Roasted Bone-In Leg of Lamb

PrimalA bone-in leg of lamb is a cut of meat that’s the perfect choice for a formal holiday table or a casual backyard dinner. Slather a marinade on the outside, roast the leg slowly for a few hours then crank up the heat to crisp up the outside. It doesn’t matter what you serve on the side, because the leg of lamb will get all the attention.

Of course there are health benefits that make lamb a good choice—all 8 essential amino acids, B vitamins, niacin, zinc, iron and conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) to name a few – but that’s not what most people are thinking when they look at a bone-in leg of lamb. What they’re thinking is, “Now that is an impressive cut of meat!”

The variation in shape—thick on one end, thin on the other with a bone sticking out—is what makes a leg of lamb such an eye-catching centerpiece. The shape also results in meat that cooks differently, ranging from rare to medium well. Luckily, such a large cut of meat requires a large group of people to eat it, and everyone will have at least one part of the leg that’s cooked exactly to their liking.

Servings: 8

Time in the Kitchen: 25 minutes of hands-on cooking, plus approximately 9 hours to marinate and bring back up to room temperature, and 2 hours to cook.


raw meat

  • 6 to 8 pound bone-in leg of lamb (2.7 to 3.6 kg)
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil (120 ml)
  • Juice from 1 lemon
  • 8 garlic cloves
  • 1 cup loosely packed parsley leaves (240 ml)
  • 2 tablespoons smoked paprika (30 ml)
  • 2 teaspoons coriander (10 ml)
  • 1 teaspoon cumin (5 ml)
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon kosher salt (15 ml + 5 ml)


First, prepare the lamb:

  • A thin to medium layer of fat around the meat is desirable because fat, as we all know, gives meat flavor. But go ahead and trim down any really thick areas of fat, since too much lamb fat can make the meat overly gamey and greasy.
  • If there is flesh covering the end of the long shank bone, scrape it off with a knife to reveal the bone.
  • Use the tip of a knife to make a dozen or so slashes in the meat, about 1 inch long and 1/2-inch deep, so the marinade can penetrate better.

Pulse the olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, parsley, paprika, coriander, cumin and salt in a food processor until the garlic is very finely chopped. Drape two long pieces of plastic wrap over a large container that will fit the leg of lamb. Set the lamb on the plastic wrap. Rub the marinade all over the meat, letting the plastic wrap catch any drips, then wrap the meat tightly and marinate overnight in the refrigerator.

Remove the lamb from the refrigerator. Blot the meat dry. Let the meat come up to room temperature (45 minutes to 1 hour).

Preheat oven to 325 °F/163 °C.

Place the lamb, fatty side up, on a rack in a roasting pan. Pour 2 cups of water in the bottom of the pan. Roast until a meat thermometer inserted into thickest part of flesh reads 130 °F/54 °C, about 2 1/2 hours, although the cooking time can vary so start checking the temperature after 1 1/2 hours.

cooking meat

Turn the broiler on; broil until that fatty surface is sizzling and crisp, about 5 minutes. If the meat begins to burn, it’s too close to the broiler.

Remove the leg of lamb from the oven and let rest for 20 minutes before carving.

leg of lamb 2

About the Author

If you'd like to add an avatar to all of your comments click here!

13 thoughts on “Roasted Bone-In Leg of Lamb”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. Yes, moar recipes like this. I look forward to trying this one out.

  2. Being in the industry, I raise, kill and butcher my own.
    Like the vast majority of Australian sheep, they are raised on grass, only being supplemented with grain during droughts when feed quality is reduced. The grain is grown on the same property, from the same soils.

    However I don’t kill Lambs for my own use..
    Partly because I am lazy, and it takes the same effort to butcher a 150lb animal as it does a 100lb. Partly because the older sheep have more flavour, although Lamb is generally regarded as the premium product..

    Don’t restrict yourself to just lamb. If you are able to find “Hogget”, that is what we call a young sheep of between one and two years of age and which has its first two adult teeth. (For those who don’t know, sheep shed their juvenile teeth and grow an adult set progressively.)

    Living on my own, it takes a few days to eat through a whole roast. Hot, cold, and when I grow tired of that, diced and curried.

    Cheers…… Peter.

    1. I love a good, slow-cooked mutton stew, with lots of onion and paprika!

    2. I prefer the Frenched hogget rib roast. Why don’t they import hogget or yearling lamb to the states? I always ask for it but I never came across an American butcher that did not tilt his head like a dog at the word Hogget.

  3. My family is so lucky that my mum raises her own sheep. We nearly always have lamb joints at family occasions and it wasn’t hard to develop a taste for the gamey, greasy full flavoured older sheep. Garlic takes it to a whole new level!

    The best thing about paleo is feeling good about tucking into meats like these, knowing that the deliciousness represents a sheep that had a good life and is passing on wonderful nutrition to us.

  4. It doesn’t get more primal then that; just the looks of it…. Yummy

  5. I love the smell of roast lamb.
    I cook it on a Weber bbq, it comes out so moist and delicous. Add some sweet potato, parsnips, carrots, and peas, some gravy, and you have a beautiful Sunday roast.

  6. Here’s an idea: fecal transplants via rectal suppository. Do trials first and publish the results. You could have various blends from well known healthy donors such as Mark and famous sports stars. The fitter the donor, the higher the price.

  7. This looks delicious. I’m so tempted to give it a try but have never cared much for lamb. It always has a odd lamb flavor and I just don’t care for it. This might be the one to convert me.

  8. Thanks so much for this recipe! It looks delicious and I’ve been craving lamb for a while, but I wasn’t sure how to prepare it.

    PS. If you have any advice on preparing roasted duck, then I’d love to see that post soon, as well!

    Thanks again!

  9. Suggestion: after the leg is done, remove it from the oven while the oven gets up to temp for the sear. Then sear it, slice it and serve it right away, because it’s already rested. Also, using “bake” instead of “broil” results in a more even sear. Lastly, if you don’t want a mix of rare to medium-well, drop the temperature and cook it longer. E.g., ~200 degrees for medium-rare throughout.