This roast boneless leg of lamb is seasoned with rosemary, garlic, and sage. Prep is simple and quick, and the bright, herb salsa verde sauce keeps the flavors light and fresh.
A roast boneless leg of lamb makes a beautiful centerpiece in the spring for Easter, or for any celebratory meal. It's elegant and dramatic, but you may be surprised at how easy it is to cook!
Lamb loves herbs of all kinds, so we'll use fresh rosemary, sage and other Italian flavors for cooking, then get some freshness from cilantro and mint in the salsa verde sauce.
The secret to this recipe is that the leg of lamb is butterflied, then massaged with olive oil, herbs, and spices before it's rolled back up. This ensures rich, delicious flavor throughout the meat and makes for a gorgeous presentation.
Ingredients for roast boneless leg of lamb
For the leg of lamb
- Boneless leg of lamb: In most cases you'll find a small boneless leg of lamb that's about 2-3 pounds. They can run much larger, but if you plan to cook a larger one, you may have to order from the butcher.
- Fresh rosemary and sage: These hardy herbs will provide flavor as the leg of lamb roasts.
- Garlic and anchovies: Don't fear the anchovies! They add a wonderful umami and a bit of salt. (But if you're still afraid you can leave them out...)
- Crushed red pepper and lemon zest: For a hint of spice and some brightness.
- Extra virgin olive oil, kosher salt, and freshly ground black pepper
For the salsa verde sauce
- Cilantro and Mint: These two softer herbs complement the lamb well, but you can also try basil, tarragon, chives, or parsley.
- Olive oil, lemon juice, salt: Use your best olive oil here as its flavor is a major component of the sauce.
How to cook roast boneless leg of lamb
Step 1: Trim the fat and butterfly the leg of lamb
Preheat the oven to 450 degress F.
Unroll the leg of lamb and use a good chef's knife to trim excess fat, tendon, and connective tissue. Now butterfly each end so that the meat is an even thickness throughout.
To butterfly the lamb leg, cut the thick part of the meat nearly in half, then open it like a book and press down. Season generously on both sides with salt and black pepper.
Step 2: Make the rub and season the meat
Finely chop the fresh rosemary, sage and anchovies. Use a microplane grater to grate the garlic and zest the lemon. Combine with olive oil, salt and crushed red pepper to form a paste.
Rub the herb paste all over both sides of the lamb.
Step 3: Tie up the roast and sear
Roll the lamb leg back up, and secure with kitchen twine.
Place a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Sear the leg of lamb, turning every two minutes or so, until all sides are golden brown.
Step 4: Roast lamb leg in the oven
Transfer to a sheet pan lined with a wire rack, place in the oven, and immediately turn the temperature down to 350 degrees.
Roast the boneless leg of lamb until an instant read thermometer reads 135 degrees (or your desired temperature.) Let rest for 10-15 minutes before slicing. See note on cooking time below.
Step 5: Make the salsa verde sauce
While the lamb roasts, make the salsa verde sauce. Finely chop the mint and cilantro, then stir together with olive oil, lemon juice and a pinch of salt.
Step 6: Slice and serve!
After resting, cut the boneless lamb roast into slices about ½-inch thick and transfer to a platter. Drizzle the salsa verde sauce over the slices and serve more on the side.
The cooking time for a boneless leg of lamb will be determined by how much it weighs, the oven temperature, and how you want the meat to be cooked. You must use a meat thermometer!
At 350°F, you'll roast a boneless lamb leg for about 20 minutes per pound until you reach your desired internal temperature. So for a 2-3 pound leg of lamb, cooking time would be between 60-90 minutes.
Keep in mind that the roasted lamb leg will continue to cook once you take it out of the oven to rest, so remove it when it's 5-7 degrees lower than you want it to be at serving time.
Internal temperatures for boneless leg of lamb are: medium rare 145˚F; medium 160˚F; well-done 170˚F.
- I recommend the searing process prior to roasting if you have a small boneless leg of lamb that's about 2-3 pounds. But this proves pretty difficult if you have a large one, so if it exceeds 3 pounds, or if you just don't want to sear it at all, roast it at 450 degrees F for 15 minutes before you turn the heat down to 350 F.
- When trimming the lamb, pay special attention to any connective tissue and tendons that may remain near the joint, as this won't break down when cooking. You could also ask your butcher to do the trimming for you.
- Be sure to let the meat rest before slicing. Resting the meat allows the juices will go back into it after it cooks. If you cut boneless lamb roast too soon, those juices will go running out all over your cutting board.
What to serve with boneless leg of lamb
- Crispy Pan Fried Brussels Sprouts with Garlic and Hazelnuts are a perfect complement to the Italian seasonings in the lamb.
- Roasted Potatoes are a classic choice.
- A Winter Squash Gratin echoes the sage in its creamy sauce.
- A simple Massaged Kale Salad is hearty without being heavy.
- A Manhattan or a Boulevardier would both be excellent cocktail choices.
Almost any of them! The earthy, rich flavor of lamb can stand up to the hardiest of herbs like rosemary and sage, and is also enhanced by softer herbs like basil and cilantro. Choose what suits your taste.
You can, but you don't have to. I like to brown a small leg of lamb before cooking so that the exterior gets a bit crisp and the fat renders quickly. This keeps it from getting overcooked on the inside while you're waiting for it to brown on the outside. If you have a large leg of lamb, browning it in a skillet will be difficult or impossible, so cook it at 450 for the first 15 minutes to brown it instead. Since it's larger, you won't have the danger of overcooking.
The key to cooking tender leg of lamb is not to overcook it. Don't go past medium (about 140-145 degrees F) and the meat should remain tender.
More lamb recipes
- Pan Seared Lamb Chops are ready in 25 minutes and taste like they came from a restaurant!!
- Traditional Shepherd's Pie is like a warm hug straight from Ireland.
- Greek Stuffed Peppers are made with ground lamb and filled with feta and fresh herbs for authentic flavor.
Roast boneless leg of lamb is easy to cook and it's so elegant!
- Roast leg of lamb is perfect for holidays, dinner parties, and special occasions.
- Cooks faster than you think: lamb takes about 20 minutes of cooking time per pound in the oven.
- We'll butterfly the lamb leg (or ask the butcher to do it) then roll it and tie it for even roasting and beautiful presentation.
- It's gluten free and dairy free!
- Roast boneless leg of lamb is great way to feed 6 or more people, with very little active cooking time.
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Roast Boneless Leg of Lamb Recipe
- kitchen twine
Leg of Lamb
- 2 lb boneless leg of lamb
- ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 tablespoon chopped fresh sage
- 2 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
- 3 anchovies
- 6 cloves garlic
- ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- zest of one lemon
- kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Cilantro-Mint Salsa Verde
- ¾ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- ¾ cup chopped fresh cilantro
- ⅓ cup chopped fresh mint
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- pinch kosher salt
- Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
- Finely chop the rosemary, sage and anchovies. Use a microplane grater to grate the garlic and zest the lemon. Combine with olive oil, salt and crushed red pepper to form a paste. Rub the herb paste all over both sides of the meat.
- Roll the leg back up, and secure with kitchen twine.
- While the lamb roasts, make the salsa verde. Finely chop the mint and cilantro, then stir together with olive oil, lemon juice and a pinch of salt.
- After resting, cut the boneless lamb roast into slices about ½-inch thick and transfer to a platter. Drizzle the salsa verde sauce over the slices and serve more on the side.
- I recommend the searing process if you have a small boneless leg of lamb that's about 2-3 pounds. But this proves pretty difficult if you have a large one, so if it exceeds 3 pounds, or if you just don't want to sear it at all, roast it at 450 degrees F for 15 minutes before you turn the heat down to 350 F.
- When trimming the meat, pay special attention to any connective tissue and tendons that may remain near the joint, as this won't break down when cooking. You could also ask your butcher to do the trimming for you.
- Adapted from The Barbuto Cookbook