A simple recipe for roasted Leg of Lamb with a Harissa Yogurt Crust. This bone-in lamb leg yields a beautiful flavorful crust with juicy tender meat and requires only 3 minutes of hands-on time before slow-roasting in the oven. A beautiful holiday main. Leftovers make great gyros or tacos.
This flavorful recipe for Harissa Roasted Leg of Lamb is surprisingly easy to make and takes very little hands-on time before letting the oven take over. It’s slathered with a blend of herbs, garlic, harissa paste and yogurt, and roasted low and slow for about 2 hours, while it develops a beautiful crust. A decadent, flavorful holiday main or Sunday supper.
Growing up, our Christmas feast often included lamb, and leg of lamb, in particular, was one of my father’s favorite holiday traditions. It was a special occasion kind of meal and it always brings back happy memories for me.
It starts with bone-in Leg of Lamb, and if possible try to buy your lamb locally. Local American Lamb farmers and ranchers are committed to practices that protect the environment, improve land management, and foster animal well-being. Their sheep improve pastures and rangeland by cycling vital nutrients back through the soil, minimizing erosion, and encouraging native plant growth. And sheep that are allowed to graze on a variety of nutrient-dense grasses, legumes, and forage will produce succulent, tender meat.
For a leaner roast, trim the fat. I will say that leaving a small layer of fat here does make for an extra delicious crust. You decide.
Score the leg of lamb on both sides, about 1/2 inch deep with a sharp knife every 2 inches. Here I’ve crossed hatched it.
Season with salt.
Blend the spice, harissa paste, garlic, shallots and herbs to create a marinade.
Harissa, if unfamiliar is a flavorful red chili paste hailing from North Africa.
Blend it all up and add more Harissa to taste. I used 3 tablespoons and it was just a little spicy, next time I would add more.
Lather the marinade on all sides of the already salted, leg of lamb, getting the marinade in all the cuts, and place it on a rack in a roasting pan.
At this point, you could refrigerate overnight or let this come to room temp and roast.
Tent the roast with foil to prevent it from over-browning for the first hour.
Place the roast in the lower rack of the oven.
Roast at 35oF, removing the foil after 1 hour.
Plan on 20 mins of roasting time per pound for medium-rare (125-130F at the thickest end) at 350F degrees.
NOTE: because every oven is different, keep an eye on the roast after the first hour, checking every 15-20 minutes. You can re-tent with foil if getting too brown. A little color is good here, but you don’t want it to burn. If you leave the fat on, you can always carefully brown at the end with the broiler to help crisp up that fat.
Once the roast reaches 130F, pull it out, tent it again and let it rest 15-20 minutes before cutting into it, allowing the juices to remain in the meat, which will help keep it tender.
Hope you enjoy this flavorful Leg of Lamb recipe and let us know how it turns out in the comments below.
More lamb recipe you may like:
- Grilled Lamb Chops with Harissa Yogurt
- Slow-Roasted Lamb Shawarma
- Moroccan Braised Lamb Shanks with Pomegranate
- Grilled Lamb Kebabs with Herb Salad and Yogurt Sauce
- Lamb Meatballs with Indian Curry Sauce
- Instant Pot Lamb Tagine
A simple recipe for Leg of Lamb with a Harissa Yogurt Crust. This bone-in lamb leg yields a beautiful flavorful crust with juicy tender meat.
- 5 1/2 – 6 1/2 lb leg of 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
Optional: roasting vegetables- potatoes, carrots, parsnips, onions, etc.
Prep the Lamb: Trim the fat off the leg if you prefer a leaner version -or leave some on for extra flavor. See notes. 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 350F
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 350F, plan on 20 minutes per pound for rare to 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. Check temp. Because every oven is different, keep an eye on the roast after the first hour, checking every 20 minutes or so for 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. (If you leave the fat on, you can always carefully brown using the broiler, at the end to help crisp up that fat.)
Once the roast reaches 125-130F at the thickest end, pull it out, tent it again and let it rest 15-20 minutes before cutting into it, allowing the juices to remain in the meat, which will help keep the meat tender.
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