An easy recipe for roasted leg of lamb. Rub with olive oil and spices, then cook in the oven to medium-rare. The result is tender, juicy and flavorful!
Lamb is by far my favorite meat. Especially New Zealand or Australian lamb, which tends to be relatively lean, gamey and very, very flavorful.
When I want to roast a big piece of meat, for a holiday or for a large gathering, my two most common choices are either this recipe or ribeye roast.
The ingredients you’ll need
You’ll only need a few simple ingredients to make this tasty leg of lamb recipe. The exact measurements are included in the recipe card below. Here’s an overview of what you’ll need:
Olive oil: This is my favorite oil to cook with and it goes amazingly well with lamb. But if you’d rather use an oil with a higher smoke point, you can use avocado oil instead.
Minced garlic: Mince it yourself, or use the stuff that comes in a jar.
Kosher salt and black pepper: If using fine salt, you should reduce the amount you use, or the dish could end up too salty.
Spices: Dried rosemary and dried thyme. Make sure they are fresh! A stale spice can easily ruin a dish.
Leg of lamb: I typically use a 4 lb. bone-in leg.
How to roast a leg of lamb
It’s surprisingly easy! Scroll down to the recipe card for the detailed instructions. Here are the basic steps:
In a small bowl, mix together the olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper, rosemary, and thyme.
Rub the mixture all over the lamb. Place the meat in a roasting pan on a greased rack. Let it rest at room temperature for one hour.
Preheat your oven to 425 degrees F. Roast the lamb for 15 minutes in the 425-degree oven.
Lower the oven temperature to 375 degrees F and continue roasting until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest part and not touching the bone registers 135 degrees F for medium-rare. This should take about 1 hour and 20 minutes.
Remove the lamb from the oven, cover loosely with foil and allow to rest for 15 minutes before carving.
Roasting is the best method
This cut of meat has a wonderful fat cap and cooking it in the oven browns it nicely.
Sure, you could use a slow cooker. But in my opinion, it won’t be as good. The fat cap won’t brown, and the lean meat can easily dry out during the prolonged cooking.
Do you sear a leg of lamb before roasting?
You could, but it’s really not a fun thing to do and I don’t think it’s necessary. You can achieve a similar result by roasting it briefly at a high temperature, then lowering the heat and continuing to roast until the meat is cooked.
Medium-rare is best
You really want to make sure that the meat stays medium-rare (although the USDA says you should cook roasts to medium). Any more than that and it becomes dry and tough and loses much of its flavor. So it’s best to use a meat thermometer when roasting.
Let it rest before slicing
As with all roasts, it’s important to allow the meat to rest for at least 15 minutes before slicing it. You want to give the juices a chance to settle and redistribute before you cut into the meat. There’s nothing more depressing to a foodie than cutting into a juicy piece of meat and watching all the yummy juices escape onto the cutting board.
What side dishes go with a roasted leg of lamb?
Any side dish, really. It’s a very versatile dish. I often serve it with one or two of the following side dishes:
What about leftovers?
You can keep leftovers in the fridge, in a sealed container, for up to 4 days. They are very good when gently reheated in the microwave, covered, on 50% power.
But make sure you don’t overcook them in the microwave or they’ll become dry and inedible. I also love eating cold slices of leftover roasted leg of lamb with homemade quick pickles.
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Roasted Leg of Lamb
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
- 4 lb. Bone-in leg of lamb
- In a small bowl, mix together the olive oil, garlic, salt, rosemary, thyme and black pepper.
- Rub the olive oil mixture all over the leg of lamb. Place the leg of lamb, flat side down, in a roasting pan on a greased rack. Allow to rest on the counter, at room temperature, for 1 hour.
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
- Roast the lamb for 15 minutes in the 425 degree oven.
- Lower the oven temperature to 375 degrees F and continue roasting 1 hour and 20 minutes (about 20 minutes per pound), or until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the leg and not touching the bone registers 135 degrees F for medium-rare.
- Remove the lamb from the oven, cover loosely with foil and allow to rest for 15 minutes before carving. Once you're done carving the lamb, don't discard the tasty bone – use it to make rich, flavorful bone broth.