Roasted Leg of Lamb (European Style)

4.78 from 9 votes

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This roasted leg of lamb is the perfect meal for Easter or any special occasion. A traditional Easter meal in Bulgaria and Greece includes a whole lamb cooked on a spit (skewered and cooked over a fire) accompanied by potatoes or rice, green salad, sweet Easter bread, and baked phyllo with feta (which is called “Banitsa” in Bulgarian or “Tiropita/Spanakopita” in Greece). If you are religious, the choice of lamb represents Christ, known as the holy Lamb of God. This fall-apart-tender leg of lamb is roasted with potatoes in the same pan, so the potatoes absorb all the lamb’s delicious juices. Everything is slow-roasted to perfection for an incredible feast to serve a crowd.

Roasted Leg of Lamb

This leg of lamb will blow you away with its flavors and tenderness. Slow-roasting yields super soft onions, flavorful potatoes, and fall-apart lamb meat. The roasted garlic cloves can be squeezed from the peels and enjoyed on fresh bread.
4.78 from 9 votes
Servings: 8
Author: The Modern Nonna
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 4 hours 30 minutes


large baking dish big enough to fit the whole leg (22 inch)
Parchment Paper (or use a lid if the dish has one)


Vinegar Soak (optional):

  • 28 cups water + 7 cups white vinegar , (4 parts water to 1 part vinegar)

The Lamb:

  • 1 leg of lamb , 8 to 10lbs
  • 5 cloves garlic, peeled and cut into slivers
  • 4 teaspoons salt (quantity depends on the size of your meat; see notes in recipe)
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 3 teaspoons dry oregano
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 yellow onions, peeled and sliced in quarters
  • 15 cloves garlic, unpeeled
  • 3 sprigs of rosemary, thyme, and/or mint, (optional; for aroma)
  • 1 cup water
  • ½ cup white wine , (optional)

The Potatoes:

  • 6 large yellow potatoes, peeled and cut in wedges , (900 grams or 2 pounds)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • pinch of salt
  • juice of 1 lemon


The Vinegar Water (Overnight Soak):

  • The vinegar and water soak is OPTIONAL. This soak helps remove some of the gamy taste of lamb. My grandma would always include a soak since she didn't like the strong taste of lamb. If you don't want to do the soak and you love the taste of lamb, you can marinate the lamb in olive oil, lemon, oregano, and salt and bake it the same way. The spices and aromatics are up to you to choose and customize.
  • Place the lamb in a big dish. Add 4 parts water to 1 part vinegar until the lamb is fully submerged. (Example: 4 cups water will need 1 cup of vinegar. 16 cups of water will need 4 cups of vinegar. If you take the amount of water and divide it by 4 it will give you the amount of vinegar you need to add in.)
  • I added 28 cups of water to 7 cups of white vinegar. Cover the dish and let the lamb soak in the fridge overnight.
  • The following morning we discard the water and pat dry the lamb really well with paper towels.

Marinating the Lamb:

  • Preheat the oven to 400F.
  • After the lamb is patted dry, place it in a big baking dish with a wire rack on the bottom; the lamb should be skin side up. Using a small sharp knife, score the lamb on top, making many small inserts in the meat. Add a piece of slivered garlic into each insert, and press the garlic into the meat.
  • In a small bowl, add the salt, pepper, paprika, oregano, and olive oil and mix really well until you have a paste.
  • Note: You can add ANY seasoning you like. The general rule of thumb is 1/2 teaspoon of salt per pound of lamb. (If you have an 8 pound piece of meat you would need 4 teaspoons total for the whole piece of meat.) This is all to TASTE and please follow personal preference. We like to measure with our heart.
  • Take the seasoning paste and massage it all over the lamb. You can use a brush but I like to use clean hands.
  • Add the onion and unpeeled garlic cloves to the bottom of the baking dish. We use unpeeled garlic so that it doesn't burn. Add the rosemary, if using. Add the water and wine, if using.
  • Cover the lamb with parchment paper and then foil. If you have a baking pan lid, you can skip this step. I like to cover the lamb with parchment first so that the skin doesn't stick to the foil.
  • Roast in the oven for 40 minutes, then reduce the heat to 350F and continue to cook it until the meat is falling off the bone. A little after the half-way mark we remove the foil and add in the potatoes (see below).
  • We like to remove the foil (and parchment paper) a little more than halfway through, and baste the lamb with it's juices. Removing the foil (or lid) will allow the lamb to get browned and golden and the excess juices to evaporate. To baste, using a turkey baster or a large serving spoon, carefully scoop up some juices from the bottom of the pan and pour them over the top of the meat.
  • The bake time will depend on how big your piece of meat is. Our 8 to 10 pound leg took 4 1/2 to 5 hours in our oven. General rule of thumb for slow roasting lamb is 20 minutes for every 1/2 pound of meat.
  • Note: If you have a LARGER cut of meat you can INCREASE the temperature to 400 to 425F after you remove the foil. If the meat is getting too dark on the top, feel free to leave the foil or parchment on. I take all of these factors into consideration as every oven is different.
  • Optionally, if the meat hasn't browned on top near the end of cooking, switch the oven to BROIL (top element only) for the last few minutes of cooking, and this will help the meat get nice color on the skin on top. Keep a close eye on the meat while it's under the broiler.

The Potatoes:

  • There are a few ways to make the potatoes. You can make them separately in a baking dish, in the style of my favorite recipe: Crispy Greek Lemon Potatoes
  • OR add the potatoes, olive oil, salt to taste, and lemon juice to a bowl. Stir to combine all the ingredients. (You don't need much olive oil or seasoning because the potatoes will cook in the fat and seasoning falling off the lamb.) Pour the seasoned potatoes into the bottom of the baking dish containing the lamb. Add the potatoes 1 1/2 hours before the lamb has finished cooking.

Final Notes:

  • When the lamb and potatoes are done, allow them to rest for 15 to 20 minutes so that the juices can redistribute.
  • Depending on how fatty the lamb is, it can release a lot of oil so you can skim it off the top, discard the fat, or use it for anything else you like.
  • The onions will be completely soft, the potatoes incredibly delicious, the lamb will be falling apart and the garlic can be squeezed out of it's peel and enjoyed on fresh bread.
  • You can serve this meal with my Bulgarian Green Salad, Sweet Easter Bread, my No Knead Bread, Tzatziki, Bulgarian Yogurt Salad, Carrot Cake, or any of the recipes on the blog. All of these recipes can be found in the search bar of my website.



Feel free to fresh Rosemary if you like it. Rosemary is one of the most popular herbs for lamb and very complimentary to this type of meat. 
Seasoning is to taste. Feel free to use any seasoning you like. Traditionally in Bulgaria we only put salt, oil (or butter), and paprika (sometimes mint as well). In Greece we like to add olive oil, salt, and oregano, and lemon juice if we don’t do a vinegar soak. Seasonings are up to you. 
Make sure you press the slivers of garlic deep into the skin
You can bake the potatoes separately or add them in the last 1 1/2 hour of the bake time. Feel free to add as much or as little lemon and seasoning as your heart desires. 
If you’re looking for  a traditional Bulgarian green salad, tzatziki, sweet Easter bread, Greek lemon potatoes, easter deviled eggs, easter bunny bread, or Banitsa, you can search for them individually in the search tab of my blog. They are wonderful additions on the table for Easter. 
I ordered my leg of lamb from The Butcher Shoppe in Etobicoke and will link the exact cut of meat below. You can also get lamb without bone as well but it is a bit pricier. Canadian Lamb Leg Bone In Linked Here
You do not have to do the vinegar soak overnight but my grandma always did to take the strong gamy taste away and to clean it thoroughly. 
If you want to make crispy Greek lemon potatoes separately, you can also check out this recipe: Crispy Greek Lemon Potatoes
If you want a delicious TZATZIKI recipe be sure to click here Easiest Most Delicious Tzatziki
If you want to make my sweet Easter bread be sure to check the recipe here Sweet Easter Bread
If you’re looking for a refreshing green yogurt salad, this is the recipe for you Easy Healthy & Creamy Bulgarian Salad
If you’re looking for a delicious homemade no-knead bread, be sure to check out the recipe here No Knead Peasant Bread
For our homemade feta phyllo pie called Banitsa (aka Tiropita), you can check out this recipe Easy Traditional Bulgarian Banitsa
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Hi! I'm Sneji. Nice to meet you!

I am more commonly known as “The Modern Nonna” on social media where I create easy home cooked meals with a modern twist. I was born and raised in Sofia, Bulgaria and learned how to cook at the best culinary school in the world – my grandma’s kitchen. I lived in Greece on the Island of Crete with my parents for a while and then moved to Toronto, Canada when I was in grade 5. I started to really cook and experiment with food 11 years ago when I was 21 years old. Everything I currently know is a reflection of some part of my life…

Keep up to date with me on social media! Follow @themodernnonna

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  1. 5 stars
    Just made this today and it was d’bomb!!! This was my first ever lamb leg.
    I followed your instructions word for word. The lamb turned out perfect: juicy, soft, succulent.
    Thank you so much for the wonderful recipe.

  2. Making this for Easter this weekend, the first time roasting a whole leg of lamb. I was wondering do you serve the lamb right in the dish you cooked it in or remove it to another serving plate?
    Thanks. Love your recipes.

    1. Hi Teresa,
      we use a big serving dish but we got ours about 15-20 years ago at Ikea. You can use any white dish you love

  3. Wow – your instructions on how to cook the lamb are so detailed and so perfect – I’m not as nervous now cooking lamb . Can’t wait to try this!!! Thank you so much for taking the time to explain it so clearly!!!!

    1. HIII Sue! I am so so excited! I KNOW your lamb will be PERFECT. Let me know the outcome please