Once in a while, we stumble upon a recipe or technique that’s both extremely easy and extremely delicious. Smoked leg of lamb fits this bill exactly. While the shoulder of the lamb is generally a more popular cut, it tends to work best for a pulled style, similar to a pork butt. On the other hand, a perfectly smoked leg of lamb is great for carving, when cooked to a medium rare/medium.
Lamb is an extremely popular protein for just about every country in the world except America, unfortunately. This means it can be a little tricky to find in stores, but any specialty butcher should be able to help you out.
When buying your leg of lamb, the main choice to consider is bone in vs. boneless. In our estimation, you can’t really go wrong either way, but we tend to prefer boneless. From a flavor point of view, there’s not really going to be any difference between the two cuts (contrary to popular belief). The bone is going to add weight though, potentially increasing the price of the protein (while you get very little in return). As well, with a boneless piece, you won’t need to worry about cutting around a bone when it comes time to carve up your finished product. And lastly...the boneless cut is going to cook significantly faster.
The final, pre-cooking question is whether or not you want to trim the fat. Most of the time, we recommend leaving most of the fat on the protein. The leg of lamb is no exception. The fat is going to melt as your lamb is smoked, and seep into the fibers of the protein. The result here will be a much more tender, flavorful leg of lamb than if you had leaned it out before cooking.
Now, onto the fun part!
First, set up your smoker. There are about a hundred different ways to arrange your equipment here, so just pick what typically works for you. Truthfully, leg of lamb isn’t particularly demanding. If we had to pick a technique, we’d probably go for the minion method. When selecting your wood for smoking, any variety that you prefer will work great, but we’ve had good luck with apple and cherry wood chips.
Before putting your leg of lamb on the grill, make sure to season it liberally. It takes a lot to over-season a large protein like this, so don’t worry too much about going overboard. We always like to keep it simple -- salt, pepper, and maybe a little thyme or garlic. This way, the flavor of both the lamb and the smoke can really shine in harmony.
Let your protein smoke until it reaches about 130-140 degrees fahrenheit, for a perfect medium-rare. Any higher than 140, and the lamb is going to dry out and lose flavor. We’d suggest aiming closer to 130, as carryover cooking is going to bring the protein up in temperature while it rests.
PRO TIP: Our Mesh Grill Mats work perfectly for smoking meats!
Once the lamb is cooked, your options are endless! Served alongside roasted vegetables, or just sliced thin and used in gyros, the leg of lamb is going to be a winner.