Oregano and thyme, along with lemon and garlic, are very classic companions in Greek cooking and perfect partners to lamb. Leg of lamb is one of the most traditional main dishes for Easter, not only delicious but also a rather dramatic presentation. And this particular take on leg of lamb has a little spiral of extra flavor inside and a fabulous creamy sauce that is hard to stop spooning on and swooning over. But while it looks impressive, it’s not at all hard to make.
Table of Contents
For the Lamb:
- Leg of lamb – Ask your butcher to bone and butterfly the leg of lamb and trim the fat if possible.
- Garlic – Don’t worry about mincing the garlic, as it will get blended into a paste.
- Oregano leaves – Buy a couple of extra sprigs to garnish your finished lamb with or use dill instead.
- Thyme – Fresh thyme leaves are great here. The freshness is so nice.
- Olive oil – Helps to get a crust on the outside of the lamb.
- Lemon – I use the zest and the juice in this recipe to get the most flavor out of the citrus.
For the Creamy Feta Sauce:
- Plain Greek yogurt – Use whole milk yogurt, not the low-fat version. It will help with taste and texture.
- Olive oil – Makes the sauce smooth and rounds it out.
- Lemon juice – Brightens up the sauce with fresh brightness.
- Fresh dill – Mince some dill up and mix it into the sauce, then add a couple of pieces on top for a nice presentation.
- Garlic – Make sure your garlic is very finely minced so that you don’t get a big chunk in the sauce.
- Feta – The feta gets crumbled into the sauce and then mixed up so you get feta flavor throughout, as well as some bigger bits.
What Is Butterflied Leg of Lamb?
When a cut of meat is butterflied, it means it is cut almost in half horizontally and opened flat so that it cooks more quickly and evenly. In the case of larger, thicker pieces of meat, it might be sliced in more than one place so that it unfolds into a flatter cut of meat. Butterflied leg of lamb takes especially well to be cooked on the grill or being rolled, tied, and roasted, as it is here.
In this recipe, the lamb is first butterflied, then smeared with an herby paste, and rolled back up and tied. This allows the seasonings to be distributed on the inside of the roast as well as the outside. When the meat is cut, you will see streaks of the lemon-herb mixture within the slices, which means that the rich, singular flavor of the lamb is nicely punctuated with the rub.
How to Make Greek-Style Butterflied Leg of Lamb with Feta Sauce
- Make the seasoning: Blend together the garlic, oregano, thyme, olive oil, lemon zest, salt, and pepper. Pulse in the food processor until it is a smooth paste.
- Season the lamb: Rub part of the paste onto the butterflied lamb, then roll it up, tie it together, and rub the remainder of the paste on top. Let rest in the refrigerator for 1 to 24 hours.
- Roast the lamb: Set the lamb out at room temperature while you preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Roast for 20 minutes, then reduce the heat and roast for about 50 to 70 minutes more.
- Make the feta sauce: Mix together the yogurt, olive oil, lemon juice, dill, and garlic. Mash the feta into the sauce and season with salt and pepper.
- Serve: Rest the lamb for 20 minutes. Slice the lamb, squeeze over a little lemon juice, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Serve with the feta sauce.
Lamb is full of flavor. When cooked to a lovely medium-rare, the epitome of tender, pink. When you choose American Lamb, you are supporting local ranchers and farmers throughout the U.S. The majority of American Lamb is pasture-raised, with some lamb being finished on grain and some grass-fed their whole lives. Check the packaging if you want to know more about how your lamb was raised.
Leg of lamb is commonly served on Easter or on Passover, as well as Christmas. It may feel like a bit of an indulgence, but around Easter, this cut is often on sale, and it is a cut well worth splurging on. Plus, when better to splurge on your family than a holiday? Whether you are making this for Easter or Passover or just because you are looking to have a dinner that feels special and celebratory, a boned, rolled leg of lamb is a terrific treat.
The big secret to perfect lamb? Don’t overcook it. Get yourself a reliable meat thermometer and use it! Be sure to read what the American Lamb Board has to say about cooking lamb to safe temperatures. The temperature will continue to rise after it is taken from the oven, which is expected and planned for with these temperature guideline ranges. Make sure to let the lamb sit for 20 minutes before slicing.
Butterflying a leg of lamb at home can be challenging for beginners, so I would recommend you just ask your butcher to butterfly the meat when you buy it. If you really want to try it at home, start by feeling the leg to identify where the bone is. Then, cut into the flesh lengthwise to expose the bone. Continue making shallow cuts along either side of the bone to completely remove the meat from the bone. Next, cut into the thick parts of the boned lamb, cutting almost all the way through so that the leg has a uniform thickness and lies flat. When your lamb lies flat, it is ready to be prepared!
Leftover lamb can be used in all kinds of ways. Sandwiches, obviously: pile thin slices on a halved baguette or some good thick peasant bread and slather on some of the feta sauce, or try Herbed Mayonnaise, Spicy Salsa Verde, Green Olive and Ramp Tapenade, Sriracha Mayo, or maybe just some leftover jarred pesto or another condiment you have in your fridge or pantry.
Slices can be added to a Greek Salad for a fantastic dinner or lunch later in the week. And I always make too much lamb in the hopes of a shepherd’s pie being on the horizon (which happily was the case here!).
What to Serve With Greek-Style Butterflied Leg of Lamb with Creamy Feta Sauce
More Lamb Recipes
- Lemon Garlic Leg of Lamb
- Fall-Apart Slow Cooker BBQ Pulled Lamb
- Moroccan-Inspired Lamb Kebabs
- Instant Pot Mediterranean Lamb Stew
- Herbed Boneless Leg of Lamb with Mustard Crust
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Greek-Style Butterflied Leg of Lamb with Feta Sauce
- 1 boned and butterflied leg of lamb (about 6 pounds; fat trimmed)
- 6 cloves garlic (roughly chopped)
- ½ cup fresh oregano leaves
- 1 tablespoon thyme leaves
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 teaspoons lemon zest
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper (to taste)
- Fresh dill or oregano sprigs (to garnish the platter)
- Place the garlic, oregano, thyme, 1 tablespoon olive oil, and the lemon zest (reserve the juice for later) in a mini or regular-sized food processor, and season with salt and pepper. Process until it becomes a paste (if you are a mortar and pestle type of cook, you can use that instead).
- Rub about ⅔ of the herb paste on the top of the lamb, the side that was cut for butterflying. Then roll up the lamb and tie it well with kitchen twine at 1 ½ inch intervals to keep it tightly rolled. Rub the rest of the paste over the outside of the lamb, place in a pan or container, and refrigerate from 1 hour to 24 hours uncovered.
- Take the lamb out of the fridge and let it come to room temperature while you preheat the oven to 450 F. Place the lamb in a roasting pan and roast for 20 minutes, then reduce the heat to 375 F and roast for another 50 to 70 minutes. An internal thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the roast should read 125 F for medium-rare.
- While the lamb is cooking or resting, make the Creamy Feta Sauce: In a small bowl, combine the Greek yogurt, 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, dill, and minced garlic. Add the feta and stir, lightly mashing it into the mixture, using a fork. Taste and season as needed with salt and pepper. Spring over some small dill sprigs, if using.
- When the lamb is cooked, let it rest on a cutting board for 20 minutes. Slice the lamb against the grain, remove the string, and transfer to a serving platter. Sprinkle the reserved 1 tablespoon lemon juice over the sliced lamb and give the slices a light seasoning of salt and pepper. Serve warm with the feta sauce on the side.
- When a cut of meat is butterflied it means it is cut almost in half horizontally, and opened flat so that it cooks more quickly and more evenly. In the case of larger, thicker pieces of meat, it might be sliced in more than one place so that it unfolds into a flatter cut of meat. Ask your butcher to butterfly the lamb for you.
- Leftover lamb can be used in all kinds of ways. Sandwiches, obviously: pile thin slices on a halved baguette or some good thick peasant bread and slather on some of the feta sauce, or try Herbed Mayonnaise, Spicy Salsa Verde, Green Olive and Ramp Tapenade, Sriracha Mayo, or maybe just some leftover jarred pesto or another condiment you have in your fridge or pantry.
- Slices can be added to a Greek Salad for a fantastic dinner or lunch later in the week. And I always make too much lamb in the hopes of a shepherd’s pie being on the horizon (which happily was the case here!)
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.