Maple Clove American Leg of Lamb Recipe

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We have a few roasted leg of lamb recipes here on our site. We love roast lamb, and once you realize how simple it is to cook, you’ll love it too. This particular recipe takes things to the next level, though. The cloves and cider lend a beautiful flavor to the meat and give it a fantastic flavor.

This recipe is simple, but also delicious. With it, your Sunday roast will never be quite the same again. Your family will demand that you make it more often.

Cooking a Leg of Lamb is Really Simple

maple clove leg of lamb

It’s amazing that people fuss so much about cooking a leg of lamb. It’s as simple as using the right spices and checking the internal temperature every now and again to make sure it’s not overdone when it’s carved.

Work on about 25 to 30 minutes per pound of meat. Make sure to let it rest appropriately before cutting it. While it’s resting, it carries on cooking thanks to the residual heat. Once the meat relaxes a little, the juices are redistributed, and it comes out lovely and moist.

Maybe it’s because lamb is a pricier cut of meat that people are so nervous about cooking it. It’s really simple, though, and you’d have to try really hard if you wanted to mess this recipe up, so relax, and give it a try.

Should I Get It on the Bone?

In this recipe, it’s cooked on the bone. That’s a departure from some of the other recipes on our site. We’ll leave the choice up to you. It is a bit easier to have a boneless roast because it will come ready to cook. It takes up less space in the oven and is easier to carve.

Speak to a top chef, though, and they’ll tell you that cooking the meat on the bone adds extra flavor. We’ll leave the choice up to you. A leg of lamb with the bone in costs a little less per pound, so this might also factor into your decision.

How Long Should You Cook It For?

For us, lamb should always be medium rare. That’s a delicate pink on the inside and done to perfection on the outside. The choice is down to what you prefer. Cook the meat until it reaches a temperature of at least 130° F as this will ensure that any pathogens are destroyed.

And yes, you do need to haul out the meat thermometer to check the temperature. This is a larger cut of meat, so it’s better not to try and eyeball it. Insert the thermometer into the thickest part of the meat, and make sure that it’s not touching the bone, if applicable.

To get it done to perfection, here’s a guide of the internal temperatures you should aim for:

  • Medium Rare: The temperature gauge should read between 130° F and 140° F.
  • If you like it medium: The temperature gauge should read between 135° F and 145° F.
  • If you like it well-done: The temperature gauge should read between 155° F and 165° F.


How Much Meat Do I Need?

A half-pound of meat is an excellent place to start. If you’re leaving the bone in, add an extra half-pound just to be on the safe side. In the unlikely event that no one wants seconds, or there are leftovers, this tastes great as cold as well.

What If I Don’t Like Cloves?

Then we’re going to advise looking for another recipe on our site. The cloves are what makes this dish special. You could leave them out if you really wanted to, but it might be a little bland without it.

Rosemary is usually a good choice for lamb, but it wouldn’t really work here. You could switch to normal salt and pepper to taste, but we wouldn’t advise it. Still, if you want to give it a go without the cloves, try it with a smaller piece of meat first.

Lime juice is sublime with this recipe, but you can substitute lemon juice instead if you prefer.  

What to Serve with It?

That’s up to you. Roast potatoes, rice, and another veggie is a traditional combination that always goes over well. (Though maybe not so much now that so many of us are trying to cut back on carbs.) Keep the sides simple because the lamb will be quite rich on its own.

Leftovers are Awesome

If you thought the roast tasted great out of the oven, just wait until you wrap it in a bun with some relish, lettuce, and tomato. This is a far better option than processed cold cuts and a perfect way to polish off any stray leftovers.

The meat will keep in the refrigerator for up to three days. If push comes to shove, you could also wrap it carefully and freeze it for up to three months. Freezing is not ideal because the meat will dry out a bit, but it’s better than feeding it to the dogs (though we doubt they’d agree).

Tips and Tricks

  • The other advantage of having the bone in is that the meat is not trussed up. This allows you to make sure that every surface of the meat is exposed to the sauce.
  • It is essential to put the meat on the rack while it’s cooking. That way, it’s able to soak up some of the liquid, but won’t be boiled in it. If it were left in the cider, it wouldn’t be a deal-breaker, but it won’t brown evenly on the outside either.
  • This sweet and tangy recipe is great for those who love a little extra sugar.
  • Baste the meat from time to time with the glaze to ensure that the outer layers do not dry out during the cooking time.  
  • The juices left over during roasting combined with the glaze make a delightful sauce. If you prefer it, you can opt for a more traditional gravy instead, but you’ll need to make it without the pan juices so it can be a chore.
  • If you’re not a fan of rice, you could also serve this on a bed of mash, cauliflower rice, or couscous.
  • When serving, carve it up thinly and make sure that everyone gets a nice helping. It’s finger-licking good, so everyone will want seconds. Just don’t let grandma catch you licking the plate at the dinner table!
  • This is an ideal dish to serve over the holidays and makes catering for a crowd a breeze.

All that’s left now is to eat and enjoy—rich, flavorful, and nutrient-dense lamb that doesn’t cost you an arm and a leg. It doesn’t get any better than this.

maple clove leg of lamb
maple clove leg of lamb

Roast Leg of Lamb Recipe With Maple Glaze and Cloves


Chef Brad Barnes, CMC

  • Yields: 8 servings


1 American Lamb leg, bone-in

2 tbsp Olive oil

4 tbsp Butter

1 cup Apple cider

1 cup Maple syrup

1/2 cup Light brown sugar

1/4 cup Lime juice

5 tbsp Balsamic vinegar

16 Cloves, whole


1Rub lamb with olive oil. Add butter and apple cider to roasting pan. Place lamb on rack in roasting pan. Cook for 20 minutes at 425°F. Remove from oven; reduce oven temperature to 200°F. Combine syrup, sugar, lime juice and vinegar. Brush over the lamb, stud the lamb with the cloves. Place lamb back in oven; finish cooking while basting with maple glaze. Cook for about 1 hour or until desired degree of doneness. Remove roast from oven; let rest for 15 minutes.

2In a saucepan, combine remaining glaze, cloves from the lamb and juices from the pan; bring to a boil. Simmer for 5 to 7 minutes; strain well.

3To Serve: Slice lamb and serve with the sauce.

4Chef’s Recommendation: Serve Maple Clove Leg of American Lamb with sweet mashed potatoes and glazed root vegetables or Brussels sprouts.

Recipe and image provided by the American Lamb Board


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