Why The Sous Vide Method Works Well For Leg Of Lamb
Imagine this: tender, juicy sous vide leg of lamb that cooks slowly in a water bath while you go do literally anything else. That’s the beauty of cooking sous vide in a nutshell! You can season the lamb and marinate it a day or two in advance, then set it in a preheated water bath with a sous vide precision circulator, then walk away.
When you come back, the lamb is cooked to the exact temperature you set the circulator to! All that’s left is to reverse sear the lamb leg to get a golden brown crust. Slice it, serve it up (we’re adding it to Mediterranean rice bowls! with tzatziki!), then enjoy!
It’s easy, impressive, flavorful, and foolproof — can’t beat that!
Ingredients For Sous Vide Leg Of Lamb
- Kosher salt: To season the lamb.
- Garlic: Adds a ton of flavor to the herb mixture.
- Fresh rosemary and oregano: Can substitute or add fresh thyme too!
- Lemon: A bright citrus flavor.
- Freshly ground black pepper: To season the lamb.
- Crushed red pepper flakes: Adds a little heat
- Extra virgin olive oil: To help make a paste with the other spices and seasonings to marinate the lamb.
- A boneless leg of lamb: at most grocery stores and butchers, this will be sold already tied up with butcher’s twine to help keep its shape during cooking (see below)
You’ll also need some paper towels to pat the lamb leg dry before seasoning with any spices and vacuum sealing.
And of course, you’ll want to get your hands on a sous vide circulator and a vacuum seal bag (or a Ziplock bag if using the water displacement method – more on this below!).
What Is Sous Vide Cooking?
Sous vide cooking is actually really easy! Seal food in an airtight container, remove all the air, then cook at a pre-determined temperature with a sous vide circulator.
It’s a more precise way of achieving perfectly cooked proteins. And the best part? You can throw your favorite marinades, a little olive oil, herbs, spices, and sauces right into the bag. The bags are added directly to a water bath, cooked slowly at the temperature you choose, and voila! A perfectly tender, medium-rare boneless leg of lamb, which until reverse searing is entirely hands off.
Forget second guessing whether your protein is cooked to the right temperature. The sous vide circulator will do all the hard work for you!
If you want to cook sous vide lamb leg, but you don’t have a vacuum sealer, try using the water displacement method with a Ziplock bag. It works well!
How To Cook Sous Vide
Step one: season the protein and seal it in a bag. Combine Kosher salt, garlic, lemon zest, black pepper, red pepper flakes, and olive oil in a bowl, then whisk or stir with a fork. You could also pulse everything together in a food processor or personal blender, but it’s easiest just to chop it quickly by hand — and one less appliance to clean, right?
Place the lamb inside the bag (along with any herbs, spices, sauce, etc.), then use the vacuum sealer to remove all air. Easy!
At this point, you can set the leg of lamb in the fridge for 8 hours, or up to overnight, to help the flavors meld before cooking.
Next, set your sous vide circulator to the desired temperature (more on this below), plunge the bag directly into the water bath, set a time, and go on with your life. Could not be simpler.
Leg Of Lamb Temperature
We enjoy lamb cooked to medium-rare. That means the internal temperature on the thickest part of the lamb should register between 125F and 134F. To achieve this, set the Anova sous vide circulator to 130F. When cooking sous vide, you allow the the lamb cook for 2-6 hours.
For medium, set the temperature between 135F and 144F. We do not recommend serving it any more well done (or less done, for that matter), as the meat will become extremely tough.
Why You Should Reverse Sear
Sous vide cooking is the most reliable way to achieve a perfect temperature. You set it, forget it, and come back to a beautifully cooked protein. But everyone knows that a perfectly seared steak or crispy-skinned piece of fish — or lamb! — is what we’re all after.
When cooking sous vide, the only way to achieve that is by placing the cooked protein on a sheet pan and setting under a broiler at the end or reverse searing, our preferred method.
The best part is that reverse searing only takes minutes! Remove the sous vide lamb leg from the sealed bag, then preheat a cast-iron skillet over high heat. When very hot, add a tablespoon or two of canola or vegetable oil. Sear lamb for 2-3 minutes on all sides, or until golden brown all around. Allow meat to rest for 5-10 minutes, then thinly slice.
You can also throw the lamb on a hot grill for the same length of time if you’d rather grill it!
What To Serve With Leg Of Lamb
For this recipe, we’re serving the leg of lamb in a Mediterranean rice bowl with tzatziki, cucumber salad, and pita. Chopped tomatoes, roasted vegetables, or a generous spoonful of toum would be amazing too!!
Other serving suggestions: feta, quick pickled red onions, or even harissa mixed into the tzatziki would be great! Or skip the tzatziki altogether and drizzle the lamb with our Italian salsa verde instead! Fresh herbs work so well with the flavor of the lamb.
There is so much to love here. The warm lamb and rice with creamy tzatziki and a refreshing cucumber salad. The crunch from the pomegranates. It all just works and we know you’re going to love it too!
If you make this Sous Vide Leg of Lamb recipe, please let me know by leaving a review below!
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Looking for more dinner recipes? Check out the following!
- Weeknight chicken milanese with fennel salad
- Crispy pan-seared salmon with lemon parmesan cream sauce
- Spicy crab pasta with lemon and capers
- Lamb meatballs
- Dinner party chicken
Tender, Juicy Sous Vide Leg Of Lamb
- 1 (5-6 lb) boneless leg of lamb
- ¼ cup Kosher salt
- 3 cloves garlic finely chopped
- zest from 1 lemon
- ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
- ½ tsp crushed red pepper flakes
- ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 3 sprigs fresh rosemary
- 2 sprigs fresh oregano
- 3 Tbsp canola or vegetable oil
Optional for serving:
- white rice cooked
- cucumbers or cucumber salad mixed with yogurt, lemon juice, and minced garlic
- pomegranate seeds for crunch
- fresh oregano garnish
- fresh dill garnish
- lemon wedges for serving
- Make the marinade. Combine ¼ cup Kosher salt, chopped garlic, lemon zest, ½ tsp black pepper, ½ tsp red pepper flakes, and ½ cup olive oil in a bowl, then whisk.
- Marinate the lamb. Place lamb in a vacuum seal bag then pour the marinade on top and add 3 rosemary sprigs and 2 oregano springs. Use the vacuum sealer to remove all air from the bag, then place in a refrigerator for 8 hours or overnight.
- Prepare the sous vide circulator. When ready to cook, fill a large bucket or pot with water, then attach your sous vide circulator and set desired temperature for lamb. For medium-rare leg of lamb, internal temperature should be between 125F and 134F. For medium, the internal temperature should be between: 135F and 144F. I set mine to 130F.
- Cook the lamb. Place sealed bag with boneless leg of lamb in the pot of water, then set a timer as soon as circulator reaches desired temperature. Cook lamb for 3-4 hours (or up to 6 hours). Remove bag from water, cut open, and dry lamb on a paper towel-lined plate.
- Sear before serving. Heat a large skillet over high heat. When very hot, add 3 Tbsp canola or vegetable oil. Sear lamb for 2-3 minutes on all sides, or until golden brown all around. Allow meat to rest for 5-10 minutes, then thinly slice.
- Serve with garnishes. Serve sliced leg of lamb as is or with rice, tzatziki, cucumbers, pita, and lemon wedges. Fresh herbs (dill, oregano, parsley, or mint) make a great garnish and add extra flavor. Additional toppings could include: pomegranate seeds, feta, pickled red onions, or harissa.
- To finish – Bring out the flavor of the cooked lamb by drizzling a high quality extra virgin olive oil and a few flakes of maldon sea salt right on top.
This post was published in November 2019. It has since been updated with additional tips, tricks, and information to make it easier to enjoy at home.