Garlic-studded roast lamb

Vitlöksspäckad lammstek

A garlic studded joint of lamb about to go into the oven

Roast lamb is popular in Sweden during the spring, especially for Påsk (Easter) and Valborg (May Day). Studding the lamb with garlic and scenting it with lemon and rosemary ensures that the meat smells and tastes absolutely fabulous.

Be bold and roast the lamb so that it is rosa (pink) in the centre - then the lamb will taste so much better and it will also remain moist if you have any leftovers to serve cold.

Garlic, rosemary and lemon are used to add flavour and scent roast lamb

Of course lamb with garlic, rosemary and lemon is fairly international, but I do recommend doing as most Swedes do and using a meat thermometer and searing the meat before roasting it. John Duxbury


Recipe summary for garlic-studded roast lamb


• Ask your butcher to trim the lamb, so that it hasn't got too much fat.

A boneless leg of lamb carved and on a serving plate

• Also ask your butcher to part-bone the lamb, leaving just the lower part of the leg bone in the joint, so that meat is easy to carve but it still holds its shape well.

Garlic-studded roast lamb with wild garlic pesto

• Serve the lamb with some ramslökspesto (wild garlic pesto) for a delicious double dose of garlic: stunning!


1¾ kg (4 lb) part-boned leg of lamb*
2 tbsp   oil
1 tbsp   fresh rosemary, finely chopped
½ tsp   freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp   salt**
6-10   cloves of garlic, peeled
2-3   sprigs of rosemary
3-4   lemons (optional)

* Or 2+ kg with bone in, or 1+ kg if boned and rolled
** Swedes would normally use 2-3 tsp of salt, so use more if desired


1. Pre-heat your barbecue or oven to 175°C (350°F, gas 4, fan 160°C).

2. Brush the lamb with some olive oil.

3. Mix the rosemary, salt and ground black pepper and rub the mixture all over the lamb.

A part-boned leg of lamb being sealed on a barbecue

4. Seal the lamb all over in a hot pan or on the barbecue until golden brown, allowing 1-2 minutes per side.

A browned leg of lamb after studding garlic and rosemary

5. Make slits in the lamb and put a glove of garlic and a small piece of rosemary in each slit. (Halve any large cloves if desired.)

6. Grate the skin of one of the lemons over the lamb and then insert a meat thermometer into the thickest part of the meat.

7. Roast until the inner temperature reaches 60°C (140°F) for rare, or 70°C (160°F) for well-done. See the table below for a rough guide to the cooking times.

Rare 40 min per kg plus 20 min 20 min per lb plus 20 min
Medium 50 min per kg plus 25 min 25 min per lb plus 25 min
Well done 60 min per kg plus 30 min 30 min per lb plus 30 min

8. Remove the meat, cover with foil and leave to rest somewhere warm for at least 20 minutes.

9. Serve the meat, hot or warm, garnished with a few small sprigs of rosemary and roasted lemon halves (optional).

Roast lemons

Garlic studded roast lamb garnished with roasted lemons

If you would like to garnish the lamb with roasted lemons, halve them crossways and add them to the roasting pan, cut side down, half way through the cooking time. When the lamb is cooked, add a teaspoon of oil to a frying pan and heat until very hot. Add the lemons, again cut side down, and fry for 1-2 minutes, until nicely browned.

Side dishes

A dish of potato gratin

I like to serve roast lamb with potatisgratäng (potato gratin), a medley of roasted vegetables and some nice gravy.


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