The Meatwave

Roasted Garlic and Mint Pesto Stuffed Leg of Lamb

Roasted Garlic and Mint Pesto Stuffed Leg of Lamb View Recipe

Like many of us, I use holidays as an excuse to to forgo the usual watchful eye on the budget. That means top dollar meats like rib roast, tenderloin, and ham all become fair game. When it comes to Easter, there's always one pricey cut I choose above them all—leg of lamb. I noticed that it's pretty consistently been my choice year after year, and thought maybe I should change things up this time around, but as I considered my alternatives, I couldn't mask my true desire for that wonderful rich and tender leg of lamb. So I went for it again, but gave it a little twist from the usual by stuffing it was roasted garlic and mint pesto.

Roasted Garlic and Mint Pesto Stuffed Leg of Lamb

Mint and lamb are a match made in heaven. Separately they're both strong and can be overpowering if not used in the right way, but that's what makes them such good bedfellows. Mint was originally used with lamb to help tame its sometimes gamey flavor, which it does, but the lamb also tames the strong mint, making the two pair in a very pleasing balance.

Instead of using straight up mint, I put together a mint pesto that combined the herb along with almonds, garlic, lemon juice, feta, and extra-virgin olive oil to create a salty and bright sauce.

Roasted Garlic and Mint Pesto Stuffed Leg of Lamb

I thought the pesto alone may be a little too mellow to season an entire leg of lamb, which is how roasted garlic came into play. When roasted, garlic becomes a great concentration of garlic flavor that loses its raw sharp bite and gains a mellow sweetness. It took two whole heads—roasted for an hour in a 400°F oven—to cover the surfaces of half a leg of lamb.

Roasted Garlic and Mint Pesto Stuffed Leg of Lamb

Once the two stuffing components were prepped, I turned my attention to the main attraction—the lamb. Cooking for only two, I went with half a leg of lamb that I bought pre-butterflied. Rolled out in preparation for stuffing, I first gave the top side a heavy seasoning of salt and pepper.

Roasted Garlic and Mint Pesto Stuffed Leg of Lamb

Then the roasted garlic were squeezed from their wrappers and spread with a rubber spatula across the entire surface of the meat. A bed of mint pesto went down after that, adding a beautiful green contrast to the red meat.

Roasted Garlic and Mint Pesto Stuffed Leg of Lamb

The whole thing was then rolled and tied with butcher twine at one-inch intervals. After seasoning the outside equally as heavily as the inside, I let the roll rest as I prepared the grill.

Roasted Garlic and Mint Pesto Stuffed Leg of Lamb

While you can use the reverse-sear method for more evenness in final meat, I did the standard sear and roast here, utilizing a two-zone fire. While the fire was pipping hot, I seared the lamb over direct heat until well browned all over. It was then moved to the cool side of the grill, covered, and let cook until the center hit 130°F on an instant read thermometer. Carryover cooking brought the final temperature up the desired medium-rare temperature of 135°F.

Roasted Garlic and Mint Pesto Stuffed Leg of Lamb

I forgot to turn the roast during the cook, which is why there was some unevenness in my final product—you can see the left side is more rare than the right. That didn't have much effect on the end result though—the strong, yet fairly smooth, flavor of leg of lamb was front and center, just how I like it. Bits of caramelized roasted garlic were embedded in each bite, while the more mild mint pesto added a touch of freshness and saltiness. It ended up being a worthy holiday roast, and another good recipe to have in my growing collection of Easter leg of lambs.

Print Recipe

Roasted Garlic and Mint Pesto Stuffed Leg of Lamb

  • Yield 6 servings
  • Prep 30 Minutes
  • Inactive 45 Minutes
  • Cook 45 Minutes
  • Total 2 Hours


  • For the Mint Pesto
  • 1/4 cup slivered almonds
  • 2 cups packed fresh mint leaves, rinsed and dried
  • 3 medium garlic cloves
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice and 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest from 1 lemon
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • For the Lamb
  • 2 heads of garlic
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 boneless and butterflied leg of lamb, about 2 1/2lbs
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper


  1. To make the mint pesto: Place almonds in a small skillet over medium heat. Toast until fragrant and lightly browned, about 4 minutes. Transfer to food processor fitted with steel blade. Add in mint garlic and lemon zest into food process. Pulse until everything is finely chopped, about 5 1-second pulses, scraping down sides of bowl as necessary.
  2. With the food processor running, pour oil through feed tube in a slow, steady stream. Keep food processor running until smooth, stopping to scrape down sides of bowl as necessary. Add in feta and lemon juice; pulse to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week, or in a Ziploc bag in the freezer for up to six months.
  3. To make the lamb: Preheat oven to 400°F. Cut top quarters off of heads of garlic. Place garlic cloves, cut side down, in center of a sheet of aluminum foil and drizzle with olive oil. Seal foil and place directly on oven rack. Cook until cloves are browned and very soft, 45-60 minutes. Remove from oven, let cool for 10 minutes, then squeeze cloves out of the skin into a small bowl and mash into a paste with a fork.
  4. Lay leg of lamb open on a large cutting board, fat side down. Season meat generously with salt and pepper. Spread roasted garlic paste over exposed meat. Spread 3/4 cup of mint pesto on top of garlic, reserve additional pesto for serving. Roll lamb closed and tie securely with butcher twine about every inch. Season outside of lamb generously with salt and pepper.
  5. Light one chimney full of charcoal. When all the charcoal is lit and covered with gray ash, pour out and arrange the coals on one side of the charcoal grate. Set cooking grate in place, cover grill and allow to preheat for 5 minutes. Clean and oil the grilling grate. Sear lamb on hot side of grill until browned all over, about 4 minutes per side. Move to cool side of grill, cover, and let cook until meat registers 130°F on an instant read thermometer inserted into thickest part of lamb. Transfer to a cutting board and let rest for 15 minutes. Slice and serve immediately with reserved pesto.

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  1. The Optimistic Househusband This looks great. I had a similar inspiration for Easter and made herb rubbed lamb chops with a mint pesto. I'll have to give yours a try too.

  2. michael williamson good recipe