Tips for roasting a whole leg of lamb

When I think of a roast leg of lamb, I think of Jamie Oliver. Can’t you just hear him exclaiming over how it gives you the most tender, delicious meat that just falls off the bone?

He’s absolutely right about that. And he’d probably point out how simple it is to make, which wouldn’t be wrong either. Mastering a leg of lamb is even easier than perfecting the roast chicken. And I think Easter dinner is an ideal time to splurge on an organic, 100% grass-fed leg of lamb.

We’re fortunate to have terrific lamb in Québec. My butcher sources mine from the village of Kamouraska, which aside from it being one of the prettiest towns in the province, boasts several farms that are caring properly for their animals and raising them responsibly.

The last leg of lamb I roasted was for Christmas dinner and it was absolutely ace. So, so good. It even outshone the yorkshire pudding, brussels sprouts and whipped brown butter sweet potatoes. I can’t wait to full up my table with hungry people and do it all over again.

I know there are plenty of recipes out there for leg of lamb, including Jamie’s fabulous looking Easter Lamb, but maybe you can glean a tidbit or two from my roasting tips below.

How to roast a leg of lamb | Simple Bites

Tips for roasting a whole leg of lamb

  • Locate a butcher with organic lamb from a reliable source. Having trouble? Call up a friend who is a chef and ask where they buy their Easter lamb.
  • Around a major holiday, call ahead reserve your leg of lamb. Request your meat to be fresh, never frozen,  and let the butcher know how many people you are serving and if you wish to have leftovers. I do! I do!
  • Dig out or invest in a good roasting pan, ideally a flameproof one so they can be used on the stove-top for making an accompanying sauce.
  • Use an instant-read meat thermometer for testing the roast’s internal temperature. Organic meat doesn’t come cheap; no one wants to overcook such a beautiful thing.
  • Bring the roast to room temperature before roasting and preheat the oven. Both actions help ensure that the roast is cooked evenly.
  • Keep the flavour pairings simple, but branch out beyond the usual rosemary sprigs. Try orange & black pepper, cinnamon & citrus, or chile & garlic.
  • Let the leg of lamb rest before carving. This is crucial. I say a minimum of 15 minutes and ideally half an hour.
  • Save the pan juices for the sauce. This also goes for any juices that accumulate while the roast is resting. My standard sauce is pan juices + a splash of wine + a pat of butter whisked it. That’s it, that’s all.
  • Carve with a sharp knife!

Roast Leg of Lamb with Lemon & Shallots

Simple and succulent, this lamb is a feast to remember. Adapted from the cookbook Sunday Roasts, by Betty Rosbottom
5 from 1 vote
Print Pin Rate
Course: Main Dishes
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 2 hours
Total Time: 2 hours 15 minutes
Servings: 8 people
Calories: 435kcal
Author: Aimee


  • 6 1/2 lb leg of lamb (or 3 kg)
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup salted butter softened
  • 2 lemons scrubbed
  • 6 shallots peeled


  • Preheat the oven to 450F. Season the leg of lamb all over with salt and pepper.
  • Heat the oil in a large cast iron pan over medium-high heat and sear the leg of lamb all over. This could take up to 10 minutes. Use a sturdy pair of tongs to rotate the leg. (This step can be completed one day in advance.)
  • Remove the leg of lamb and place in the roasting pan. Rub all over with the butter.
  • Slice the lemons into rounds and place over and around the leg of lamb. Cut the shallots into quarters and add them around the lamb.
  • Place the pan in the oven and roast for 15 minutes. Reduce the heat to 350F and roast until an instant-read thermometer registers 135F (for medium-rare), about 50 minutes.
  • Remove from oven and loosely tent the lamb with foil. Rest for 15-30 minutes. Carve and serve with pan juices, mint sauce (traditional), or a spiced orange jam.


Calories: 435kcal | Carbohydrates: 5g | Protein: 48g | Fat: 23g | Saturated Fat: 11g | Cholesterol: 179mg | Sodium: 248mg | Potassium: 770mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 355IU | Vitamin C: 15.8mg | Calcium: 31mg | Iron: 4.6mg

Do you have a traditional Easter dinner?

About Aimee

Cooking has always been Aimée's preferred recreational activity, creative outlet, and source of relaxation. After nearly ten years in the professional cooking industry, she went from restaurant to RSS by trading her tongs and clogs for cookie cutters and a laptop, serving as editor here at Simple Bites. Her first book, Brown Eggs and Jam Jars - Family Recipes from the Kitchen of Simple Bites, was published in February 2015.

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  1. Great tips!

  2. 5 stars
    This is so beautiful! I’ve never roasted lamb before. You’re making me want to try it! 🙂

  3. Pinning this to share with my readers, that lamb looks beautiful!

  4. This is an awesome post. My mom and husband have no greeter love than a huge roast leg of lamb!

  5. Is this bone-in or boneless? This looks so amazing and simply delicious that I just have to give roasting lamb another try!

  6. I have never roasted lamb before. Helpful tips. That picture is beautiful!

  7. How else can you sear? I don’t have any cast iron large enough to hold a leg of lamb. Would a hot grill work?

    • Good question, JJ. I inherited an unusually large cast iron pan, but most don’t have one that big.

      A griddle would work, but I’m not sure about a grill. You could also use the bottom of your roasting pan if it is of a good quality.

  8. I’ve never roasted a whole leg before but just looking at this beauty makes me want to go get one!

  9. This looks amazing. Whole leg of lamb is something I’m completely intimidated by – I’ve only ever attempted chops. I’m still not a lamb lover, but my husband is, so I do cook it once in a while. This looks simple and do-able – agree that a meat thermometer is a MUST!

  10. This is something I have never tried, but I think I should – looks incredible! I think it would make me feel awesome if I actually pulled it off . . . a “real” meal, you know? 🙂

  11. Great post Aimee & very helpful too 🙂

  12. That’s hence beautiful! I’ve in no way roasted lamb prior to. You’re developing us all want to test drive it.

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