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Roast Leg of Lamb with Almond-Mint Pesto

Photo: Iain Bagwell; Styling: Jesse Silver
Total time 3 hrs
Marinate time 24 hrs
Yield Serves 12 to 15
Mint jelly is traditional with lamb, but not everyone loves its cloying sweetness or garish color. This fresh mint pesto takes a more savory direction, and is rolled up in the lamb to flavor it as it roasts. Served with tiny peas, new potatoes, and a big butter lettuce salad, this roast is Easter worthy.


  • 1 boned leg of American lamb (5 to 6 lbs.)
  • Kosher salt and pepper
  • About 1 3/4 cups extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 7 cups loosely packed fresh mint leaves (from about 3 large bunches)
  • 1 1/2 cups toasted sliced almonds
  • 1/3 cup lemon zest (from 4 to 5 lemons)
  • About 2 tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons red chile flakes

Nutrition Information

  • calories 529
  • caloriesfromfat 67 %
  • protein 38 g
  • fat 41 g
  • satfat 7.6 g
  • carbohydrate 5.1 g
  • fiber 2.7 g
  • sodium 394 mg
  • cholesterol 111 mg

How to Make It

  1. Remove twine from lamb and trim off all but a thin layer of fat. Pat dry, season generously with salt and pepper, and rub with 1 tbsp. oil. Unfold roast and season inside the same way. Chill 1 to 2 days.

  2. Blanch mint 3 to 4 seconds in a pot of boiling water (this will help keep leaves bright). Drain immediately, rinse with cold water, and gently roll in paper towels to dry.

  3. Put mint, almonds, 1/3 cup oil, the lemon zest and 2 tbsp. juice, the chile flakes, 1 tbsp. salt, and 1 1/2 tsp. pepper in a food processor and pulse into a coarse paste.

  4. Take lamb out of refrigerator about 1 hour before cooking. Spread about a third of paste over inside of lamb, leaving a 1/2-in. border. To remaining paste, add 1 cup oil; season with salt, pepper, and more lemon juice. Set aside.

  5. Roll up lamb and tie it at 1-in. intervals with kitchen twine.

  6. Preheat oven to 450°. Heat a large cast-iron frying pan over medium-high heat. Swirl in 1 tbsp. oil and brown lamb all over, 5 to 8 minutes. Slide pan of lamb into oven and turn heat down to 250°.

  7. Roast lamb, basting every half-hour with pan drippings and turning over halfway through, until it registers 135° at thickest part for medium-rare, 1 to 1 3/4 hours.

  8. Let roast rest 20 minutes. Remove twine. Slice across the grain and serve with sauce.