This slow roasted lamb of leg is one of my go to recipes for Easter, special celebrations or when I want to impress guests. It’s time consuming to roast but the meat falls off when done cooking and it’s so flavorful, you’ll never want to cook lamb differently after this. Meat becomes so tender and delish when cooked for a long time in medium heat with vegetables and herbs.
Mediterranean Way of Roasting Lamb
Most Mediterranean countries have a way of cooking an entire lamb in a metal rod hanging over low fire, sometimes for an entire half day or so. It’s typical in religious celebrations (both Easter and Ramadan), weddings and big family get togethers. The seasoning and sides vary by country and region.
In my native country of Albania, besides the method described above of cooking the whole lamb, we also have another method mostly used in home cooking. Lamb meat is boiled for a very short amount of time then roasted to create the tender flesh.
For as long as I lived there, it was not common to see lamb meat cooked to the standard rare, medium or well done style. It was mostly cooked to where the outer layer was well done and the inner part of the meat very, very tender.
This recipe I’m bringing you today, skips the boiling part but the lamb meat is slow roasted in vegetables and broth while everything simmers in the bottom of the pan. This process (to me) is the best of both worlds. You get a delicious lamb roast with very little effort.
Recipe Tips & Notes
Here are some of my tips and notes for this recipe.
- Lamb – I used a boneless lamb leg that was about 5 lbs (2.27 kg). If you bought it same day and had the lamb in refrigerator, get it out and let it stay in room temperature for about 1 hr. If lamb leg was frozen, thaw overnight in refrigerator then next day let rest in room temperature for about 1 hr or so.
- Herbs – This lamb leg is so flavorful, you’d think I added fistful of every herb in my garden. But no, it actually is a rather simple dish. I used fresh rosemary and mint. The coarse sea salt, garlic and black pepper will add to the flavor too.
- Broth – I usually use beef stock/broth for this dish. I find that the homemade one tastes better. If you use a lamb leg with the bone in, you can also use vegetable broth. The bone will provide the much needed rich flavor.
- Cooking time – Since this lamb leg is slow roasted for a long time you will rarely risk having the meat be undone. However, you will have to be careful with the meat being extra tender, juicy and not dry. For about 4.5-5 lbs lamb leg you’ll need a total cooking time of about 5 hrs.
- Baking pan – you need a roast pan or baking pan with taller sides. The reason is that this dish will have some broth and vegetables underneath the lamb initially so you need to make sure dish is deep enough. Don’t pick a shallow dish!
- Coarse Sea Salt – coarse sea salt might be one of the most undervalued seasonings in grilling or roasting! It makes such a difference in roasting lamb leg, it draws out the moisture from the meat and gets reabsorbed a little making the meat tender and flavorful.
- Broil vs bake – how about both? I wanted the meat to be extra, extra tender but needed the exterior to be a little crispy. So I decided to do an initial broil, then bake to slowly roast for almost 4.5 hrs then I gave it a last broil.
How to Serve Roasted Lamb Leg?
This dish is very versatile. I love it because I usually have leftovers and can carve out another meal the day after I cook it. I use the pan drippings from the pan to make a lamb gravy. Also, I make a yogurt mint dip to serve at the same time.
Usually you’d have the lamb with mint dip and a salad or the lamb, gravy and potatoes. But not both the yogurt dip and the gravy at the same time.
See some side dishes that go great with lamb (the yogurt mint dip and the gravy are included in the recipe card below).
The next day after we had the lamb leg for lunch, I used the leftovers to create a Mediterranea bowl! I tend to mix leftovers of different dishes to make the bowl. This last time I had slow roasted lamb, tabouli, hummus, chickpeas, mint dip, fresh cucumber and lemon for garnish.
Slow Roasted Lamb Leg (Boneless)
- Roast Pan or Deep Baking Pan
For the Lamb
- 1 boneless lamb leg about 4.5-5 lbs
- 2 onions
- 1 cup carrots
- 5 rosemary twigs split, some for flavor and some for garnish
- 0.5 cup fresh mint
- 2 garlic heads
- 1 tbsp black pepper
- ⅓ cup olive oil extra virgin
- 2 lemons
- 2 tbsps coarse sea salt
- 2 cups beef stock or broth
- 2 cups water
For the Gravy
- 3 tbsps all purpose flour
- 4 tbsps lamb skimmings remove from the roast pan once lamb is done cooking
- 1 cup water
- salt / pepper to taste
Roasting the Lamb Instructions
- Lamb needs to be at least 1 hr in room temperature. I usually thaw overnight in the refrigerator then let come to room temperature for 1 hr. Remove any packaging like net or wraps.
- Squeeze 1 to 1.5 lemons and use their juice to cover the lamb surface on both side. Place the lamb in a regular pan beforehand so the lemon juice doesn't drip everywhere.
- Chop the onions and the carrots, they can be in rough shapes as they will cook for a very long time. Then peel and press the garlic. If you can buy already peeled garlic for this dish, it helps save time.
- Place the onions and the carrots in the roast pan. Then coat the lamb on all sides with pressed garlic, coarse sea salt and black pepper. It's almost as a dry rub. I usually apply the garlic first then the salt and pepper but you can combine them.
- Place lamb over the vegetables in the roast pan. Roughly chop rosemary leaves and mint leaves and apply them over the lamb surface. Their oils and smells will penetrate the skin and the lamb will smell amazing. Finally pour olive oil over the lamb slowly. Add broth and water to the side of the pan not directly over the lamb.
- Broil for about 10 minutes at 450 Fahrenheit then switch to bake at 325 degrees Fahrenheit. I usually let bake the first half an hour uncovered but then add aluminum foil as a tent over the pan.
- At about 4 hrs mark, I check that the meat is getting done with a 2 pronged grilling fork. Remove the foil and continue baking without it for another 30 minutes. Then turn the broil back on to give it that crisp exterior look.
- Remove pan from oven carefully. Cover and let rest for 30 minutes before cutting while you prepare the gravy and other side dishes.
- Once lamb is done roasting, let rest covered. If there's any remaining liquid around the lamb it will look like broth with a layer of fat on top. You can remove the fat with a large serving spoon. Then use the remaining liquid to top of the lamb when serving as well as for the gravy. If you like strong flavors use more broth in your gravy and less water, however if you want the flavor mild just couple of tbsps will do.
- Add flour on a saucepan, use a wooden spoon to mix so it doesn't burn. Keep heat in medium. As soon as you feel the flour becoming aromatic and start to change color, add lamb broth. I usually add about 4 tbsps.
- Then add 1 cup of hot water and let the gravy thicken by mixing continuously. Check for salt and pepper and add to taste. Serve right away!
- The video shows only few seconds of cutting into the roast!! It’s just magnificent! Hopefully soon I’ll be able to film the whole recipe to share with you:).
- You can also add wine to gravy for an enhanced flavor as well as some herbs like rosemary.
If you would like to save this recipe for later, please pin the below image in Pinterest. Feel free to comment with any questions or tag me in social media if you made the recipe. I love to see all variations of my food:), it’s so inspiring! And believe me some of my readers can style food much better than I do. I’ve learned a thing or two from what you all have shared with me. Thank you!!!
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Additional Lamb Recipes
If you would like to check out some of my other lamb recipes, feel free to check out my other recipes:
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