Leg of Lamb
This Leg of Lamb is roasted in the oven using the reverse sear method, resulting in the most perfectly cooked meat. I love making this for holidays like Easter and special dinners, along with a side of Roasted Carrots!
Much like my Prime Rib, this is the most epic way I know for making Leg of Lamb, and it’s all thanks to the reverse sear.
The lamb is cooked low and slow in a gentle oven, then rests briefly before being blasted in a hot oven for a few minutes to brown the outside. This is extra nice because it allows you to finish prepping your sides like Saffron Rice, Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes or Potato Gratin while you’re waiting.
Why Reverse Searing in the Oven Is So Great
This method makes for an evenly tender and pinkish interior all the way to the edges, while still having a well-browned exterior.
That means no gray, overcooked edges on the meat, like with many other methods.
Besides this being the best way to cook this cut, what’s also great is you can serve the lamb right away, hot out of the oven, because you have that resting period done already.
No juices spilling out when slicing, and the meat is still warm!
How to Make Leg of Lamb:
As a summary, we rub the lamb with an herb black pepper mixture, then roast in a low oven for 90 minutes, rest it for 30 minutes, then blast it at high heat for 5 minutes to brown the outside. That’s it!
Make the Herb Black Pepper Coating
In a small bowl, combine ghee, fresh chopped rosemary, fresh thyme leaves, freshly ground black pepper, and salt:
Ghee is superior to olive oil here, and it’s always my go-to choice for high heat roasted meats.
It has a neutral flavor, a very high smoke point, and a great consistency for slathering on the meat and holding all the seasoning evenly in place.
And that’s right, NO garlic
You may also notice there’s no garlic here, and believe me, I love garlic! But it’s not a good ingredient here. It tends to burn in the oven and when I tested this version with garlic, I found the strength of the flavor to be a bit offensive. Don’t be tempted to add garlic to this recipe.
Place the leg of lamb on a sheet pan with a wire rack set inside, blot as much moisture away as you can with a paper towel, then scrape the herb paste onto the meat:
Spread to Coat
Spread the paste out evenly using a spatula or your hands. Make sure to get it all over the underside too, though I do like to concentrate more of it on top.
You may notice that I’m using a Frenched Leg of Lamb here, meaning the bone at the end has been prepared so that the meat is cut away and the bone is exposed.
A lot of time you buy it already like this from the store, but I have a quick visual guide for How to French a Leg of Lamb if you would like to do it yourself. It only takes a minute, and I love the presentation.
Let the Lamb Sit at Room Temperature for an Hour
Before cooking any meat, I like to rest it at room temperature. It really does make a big difference in juiciness. Let the lamb sit uncovered for one hour:
Roast the Leg of Lamb at a Low Temperature to Start
Next, place the lamb in a 250F oven for anywhere from an hour and a half to two hours:
There are more notes on this in the recipe box below, but unlike my Prime Rib or Rack of Lamb, I don’t like leg of lamb cooked too rare. I think it tastes better more on the medium well side, so I go closer to the two hour mark and aim for an internal temperature of about 135F.
Rest, Then Blast with High Heat for 5 Minutes
Let the lamb rest at room temperature for 30 minutes, then place it in a 500F oven for 5 minutes.
When you look at the photo below compared to the one above, you can see that it browns significantly during this short period.
I recommend turning on the oven light and watching the meat so you can call it when it’s done, especially since things can get smoky (it’s worth it though).
You’ll see the skin popping up and sputtering like bacon in a skillet, and the outside will brown considerably.
Slice and Serve Right Away
As I mention above, part of the gloriousness of this method is you can slice and serve right away, since you already rested the meat!
I don’t have a particular method for carving (I just stagger the angle as I go to avoid the bone), but there are many videos online like this one that show how to carve, if you want something more outlined.
Braised Lamb Shanks are another great lamb dish worthy of the holidays, and I also love Beef Wellington. Enjoy!
Recipe FAQ and Tips:
Storing leftovers: I will be honest that leftover lamb is not my favorite, even as someone who loves leftovers. Lamb is already a funky meat and it gets more funky in the fridge. But, it is decent if you re-warm in the oven. Store the lamb either sliced or as a whole piece in an airtight container, so it doesn’t dry out, for 3 days.
Reheating: Wrap the lamb in aluminum foil and place in a 250F oven for about 20-30 minutes, until the meat is warm through to the center. I do not recommend microwaving leftover lamb, but if you must, do 50% power and reheat it gently.
Herb Variations: You can switch up the herbs you put on the outside. You can try oregano, and add some lemon zest for a different flavor profile. As stated above, I don’t recommend garlic.
Freezing: Lamb, like most meats, freezes well. Store in an airtight container for up to 2 months.
More Favorite Meats
Leg of Lamb
- 5 lb bone-in leg of lamb (I used grass fed)*
- 1/4 cup ghee
- 2 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary leaves
- 1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
- 1 tbsp freshly ground black pepper
- 4 tsp kosher salt
- Set a wire rack inside of a half sheet pan.
- If you prefer the presentation, French the bone on the lamb (see my visual guide for How to French a Leg of Lamb.
- In a small bowl, stir to combine the ghee, rosemary, thyme, black pepper, and salt.
- Rub this mixture all over the leg of lamb, making sure to get the underside of the meat. Let the lamb sit at room temperature uncovered for one hour, but plan to preheat the oven to 250F about 15 minutes before the hour is up.
- Place the lamb in the oven and cook for 90 minutes to 2 hours, depending on desired doneness. I recommend checking it at 90 minutes to see where it's at, and it should be rare at this point and around 120-125F. I prefer a more medium to medium well lamb, and like to take it to 135F. Just keep in mind that the temperature will come up slightly from resting and from the high heat cooking at the end, so shoot for 5 degrees below your target doneness.
- When the internal temperature has reached 135F, let the lamb rest for 30 minutes at room temperature. Increase the oven temperature to as high as it will go, ideally 500F. And if you have a convection feature on your oven, turn that on too.
- Place the lamb back in the oven for about 5 minutes, to brown the exterior. Turn the oven light on and watch through the glass, to ensure the outside doesn't get too brown (and to make sure things don't get too smoky). The lamb is ready when you can see the skin popping off and sputtering like bacon in a skillet.
- Remove the lamb, then slice and serve right away. No need to rest again. Enjoy!
Nutrition is estimated using a food database and is only intended to be used as a guideline for informational purposes.