Two Kooks » COOKING METHODS » Sous Vide Recipes » Succulent Sous Vide Leg of Lamb (Boneless)

Succulent Sous Vide Leg of Lamb (Boneless)

Imagine a boneless sous vide leg of lamb, exceptionally tender and succulent, cooked to the exact temperature of your choosing. The sous vide method of cooking is a game changer for melt-in-your-mouth lamb.

No more worrying about overcooking or undercooking. The no-stress of sous vide cooking makes it perfect for special occasions.

medium rare boneless leg of lamb sliced open on cutting board.

What to expect

Most importantly, your boneless leg of lamb will be soft, tender, moist and very flavorful. It will be cooked to the exact temperature you choose – the beauty of sous vide cooking.

If you choose to season the meat in the middle by unrolling then reshaping and tying the meat, it will take a little longer. In this case, the steps will be:

  1. Unroll the boneless lamb, season the inside, then roll it back up and tie it with twine (or, if available, the elasticized netting). Brining at this point is optional.
  2. Sous vide the lamb in a water bath set to the temperature you prefer.
  3. Brown the meat on the grill, skillet, or in the oven.
  4. Slice the meat, take a second to ooh and aah as you see your gorgeous perfectly cooked lamb, and serve it with gravy or a condiment.

The sous vide length of time will be 5 1/2 – 8 hours, depending on the thickness of the meat. Temperatures for your preferred doneness are in the recipe card below.

Ingredients – tailored to your taste

Lamb: Buy a boneless butterflied leg of lamb where the bone is removed and the lamb is rolled into a cylinder shape, often held together with netting. Costco sells boneless Australian lamb (above) weighing about 4-5 pounds/1.8-2.3 kg.

Internal seasoning: I like the classic lamb flavorings of garlic, rosemary, Dijon, salt and pepper. Since garlic doesn’t cook in sous vide at lower temperatures, you either have to sauté minced garlic before, adding it to the seasoning paste, or just use garlic powder.

External seasoning (on the outside of the rolled lamb): Before the water bath, sprinkle the lamb with salt, pepper and garlic powder (and fresh rosemary leaves if I am not putting them inside). Before searing, you apply a thin layer of mayo and Dijon over the cooked lamb.

Seasoning blend alternatives:

  1. Mediterranean/Greek: fresh herbs (rosemary, thyme, oregano), garlic, lemon zest, dried or fresh mint
  2. Moroccan: cumin, coriander, paprika, cinnamon, turmeric, cayenne pepper.
  3. Indian: cumin, coriander, garam masala, garlic, chili powder.

Preparation options: As mentioned, you can season the center of the lamb (then roll it back up), or just season the outside of the lamb (much simpler).

Step-by-step instructions

unrolled boneless leg of lamb coated in seasonings.
Unroll boneless lamb. Make a paste of seasoning mixture. Smear it all over the inside.
trussed boneless leg of lamb on cutting board.
Tuck in the two ends to make it shorter, then roll up the lamb into a cylinder shape. Slip 4 pieces of twine underneath and tie the ends first, then the middle two pieces.
boneless leg of lamb in sous vide water bath.
Season the outside lightly, place lamb in large freezer bag. Heat sous vide bath to preferred temperature. Sous vide lamb.
seasoned cooked leg of lamb before searing.
Pat lamb dry with paper towels. Add a thin coating of Dijon and mayo (or oil).
sous vide lamb on grill showing dark crust.
Brown/sear on hot grill, hot pan or in a hot oven.
sliced leg of lamb on cutting board with small pitcher of gravy.
Remove the twine and slice. Serve with gravy or your favorite condiment (see suggestions).
sliced medium rare leg of lamb on cutting board.
  1. Many contributors on social media have found that long cooks of 10-24 hours can result in mushy lamb. I prefer 5 1/2-6 hours.
  2. Some people find that making gravy from the bag juices is too strongly flavored. I tend to make my own quick beef gravy (see recipe notes).
  3. Aromatics and flavors such as kosher salt, black pepper, garlic powder, and fresh herbs all work well with sous vide. I like a small amount of Dijon too. Alcohol, vinegar and raw garlic do not work well. Oil and butter is not needed (although a small amount is ok in the paste we use).
  4. Lamb is a fatty meat, so be careful browning it on the grill. The flames can char the meat quickly.

Shortcuts

You can skip unrolling, seasoning and re-rolling the lamb if you want as the meat is quite flavorful on its own. If the lamb comes in a net, you can just leave that on and season the outside. The downside is that the meat is not always evenly shaped so it won’t cook quite as evenly. Also, the netting soaks up some of the juices if you plan to use them for gravy.

I prefer to use twine to tie up the lamb, but instead, you can use the elasticized netting to hold it in shape. It may be a little challenging to fit the meat back in there, so be patient!

What to serve with lamb

I love gravy with sliced lamb. Here are two great 5-minute gravy options: beef gravy with no drippings and Better Than Bouillon gravy (ideally with the beef base).

Other excellent condiments for lamb are mint jelly, chimichurri, salsa verde, tomato chutney or fire-roasted tomatoes, tzatziki, or a yogurt sauce with garlic, lemon and dill or mint. Lemon slices (grilled or plain) make a nice garnish.

Some of my favorite side dishes for boneless lamb are:

Make Ahead

For this sous vide leg of lamb recipe, you have an extra 2-hour window in the sous vide water bath if you need more time. I would not recommend going over 8 hours, but I always suggest experimenting with time and temperature to find your sweet spot.

See recipe notes for preparing the lamb a day ahead, storing leftovers and reheating.

Recipe FAQs

What is the best lamb to buy?

Australian and New Zealand lamb is milder and smaller than American lamb. It’s a matter of personal preference.

Can I sous vide a bone-in leg of lamb?

You can sous vide a bone-in lamb leg but its large size would be difficult to fit a sous vide bag and a sous vide container. Since lamb is strongly flavored meat, the bone is not a big advantage here in making it more flavorful and it does make it harder to slice and serve. So for sous vide, I think boneless is the way to go.

What is sous vide cooking?

Sous vide cooking is a technique that involves vacuum sealing food in a bag (or Ziplock), then cooking it at a precisely controlled temperature in a water bath, heated with an immersion circulator or oven-like sous vide machine. It results in evenly cooked dishes that are the exact doneness (temperature) you choose.

sliced medium rare leg of lamb on cutting board.

More lamb recipes

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medium rare boneless leg of lamb sliced open on cutting board.
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Sous Vide Leg of Lamb (Boneless)

Imagine a boneless sous vide leg of lamb, exceptionally tender and succulent, cooked to the exact temperature of your choosing. The sous vide method of cooking is a game changer for melt-in-your-mouth lamb.
Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time6 hours
Total Time6 hours 15 minutes
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Servings: 9

Equipment

  • sous vide immersion circulator and container

Ingredients

  • 4.5 lbs boneless leg of lamb (exact weight not important)

Seasoning for inside lamb (if using), Note 1

  • 1 tablespoon cooked/sauteed minced garlic (or 3/4 teaspoon garlic powder)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary (or 1/2 tablespoon dried)
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

Seasoning for outside of lamb (pre-sous vide)

  • kosher salt, black pepper, garlic powder, sprig of rosemary

Seasoning (for searing/grilling)

  • 2 teaspoons mayonnaise (or oil)
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • light sprinkle of salt and pepper

Instructions

  • HEAT WATER BATH with immersion circulator to your preferred temperature. I use 134F/56C for medium rare. Note 2 for other temperatures.
  • MAKE SEASONING PASTE: Mix chopped rosesmary, Dijon, garlic and olive oil in a small bowl, creating a paste.
  • PREPARE LEG OF LAMB: Remove boneless lamb from packaging and slip off netting if there is one. Note 3 to skip inside seasoning. Unroll lamb to make one flat piece. If necessary, cut one or two slits in the meat to even it out. Using clean hands, rub the paste over the entire inside surface.
    To re-roll, shape and tie up the seasoned lamb, tuck in both sides at the longer ends, then roll lamb into a cylinder. Don't worry if not perfect – just do your best – it will be fine. Slip 4 pieces of twine underneath the roll. Tie knots to secure the roll, first at both ends, then in the middle. The goal is to create a roll as even as possible that will fit in a resealable bag (e.g. ziploc).
  • SOUS VIDE LAMB: To use water displacement method, place lamb in a plastic resealable bag and lower into heated water bath just until the seal of bag is above the water line (this will push out the air). Then seal the bag. It should sink to the bottom if all the air is pushed out which you want. Use a clip to keep it submerged if needed. Note 4 for vacuum seal method.
    Sous vide lamb for 5 1/2 – 6 hours (maximum 8 hours). If your lamb roll is on the thicker side (5+ inches/13+ cm), cook for 7-8 hours.
  • FINISH LAMB: Remove lamb from bag and pat dry well with paper towels. A dryer surface will brown better. Heat grill to high heat. Note 5 for other browning options.
    Mix mayo (or oil) and Dijon in a small bowl and brush over entire surface of lamb. Sear lamb on all sides for total of 4 minutes until well browned. Be careful of over-charring the meat as lamb is fatty and will cause flames. Transfer to cutting board, Slice and serve with gravy, Note 6, or other condiment.

Recipe Notes

  1. Seasoning blend options – you can experiment with different flavor blends:
    • Mediterranean/Greek: fresh herbs (rosemary, thyme, oregano), garlic, lemon zest, dried or fresh mint
    • Moroccan: cumin, coriander, paprika, cinnamon, turmeric, cayenne pepper.
    • Indian: cumin, coriander, garam masala, garlic, chili powder.
  2. Sous vide times and temperature options:
    • Rare: 115F (46C) – 124F (51C) – cool, red center
    • Medium rare: 125F (52C) – 134F (57C) – warm pink center, soft
    • Medium: 135F (57C) – 144 (62C) – blushing pink center, firmer
    • Medium-well: 145F (63C) – 154F (67C) – mostly gray throughout, firm to touch.
    • Well done: 155C (68C) – all gray, very firm.
  3. To skip the internal seasoning (i.e. adding seasoning paste to the inside), leave the lamb tied up or in the enclosed netting if there is one.
  4. To vacuum seal the lamb instead: If using a vacuum sealer, fold over a flap on a large sous vide bag. Place meat inside the bag and unfold the flap. Seal the bag (and vacuum out the air) as per machine instructions. 
  5. Browning/searing options (instead of grill),
    1. Pan sear – heat 1 tablespoon vegetable or canola oil in cast iron skillet (or nonstick skillet) on high heat (8-9/10). Sear meat on all sides for a total of 4-5 minutes until nicely browned. 
    2. Oven sear: Heat oven to 500F/260C. Place lamb in a pan and roast for 6-8 minutes until browned. Don’t overcook the lamb. 
  6. To make gravy: Here is a simple 5-minute beef gravy with no drippings. using broth. And another 5 minute gravy – Better Than Bouillon gravy using beef base.
  7. Condiments to serve with lamb (instead of or with gravy): mint jelly, chimichurri, salsa verde, tomato chutney or fire-roasted tomatoes, tzatziki, or a yogurt sauce with garlic, lemon and dill or fresh mint. Garnish with grilled or fresh lemon slices if you like. See good side dishes in post. 
  8. Make ahead:
    • Extra time: You have an extra 2 hour window in the sous vide water bath if you need more time. I would not recommend going over 8 hours, but I always suggest experimenting with time and temperature to find your sweet spot.
    • Prep ahead: You can also prepare and season the lamb a day ahead and keep it in the fridge, uncovered, to brine.
    • Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days or in the freezer for up to 2 months.
    • Reheating: The best way to reheat the lamb is the retherm it in a sous vide water bath in a bag at 130F for about 15-20 minutes if sliced and 45-60 minutes if not sliced. Alternatively, reheat lamb slices on medium-low power, covered, in the microwave for a minute or two, or in a 350F/177C oven, covered, for 10-15 minutes. If lamb is unsliced, more reheating time will be needed. 
 
Nutrition values are estimates. 

Nutrition

Calories: 663kcal | Carbohydrates: 1g | Protein: 38g | Fat: 55g | Saturated Fat: 23g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 5g | Monounsaturated Fat: 23g | Trans Fat: 0.001g | Cholesterol: 166mg | Sodium: 346mg | Potassium: 513mg | Fiber: 0.3g | Sugar: 0.03g | Vitamin A: 15IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 44mg | Iron: 4mg
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