Arni Pisti (Greek Roast Leg of Lamb)

A traditional Greek festival dish. Nothing beats the delicious aroma of roasting lamb with plenty of garlic, lemon and oregano.

Simply Delicious Greek Cooking: Episode 14: Arni Pisti

Greeks traditionally cook lamb until it’s well done. However, most Americans tend to prefer it medium rare.

Susan Tweeton


  • 4–6 pound leg of lamb
  • 1–2 lemons
  • Salt and pepper
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 4–6 russet potatoes, peeled and cut into large chunks (optional)
  • 1 cup water (if using potatoes)
  • Olive oil or olive oil spray


  1. Wash lamb under cold water and blot dry. Trim the outer layer of fat from the lamb. Allow the lamb to reach room temperature and place in roasting pan.
  2. Slice cloves of garlic, lengthwise into thick slivers. Sprinkle garlic slivers with salt. Cut small slits, about 1-inch deep into lamb roast and insert garlic. Repeat this procedure until at least 6 slots on each side of roast are filled.
  3. Squeeze the juice from the lemons over the lamb. Lightly sprinkle entire lamb with oregano, salt and pepper. Spray top with olive oil vegetable spray or run lightly with olive oil.
  4. If using potatoes, sprinkle with salt, pepper and oregano; toss with 1 tablespoon olive oil and place around lamb roast in pan. Pour water over potatoes. Roast lamb in preheated 450º for 30 minutes so meat can brown. Lower heat to 325º and roast for 40 to 50 minutes, or until lamb reaches desired temperature.
    • Allow 20 minutes per pound for total roasting time, or until a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the lamb (without touching fat or bone) registers 140º for rare, 150º for medium, and 160º for well done. Remove the lamb from the oven when it’s about 5 degrees under preferred doneness (the internal temperature will rise as the meat rests). 
  5. Remove lamb from the oven and set aside, lightly covered for about 20 minutes before carving.