Harissa Roasted Leg of American Lamb

Prep Time

1 hr

Cook Time

2 hrs

Total Time

3 hrs



lamb loin chops with cucumber mint salad and sweet and smoky tahini


  • 5 1/2 to 6 1/2 pound leg of American Lamb, (bone-in).
  • 8–10 fat garlic cloves
  • 2 shallots, quartered
  • 3–4 tablespoons Harissa Paste
  • 2 tablespoons preserved lemons(or 1 tablespoon lemon zest)
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon caraway seeds, optional
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 tablespoons fresh thyme (or one tablespoon dried)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup thick whole milk yogurt, plain

Roasted vegetables (Optional):

  • Potatoes
  • carrots
  • parsnips
  • onions


Prep the American Lamb: Trim the fat off the leg if you prefer a leaner version -or leave some on for extra flavor.  Score all sides of leg 1/2 inch deep, 1 1/2 to 2 inches apart (crosshatch if you like), sprinkle with salt and bring to room temp for at least 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Make the Marinade: Place garlic, shallot, Harissa paste, preserved lemon, salt, cumin, pepper, caraway seeds, thyme and olive oil in a food processer and pulse until uniformly chopped. Add the yogurt, pulse a few times (don’t blend or it will get runny).  Taste for heat, adding more harissa paste to taste.

Assemble: Place the lamb over a rack in a roasting pan. Lift the bone end of the leg straight up and brush the underside of the leg with the Harissa Yogurt getting into the slits and cuts as best you can. Lay it down over the rack, brush the remaining marinade over the top, getting into slits and lathering it up generously. Nestle in any roasting veggies you like (toss with olive oil and season with salt and pepper first.) You could brush any remaining marinade on the veggies if you like.

Bake at 350 degrees F for approximately 20 minutes per pound for medium-rare so plan on roughly 2 hours.  Place lamb on the lower third of the oven, loosely covered with a foil “tent” for one hour.  After one hour, check internal temp and remove foil.  Check the lamb’s internal temp every 20 minutes or so and make sure the roast is not over-browning. You can always re-tent with foil if getting too dark. A little color is good here, but you don’t want it to burn.

Once the roast reaches 130 – 135 degrees F at the thickest end*, pull it out, tent it again and let it rest 15-20 minutes before cutting into it, allowing the internal temp to rise and the juices to remain in the meat, which will help keep the meat tender.

* Note: The USDA recommends that lamb reach an internal temperature of at least 145 degrees F with a 3-minute rest.

thermometer timer illustration
Visit our Lamb Cooking Time & Temperature page for recipe inspiration and tips on preparing the perfect lamb.

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