Try this easy butterflied leg of lamb recipe with cranberry goat cheese stuffing for a simple yet elegant holiday meal. Boneless leg of lamb is the perfect cut for butterflying and stuffing. It roasts beautifully in the oven in under 30 minutes too!
*This post is sponsored by the American Lamb Board. All content and opinions are my own.
I’m getting quite good at bucking tradition for holidays over the past few years.
A few years ago, I did a cherry chestnut stuffed turkey roulade instead of a whole bird. That opened up the door to possibilities other than a whole turkey…
Next thing you know, my family is eating sheet pan turmeric salmon with tart cherry sauce for Thanksgiving last year (on black Friday nonetheless to accommodate Ulysses’ work schedule).
And now this year, I’m sharing this beyond delicious butterflied leg of lamb roast with cranberry goat cheese stuffing.
And I’m going to spend the next 1,000 words or so trying to convince you a boneless leg of lamb is a much tastier and easier option for your holiday dinner table than anything tradition has to say!
WHAT CUT OF LAMB SHOULD I USE?
This recipe calls for a boneless leg of lamb to butterfly.
In this cranberry pesto stuffed lamb recipe, I had my butcher debone a rack of lamb ribs and butterfly that meat. That method is incredibly tender and also an option but a bit more costly than just using a boneless leg of lamb.
Two pounds is about as small as you’ll want to go with this cut of meat to be able to butterfly and tie it up as a roast.
A whole boneless leg of lamb typically weighs about 7-8 pounds so it shouldn’t be an issue to find a decent size cut at your grocery store or butcher.
HOW DO I BUTTERFLY A LEG OF LAMB?
This easiest way to butterfly is to have your butcher do it for you!
Any butcher (even at your local grocery store) will do this if you ask.
If you want to do it yourself, it’s simple!
First, trim any excess fat/gristle from the outside of the boneless leg of lamb. Lay it flat on a cutting board and grab a sharp knife.
Start at the thickest part of the meat and slice horizontally through the lamb leaving the end intact so the meat opens up like a book.
From there, if one end of the meat is significantly thicker than the other, use a meat tenderizer to pound down the meat into a more even thickness.
STUFFING & TYING A BONELESS BUTTERFLIED LEG OF LAMB
Now that your leg of lamb is butterflied, you can stuff it with delicious things!
This recipe uses cranberry goat cheese with added fresh rosemary and minced garlic. You can also use this roasted garlic whipped goat cheese instead.
The ingredients are mashed together in a small bowl (make sure the goat cheese is room temperature to facilitate this) then spread on one side of the butterflied lamb.
To tie the roast together, fold the unstuffed side of the lamb over top of the goat cheese mixture so that the “book” is now closed.
Use butcher’s twine to firmly (but not too tightly or you’ll squeeze out the stuffing!) tie the butterflied lamb roast together.
Lastly, drizzle the roast with a high smoke point oil (like avocado oil) and season the outside generously with salt and pepper.
It’s now ready to be seared on the stove-top and roasted in the oven!
HOW TO COOK BUTTERFLIED BONELESS LEG OF LAMB
Place a large cast iron skillet with some avocado oil on the stove-top over high heat.
Once hot, add the butterflied leg of lamb roast to the skillet. Sear it on each side for about 3-4 minutes until browned and golden.
Once browned all around, transfer the skillet to a preheated 425°F oven.
Cooking time in the oven will depend on how large your roast is. For a 2-2.5 pound boneless leg of lamb like this, it will take about 15-20 minutes for medium rare.
One of the benefits of butterflying meat is how much it cuts down on the cooking time. Normally, roasts can take 3-4 times as long to cook.
Using an instant read thermometer is your best bet for perfectly cooked meat to your preference.
Check out the American Lamb Board’s site for lamb cooking time and temperature recommendations.
CHOOSING AMERICAN LAMB FOR YOUR HOLIDAY CELEBRATION
If you’re wanting to buck tradition a bit this year, this leg of lamb recipe is a fun alternative.
I don’t dislike turkey, but I think there are some other fun options for a non-traditional celebration!
If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that time spent with family, friends and loved ones is special.
Whether your celebration this year is just with the people that live in your house, a small family gathering or even a larger even like “normal”, I hope you choose to cook something that you all truly love.
For me, lamb is one of those things.
And American lamb specifically.
When you choose American lamb, you’re supporting farmers and ranchers who help care for the land and communities they live in. Animal and environmental stewardship is top priority for them as it directly impacts their livelihood.
Regenerative farming has become a trending topic lately and American lamb farmers and ranchers are doing just that.
Sheep improve pastures and rangeland by cycling vital nutrients back through the soil, minimizing erosion, and encouraging native plant growth.
American lamb graze on nutrient dense grasses, legumes and forage producing the most tender meat you’ll taste.
Making the choice to select American lamb means the final dish on your table will definitely be a tasty one! And you get the benefit of knowing you helped to support local American farming.
Maybe it’s not Thanksgiving (hey, I get the traditionalist thing – my mom completely lost it when we suggested a turkey alternative the first year!) but between now and New Years day, there’s no shortage of holiday gatherings.
This stuffed butterflied leg of lamb recipe is one I hope you give a try for one of them!
The cranberry goat cheese makes it a festive option for Christmas too.
You can then follow it up with my absolute favorite holiday dessert ever – apricot brandy cake!).
Serve the lamb alongside these green beans with cranberries, bacon and goat cheese. Maybe some delicious roasted buttercup squash too and you’ve got one heck of a special holiday meal!
If you do choose to serve lamb this holiday season, check out #TheLambChallenge that runs until December 31st.
Follow @fanoflamb on Instagram and Facebook. “Like” the designated contest post(s), and comment with an American Lamb recipe you plan to enjoy this holiday season.
A winner will be selected every two weeks and receive a cookbook collection featuring four of our favorite cookbooks and two racks of American Lamb!
Cheers to lamb and breaking tradition!
MORE LAMB RECIPES TO TRY:
Butterflied Leg of Lamb with Cranberry Goat Cheese Stuffing
- 2 – 2.5 pound boneless leg of American lamb butterflied
- 4 ounces cranberry goat cheese room temperature
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- avocado oil
- salt and pepper
- Preheat oven to 425°F.
- Combine the goat cheese, rosemary and garlic in a small bowl and mash together until well combined.
- Lay the butterflied leg of lamb flat on a cutting board and season generously with salt and pepper.
- Spread the goat cheese mixture on one side of the butterflied lamb then pick up the other side and close it over top. Tie the lamb together using 3-4 pieces of string so it’s secured well.
- Drizzle the surface of the lamb with avocado oil and now season the outside with salt and pepper.
- Drizzle a tablespoon of avocado oil in a 12" cast iron skillet over high heat. Once hot, place the lamb in the skillet and brown on both sides, about 4 minutes per side.
- Once browned, transfer the skillet to the preheated oven and cook for about 15-18 minutes for medium-rare or until internal temperature reaches 145°F.
- Remove from oven, cover and let rest for 10-15 minutes before slicing and serving.
This website provides approximate nutrition information for convenience and as a courtesy only. Nutrition information can vary for a variety of reasons. For the most precise nutritional data use your preferred nutrition calculator based on the actual ingredients you used in the recipe.
Gina Matsoukas is the writer, founder, photographer and recipe developer of Running to the Kitchen — a food website focused on providing healthy, wholesome recipes using fresh and seasonal ingredients as much as possible. Her work has been featured in numerous media outlets both digital and print, including MSN, Huffington post, Buzzfeed, Women’s Health and Food Network.