This easy, forgiving, Leg of lamb recipe is roasted low and slow until pull-off-the-bone tender, served with garlic and rosemary infused gravy.
This Slow Roast Leg of Lamb recipe will be your new favorite way to cook and eat lamb – a succulent and stunning centerpiece for any occasion! It is easy, fool proof and forgiving, even if you’ve never cooked lamb before AND it can be prepped the day before then popped in the oven! The leg of lamb is seasoned with a garlic, rosemary, pepper wet rub, then roasted low and slow in the oven until the meat literally pulls right of the bone. It’s served with a rich, savory gravy laced with all of the tantalizing pan drippings. Complete the celebratory roasted leg of lamb with melting butter potatoes, spinach strawberry salad and soft and fluffy dinner rolls.
How to Cook Leg of Lamb Video
Leg of Lamb REcipe Ingredients
This recipe uses minimal ingredients to create epic flavor! Here’s what you’ll need to roast leg of lamb and prepare the accompanying gravy.
FOR THE Lamb:
For the Wet Rub:
For the gravy:
How to Cook Leg of Lamb
Roasting leg of lamb is easy: score, smear with the wet rub and roast! I’ve outlined the process with step-by-step photos below or watch the video in the recipe card (full recipe with measurements in the printable recipe card at the bottom of the post):
Step 1: Score and Bring to Room Temperature
Step 2: Prepare the Pan
Step 3: Season the Leg of Lamb
Step 4: Slow Roast the Lamb
Step 5: Let the Lamb Rest
Step 6: Make the Gravy
leg of lamb faqs
Lamb tastes more earthy and gamey than traditional beef. Grass-fed lamb, however, will taste more similar to grass-fed beef.
How long the leg of lamb roasts in the oven depends on how well done you like it on the scale of rare to fall apart tender. Please reference below for approximate cooking times. Keep in mind, the internal temperature of the meat will rise at least 5 degrees after it’s removed from the oven (“carryover”). Also, depending on other factors such as lamb weight, resting time, pan used, etc., your lamb leg may roast slower or faster. Always check early, then continue roasting as needed until the meat reaches your desired internal temperature.
Rare: 125°F (about 15 minutes per pound)
Medium-Rare: 130°F to 135°F (about 20 minutes per pound)
Medium (NOT RECOMMENDED): 135°F to 140°F (about 25 minutes per pound)
Well-Done (NOT RECOMMENDED): : 155°F to 165°F (about 30 minutes per pound)
Falling-Apart Tender Lamb: About 35 minutes per pound, or until the internal temp registers over 205°F.
Roasting is ideal for either boneless or bone-in leg of lamb. Roasting is an oven-cooking method in which the meat is either cooked on a rack, or propped up on aromatics (like in this recipe), with liquid often resting in the bottom of the pan. The meat is covered for part of the cooking time, so it remains ultra tender, then uncovered to brown the exterior.
The leg of lamb should be roasted to either a medium rare blushing pink on the inside (with an internal temp around 125-130°F) or roasted at a lower temperature (about 325 degrees F ) for several hours until the meat is so tender it can be pulled off the bone with tongs (about 205 degrees F).
Both lamb leg or lamb shoulder are great cuts for slow cooking. Both benefit from being cooked propped up on a rack with liquid on the bottom of the pan, trapping in all of the moisture. Lamb shoulder is usually larger with more connective tissue, so it needs to be cooked for a longer period of time than lamb leg in order to become tender. You can follow this same recipe for lamb shoulder and increase the roasting time as needed.
No, leg of lamb does not need to be seared before roasting. The fat will drip over the meat while it cooks, creating a self basting effect. Instead, season the surface of the meat generously, then roast.
It depends on if the lamb is being cooked to medium rare or fall apart tender. If being cooked to medium rare or even medium, you do not need to cover the lamb with foil as it roasts. The exterior will brown beautifully into a flavorful crust while the interior remains pink. If slow roasting leg of lamb, it should be covered with foil, otherwise the exterior will burn during the hours of roasting. You can remove the foil the last 30 minutes or so to create a crust.
Lamb boasts strong, robust flavorings, so it pairs well with other strong herbs like rosemary, thyme and oregano and aromatic garlic and onion (either fresh or powders). Favorite spice pairings include pepper, chili powder, ground mustard, paprika, cumin, coriander and nutmeg.
This depends on if you are roasting the lamb to medium rare or slow roasting to fall apart tender. If roasting to medium rare or rare, cook the leg of lamb fat side up, on a rack set in a roasting pan. This allows the fat to crisp up in a shortened amount of time. If slow roasting, cook the leg of lamb fat side down, because this underside has more meat which we want partially submerged in the liquid so it stays extra moist for the prolonged cooking time.
Yes, as long as it’s cooked low and slow and not at high heat. Slow cooking with liquid in the bottom of the pan makes the lamb fall of the bone tender when cooked to an internal temperature of 205 degrees F.
The key to making lamb juicy, soft and tender is to add broth to the bottom of the pan, propping the lamb on top (via rack or onions) and keeping the lamb covered with foil for the majority of cooking. This locks in all of the moisture and flavor, preventing the lamb from drying out.
The lamb shank doesn’t add any value or flavor to the roast leg of lamb. It’s only value is a beautiful presentation, so it is personal preference.
Yes, leg of lamb is ideal to slow cook, just like you would a pot roast. To keep it juicy while roasting, place the lamb on a rack or propped up on onions. Fill the bottom of the pan with broth and tightly cover with foil. This traps in the moisture, keeping the lamb extra moist, while steaming instead of boiling.
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Slow Roast Leg of Lamb
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- 5-7 lb. leg of lamb center cut roast (bone-in)
- 1 whole head of garlic, unpeeled, cut in half horizontally
- 2 yellow onions, unpeeled, cut in half horizontally
- 4 cups reduced sodium beef broth
- 2 cups water
- 6 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup (may sub brown sugar)
- 1 tablespoon lemon zest
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary
- 1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
- 1 tsp EACH paprika, pepper
- 1/2 tsp EACH dried thyme, dried oregano, onion powder
- 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1/3 cup flour
- reduced sodium beef broth as needed (will use mostly pan juices)
- Dry lamb: Remove lamb from the packaging and place it on a cutting board. Pat completely dry with paper towels.
- Bring to room temperature: Let lamb sit at room temperature for 60 minutes. Meanwhile, trim and score the lamb, prep the pan and make the wet rub and spread it over the lamb anytime in the 60-minute window (directions below).
- Trim and score: Trim exess fat (trim fat cap to about 1/8-inch). Score the lamb on both sides in a crosshatch/checkerboard pattern by running a sharp knife along the lamb in one direction, cuts about 1-inch apart, 1/4-1/2-inch deep, then the other direction.
- Prepare pan and oven: Add the onions and garlic to the center of a large roasting pan, cut side up. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
- Season lamb: While the lamb is still on the cutting board, rub half of the wet rub all over the side of the lamb with the fat cap, making sure to massage into all the nooks and crannies from scoring. Don’t add the wet rub to the other side yet.
- Add lamb to baking dish: Place the lamb, seasoned side down, in the pan so it’s propped up on the garlic and onions. Using your hands, rub the remaining wet rub all over the lamb.
- Add broth and cover: Pour broth and water around the lamb. Cover with foil.
- Slow roast: Bake at 325 degrees F for 3 hours. Check to see if the meat easily pulls from the bone with tongs after 3 hours. If not, continue to bake until tender.
- Rest: Remove lamb and generoulsly spoon the pan juices over top. Transfer to serving platter and cover loosely with foil while you make the gravy.
- Separate fat: Add the pan juices (remove onions, and garlic) to a gravy fat separator cup to skim off the fat when poured.
- OR if you don’t have one, add the pan juices to a large freezer bag and allow the fat to separate to the top. Seal the bag and hold over a 3+ liquid measuring cup so that one bottom corner tip is facing down into the measuring cup like a spout. Make a small cut in this corner with scissors. The bottom liquid will flow through the cut, stop when you reach the fat.
- Add broth to pan juices: Add pan juices to a 3+ cup liquid measuring cup. Add additional broth, only if needed, to equal 2 ½ cups; set aside.
- Make roux: Melt butter in a large saucepan and melt over medium heat. Add the flour and cook for 2 minutes, whisking constantly.
- Add broth: Reduce heat to low and slowly whisk in the 2 ½ cups pan juices/broth. Bring to a simmer until thickened to desired consistency, whisking constantly. If it becomes too thick at any point, whisk in additional broth.
- Season: Taste and season with salt and pepper to taste. Instead of salt, I suggest starting with beef bouillon, ¼ teaspoon at a time, before salting to taste.
- Remove the meat from the bone with tongs and serve with gravy!
- Prep Ahead: This leg of lamb roast is ideal to prep ahead of time. Prepare the recipe through rubbing the wet rub all over the lamb. Loosely tent with foil for up to 24 hours. Remove the leg of lamb from the fridge 60 minutes before cooking and then proceed with the recipe.
- Storage: Leftover leg of lamb roast can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months.
- To reheat: To microwave, reheat portions for 60 seconds, followed by 10-second intervals as needed. To reheat in the oven, transfer pulled lamb to foil and enclose with a splash of broth or water. Bake at 350ºF for 8-10 minutes or until warmed through. To reheat in a skillet, add pulled lamb to a skillet with a splash of water or broth. Cover and cook on low until warmed through, stirring occasionally.
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