This smoked leg of lamb is a moist and tasty twist on your classics roast lamb.
A leg of lamb is traditionally cooked as a roast at higher temperature, but that doesn’t mean it cannot be cooked in a smoker.
The bone-in lamb shoulder would be our usual go-to cut for low and slow style smoking due to it having more connective tissue and intramuscular fat than the leg. A lamb leg doesn’t require those long cook times, so you can effectively put it in the smoker and bring it up to temp, give it a small rest and carve it up.
You’ll also learn how to make herb and butter Hasselback potatoes, carrots, snow peas and gravy to turn this into a complete roast meal.
Click to jump straight to each topic
Smoked lamb leg
If this shoulder is better suited to low and slow style cooking, why are we suggesting you smoke a leg?
The first time I heard someone was smoking a bone-in a leg of lamb I actually questioned them why they were doing it. I had only ever cooked them at a higher temp in a roasting style. I knew the leg was a much leaner cut and therefore wouldn’t lend well to being cooked for a long period, I felt it would dry out.
Boy was I wrong, this leg was moist, tender and the flavor was absolutely incredible. It was an eye-opener for me. I don’t tend to pigeonhole cuts of meat anymore, I look at other ways of cooking them all the time.
The finished product itself is just as versatile as how to cook it. By thinly slicing it you can use it in tacos or wraps and by slicing it slightly thicker you can serve it up as a traditional roast style meat but obviously with a nice smoky hit and a more tender version of its traditional roasted variety.
You can get your lamb leg from any supermarket or butcher, or get domestic, pasture-raised lamb delivered to your door from our friends at Porter Road.
Items that will help you cook these are:
- A smoker (I’m using a 22” Weber Smokey Mountain)
- Lump charcoal
- Rub shaker
- Boning or trimming knife
- Instant read thermometer (I’m using a Thermoworks M4 Thermapen)
- Internal temperature probe (I’m using a Thermoworks Smoke X4)
Bone-in or bone out for smoking?
You’ll see a lot of lamb recipes that call for a boneless leg of lamb. Bone out the leg, keep it butterflied and you can roast or grill them in around 30 minutes. That’s quicker than you can roast potatoes.
You can also roll up the boned leg of lamb and tie it up using butcher’s twine, this again will help roast it quicker, usually within an hour or so. Some butchers will already have a deboned leg of lamb rolled up in a netting, ready to roast for your convenience.
While you can definitely cook this lamb recipe with a boneless leg cut, I find that keeping the bone helps with hitting our exact doneness temperature as the bone acts as insulator.
So bone-in is the best option when smoking, as you will get better results by allowing a longer cook time and the bone absorbing some of the heat to allow you to hit the internal temp exactly with less fuss.
What flavors work well with lamb?
Lamb lends really well to earthy herb flavors. You can pair it with garlic and wine, you can even add some spice to lean towards a Middle Eastern flavor profile.
I have a tried and tested seasoning for lamb, be it smaller cutlets and chops or bigger cuts like shoulder, rack and leg.
The only difference is that instead of using powders with some seasonings, I use granules and flakes for these larger cuts.
Mine consists of sea salt flakes or kosher salt, lemon pepper (black pepper works fine too), dried rosemary and oregano, garlic granules and onion flakes. These larger pieces of seasoning don’t get lost on a larger cut like some powders do.
Cover the lamb with a few Tablespoons of olive oil, and then apply a generous coating of the lamb rub.
If you want a really strong garlic flavor you can grab a few garlic cloves, slice them into little sticks and then make small incisions in the lamb and then stuff the garlic.
How much is too much seasoning?
I find when it comes to larger cuts, you can afford to be a lot heavier on the application of your rub or seasonings. Especially when it comes to lamb, it works so well and due to its gamey flavor, it can handle the extra flavors.
I feel I keep telling people that when you are seasoning a leg or shoulder, put the amount of seasoning you think is needed, then add more, now double that. Trust me it works.
I love a good crust with a heap of flavor on my lamb, in fact if I could get away with just trimming that off at the dinner table, I would do it but my family knows all too well that the crust or bark is brimming with punchy flavor.
Hence why I always take a few test cut pieces off near the BBQ before bringing in the roast.
Setting up the Weber Smokey Mountain for Lamb
I’m using a 22” Weber Smokey Mountain for my cook. I’ll be utilizing the minion method with lump charcoal.
I’ll start by lighting up a half full chimney starter with lump charcoal, once it is fully alight, I’ll place this into a well created in the charcoal ring with unlit charcoal.
I’ll place a few chunks of cherry wood around the lit charcoal, not touching the lit fuel as this will allow it to warm up and burn cleanly without giving us any thick white smoke that will add a bitter taste to our lamb.
I have removed the water pan for this cook and I’m using a deflector plate to stop the direct radiant heat hitting the bottom of the leg of the lamb. By removing the water pan, it will allow the fat or the leg of lamb as it renders down to drip onto the hot charcoal and create a nice extra smoky element to our meal.
Once the smoker is stable at 250°F, I’ll place the leg of lamb into the middle of the cooking grate and insert an internal meat probe, I’m using the Thermoworks Smoke X4 today.
I’ll let this smoke away for around 4 hours in total until it reaches an internal temperature of 150°F, I’ll give it a second test with a Thermapen M4, just making sure every part of the leg of lamb is at or above 150°F internally. This will give you medium, which I find works well with lamb.
If you want a little more pinkish hue, you can remove the lamb when the temperature of the meat hits the 135°F mark for medium rare.
Then I’ll take it off the heat and rest it for 10 minutes before carving.
The 4 hour cooking time is perfectly spent preparing vegetables to go with our roast.
By only taking the internal temperature to 150°F, the lamb will still be carvable. If I wanted to I could push it further until it was ready up near 200°F for pulled lamb, but I wanted this to be a roast-style cook.
Side dishes for smoked lamb
Generally you would serve lamb with any vegetables. Roasted, steamed or baked would be a good choice. See below for our recommended sides and methods.
Or you can thinly slice it and have it in lamb tacos.
Leftovers make great pies, add a thick gravy and you’ll be in food heaven.
1. Herb and butter Hasselback potatoes
Start by preheating an oven to 425°F, as the smoker is not running hot enough to cook roasted potatoes.
Wash and dry the potatoes and cut slices around ⅛ to ¼ apart, you can use chopsticks as guides so you do not cut all the way through.
Place the potatoes on a baking dish and brush with melted butter, then season with salt and pepper.
Put into the oven for 30 minutes.
After 30 minutes, give the potatoes another brush with butter, by now the slices should have started to open up, so you can get the butter down into each slit.
Put back into the oven for another 30 minutes.
By now the edges should be crispy and the interior of the potatoes should be soft, you can check with a skewer or sharp knife.
Take them out of the oven and sprinkle with freshly chopped chives and serve immediately.
2. Steamed Honey and Lemon Carrots
You’ll need to boil some water in the bottom of a steamer, adding some lemon juice to the water as it will permeate a lovely citrus flavor into the carrots.
Peel and top and tail the carrots, then chop into even pieces of roughly 1 and a half inches to 2 inches long.
Next slice in half lengthways and slice into strips roughly a quarter of an inch thick.
Place into a steamer for 10 minutes.
Drain water and put into a bowl, add butter, honey and salt and pepper and toss until butter is all melted and all carrots are covered.
3. Minted Snow Peas
You’ll utilize the steamer along with the carrots for these.
So just remove the stems and spines off each snow pea and add to the steamer for 4 minutes.
Once steamed, place in a bowl and add butter, freshly chopped mint leaves, salt and pepper and toss.
Once the butter is all melted and all snow peas fully coated, serve immediately.
4. Homemade Gravy made simple
It’s not hard to make your own homemade gravy, it just takes a little prep.
Start by peeling and thinly slicing 2 medium onions. Now add these to a frypan on medium heat and cook until softened. Add some chicken stock or vegetable stock if you wish and also some white wine.
Bring to the boil and then simmer until it reduces by about a third.
In another pan, melt some butter and add some all purpose flour and whisk. When the color changes to a nutty look, add this to our gravy mixture and you will see it thicken pretty much instantly.
Taste and season with salt and pepper accordingly.
Strain and serve.
Smoked Leg of Lamb
- 1 leg of lamb, mine was 6.4lbs
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 3 parts salt flakes
- 2 parts lemon pepper
- 1 part dried rosemary
- 1 part dried oregano
- 1 part garlic granules
- 1 part onion flakes
Butter and herb Hasselback potatoes:
- 2 medium to large potatoes per person
- 1 tbsp melted butter per 2 potatoes
- 1 tsp freshly chopped chives per 2 potatoes
- salt and pepper to taste
Steamed honey and lemon carrots:
- 2 large carrots per person
- 1 tsp butter per 2 carrots
- ½ tsp honey per 2 carrots
- salt and pepper to taste
Minted snow peas:
- ½ cup snow peas per person
- 1 tsp butter per serve
- ½ tsp freshly chopped mint leaves per serve
- salt and pepper to taste
- 2 medium onions
- 2 cups chicken stock
- 1 cup white wine
- 2 tbsp butter
- 2 tbsp all purpose flour
- salt and pepper to taste
For the Lamb:
- Set up Smoker to smoke at 250°F.
- Add some cherry wood for smoke.
- Lightly oil lamb and season heavily with seasoning.
- Smoke for 4 hours until internal temp of 150°F is reached.
- Rest for 10 minutes.
- Slice and serve.
Herb and butter Hasselback potatoes:
- Preheat the oven to 425°F.
- Wash and dry the potatoes and cut slices around ⅛ to ¼ apart.
- Place the potatoes on a baking dish and brush with melted butter, then season with salt and pepper.
- Place potatoes into the oven for 30 minutes.
- After 30 minutes, give the potatoes another brush with butter.
- Put potatoes back into the oven for another 30 minutes.
- Once potatoes have softened, take them out of the oven and sprinkle with freshly chopped chives.
Steamed Honey and Lemon Carrots:
- Boil some water in the bottom of a steamer, adding some lemon juice to the water.
- Peel and top and tail the carrots, then chop into even pieces of roughly 1 ½ inches to 2 inches long. Next slice in half lengthways and slice into strips roughly a quarter of an inch thick.
- Place into a steamer for 10 minutes.
- Drain water and put into a bowl, add butter, honey and salt and pepper and toss until butter is all melted and all carrots are covered.
Minted Snow Peas:
- Remove the stems and spines off each snow pea and add to the steamer for 4 minutes.
- Once steamed, place in a bowl and add butter, freshly chopped mint leaves, salt and pepper and toss.
- Peel and thinly slice 2 medium onions. Add to a frypan on medium heat and cook until softened.
- Add some chicken stock or vegetable stock along with some white wine.
- Bring to the boil and then simmer until it reduces by about a third.
- In another pan, melt some butter and add some all purpose flour and whisk. When the color changes to a nutty look, add this to the gravy mixture to help thicken.
- Taste and season with salt and pepper accordingly.
- Strain contents and serve.
- Serve lamb with roasted and grilled vegetables or thinly slice and have it in tacos.