Cooked low and slow for a while, then finished with a blast of high heat to get the outside nice and browned, a leg of lamb is one of the greatest entertaining main courses around. It says You Are Special to everyone at the table, but in fact, it’s pretty easy on the cook. This one is very simply seasoned with classic Mediterranean herbs and spices and served up with cooling, creamy-crunchy tzatziki, which adds a Greek vibe.
Serve this with plain or saffron couscous and some springy green vegetables for an easy but super impressive meal. And hold on to those leftovers! You may want to make lamb sandwiches or Lamb Crostini the next day or maybe put together a lamb gyro grazing board.
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Slow Cooked Mediterranean Leg of Lamb with Tzatziki: A lush and tender semi-boneless leg of lamb gets paired up a simple tzatziki sauce for an easy but elegant meal.Tweet This
Mediterranean Leg of Lamb Ingredients
Along with the leg of lamb, a few herbs are the main ingredients for this Mediterranean Leg of Lamb recipe:
For the Lamb:
- Semi-boneless leg of lamb – Ask for a semi-boneless leg of lamb from your butcher. This means most of the bones will be taken out except for the main leg bone, which will give the roast flavor but still keep it easier to carve.
- Olive oil – Helps the lamb develop a crust in the oven.
- Garlic cloves – The whole cloves get blended up in the food processor into a garlicky and flavorful rub for the lamb.
- Rosemary – Fresh rosemary leaves give this lamb a much fragrant, floral flavor.
- Thyme – Using fresh thyme adds a beautiful herby, Mediterranean flavor.
- Lemon zest – Adds a bright, fresh note of citrus.
For the Tzatziki:
- Cucumber – Gives the dip a nice crunchy texture and a cool, fresh taste.
- Fennel – If you aren’t a fan of fennel, or you forgot to pick it up at the store, you can skip that. It was just my kicky little twist of the day.
- Salt – Don’t skimp on the salt — it is needed to cut through the yogurt and bring out the savoriness.
- Fresh mint – Dial up or down the amount of the herbs as you like in this dip. I prefer to dial-up, loving the burst of freshness.
- Fresh oregano – Don’t try to use dried herbs in this recipe. Fresh oregano has a different flavor and texture.
- Lemon juice – Makes the tzatziki acidic and bright.
- Minced garlic – A classic tzatziki ingredient. Mince the garlic super fine so it almost melts into the sauce.
- Greek yogurt – Use Greek yogurt to make the tzatziki, which is thicker and smoother than regular yogurt. Also, go for the 4 or 5% fat version; it’s so much richer and more flavorful than the low or nonfat, and you really aren’t going to be serving up that much of the condiment with your lovely slow-cooked lamb. Let’s live a little, guys.
- Couscous – Cook according to package directions. Any type of couscous will work with this lamb. Just use your favorite!
How to Make Mediterranean Leg of Lamb with Tzatziki
- Season the lamb: Blend up the garlic, herbs, lemon zest, salt, and pepper in a food processor. Rub the mixture onto the leg of lamb and rest for 30 minutes.
- Roast: Roast the lamb at 225 degrees for about 2 ½ to 2 ¾ hours. Then, turn the temperature up to 500 degrees for another 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and rest.
- Prepare the vegetables: Mix together the grated cucumber with the fennel, if using. Salt and let rest for 20 minutes. Then, squeeze out the excess liquid.
- Make the tzatziki: Mix the cucumber and fennel with the mint, oregano, lemon juice, garlic, and yogurt. Season.
- Slice and serve.
Tzatziki, a yogurt-based Greek cucumber sauce, goes exceedingly well with lamb. The rich meat pairs so well with the creamy sauce and the clean crunch of the shredded cucumber.
A 6-pound leg of lamb should roast for between 2 ½ and 2 ¾ hours. I find that this is the sweet spot for super tender, fall-off-the-bone meat. It makes for a super low-effort meal, because you can season the lamb and stick it in the oven in the afternoon, and by dinnertime you have a showstopping meal!
The best way to ensure your leg of lamb will be tender is to cook it at a very low temperature for an extended period of time. The low temperature makes sure that the lamb cooks all the way through to the center before the outside overcooks, and the long cooking time makes the meat start to break down slowly in the oven. The resulting lamb will be evenly cooked, super tender, and still moist.
Leftover Mediterranean Lamb
Leftover lamb is a gift, and the idea of making a just-the-right-size leg of lamb is such a shame. You want those leftovers. You need those leftovers.
And whether you just nibble at them over the next several days, or use them to make sandwiches, OR make a Shepherd’s pie or some Chorba or a pretty elegant little plate of crostini later in the week, you will be so happy you went for the bigger roast.
What to Serve With Mediterranean Leg of Lamb
More Leg of Lamb Recipes
- Slow-Cooked Herbed Leg of Lamb with Fresh Herb and Arugula Salad
- Herbed Boneless Leg of Lamb with Mustard Crust
- Slow-Cooked Moroccan Leg of Lamb
- Lemon-Garlic Semi-Boneless Leg of Lamb
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Slow-Cooked Mediterranean Leg of Lamb with Tzatziki
- 6- pound semi-boneless leg of lamb
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 garlic cloves
- 2 tablespoons fresh rosemary leaves
- 2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
- 2 teaspoons lemon zest
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper (to taste)
- 1 small cucumber
- ½ cup minced fennel (optional)
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt (plus more to taste)
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh mint
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- ½ teaspoon finely minced garlic
- 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
- 6 cups hot couscous (cooked according to package directions; to serve)
- In a small food processor, combine the garlic, rosemary, thyme, zest, salt, and pepper. Rub the mixture all over the lamb, and let it sit for 30 to 45 minutes, to come to room temperature.
- Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 225 F.
- Place the lamb on a rack in a roasting pan. Roast the lamb in the oven for about 2 ½ to 2 ¾ hours, until it reaches an internal temperature of 220 F on an internal thermometer. Turn the heat up to 500 F. and let the meat cook for another 15 minutes (the temperature in the oven will climb but may not quite reach 500 F within 15 minutes, which is fine). Remove it from the oven, transfer the lamb to a cutting board, tent it with foil, and let the meat sit for at least 30 minutes.
- While the meat is resting, make the tzatziki. Peel the cucumber. Slice in half lengthwise, and scrape out the seeds with a teaspoon. Grate the cucumber using the large holes on a box grater or the grating blade in a food processor. Toss the cucumber with the fennel, if using, and ½ teaspoon kosher salt and place in a strainer over a bowl or in the sink. Let sit for about 20 minutes.
- Squeeze or press down on the cucumber mixture to press out any extra liquid, then, in a medium bowl, combine the cucumber mixture with the mint, oregano, lemon juice, garlic, and yogurt. Stir well, and add pepper and any additional salt as needed. Transfer to a serving bowl with a spoon.
- Slice the lamb and arrange it over the couscous. Serve with the tzatziki on the side
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.