.||Well done 170°|
To check the lamb’s temperature, insert a meat thermometer into the thickest part of the lamb. You will want to take the lamb out of the oven once it’s about 5ºF from your desired temperature, as it will continue to cook while resting.
How to Score Leg of Lamb
Like with our our roasted duck recipe, I scored the meat on this Garlic and Herb Roast Leg of Lamb for a couple of reasons:
- Leg of lamb can be a bit fatty, so scoring the fat/skin of the lamb will allow some of that fat to cook out while steal ensuring a juicy, succulent meal
- Scoring the meat also allows the marinade flavors to be absorbed into the meat, especially if scored and marinaded overnight (however lamb doesn’t need marinating as it’s already incredibly tender so don’t worry about prepping that far ahead for this recipe)
You do not need to make a deep cut to score meat, just 1/4″ into the meat will do.
Use a sharp knife to cut across the meat one way, and then making perpendicular (criss-cross) cuts the other way. Then season as desired.
Those scores also are great for nestling herbs and slices of garlic for even more flavor.
What to Serve with Lamb
I roasted our leg of lamb with mini potatoes and jewel-colored beets, but you can serve lamb with plenty of different side dishes, such as:
- Creamy Potato Pea Salad
- Garlic Parmesan Risotto from Kylee Cooks
- Irish Colcannon Mashed Potatoes
- Roasted Potatoes with Garlic and Rosemary
- Roasted Carrots with Fresh Rosemary from Salty Side Dish
- Honey Roasted Carrots from Sizzle and Salt
- Skillet Roasted Asparagus with Lemon, Garlic and Rosemary from Kylee Cooks
Garlic Roasted Leg of Lamb Ingredients
- Leg of lamb
- Olive oil – you don’t need to use expensive Extra Virgin Olive Oil if the oil will be going in the oven (save that for salads and finishing dishes)
- Butter – using a combination of butter and olive oil helps reduce olive oil’s smoking point, plus the triple fat of the butter, olive oil and lamb fat combine beautifully
- Garlic cloves, crushed – minced will burn in this recipe, so opt for whole cloves
- Italian seasoning
- Mini potatoes, halved – swap out the potatoes and beets for your chosen vegetable pairing
- Small beets, quartered
- Salt and pepper, as needed
Scroll down to the printable recipe card for full measurements.
Tip: swap out the Italian seasoning for Greek, if you prefer.
Kitchen Tools You May Find Helpful
- Sharp kitchen knife – this one is on my Amazon wishlist, so pretty!
- Measuring cups and spoons
- Sheet pan
- Pastry brush – I like that these ones are solid pieces, no removable brush heads for bacteria to get trapped in
- Microwave-safe bowl
- Meat thermometer
How to Roast a Leg of Lamb
Preheat oven to 400ºF
In a small pan or microwave-safe bowl, combine the crushed garlic, olive oil, butter and Italian seasoning. Heat until the butter is melted.
Place the lamb on a clean cookie sheet.
Score the leg of lamb using a sharp knife. Cut across the meat one way, and then making perpendicular (criss-cross) cuts the other way, as shown.
Brush the oil-butter mixture all over the lamb, ensuring to get lots of the marinade into the cuts. You can also wedge the crushed garlic into these cuts to infuse the meat with incredible flavor.
Place the leg of lamb in your preheated oven. The total cook time will be 1 1/2 hours to 2 hours, until an inserted thermometer reads at least 145ºF for medium rare (keeping in mind, the lamb’s temperature will raise a few degrees while resting). However, if you are also roasted potatoes and beets as I did, you will remove the lamb at the 45 minute mark to add the vegetables.
Chop the vegetables as desired, and then toss with additional oil and Italian seasoning.
Spread out evenly on the cookie sheet and return to the oven.
When the roast leg of lamb is done cooking, cover with tinfoil and let rest for 5-10 minutes before cutting into it to serve.
NOTE: If you’d like a crispier skin than what is shown in my pictures, you can broil the lamb for the last few minutes of cooking.
Grab your free printable for our best leg of lamb recipe:
NOTE: If you'd like a crispier skin than what is shown in my pictures, you can broil the lamb for the last few minutes of cooking. Sugar, Spice and Glitter uses an auto-generate nutrition calculator. Nutrition information isn’t always accurate unless analyzed in a scientific lab, so these should be considered more of a guideline than medical information.
Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 1384Total Fat: 87gSaturated Fat: 36gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 44gCholesterol: 472mgSodium: 376mgCarbohydrates: 10gFiber: 1gSugar: 2gProtein: 130g
NOTE: If you'd like a crispier skin than what is shown in my pictures, you can broil the lamb for the last few minutes of cooking.
Sugar, Spice and Glitter uses an auto-generate nutrition calculator. Nutrition information isn’t always accurate unless analyzed in a scientific lab, so these should be considered more of a guideline than medical information.
This roast leg of lamb is a perfect main course for Easter, Christmas, or just a special Sunday supper – and it’s shockingly easy to make! Everyone will think you put in hours of effort, but it only takes 5 minutes.