Herb-Roasted Lamb and Potatoes

With Thanksgiving moments away, it’s the perfect time to make… lamb! I’ve seen nothing but pumpkin-themed posts on other food blogs for this entire month. Allow me to change things up a bit…

I had never eaten lamb before moving to Australia. Ok, that’s kind of a lie since I’d eaten lamb gyros plenty of times, but I’d never had rack of lamb or leg of lamb. I’d always been under the impression lamb was gamey and I hope to never taste anything gamey, as the word alone suggests body odor, grass and leather. It was near impossible to see a menu in Sydney that didn’t include lamb. Once I threw aside my preconceived notions and tried it I was very pleasantly surprised. It’s delicious, tender, and a nice alternative to beef. If you’ve always turned your nose up at lamb, you’ll be a convert after this recipe.

I don’t recommend this for a weeknight meal as it takes quite a while, but since I’m unemployed at press time, this was a perfect recipe for me to test out considering I have nothing but free time. This is certainly a showstopper and would be great for a dinner party or that special someone. Trimming the fat was the most time consuming part (and there was A LOT of it, lambs have thunder thighs), but you can ask the butcher to trim it for you. Also, it would be fine to leave the fat on (be sure to roast the lamb fat side up), which I’ll probably do next time.  Other than that, this recipe is foolproof, as are all of Ina Garten’s recipes.

I made a few adjustments, such as almost doubling the ingredients for the garlic/rosemary rub and turning down the oven after 30 minutes (I was worried the garlic would burn). Be sure to use a meat thermometer – the cooking times are only guidelines – and stick it in the thickest part of the lamb before putting it in the oven. I used a much smaller leg which weighed around 3 pounds, and it only took 50 minutes for it to reach medium. Turns out this is the perfect amount of time to drink a glass of wine and watch an episode of Jersey Shore, if you’re so inclined. I think even that culinary genius The Situation would approve.

Herb-Roasted Lamb and Potatoes

Serves 8-10

Recipe slightly adapted from Barefoot Contessa Family Style

  • 16 large unpeeled garlic cloves
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary leaves
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 (6-pound) boneless leg of lamb, trimmed and tied (check out this tutorial on trimming from Bon Appetit)
  • 4 to 5 pounds small unpeeled potatoes (16 to 20 potatoes)
  • 2 tablespoons good olive oil

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Place the oven rack in the lower third of the oven so the lamb will sit in the middle of the oven.

Peel 10 of the cloves of garlic and place them in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Add the rosemary, 1 tablespoon salt, 2 teaspoons pepper, and butter. Process until the garlic and rosemary are finely minced (it should have a paste-like consistency). Thoroughly coat the top and sides of the lamb with the rosemary mixture, then tie. Allow to sit at room temperature for 30 minutes to 1 hour.

Toss the potatoes and remaining unpeeled garlic in a bowl with the olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Place in the bottom of a large roasting pan. Place the lamb on top of the potatoes and roast for 30 minutes at 450 degrees. Turn the oven down to 375 and roast until the internal temperature of the lamb is 135 degrees (rare) or 145 degrees (medium). Remove from the oven and put the lamb on a platter; cover tightly with aluminum foil. If necessary, put potatoes back in oven until they reach desired crispiness. Allow the lamb to rest for about 20 minutes. Remove ties, slice and serve with the potatoes.

Ready to go in the oven. I used a rack but you can just place it on top of the potatoes.

I served this with roasted asparagus, one of my go-to sides. Super easy and you can pop it in the oven while the lamb is resting.

Roasted Asparagus

  • Asparagus (any amount)
  • Olive oil
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Break off the tough of ends of the asparagus. Spread asparagus out in a single layer on a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper, then toss to coat. Roast at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes.


  1. says

    I am so in love with lamb…when other people make it. I’ve also seen this recipe in Barefoot Contessa but was a bit intimidated (plus I have no idea where to buy lamb, although I suppose the butcher shop might be a smart place to start!). I love that you made adjustments like adding more rosemary – one of my favorite herbs. I may have to give this a try for the holidays!

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