November 30, 2023

How to Make Roasted Leg of Lamb for The Holidays 

Grandmas leg of lamb on platter with sauce and charcuterie plate

The holiday season is a time for gathering with loved ones, creating cherished memories, and indulging in delicious feasts. While many people opt for the traditional turkey or ham, there's another show-stopping centerpiece that deserves a spot on your holiday table: Roasted Leg of Lamb. 

In this blog post, we'll provide you with a comprehensive guide on how to roast a leg of lamb to perfection. From understanding the cut to selecting seasonings and cooking temperatures, we've got you covered so that you can create a holiday masterpiece that will leave your guests in awe.

What is a Leg of Lamb?

Before we dive into the roasting process, let's start with the basics. A leg of lamb is a prime cut of meat that comes from the hindquarters of a lamb. It's known for its tender, flavorful meat. A bone-in leg of lamb is a traditional choice for roasting, offering a beautiful presentation and exquisite taste.

Bone in leg of American lamb on cutting board

How Do You Roast a Leg of Lamb?

Roasting a leg of lamb is a straightforward process that yields juicy meat. Here's a step-by-step guide:

  1. Preparation: Begin by removing the leg of lamb from the refrigerator and allowing it to come to room temperature for about an hour. This ensures even cooking.
  2. Seasoning and Marinades: Season the lamb generously with salt, pepper, and your choice of herbs and spices. Popular options include rosemary, thyme, garlic, and olive oil. You can also marinate the lamb for extra flavor, but it's not necessary.
  3. Roasting: Preheat your oven to 325°F. Place the seasoned leg of lamb on a roasting rack in a roasting pan. Roast uncovered until the internal temperature reaches your desired doneness, typically around 145°F for medium-rare. Refer to our time and temperature page for precise guidelines.
  4. Resting and Cutting: Once the lamb reaches the desired temperature, remove it from the oven and let it rest for at least 15 minutes before carving. This allows the juices to be redistributed, resulting in a more flavorful and tender roast. Carve the leg of lamb into thin slices for serving.

What Type of Seasonings and Marinades to Use on Roast Leg of Lamb?

Seasoning options for roasted leg of lamb are versatile and can be tailored to your preferences. Some classic choices include garlic, rosemary, thyme, and a drizzle of olive oil. However, you can get creative with your seasonings, such as using a Mediterranean-inspired blend of oregano, lemon zest, and yogurt-based marinades.

How Long Should You Roast Leg of Lamb and at What Cooking Temperature? 

When it comes to roasting a leg of lamb to perfection, getting the timing and temperature just right is key. Here's a breakdown of what you need to know:

  1. Oven Temperature: Preheat your oven to 325°F for a slow and even roast. This temperature allows the lamb to cook evenly and retain its moisture.
  2. Cooking Time: The cooking time for a leg of lamb depends on its size and your preferred level of doneness. As a general guideline, plan to roast it for about 20-25 minutes per pound. However, for precise results, it's recommended to use a meat thermometer to monitor the internal temperature.
  3. Internal Temperature for When to Pull: The key to a perfectly cooked leg of lamb is reaching the ideal internal temperature. For medium-rare lamb, aim for an internal temperature of 145°F. Use a meat thermometer to check the temperature in the thickest part of the meat. This temperature ensures that your lamb will be tender, juicy, and bursting with flavor.
  4. Resting Time: After your leg of lamb reaches the desired internal temperature, it's crucial to let it rest. Remove it from the oven, cover it loosely with foil, and allow it to rest for at least 15 minutes. This resting period allows the juices to redistribute within the meat, resulting in a more flavorful and tender roast.
  5. USDA Recommended Guidelines: As a reference, the USDA recommends cooking lamb to a minimum internal temperature of 145F with a 3 minute rest. This temperature ensures that the lamb is safe to eat while preserving its succulence. However, you can adjust the internal temperature according to your preferred level of doneness. Use this guide to determine the cooking time and temperature for your leg of lamb based on your personal preference. 
Holiday place setting

How Do You Serve Roast Leg of Lamb?

Roasted leg of lamb is the ultimate holiday showstopper. After allowing the meat to rest, carve it into thin slices against the grain. This ensures each serving is tender and easy to enjoy. Pair it with your favorite sides, such as roasted vegetables, mashed potatoes, or a fresh salad, for a holiday feast that's truly memorable.

Roasted leg of lamb is a superb choice for holiday celebrations. Its tender meat, combined with the rich flavors of herbs and seasonings, creates a centerpiece that will leave your guests craving seconds.

Slow roasted leg of American lamb on a platter with rice and olives

Check out our favorite bone-in leg of lamb recipes here:

Prefer a boneless leg of lamb? We’ve got you covered here:

Roasting a leg of lamb is great for delicious leftovers.

Whether you're craving lamb gyros, appetizers for game day, or a BBQ sandwich, your leftover leg of lamb can be transformed into culinary delights that are quick, easy, and incredibly satisfying.

Explore these recipes for leftover leg of lamb inspiration:

Lamb Gyros: Thinly sliced roasted lamb wrapped in warm pita bread, topped with fresh veggies, and drizzled with tzatziki sauce. Click here for the recipe

Sheet Pan Fajitas: Transform leftover leg of lamb into a sizzling, flavor-packed fajita filling with colorful bell peppers and onions. Click here for the recipe

Philly Cheesesteak Lamb Sliders: Elevate your slider game by using shredded leftover leg of lamb with classic Philly cheesesteak flavors. Perfect for a savory and satisfying snack. Click here for the recipe

Smoked Leg of American Lamb BBQ Sandwiches: Take your taste buds on a smoky, barbecue adventure with leftover leg of lamb transformed into mouthwatering BBQ sandwiches. Click here for the recipe

With these leftover leg of lamb recipes and a little creativity, you'll discover that the joy of your holiday roast extends well beyond the initial meal. Whether you're a seasoned chef or a novice in the kitchen, roasted leg of lamb is the key to creating unforgettable holiday memories. 

For precise cooking temperatures and times, always refer to our time and temperature page. Roasted leg of lamb is best served medium rare, which has an internal temperature of 145°F.