This smoked leg of lamb is a juicy and flavorful variation on traditional roast lamb.
A leg of lamb is often cooked as a roast at a higher temperature, although this does not exclude it from being cooked in a smoker.
Because it has more connective tissue and intramuscular fat than the leg, the bone-in lamb shoulder is our normal go-to cut for low and slow smoking. Because a lamb leg does not need extensive cook periods, you can efficiently place it in the smoker, bring it up to temperature, give it a little rest, and cut it up.
You’ll also discover how to produce herb and butter. To make this a full roast supper, add Hasselback potatoes, carrots, snow peas, and gravy.
- Smoked lamb leg
- Bone-in or bone out for smoking?
- What flavors work well with lamb?
- How much is too much seasoning?
- Setting up the Weber Smokey Mountain for Lamb
- Side dishes for smoked lamb
- Other smoked lamb recipes to try
- How long does it take to smoke a leg of lamb?
- Do you smoke a leg of lamb with fat side up or down?
- What is the best cut of lamb for smoking?
- Should you trim the fat off leg of lamb?
- How do you keep lamb moist in a smoker?
- How long does it take to smoke a leg of lamb at 250?
- Do you spritz lamb when smoking?
- What temperature should you smoke a leg of lamb at?
- What temperature should smoked leg of lamb be?
- Why does my smoked meat taste bitter?
Smoked lamb leg
Why would we recommend smoking a leg if this shoulder is better suited to low and slow cooking?
I really asked someone why they were smoking a bone-in leg of lamb the first time I heard about it. I’d only ever cooked them at a higher temperature in a roasting method. I knew the leg was a lot slimmer cut and hence wouldn’t hold up well to being cooked for an extended amount of time; I was afraid it would dry up.
I was very incorrect; this leg was juicy and delicate, with a fantastic taste. It was eye-opening for me. I no longer categorize cuts of meat and am always looking for new ways to prepare them.
The ultimate result is as diverse as the method of preparation. Thinly sliced, it may be used in tacos or wraps, and somewhat thicker sliced, it can be served as a classic roast style meat, but with a great smokey flavor and a more soft form of its conventional roasted kind.
You may purchase a lamb leg from any supermarket or butcher, or you can get domestic, pasture-raised lamb delivered to your home by our friends at Porter Road.
Items that will help you cook these are:
- A smoker (Im using a 22 Weber Smokey Mountain)
- Lump charcoal
- Rub shaker
- Boning or trimming knife
- I use an instant read thermometer (a Thermoworks Thermapen).
- I’m using a Thermoworks Smoke X4 internal temperature probe.
Bone-in or bone out for smoking?
A boneless leg of lamb is called for in many lamb dishes. Bone out the leg, keep it butterflied, and roast or grill it for about 30 minutes. That’s faster than roasting potatoes.
You may also wrap up the boned leg of lamb and tie it up with butcher’s twine to help it cook faster, generally within an hour. For your convenience, some butchers will have a deboned leg of lamb coiled up in netting and ready to roast.
While this lamb meal may be cooked using a boneless leg cut, I believe that preserving the bone helps us get our precise doneness temperature since the bone works as an insulator.
So, when smoking, bone-in is the greatest choice since it allows for a longer cook time and absorbs part of the heat, enabling you to get the internal temperature precisely with less difficulty.
What flavors work well with lamb?
Lamb pairs very well with earthy herb tastes. You may match it with garlic and wine, and you can even add some spice to make it more Middle Eastern in taste.
I have a tried-and-true seasoning for lamb, whether it’s smaller parts like cutlets and chops or larger cuts like shoulder, rack, and leg.
The only change is that instead of seasoning powders, I use granules and flakes for these bigger slices.
My seasoning blend includes sea salt flakes or kosher salt, lemon pepper (black pepper also works), dried rosemary and oregano, garlic granules, and onion flakes. Unlike other powders, these bigger particles of spice do not get lost on a larger cut.
Apply a liberal coating of the lamb rub to the lamb after covering it with a couple Tablespoons of olive oil.
If you want a particularly strong garlic taste, slice a few garlic cloves into little sticks, then make small incisions in the lamb and insert the garlic.
How much is too much seasoning?
When it comes to bigger slices, I find that you can get away with using a lot more rub or spices. It works very well with lamb, and because of its gamey taste, it can withstand the added ingredients.
I keep telling folks that when seasoning a leg or a shoulder, start with the quantity you believe is required, then add more, then double that. It works, believe me.
I love a nice crust with a lot of flavor on my lamb, and if I could simply take it off at the dinner table, I would, but my family understands that the crust or bark is packed with punchy flavor.
As a result, I usually cut a few test pieces beside the grill before bringing in the roast.
Setting up the Weber Smokey Mountain for Lamb
My grill is a 22 Weber Smokey Mountain. I’ll be using lump charcoal and the minion approach.
I’ll begin by igniting a half-full chimney starter with lump charcoal, then set it in a well formed in the charcoal ring with unlit charcoal.
I’ll lay a few pieces of cherry wood around the lighted charcoal, but without touching it, to let it to warm up and burn cleanly without producing any thick white smoke that will impart an unpleasant flavor to our lamb.
For this cook, I’ve removed the water pan and am using a deflector plate to prevent direct radiant heat from reaching the bottom of the lamb leg. By removing the water pan, we will enable the fat or leg of lamb to drip over the hot charcoal, adding a delicious added smokey aspect to our dish.
Once the smoker has reached a consistent temperature of 250°F, I’ll lay the leg of lamb in the center of the cooking grate and insert an internal meat probe. I’m using the Thermoworks Smoke X4 today.
I’ll let this smoke go for about 4 hours until it achieves an internal temperature of 150F, then I’ll give it a second test with a Thermapen to ensure that every portion of the leg of lamb is at or above 150F internally. This will provide medium, which goes great with lamb.
If you like a rosy color, remove the lamb when the internal temperature reaches 135°F for medium rare.
Then I’ll remove it from the stove and let it rest for 10 minutes before cutting.
The 4 hour cooking period is ideal for preparing veggies to accompany our roast.
The lamb will still be carvable if the internal temperature is barely 150F. I could cook it until it was around 200F for pulled lamb if I wanted, but I wanted it to be a roast-style cook.
Side dishes for smoked lamb
Lamb is often served with any veggies. Roasted, steamed, or baked would be excellent options. Our preferred sides and techniques are shown below.
You can also thinly slice it and use it in lamb tacos.
Leftovers make excellent pies; add a rich sauce and you’ll be in culinary bliss.
1. Herb and butter Hasselback potatoes
As the smoker is not hot enough to cook roasted potatoes, start by preheating an oven to 425F.
Wash and dry the potatoes before cutting them apart with chopsticks to avoid cutting all the way through.
Brush the potatoes with melted butter and season with salt and pepper in a baking dish.
Put into the oven for 30 minutes.
After 30 minutes, spray the potatoes with butter again; the slices should have begun to open up, allowing you to get the butter into each slit.
Put back into the oven for another 30 minutes.
Check with a skewer or sharp knife that the edges are crispy and the inside of the potatoes are tender.
Remove from the oven and immediately sprinkle with freshly cut chives.
Try our smoked potatoes with garlic and rosemary as an alternative.
2. Steamed Honey and Lemon Carrots
Boil some water in the bottom of a steamer, then add some lemon juice to the water to infuse a wonderful citrus taste into the carrots.
Peel and top and tail the carrots before chopping them into even pieces about 1.5 to 2 inches long.
Next, cut it in half lengthwise and then into quarter-inch-thick strips.
Place into a steamer for 10 minutes.
Drain the carrots and place them in a bowl with the butter, honey, salt, and pepper. Toss until the butter is completely melted and the carrots are completely coated.
3. Minted Snow Peas
For these, you’ll use the steamer alongside the carrots.
Simply remove the stems and spines from each snow pea and steam for 4 minutes.
Once steamed, transfer to a basin and combine with butter, freshly cut mint leaves, salt, and pepper.
Serve immediately when the butter has completely melted and the snow peas have been well covered.
4. Homemade Gravy made simple
It’s not difficult to create your own homemade gravy; it just needs a little planning.
Begin by peeling and slicing 2 medium onions. Add them to a medium-sized frypan and simmer until softened. If desired, add some chicken stock or vegetable stock, as well as some white wine.
Bring to a boil, then reduce to approximately a third of its original volume.
Melt some butter in a separate skillet and stir in some all-purpose flour. When the color turns to a nutty hue, add it to our gravy mixture and watch it thicken almost quickly.
Season to taste with salt and pepper as needed.
Strain and serve.
Other smoked lamb recipes to try
- How to Smoke a Whole Lamb
- Smoked Rack of Lamb
- Wraps of smoked lamb with baba ganoush and chimichurri
- Lemon & Rosemary Grilled Lamb Ribs
- Smoked Lamb Shoulder Recipe