Easy Brined Leg of Lamb or Goat

Brining a whole leg of lamb like a turkey is a great way to prepare a larger cut of meat for holidays or crowds. After the leg is brined, it can be roasted, or smoked. The leftovers are great for sandwiches.

Sliced, smoked brined leg of lamb being carved

I often brine meats before cooking to ensure that all of the seasoning is even.  At home it’s a trusty way to cook a roast, and ensure a juicy, perfectly seasoned result.

Brines can be a confusing. Here’s some tips I’ve learned over the years.

Leg of lamb in a cambro container with brine
Brining lamb leg.

Should you put sugar in a brine?

Not with this recipe. I don’t put sugar in brines unless I want the result to taste like ham. Sugar also speeds up the browning process, and can make it easier for things to burn instead of brown.

How long to brine the meat

I don’t recommend having the meat in the brine for longer than 24 hours, with 12 hours is the least amount of time. Leaving the meat in the brine for over 24 hours can over-season it.

Smoked, brined leg of lamb on a sheet tray
Taking the temperature of the lamb leg.

Cooking and finishing

You have a couple options for cooking. As sizes and weights vary, I recommend using a thermometer to check the temperature rather than relying on a specific cooking time. For cooking, I recommend one of two methods: smoking, and slow roasting.


Smoking is my favorite. After the meat’s brined, remove lamb from the brine, pat-dry, rub with oil, and smoke at 250F until the meat is 137-140F (roughly 2.5 hours) which will give you a medium to medium well result after the meat has rested.


To roast the leg, you’ll put it on a hot oven 450F for 15 minutes, then turn the heat down to 250, then finish cooking to your desired temperature as above.

Sliced, smoked brined leg of lamb being carved
Perfectly pink sliced lamb leg.
Chef Alan Bergo
Chef Alan Bergo, The Forager Chef

This recipe is by Chef Alan Bergo, the Forager Chef. A chef from Minnesota, author of The Forager Chef’s Book of Flora. Learn more about Chef Alan and his hunt for mushrooms, wild and obscure foods at foragerchef.com. 


Sliced brined and smoked leg of lamb on a plate

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Sliced brined and smoked leg of lamb on a plate
Print Recipe
5 from 1 vote

Easy Brined Leg of Lamb or Goat

Brining a leg of lamb is a delicious way to prepare a whole leg. After it's brined it can be smoked or roasted. Serves 4-6
Prep Time30 minutes
Cook Time1 hour 30 minutes
Brining Time12 hours
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Leg of lamb
Servings: 6 People
Calories: 6kcal


  • 1 large pot for brining


  • One whole leg of lamb about 3-4 lbs
  • 2 dried bay leaves
  • 8 tablespoons salt
  • 2 qt water
  • 1 small onion chopped
  • 2 large cloves garlic crushed with the back of a knife
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper corns
  • 1 rib celery chopped
  • 1 carrot chopped
  • A few sprigs of fresh rosemary or thyme optional, use a good pinch of dried if you don’t have fresh



  • Bring the brine ingredients to a boil then cool.
  • Submerge the leg of lamb in the brine in a small pot or similar container (or a thick plastic bag set into a flat tray or Tupperware to prevent spills) where it will fit snugly. Refrigerate the roast for at least 12 and up to 24 hours.
  • Remove the roast, pat dry, and rub with 2-3 teaspoons of oil.


  • Smoke the roast at 250F until a thermometer entered in the center reads 137-140F. This should take roughly 2-3 hours depending on the temperature outside around the smoker.


  • To roast the brined leg, preheat an oven to 450F. Put the lamb on a baking sheet lined with a roasting rack, roast for 15 minutes, then turn the heat down to 250F and cook until 137-140F in the center.
  • Remove the roast from the oven or smoker and allow to rest in a warm place for 20 minutes. You can put it in a warm oven to reheat for a bit before serving if you want.
  • Carve the lamb with a long knife and serve on heated plates with seasonal vegetables. A squeeze of fresh lemon juice might be all it needs.


Either goat or lamb legs can be prepared this way. Make sure to save some for sandwiches. 


Serving: 8oz | Calories: 6kcal | Carbohydrates: 1g | Protein: 0.2g | Fat: 0.1g | Saturated Fat: 0.01g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.02g | Monounsaturated Fat: 0.01g | Sodium: 600mg | Potassium: 46mg | Fiber: 0.5g | Sugar: 0.5g | Vitamin A: 740IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 22mg | Iron: 0.2mg