Roast Leg of Lamb

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Four to six


Appears in

Craig Claiborne’s Kitchen Primer

Craig Claiborne’s Kitchen Primer

By Craig Claiborne

Published 1969

  • About

A roast leg of lamb is also an incredibly easy dish to prepare. It is best to start the lamb at a high temperature, reduce the oven heat and continue cooking, basting only occasionally, at a low heat.


  • A 5- to 6-pound leg of lamb, preferably at room temperature
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled
  • Flour for dredging
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste


  1. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees.

  2. Rub the lamb all over with the clove of garlic. Or, cut the garlic into very thin slivers and, using a small knife, make incisions here and there in the fat of the lamb. Insert the slivers. Sprinkle the lamb generously with salt and pepper and place lamb in a roasting pan. If a roasting thermometer is available, insert it into the meat at the thickest part. Make certain that the bulb of the thermometer does not touch the fat or bone of the lamb. Place the lamb in the oven.

  3. Roast the lamb for 10 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees. Using a large kitchen spoon, baste the lamb two or three times as it cooks. If you wish a rare leg of lamb, and many connoisseurs of good food prefer it that way, let it roast for about 1½ hours. If you wish it medium-rare, cook the leg for 1¾, hours. Or, if you wish it well done, cook the leg for 2 hours or longer. If a meat thermometer is used, it should register about 140 to 145 degrees for rare lamb; 150 to 165 degrees medium to well done; and 175 or more for extremely well done, which is the way many Americans prefer their roast lamb.

    Serve the lamb with cooked dried beans such as pea beans, watercress salad, and a simple dessert.