A Greek Christmas Dinner – Part 1: Marinated Roasted Leg of Lamb

Marinated Roasted Leg of Lamb

Serves 8

While lamb is typically thought of as an Easter dish, it also makes a hearty winter dish and a perfect centerpiece to a Christmas meal. I use the domestic whole leg of lamb with the bone in because it yields so much more flavor than a boneless cut and remains moist. The marinade locks in the flavor and will have them begging for more!


1 bone-in leg of lamb, 6 to 9 lb.

¼ cup dried, Greek oregano

½ cup extra-virgin olive oil

3 cloves garlic, crushed

Juice of 4 lemons

1 teaspoon each sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 heads of garlic, cloves separated and skins on (optional)


In a food processor, combine all ingredients except the lamb and cloves of garlic with the skins on and blend until slightly thick, light yellow in color, and creamy. Put the lamb in a 4-quart, 15×10-inch glass baking dish. Pour marinade over the lamb and cover with plastic wrap. Marinate in the refrigerator at least 8 hours, turning leg halfway through, and up to 24 hours.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Place the cloves of garlic with the skins on around and under the leg of lamb. The garlic will roast as the lamb is cooking and will render a sweet flavor that is delicious spread on bread or smeared on pieces of the roasted lamb.

Roast until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the leg, away from the bone, reads 135 degrees F to 140 degrees F for medium rare, 1-1/2 to 2 hours. Most Greeks like their lamb will done. For a well done meat, heat until the thermometer reads 160 degrees F.
Transfer the lamb to a warm platter and cover with aluminum foil. Let rest for at least 15 minutes.

Strain the juices left in the pan to separate the fat. Carve the lamb and serve with the juices.