Roast leg of lamb

Roast leg of lamb is a traditional main course for your Easter dinner

Photo: Flickr / Ernesto Andrade

Roast lamb is a classic Greek food, and eating lamb at Pascha likely comes from the traditional lamb served at Passover in Jewish culture. It’s possible roast lamb was one of the earliest “traditional” Pascha dishes in the early church.

This recipe is largely the roast leg of lamb recipe found on pages 16 and 17 of The Best Slow and Easy Recipes from Cook’s Illustrated. Comments, options, alterations to the recipe are in italics.

While it takes a while, the recipe yields a lovely, tender roast leg of lamb with a garlic-herb crust, and is not that hard to do, even for the first time lamb roaster.

A thermometer is recommended for this recipe to make sure lamb is neither raw, nor overdone.

The best thing, I find, from Cook’s Illustrated is the process they go through to create each recipe. This recipe came with nearly a page and a half of the “whys” behind this process that I’m not going to reproduce here, but they certainly help you understand why this recipe looks the way it does. I do, however, highly recommend the book (and the website…and the show) so any cook can find out. [1]



1 (6-8 pound) semi-boneless leg of lamb

1 Tablespoon olive oil

Salt and ground black pepper

Garlic oil

2 Tablespoons olive oil

5 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed through press

2 teaspoons rosemary

Optional variation: use 2/3-1 teaspoon each dried oregano, dried thyme, and dried rosemary, equaling 2-3 teaspoons total

½ t. salt


  1. Pat the lamb dry with paper towels, rub with olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Cover the roast loosely with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for 1 to 2 hours.
  2. Combine garlic oil ingredients together and set aside.
  3. Adjust the oven rack to lowest position and heat the oven to 250 degrees. Set a wire rack inside a large rimmed baking sheet lined with foil (or line a roasting pan with foil).
  4. Transfer the lamb to the prepared wire rack, fat side up, and roast until the thickest part of the meat registers 100 degrees on an instant read thermometer (about 1 hour and 40 minutes).
  5. Pour ¼ c. water into the baking sheet (or roasting pan), increase the oven temperature to 450 degrees, and continue to roast until the meat closest to the bone registers 125 degrees (for medium rare) on an instant read thermometer, about 20 minutes longer.
  6. Transfer lamb roast to cutting board, brush with garlic oil, and tent lamb loosely with aluminum foil. Residual heat helps cook garlic, taking edge off of garlic taste.
  7. After resting 30 minutes, carve the lamb and serve.

Serves 8-12

Serve roast leg of lamb with tzatziki, sautéed onions or pickled onions (…also delicious on tacos, sandwiches…anything…), tomatoes, olives, flatbread, roasted potatoes, or Greek salad.

[1] Nope, not paid by America’s Test Kitchen, Cook’s Illustrated, etc. Just a fan, married to another fan…with seven of their cookbooks on our bookshelf and long-running subscription.






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