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Make-ahead spiced lamb recipe

Make-ahead spiced lamb recipe

20 ratings

This make-ahead lamb is marinated in yogurt and spices two days before, so the meat is extra juicy and tender. This is the only way to serve up Easter lunch this year. See method

  • Serves 8
  • Takes 5 hrs 45 mins plus 48 hrs marinating and resting
  • 385 calories / serving
  • Freezable
  • Gluten-free


  • 2.5kg leg of lamb (or larger)
  • 3 lemons, juiced
  • 2 tsp sea salt flakes
  • 1 tbsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tbsp coriander seeds
  • 1 small cinnamon stick
  • 1 tsp black peppercorns
  • 150g full-fat Greek-style natural yogurt
  • 8 bay leaves

Perfect with:

  • Tesco Finest Ribera Del Duero 75Cl
  • Tesco Finest The Trilogy Malbec 75Cl
  • Tesco Finest Valpolicella Ripasso 75Cl

Perfect with:

  • Tesco Finest Ribera Del Duero 75Cl
  • Tesco Finest The Trilogy Malbec 75Cl
  • Tesco Finest Valpolicella Ripasso 75Cl

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    Each serving contains

    • Energy

    • Fat

      24g 34%
    • Saturates

      13g 63%
    • Sugars

      1g 1%
    • Salt

      1.8g 29%

    of the reference intake
    Carbohydrate 1.9g Protein 40g Fibre 1g


    1. Two days before cooking, pat the lamb dry with kitchen paper, then transfer to a board with the meatiest side facing down. Feel along the length of the joint for the bone, then use a small, sharp knife to cut down to the bone – at the narrower end of the leg, it’s below a thin layer of fat, but at the thicker end you’ll need to cut 4-5cm into the meat. Carefully cut all the meat away from the bone, working as closely as possible to avoid waste. When you reach the joint in the middle, cut around it to release. Discard the bone (or save for making stock).
    2. Slash into the thickest parts of the meat a few times, then transfer to a large container or food bag and rub all over with the lemon juice and sea salt to coat. Cover or seal, then transfer to the fridge to marinate for 24 hrs. Turn the meat 2-3 times during this period, if possible.
    3. The next day, toast the cumin and coriander seeds, cinnamon stick and peppercorns in a dry frying pan over a medium heat for 2 mins or until fragrant and the seeds begin to pop. Remove from the heat, then grind finely, in batches, using a pestle and mortar or in a spice grinder.
    4. Pour away the excess liquid from the lamb. Mix the ground spices with the yogurt, then spread over the lamb to cover. Poke in the bay leaves, then return to the fridge to marinate for 24 hrs.
    5. The next day, remove the lamb from the fridge 1 hr before cooking. Preheat the oven to gas 2½, 160°C, fan 140°C, and arrange two pieces of baking paper, longer and wider than the lamb, over two similarly-shaped pieces of foil in a cross shape. Roughly roll and re-shape the lamb – secure 3-4 times along the length with kitchen string. Transfer to the centre of the baking paper cross, then enclose, scrunching the foil to seal. Lift into a roasting tin, then roast for 4 hrs 30 mins or until very tender.
    6. Increase the oven temperature to gas 7, 220°C, fan 200°C. Unwrap the lamb parcel, scrunching the foil and paper to the edges of the tin. Baste with any juices, then roast for another 20 mins to brown.
    7. Re-cover with foil and leave to rest for 25-30 mins. Shred into large pieces to serve, with any juices spooned over.

    Tip: Cook the lamb in a slow-cooker for 8-9 hours on low, then follow step 6 to brown in the oven. If serving for dinner, you can cook the lamb for 7 hrs at gas ½, 120°C, fan 100°C, if you prefer.

    Freezing and defrosting guidelines

    In order to enjoy optimum flavour and quality, frozen items are best used within 3 months of their freezing date. For more tips on freezing and defrosting food, read our article Love Your Freezer.

    See more Easter lamb recipes

    For top tips on protecting you and your family when preparing raw meat and poultry, visit Food Safety in the Home.


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