Roast Leg of Lamb

February  6, 2015
Photo by Mark Weinberg
Author Notes

Leg of lamb is wonderfully versatile -- it can be cubed and used for stew, braised, or simply roasted. Because it’s a well-exercised muscle, it also gets a good deal of blood flow; this means that it is one of the most flavorful cuts on the animal. Like beef, lamb doesn’t need to be cooked all the way through, and is best at a rosy medium-rare (135 to 140° F, when finished). Here, we’re rubbing it with lemons, garlic, and a spice mixture of coriander, cayenne, cumin, smoked paprika, and sumac -- then roasting it to perfection. —Cara Nicoletti

  • Serves 8 to 10
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/3 cup lemon juice
  • 7 garlic cloves
  • 1 teaspoon coriander
  • 2 teaspoons sumac
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
  • 2 tablespoons smoked paprika
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • one 4 ½ to 5-pound bone in leg of lamb
In This Recipe
  1. Pulse everything save for the lamb in a food processor until a paste forms. Rub it all over the leg of lamb, wrap it tightly in plastic, and allow it to marinate overnight.
  2. The next day, remove the lamb from the fridge and wipe excess marinade off. Place it in a deep roasting pan and allow it to sit out of the fridge for about 45 minutes to bring it up to room temperature.
  3. While it rests, heat your oven to 450° F.
  4. Roast the lamb for 15 minutes, then drop the temperature down to 325° F and roast until a meat thermometer reads 135 to 140°, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
  5. Transfer lamb to a cutting board and tent it with foil. Allow it to rest for 20 minutes before carving.

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Cara Nicoletti is a butcher and writer living in Brooklyn, New York. Cara started working in restaurants when she moved to New York in 2004, and was a baker and pastry chef for several years before following in her grandfather and great-grandfathers' footsteps and becoming a butcher. She is the writer behind the literary recipe blog,, and author of Voracious, which will be published by Little, Brown in 2015. She is currently a whole-animal butcher and sausage-making teacher at The Meat Hook in Williamsburg.