How to Smoke a Whole Leg of Lamb

Lamb can be a little tricky to find in your local stores, but this time of year most supermarkets will have a small selection. Since I found the lamb loin chops a couple of weeks ago at Costco, that was going to be my first stop. Costco had plenty of boneless legs in stock this week, and I picked out one that weighed 5lbs. It cost $25 and I didn’t think that was too bad at all. The Lamb came wrapped in netting (jet net) which is typical for boneless cuts. You can leave the netting on and season the outside, but you can get more flavor on the meat if you cut the netting away and apply seasoning to all the nooks & crannies that are created from removing the bones. You’ll see what I’m talking about in the video. The first step in the process is seasoning the meat: With lamb I like to keep it fairly simple and use 5 ingredients that really help the flavor of the lamb shine. Leg of Lamb Recipe Here’s what you’ll need: 2 Tablespoons Fresh Rosemary (chopped fine) 1 Tablespoon Fresh Thyme (chopped fine) 4-5 Cloves Fresh Garlic (minced) 2 Tablespoons Course Sea Salt 1 Tablespoon Course Ground Black Pepper Once you remove the lamb from the packaging, rinse it under cool water and blot dry with paper towel. Lay it out on a large platter or cutting board and brush the entire outside with Olive Oil. This will help the seasonings adhere to the outside. Liberally sprinkle the salt and pepper on all sides. With boneless cuts you can really get access to a lot of meat surface. This allows more areas to build flavor with the seasonings. If you’re doing a bone-in leg, you may want to cut slits into the meat, so the flavors can penetrate it. Combine the herbs and garlic in a small bowl and sprinkle over the outside as well. Once again, get as much as you can in the area where the bone was removed. Seasoned Leg of Lamb Since I removed the “jet-net” the roast will spread out, so you’ll need to shape it back into a roast after seasoning. I use 4 pieces of Butcher Twine to tie the leg into the shape of a roast. This will help it cook evenly while it’s on the smoker. If you place it on the smoker without tying, parts of lamb will get done faster and it won’t be near as good. Once you have it seasoned and shaped, let the leg of lamb hang out in the refrigerator for 3-4 hours. This gives the herb mixture time to work on the meat. One hour before placing it on the smoker remove the roast from the refrigerator and let it come to room temp. To cook the lamb, I fired up my Yoder YS480 with cherry BBQr’s Delight pellets. It doesn’t matter what type of smoker/grill you’re cooking it on as long as you can maintain temps in the 275 range. With lamb you want to use a mild wood. Anything in the fruit family will work just fine, but be careful with harsher woods like hickory or oak. They can easily overpower the lamb and give it a foul taste. Remember you want the lamb flavor to be the star not the wood. The flavors I’m using accent the natural taste of the meat. Smoking a Whole Leg of Lamb Once the smoker is up to temp, place the Lamb on the center rack and probe it with a thermometer. I used a ChefAlarm, you can check it out here >> You’ll want to keep a close eye on the internal temperature with lamb. It’s easy to overshoot the target temp and that will result in a dry finished product. Leg of Lamb is best served med. rare to medium and that is 140-145 degrees. To keep the lamb from drying out during the cooking process, I made up a simple baste. It’s a mixture of vinegar and oil with the same flavors that we used to season the outside of the roast. You’ll want to apply the baste after the first hour of cooking and anytime it looks dry. I shoot for every hour cooking on the Yoder. Here’s the recipe: 1 cup Red Wine Vinegar ½ cup Vegetable Oil 1 tsp Sea Salt ½ tsp Course Ground Black Pepper ½ tsp Chopped Rosemary ½ tsp Chopped Thyme 2 cloves of minced Garlic Mix the vinegar, herbs, and seasonings in a bowl and whisk in the oil. Naturally it wants to separate just give it a good stir before basting. Instead of using a standard BBQ mop to apply the baste I tried something a little different. A few weeks ago I was down in New Orleans and watched some local chefs cook whole lamb. To baste the meat they had a long stick with a bunch of fresh herbs tied to the end. I had to inquire about it and they swore that it added flavor to the meat. It made sense to me, so I decide to try that this week. I used a wooden spoon and butcher twine to affix a few sprigs of the rosemary and thyme. It worked really well. I’m not 100% sure that it added any extra flavor but it saved me from washing a BBQ mop! Smoked Whole Leg of Lamb The total cook time for the lamb was 2:15 minutes. At this point it hit 143 degrees internal and that was I far as I wanted it to go. The next crucial step is to let it rest. Giving it 15 minutes on the cutting board before slicing allows the temperature to settle and keeps the moisture from running out when slicing. You should do this with all cuts of meat once it comes off the grill/smoker. Smoked Leg of Lamb Recipe The lamb is now ready to serve and can easily be cut into whatever size you like. I shoot for ½” slices across the grain. Having it tied into a roast while cooking makes this easy. Just use a long bladed knife and it will go right through it. You can also remove the butcher twine before slicing. Sliced Leg of Lamb The meat should be slightly pink and packed with juice. Lamb is packed with great flavor and the herbs really stand out. It doesn’t need a sauce or anything to accent it. Serve the lamb along with your favorite vegetables and your family will love it! Malcom Reed Connect on Facebook Follow me on Twitter Subscribe to my YouTube Channel Find me on Google+ Follow me on Instagram Buy Killer Hogs Products Here

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24 responses to “How to Smoke a Whole Leg of Lamb”

  1. Leo widhalm says:

    Hi Malcom,
    My Uncle tossed me a curve ball for our family reunion this year. Beside the whole hog we roast, the Uncles want to roast a whole goat!
    Any ideas other than the the boned out legs. Could use a few ideas. Look forward to hearing from you. Thank you

    • Malcom Reed says:

      I have never smoked goat but I would suggest checking out – you might find some guys there that have smoked goat

      • D.J. says:

        I made this recipe last year and it came out fantastic. My mother-in-law said she couldn’t eat it because she morally will not eat lamb. Well she had a bite and then I caught her eating it inside the kitchen with her hands haha! Anyway it was great and I plan on making it again this weekend.

  2. Chris Woodley says:

    Hello Malcolm, is it okay to cook lamb to medium? Just wanted to know. I know what lamb should be cooked to but some people don’t like to see any pink in their meat, so I was wondering if medium was okay.

  3. Garrett Rigali says:

    Hey Malcolm,
    I’m cooking a 5 lb boneless leg of lamb. How many minutes per pound does lamb get smoked for?

  4. 바카라 says:

    Love chips and junk food !

  5. Ricky says:

    Hey Malcom,
    Thanks for this recipe, we are going to try it out for Easter this year. One question is do I need to add any brine recipe or do any prep work before adding the seasonings? I know I have used brines for other meats and didnt know if something like that was needed for lamb?
    Thanks and looking forward to trying this recipe

  6. James says:


    New to using a smoker but your videos have been a huge help! Followed your process for a boneless leg of lamb for Easter dinner and it was excellent. My 2 daughters couldn’t get enough. Super easy, moist and delicious!

  7. Andrew says:

    Hey Malcom,

    Love your advice! Just wondering how you would adjust your cook time for this leg of lamb if it still had the bone in?

  8. Mike says:

    Thanks, Malcom, for sharing your recipes and time with all of us. For a lot of us new to smoking, your site is our first stop!!

  9. Stuart says:

    Hi Malcom,

    How critical is the smoker temperature?

    I’ve recently purchased a Fornetto Razzo bullet smoker and on my first use, using lumpwood, it didn’t go above 250°F. I’m going to use Weber briquettes (best I can get in UK) when I attempt the lamb though.

  10. Stephen Shipler says:

    Hi Malcolm, I’m getting ready to prepare my boneless leg of lamb from Costco for the 3rd or 4th time according to your recipe. It is fabulous! I save enough to make Jacques Pepin’s Chicken Jardiniere substituting the lamb for the chicken. Outstanding but the sliced lamb coming out of the smoker is the bomb! Many thanks!
    Pit Boss 440D Using cherry this time.

  11. Graeme Lamb says:

    I want to give this a try, never brined or smoked lamb before, are the temps you give C or F.

  12. Paige says:

    If I put the rub on the night before I smoke it will that be ok

  13. Andrew says:

    Your recipes for the smoker knock the ball out of the park! Smoked chicken wings are a favorite but everyone likes the Lamb Roast. We add dill sauce (mayo, fresh dill, lemon juice, black pepper and salt). Even family members that do not usually like lamb meat, devour this recipe. Just cant beat it! Going to be a good Thanksgiving despite Governor Adolf Whitmer. Thanks!

  14. Levi Smith says:

    Hey Malcom,
    Thank you for providing this recipe, I used it for a yearly family cook off and won. This was a surprise due to the fact everyone else had at least twenty more years experience, Anyways just saying thank you for the great recipe that my family loves.

  15. Will try lamb on pellet grill

  16. I agree with the temp times statement. I went according to the chart looking for a med/rare finish…at 4.5 pounds..and turned out well done at 3.5 hours in. I was a little sad but it was the most amazing lamb I have cooked.. thank you

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