Pressure cooker leg of lamb makes a delicious and tender holiday roast that takes a fraction of the time as it does on the stove or in the oven and slow cooker. It's fall apart tender, juicy, and full of warm flavor.
Festive pressure cooker leg of lamb is a great main dish for your next holiday gathering. It's simple, delicious, and a true time and space saver when preparing big holiday dinners.
Naturally flavorful and tender, it's seasoned with a Middle-Eastern inspired garlic, rosemary, thyme and allspice herb mix. These simple yet succulent seasonings bring out the robust flavors of a juicy lamb roast.
My family has passed this recipe done for generations, after my great-great-grandfather created it for his big Christmas dinner in Syria, where lamb is an extremely popular choice of meat. Lamb's unique flavor doesn't often need much in the way of seasonings and spices- just a few classics that bring out it's strong flavor.
In less than 2 hours you can have this delicious boneless leg of lamb roast ready to serve with you favorite accompaniments.
- Instant Pot: you'll need at least an 8 quart Instant Pot for a 5 pound lamb. For larger cuts, a 10 quart Instant Pot will work depending on how many pounds the lamb is. I use my 8 quart Instant Pot Duo Crisp and it can fit a boneless leg of lamb that's no bigger than 5 pounds.
- Silicone sling or trivet: these make lifting the lamb out of the inner pot much easier than trying to pull it out with tongs. This Instant Pot red silicone sling is my favorite pressure cooker accessory. It's long handles make it incredibly easy to pull out of the pot. The silicone is non slip, so you don't have to worry about food falling off of it as you lift it either!
- Cooking twine: usually a leg of lamb is purchased already tied together, but if not, you can tie it yourself if you'd like since it's being stuffed with garlic and herbs. This is optional, though because the lamb fits tightly in the pressure cooker and won't be able to fall open much.
Ingredients and Substitutions
- Boneless leg of lamb: substitute with bone-in leg of lamb or lamb shoulder. Lamb shoulder is a popular cut for long and slow cooking, so you may have heard to use this instead of leg when making a lamb roast. But because we are pressure cooking the leg, there is no need to worry about it drying out and becoming overcooked. (make sure to read about cook time below!)
- Garlic: opt for fresh whole cloves rather than minced garlic.
- Fresh rosemary and thyme, plus extra sprigs: substitute with dried herbs by using 1 teaspoon of dried rosemary and thyme for every 1 tablespoon of fresh that the recipe calls for.
- Allspice: a little allspice goes a long way and is a fantastic spice to use with lamb. Do not make a substitution.
- Beef broth: substitute with chicken broth.
- Freshly ground black pepper and salt: if possible, use freshly ground salt and pepper for the best flavor. Otherwise substitute with ground.
- Carrots: carrots are entirely optional in this recipe, as the long pressure cook time gives way to very soft carrots that may not be enjoyable to all. If you prefer crispy carrots with your lamb roast, cook them separately.
You can also add a splash of red wine to the pot once it's done pressure cooking if you're not alcohol-free. This will elevate the flavors of the lamb, garlic, and seasonings a bit.
Pressure Cook Time
A boneless leg of lamb should be pressure cooked for 12 minutes per pound for medium done. For medium rare, cook for 9 minutes per pound. For well done lamb, cook for 13 minutes per pound.
Lamb tastes best when served medium or medium-rare, as the flavors are more pronounced, it's juicer, and more tender when it's a little pink inside.
As with any pressure cooked meat, make sure to let the pressure release naturally for the most tender outcome. Quickly releasing pressure on meats can turn a flavorful and tender meal into a tough and chewy one.
Pressure cooker leg of lamb is made in 5 simple steps. Although such an impressive and flavorful roast sounds complicated to prepare and cook, it is very easy!
STEP 1: Slice the garlic cloves in half or thirds and insert half of the slices into the pockets or folds in the lamb. Roughly chop the fresh rosemary and thyme. In a small bowl, combine the herbs with salt, freshly ground black pepper, and allspice. Mix to combine.
STEP 2: Roughly chop the fresh rosemary and thyme. In a small bowl, combine the herbs with salt, freshly ground black pepper, and allspice. Mix to combine. Then rub the lamb on both sides with the herb mix.
STEP 3: Add the olive oil to the inner pot and set to the sauté setting for 8 minutes. Sear the leg of lamb on both sides for 4 minutes. Remove when done and add the beef broth to the inner pot. Deglaze until there are no pieces of food stuck on the bottom. Cancel the sautè setting.
STEP 4: Place a trivet or silicone sling in the inner pot and place the seared lamb on top. Return the seared lamb to the inner pot. Add the remaining garlic cloves, carrots (if using), rosemary sprigs and thyme sprigs. Close and seal the lid. Set to pressure cook on high for 45 minutes (or 55 minutes per for a medium done roast). *See above cooking times for preferred doneness.
STEP 5: Allow the pressure to naturally release for 20 minutes, then quickly release any remaining pressure. Open the lid and carefully remove the sling or trivet to a cutting board. Remove the carrots to a serving dish.
STEP 6: Slice the lamb and transfer to the serving dish. Pour some of the broth over the roast and carrots. Reserve the rest for another use or serve on the side so it can be poured over individual plates.
- Don't over cook your lamb leg! Lamb is best when it's not well done. The preferred way to enjoy lamb is when it's slightly pink inside, so it's always better to shave a few minutes off the total cook time rather than add.
- Always let the pressure release naturally for 15-20 minutes when cooking meats. Otherwise you'll be left with a tough and chewy meal.
- Don't add carrots or other vegetables if you like your vegetables crispy. The long pressure cook time for this recipe is going to produce very soft vegetables.
Some cuts of lamb, like shank and shoulder, benefit from being cooked slowly for a long period of time. They will become more tender the longer they are cooked. However, the majority of lamb cuts are already tender to begin with and will become tough if cooked for a long duration. Because leg of lamb is one of the cuts that is naturally tender, it's important not to cook it for too long. It's best to cook these cuts to medium or medium-rare.
Yes, the cook time does need to be adjusted. For medium, cook for 15 minutes per pound and medium-rare cook for 12 minutes per pound. A well done bone-in roast should be cooked for 17 minutes per pound.
Store in the fridge for up to 1 week. This recipe can also be frozen for up to 6 months. Store the broth in a separate container when freezing. Thaw overnight in the fridge.
You can, but you'll need to use a 10 quart Instant Pot for it to properly fit and cook.
Pressure Cooker Leg of Lamb
- Roughly chop the fresh rosemary and thyme. In a small bowl, combine with the salt, pepper, and allspice. Mix to combine.
- Slice the garlic cloves in half. Insert half of the pieces into the pockets or folds in the lamb. Rub the lamb on both sides with the herb mix.
- Add the olive oil to the inner pot and set to the sauté setting for 8 minutes. Sear the lamb on each side for 4 minutes. Remove the lamb when done and add the beef broth to the inner pot. Deglaze until there are no pieces of food stuck to the bottom. Cancel the sautè setting.
- Place a trivet or silicone sling in the inner pot and place the seared lamb on top. Add the remaining garlic cloves, carrots (if using), rosemary sprigs and thyme sprigs. Close and seal the lid. Set to pressure cook on high for 45 minutes (or 55 minutes for a medium done roast). *See notes on cooking times for preferred doneness.
- Allow pressure to naturally release for 20 minutes, then quickly release remaining pressure. Open the lid and remove the sling or trivet to a cutting board. Transfer the carrots to a serving dish.
- Optional: Give the cooked lamb a sear on all sides using a stovetop frying pan or griddle, until the outer crust is darkened and crispy.
- Let rest for 10 minutes, then slice and transfer to a serving dish. Pour one third of the broth over the roast and carrots. Reserve the rest for another use or serve on the side.