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Roasted Leg of Lamb with Harissa-Yogurt Crust

This bone-in leg of lamb can grace your holiday table in style. Brushing the leg with a spicy harissa-yogurt marinade yields a flavorful crust encasing juicy, tender meat. Roast with your choice of vegetables for a stunning presentation. Plus, the leftovers make great gyros or tacos!

Roasted Leg of Lamb with Harissa-Yogurt Crust

Spicy Harissa-Marinated Bone-in Leg of Lamb

Cook Time:
2 Hours, 15 Minutes
Serving Size:
Prep Time:
40 Minutes
Bone-In Leg of Lamb


5-1/2 – 6-1/2 pound Leg of Lamb, bone-in

8–10 fat garlic cloves

2 shallots, quartered

3–4 tablespoons harissa paste

2 tablespoons preserved lemons (or 1 tablespoon lemon zest)

2 teaspoons salt

2 teaspoon cumin

1 teaspoon caraway seeds, optional

1 teaspoon pepper

2 tablespoons fresh thyme (or one tablespoon dried)

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 cup thick, whole milk yogurt, plain

Optional: roasting vegetables (potatoes, carrots, parsnips, onions, etc.)


Begin by preparing the lamb. Trim the fat if you prefer the meat to be leaner, or leave some on for extra flavor. Score all sides of the leg ½-inch deep, 1-1/2 to 2 inches apart in a crosshatch pattern before sprinkling with salt. Let the leg come to room temperature for at least 1 hour. Before moving on to the marinade, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

For the marinade, combine garlic, shallot, harissa paste, preserved lemon, cumin, pepper, caraway seeds, thyme, olive oil, and salt in a food processor. Pulse until uniformly chopped. Add the yogurt and pulse a few times, being careful not to blend, or it will get runny. Taste for heat and add more harissa paste to your liking. 

Place the lamb over a rack in a roasting pan. Lift the bone end of the leg straight up and brush the underside with the harissa yogurt, making sure to brush into the slits and cuts. Lay it down over the rack and generously brush the remaining marinade over the top. Add in any roasting veggies you like, making sure to first toss them with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

Roast at 350 degrees F for approximately 20 minutes per pound for medium-rare or until the meat reaches an internal temperature of 145 degrees F. Place the lamb on the lower third of the oven, loosely covered with a foil “tent,” for 1 hour. After 1 hour, check the internal temperature and remove the foil. Check the lamb’s internal temperature every 20 minutes and ensure the roast is not over-browning. You can always re-tent with foil if the lamb begins getting too dark. 

Once the roast reaches 130 – 135 degrees F at the thickest end, pull it out, tent it with foil again, and let it rest for 15-20 minutes before cutting into it. This allows the internal temperature to rise and the juices to remain in the meat, which will help keep the meat tender.

Recipe adapted from the American Lamb Board. 

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