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24 Dec

Herb Roasted Leg of Lamb

Leg of lamb is a cut of meat especially suited for holiday celebrations. Lamb is comforting and festive, rich and hearty and fills the house with a lingering, savory aroma that will have people hovering around the oven waiting for dinner. Lamb is a nice break from more commonly served meats like beef and pork and it’s agreeable to countless combinations of herbs and spices.

Aromatic herbs are a traditional way to adorn leg of lamb and you really can’t go wrong, no matter what herbs you choose. In this recipe, parsley and rosemary are combined with olive oil, garlic and salt to make a simple but amazing herb paste. Within a few minutes of putting the lamb in to cook, the scent of fresh herbs will be wafting out of the oven, becoming more deliciously intense as the meat cooks. Fresh mint and dill, basil and oregano and sage and parsley are other herb combinations to try. If you want to get more adventurous, open up your spice drawer and season the lamb with a bold blend of dry seasonings:

  • cinnamon, cumin, coriander
  • oregano, paprika, garlic
  • fennel, cardamom and ginger
  • nutmeg, cloves, black pepper

Leg of lamb is sold with the bone or more commonly, boneless. The big advantage of boneless is that it’s really easy to carve and cooks more evenly since the size is slightly more uniform. However, even with a boneless leg of lamb it’s likely that the meat will come out of the oven with different levels of doneness. The edges will be crispy and cooked through to medium and the very middle will be pink and juicy. Yet another reason leg of lamb is perfect for large groups – there will be a slice that suites everyone at the table.

Lamb pairs well with many different sides. Roasted root vegetables, sautéed spinach and sweet potatoes are especially good.

Serves 6-8


  • 5-to-6-pound boneless leg of lamb
  • 6 sprigs fresh parsley, leaves and stems
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary, needles pulled off stems
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt


Bring the lamb out of refrigeration an hour before cooking.

In a food processor, blend parsley, rosemary, olive oil, garlic and salt until herbs are well chopped (you can also just use a sharp knife to finely chop the herbs and garlic.)

Heat the oven to 425º F

Rub the whole leg down really well with the herb mixture. The leg might be held together with netting – it’s easiest to keep this on and rub around it. If the meat isn’t held together with netting, use kitchen twine to secure the meat so it holds together while it cooks.

Put the lamb on a rack over a roasting pan filled with 2 cups of water. For easier clean-up, consider covering the bottom of the roasting pan with foil.

Roast the lamb for 30 minutes then take a peek. If it looks and smells like the meat and/or herb paste is starting to burn, then turn the temperature down to 350 for the remaining cooking time. Otherwise, leave it at 425 F

Let the meat cook 30 more minutes then check the temp of the meat in several places at the thickest part. When the instant-read thermometer reads 125 the meat is rare; 130 for medium rare. When the middle is medium rare, the outer edges of the roast will be medium. Remove the meat from the oven and let it rest 15-20 minutes before carving.

You want comments? We got comments:

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  1. That’s funny – hadn’t had lamb for ages, but just had it for lunch today!

    Suz @ PaleoAustralia wrote on December 24th, 2011
  2. Convenient! I was going to do roast duck but there weren’t any left at the store, so i bought a huge grassfed NZ lamb leg :)

    Nion wrote on December 24th, 2011
  3. Hmm generally I leave my lamb cooking to ground lamb because its easier but this looks intriguing. I have heard lamb is great when cooked properly but twice I tried and failed (different cuts) and its a bit expensive to mess around with so I tend to eat it out at ethnic restaurants.

    EZ wrote on December 24th, 2011
  4. drooling

    Steffo wrote on December 24th, 2011
  5. me too

    Peggy wrote on December 24th, 2011
    • +3!!

      Hopeless Dreamer wrote on December 24th, 2011
  6. Wow this looks really really good. I think the herbs make it!

    Justin wrote on December 24th, 2011
  7. Coincidence! Was just looking up a recipe for our leg of lamb we are making. We are also making a standing rib roast… Yum!! Thanks and Happy Holidays, everyone!

    ObligateCarnivore wrote on December 24th, 2011
  8. I really liked the way you have presented the recipe with nice images and perfect how – to.

    Anyways i am a bad cook so will tell someone else to cook this for me :)

    saumil wrote on December 26th, 2011
  9. It looks delicious!

    Michelle wrote on December 26th, 2011
  10. Where’s the high-carb starches accompanying this more-than-enough juicy piece of meat? :O

    Just kidding 😉

    Félix wrote on December 26th, 2011
  11. This really got my attention! We love lamb and I will be cooking a large next weekend. Lot’s of spices make all the difference:)

    Suzanne wrote on December 26th, 2011
  12. Can anybody recommend a good roasting pan and rack?

    Tom wrote on December 26th, 2011
  13. I just got a big ol’ Australian leg on sale at Giant the other day, what a coinkydink!

    Jules wrote on December 27th, 2011
  14. Yummy, now I am planning to have this for my New Year’s menu

    Gayle wrote on December 28th, 2011
  15. Instructions worked out perfectly. I’m now the proud mama of perfectly roasted hunk o meat. Delicious. For ~5lbs, after the initial 30 minutes at 425º F, it took an additional hour at 350º F. I let the probe thermometer do the timing.

    I use this roasting pan –×13-5×3-75-in-roasting-pan-with-rack/403913 It’s a tad large for smaller pieces like this but it still worked great.

    Thanks for helping me get over my lamb roasting fears, I see a lot more of it in my future eats.

    Kait wrote on December 29th, 2011
  16. This was delicious! We threw the juice of one lemon into the rub, as well, because our little Meyer tree is overly productive. Yum!

    Emily C wrote on January 4th, 2012
  17. Hey, I have a stupid question. Is it safe to keep the netting on while baking? It looks like it’s made of plastic.

    Serenity wrote on April 9th, 2012
    • Most meat nettings are a cotton thread filled with elastic. So yeah, it’s plastic… but it’s covered plastic. I’ve seen a lot of people, especially chefs who really know what they’re doing, recommending to remove that stuff and replace it with organic cooking twine. I’m 50/50 on whether or not I bother. Mostly I just try not to think about it! 😉

      jennyberm wrote on October 24th, 2012
  18. This was unreal. Def gonna make it again

    Jimmy wrote on December 25th, 2013
  19. This is my third time making this and this is the perfect lamb roast recipe. I suggest trimming some fat before rubbing it up. Lambs are faaaaaaaaaat.

    Myr wrote on May 29th, 2015

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