Lamb kleftiko

Lamb kleftiko

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(40 ratings)

Prep: 10 mins Cook: 5 hrs, 20 mins plus overnight marinating

More effort

Serves 6

Seal a leg of lamb in a parcel then roast it long and slow with garlic, lemon and herbs, and potatoes to soak up the delicious juices

Nutrition and extra info

  • Gluten-free

Nutrition: per serving

  • kcal729
  • fat41g
  • saturates16g
  • carbs33g
  • sugars6g
  • fibre4g
  • protein57g
  • salt2.3g
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  • 6 garlic cloves
  • 3 tbsp roughly chopped oregano



    Closely related to marjoram, of which it is the wild equivalent, oregano has a coarser, more…

  • 1 tbsp roughly chopped rosemary



    Rosemary's intense, fragrant aroma has traditionally been paired with lamb, chicken and game…

  • zest 1 lemon and juice of 2



    Oval in shape, with a pronouced bulge on one end, lemons are one of the most versatile fruits…

  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
    olive oil

    Olive oil

    ol-iv oyl

    Probably the most widely-used oil in cooking, olive oil is pressed from fresh olives. It's…

  • 2kg leg of lamb
  • 1kg Desiree potato, halved or quartered



    The world's favourite root vegetable, the potato comes in innumerable varieties. A member of…

  • 5 bay leaves

For the mint yogurt

  • 250g Greek yogurt
  • juice ½ lemon



    Oval in shape, with a pronouced bulge on one end, lemons are one of the most versatile fruits…

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
    olive oil

    Olive oil

    ol-iv oyl

    Probably the most widely-used oil in cooking, olive oil is pressed from fresh olives. It's…

  • handful mint, shredded



    There are several types of mint, each with its own subtle difference in flavour and appearance.…

For the Greek-style salad

  • 1½ tsp red wine vinegar
  • 1½ tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 100g baby spinach
  • small bunch parsley, roughly chopped



    One of the most ubiquitous herbs in British cookery, parsley is also popular in European and…

  • ½ red onion, finely sliced
  • 175g cherry tomato, halved
  • ½ cucumber, halved lengthways, deseeded and sliced
  • 75g black Kalamata olive, stoned and quartered


  1. Crush together the garlic cloves and 1 tsp salt using a pestle and mortar. Add the herbs, lemon zest, cinnamon, some black pepper, crush a little more, then stir through 2 tbsp of the olive oil.

  2. Using a sharp knife, create lots of holes all over the lamb, and rub in the paste, pushing it deep into the holes. Transfer the lamb to a large food bag, pour in the lemon juice and marinate overnight.

  3. The next day, take the lamb out of the fridge 1 hr before you want to cook it. Heat oven to 160C/140C fan/gas 3.

  4. Lay 2 long pieces of baking parchment on top of 2 long pieces of foil – one widthways, the other lengthways to form a cross. Pop the potatoes in the centre of the parchment and toss with the remaining oil and some seasoning. Bring up the sides of the foil, then pour the marinade from the lamb over the potatoes and throw in the bay leaves. 

  5. Set the lamb on top of the potatoes and scrunch the foil together tightly to completely enclose the lamb. Lift into a roasting tin and roast in the oven for 4½ hrs until very tender.

  6. Remove tin from the oven and increase the temperature to 220C/200C fan/gas 7. Unwrap the parcel and scrunch the foil and parchment under the rim of the tin, baste the lamb with the juices and return to the oven for a further 20 mins until browned. Remove the lamb from the tin, wrap in foil and rest. 

  7. Turn the potatoes over and return to the oven for 30 mins, then season with salt. While the potatoes are cooking, stir together all the ingredients for the yogurt.

  8. Combine the red wine vinegar, oil and some seasoning to make a dressing for the salad. Toss together the remaining salad ingredients, adding the dressing when you’re ready to eat. Serve the lamb with the potatoes and meaty juices, with the salad and yogurt on the side.

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Comments, questions and tips

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11th Mar, 2018
Arrived back in the UK from Cyprus on Friday. Looked for Kleftiko recipes, picked this one, bought a shoulder of lamb and marinaded it on Saturday Slow cooked it in parchment,foil and my Aga cast iron casserole dish all day Sunday. The verdict - Bl**dy Lovely ! I'll definitely be doing this again. A couple of comments : I used dried herbs and reduced the quantities by 1/3, I could probably have used the full quantities. If I'm being picky, for authenticity, it could probably use some Thyme I bunged some carrots and celeriac in the pot with the lamb and spuds, and finished them off by roasting while the meat was resting - that was a Good Idea
19th Jan, 2018
This is so super tasty. I just did the lamb with the potatoes and veg as a sunday lunch rather than with the salad... it almost fell off the bone, none of it was wasted at all - sliced it up and had it in sandwiches the next day. 3 of us demolished a 2.4KG leg in 2 days. YUM. Definitely my go to recipe for lamb now... didn't change a thing about that recipe.
4th Oct, 2017
Don’t change a thing with this recipe...! Actually scrap that, buy a bigger leg of lamb so there are more leftovers! I went to the butchers for a 2kg leg but he only had full legs at 3kg or half legs at 1.7kg. I bought a full leg but he removed the shank so it was 2.7kg. Followed the recipe exactly, marinated it overnight and put it in the low oven for 6 hours. Turned the oven up & opened the parcel for 20-25 mins, removed the lamb to rest and put the potatoes back in. The result was the softest, tastiest lamb I’ve ever had with crispy skin flavoured with all the herbs and sweet slow roasted garlic. The potatoes end up like fondant potatoes because they’re cooking in the lamb stock. Putting them back in the oven made the tops crisp up, but the bottoms stayed lovely & soft in the juices. I served the lamb on a board for my guests to dig in & help themselves and the potatoes in a bowl on the table next to the yogurt sauce & Greek salad. Easy, yet very impressive dinner party meal. Everyone said it was the best lamb they’d tasted. Honestly, try it, you’ll love it!
11th Mar, 2018
I think a tablespoon of Thyme might be nice, simply because it grows wild on Cyprus, and I'm pretty sure it was in the Kleftiko I had over there last week. Other than yet, yes, it really is delicious
26th Jul, 2017
Most delicious way to cook lamb!
16th Apr, 2017
First time making this- it was delicious! I had a small leg of about 900g, so I cooked it for 3h instead of 4h30, with the first 30 mins at 200c. Salad and yoghurt worked really well with the lamb too. Will be making this again.
24th Mar, 2017
I cooked this using a 1.2 kg leg and followed the recipe pretty much to the letter, had to use 1 tsp of dried oregano as I couldn't get fresh. I also used Charlotte potatoes which worked well. Served it with veg and made a gravy with the strained juices. Very tender and tasty meat, very popular with the folks, as as it is prepped the night before very stress free dinner party.
26th Feb, 2017
Mmm! We did this with a 1.1kg shoulder and only marinated for a couple of hours (only found the recipe this afternoon and wanted the lamb for dinner) and it was still delicious. As it was a smaller joint we only cooked it for 3.5hrs and it worked well (did par-boil the potatoes first but didn't peel). Looking forward to trying it again with the joint suggested and with full marinating time.
20th Sep, 2016
If I could give this 100 stars I would, it was much simpler to make than I thought and was out of this world delicious. My guests said it was the best lamb and potatoes they had tasted. The potatoes went lovely and crispy and were full of flavour.
Caravan Of Love
17th May, 2016
I've done this recipe numerous times now for family & friends. It's not let me down once. It really is great! I part boil the potatoes however before I put them with the lamb and let them roast slightly longer in the juices at the end when the lamb is resting. Great recipe and awesome lemony tasting roast potatoes


7th Jan, 2019
Could you please advise if the keg if lamb has a bone in it? Thank youb
goodfoodteam's picture
8th Jan, 2019
Thanks for your question. Yes, it is on the bone.
kieron f's picture
kieron f
9th Nov, 2018
Hi I am making this tomorrow and am cooking for a lot of people i could only get 2.5kg leg so i got a second half leg which is around 1.5kg, i am planning on cooking them in the same tray and am just wondering on cooking times? Should i split the pieces out and cook for differnt times or will they both be fine in one tray and for how long.. Short notice so hope i get a response
goodfoodteam's picture
14th Nov, 2018
Sorry we missed your question. As this is cooked in a low oven, we hope you discovered that following the above worked well.
7th Oct, 2018
I bought a leg and marinated it as per recipe. When I got it out the outside had turned grey so have wasted a lot of money trying to make this for a special occasion - absolutely gutted :-( Any idea why as the meat was good when I marinated it so wondering if it is the lemon juice being too acidic?
goodfoodteam's picture
12th Oct, 2018
We're sorry to hear you found the appearance off-putting. This is not a sign the meat has gone off and when cooked the appearance would become nicely browned.
18th Sep, 2018
Can anyone advise how long would you cook this dish for if using 2 lamb shanks please?
goodfoodteam's picture
19th Sep, 2018
Thanks for your question. We can't give exact timings without testing but would suggest reducing the first cooking time by an hour or so and leaving the rest as is.
31st Mar, 2018
If I’m using a bigger piece of lamb, nearly 3kg, is it as easy as working out the time using the timing on here so it would mean cooking for around 6 hours? Thanks
goodfoodteam's picture
9th Apr, 2018
Thanks for your question. It’s a slow cook so should still tenderise in the same amount of time, however it might need 4 ½- 5 hours. In terms of the rest of the ingredients, times the rest of the lamb ingredients by 1.5, then multiply the sides according to how many people you're serving. The dish is to serve 6, so if the 3kg shoulder is to serve 9, I would recommend also upping the sides by a third. Hope that helps!


6th May, 2015
I live in Cyprus, the home of kleftiko. This recipe is good but...way more complicated than the Cypriot recipe. Two cups of olive oil, Two cups of fresh lemon juice. Six finely chopped cloves of garlic. Desert spoon of Cyprus oregano. Enough lamb or goat for six people. Potatoes peeled and halved. Mix it all together and bake it in a sealed oven tray on 150C all day.
29th Apr, 2015
Add chunky sliced onion and chunky carrots with the potatoes and lamb, then add feta cheese and cherry tomatoes (or quartered tomatoes) half an hour before it has finished cooking. Just serve with tzatziki, crusty bread and a good bottle of wine - delicious !
14th Feb, 2015
I made this for 2 people and thus went with a much smaller piece of lamb (450 grams, no bone). I'm not sure what went wrong, but the lamb ended up completely dried out. Perhaps the cooking time was too long (I shortened it by 1 hour, but still) or the temperature too high (I stuck to the recipe, but my oven is a bit on the small side and gets quite hot). Anyway, the upshot is: take care when making this recipe in smaller portions, as it seems you can't just change the quantities and be done with it.
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