Roast Leg of Lamb


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Roast Leg of Lamb recipe by Barefeet In The Kitchen

Lamb is a completely new food for me. (Both the cooking of it and the eating of it. I don’t recall ever trying it before this.) Our CSA offered a lamb roast as an option a couple of weeks ago. I couldn’t resist trying it.

I wanted to use a very simple lamb recipe. Everything mention I found online kept referring back to James Beard. In his book, The Fireside Cook Book: A Complete Guide to Fine Cooking for Beginner and Expert, he gives very simple directions for cooking Leg of Lamb. I found the directions on Epicurious and decided to make this as classically as possible.

I was concerned with drying out the meat, because every single person I spoke with talked about how they either loved or hated lamb. For those who do enjoy the flavor, they commented that great lamb could be destroyed easily by overcooking it, causing it to be tough and chewy meat.

The key to this recipe is removing the roast from the oven before it registers higher than 135 degrees. The roast will continue to rise a few more degrees as it rests after cooking. The goal is perfectly medium rare meat.

My husband declared this the best lamb he has ever eaten. The meat was almost tender enough to cut with a fork and it was perfectly moist.

Roast Leg of Lamb recipe by Barefeet In The Kitchen

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Roast Leg of Lamb

Recipe by James Beard via Epicurious
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  • 2-5 pound leg of lamb well trimmed and fat removed (my roast was just over 2 pounds)
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • crushed rosemary
  • kosher salt
  • Equipment needed: Internal Meat Thermometer


  • Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Line a shallow pan with foil and set a baking rack inside it. (My roast was quite small and I was able to set a small cooling rack on a quarter sheet pan.)
  • Trim any excess fat or membrane off of the lamb and then rub well with black pepper and just a touch of rosemary. Place it on the baking rack and roast in the oven until it reaches 130-135 degrees. When the roast reaches 120 degrees, salt it well and place back in the oven. (I simply reached into the oven and salted mine there. Feel free to play it a little safer than I did.)
  • I roasted mine fairly cold from the refrigerator and it took about 1 1/2 hours to reach 133 degrees. Remove from the  oven and let rest about 10 minutes before carving. Enjoy!
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Mary Younkin

Mary Younkin

Hi, I’m Mary. I’m the author, cook, photographer, and travel lover behind the scenes here at Barefeet In The Kitchen. I'm also the author of three cookbooks dedicated to making cooking from scratch as simple as possible.

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  1. Big Dude says

    Bev doesn't care for lamb and I like the occasional lamb chop, so leg is lamb is not likely to show up on our table. But if it were, I'd want it to look just like yours. Very nice job.

  2. Katerina says

    I am not a fan of lamb either although here in Greece everybody loves it and eats it quite often. This one looks delicious and I am sure that for a lamb eater this would be the perfect meal!

  3. Suchi says

    I love lamb, the way you describe it ''could almost cut it with the fork'' makes it sound deliciously tender…did you serve this with any gravy?

  4. Marjie says

    We all love lamb, which I coat with a mixture of garlic and rosemary in olive oil, and then roast. It's very hard to get here, typically only available for a couple of weeks before Easter, or we'd have it much more often! Yours looks just perfect.

  5. Becki's Whole Life says

    We love lamb in this house and we usually have leg of lamb at my in-laws for Easter. I agree, if you overcook it then it goes from being a favorite to just so-so. We usually roast it with some carrots and they take on the wonderful flavor of the lamb – sooo good. One year Jim poured the juices from the roast over the sliced lamb and everyone raved about it…after dinner Jim told me his secret and I told him to do that every time we have it!

    Sorry you didn't love it. It definitely has a different flavor, that's for sure! It looks like you cooked it perfectly though.

  6. Chris says

    I'm not a big fan of lamb either…although I do love wool socks in the winter, ha ha ha.

    To me lamb is too "grassy" or something. I've cooked it myself and have had it cooked at restaurants, not overcooked, just didn't care for it.

  7. Monday's Child says

    I love lamb!
    If you're interested, Jamie Oliver has tons of basic lamb recipes. There's no doubt that it's a more popular protein in the UK than here in the US, but it's becoming more common here.
    If you didn't enjoy it, I'd recommend you try a different cut. Some cuts are gamier than others, plus the age of the animal makes a huge difference. Young lamb chops seldom have any gaminess at all. You might like those better.