Cumin and Fennel-Crusted Roast Lamb

Before I get into this amazing lamb recipe, I want to thank all of you for the outpouring of support and condolences over the loss of my Grandma last week. Your kind words are heartwarming.

I have made this lamb recipe twice now and I fall more and more in love with it each time I make it. I have never eaten much lamb outside of Easter dinner. My mom always made a roasted leg of lamb served with the requisite mint jelly and I’d always put a little on my plate, but nothing about it ever made me crave it outside of the holiday. My Chief Culinary Consultant, however, has always been a huge lamb fan. He was sick this past Easter and didn’t get to enjoy any lamb, so I surprised him a couple of weeks later with this dinner to make up for his missed meal. I had searched for a quick and easy roast lamb recipe that didn’t feed an army and settled on this one, as the spice combination sounded outstanding. It was a huge hit, and it will probably become “the” lamb recipe in my cooking arsenal.

The lamb is crusted with a combination of garlic and crushed black peppercorns, fennel and cumin seeds, which makes for an unbelievable flavor and an even more amazing aroma. Most baking smells are pretty familiar to all of us – chocolate chip cookies, a vanilla cake, cinnamon and fall spices, chocolate, etc. This one, however, is one I wish I could bottle and create a scratch-and-sniff sticker for because it’s that incredible. The smell that wafts from the oven while this is roasting is positively intoxicating. And then once you take a bite? Swoon. That amazing crust houses lamb that is tender and melts in your mouth. Definitely a meal fit for a king.

I don’t post many meat recipes because I don’t eat it all that often and it’s not typical that I make a meat-based dish that I find so out-of-this-world outstanding that I must share it with you here. This lamb recipe, however, is a huge exception. Not only is it quick and easy (hello, weeknight dinner), but it also has tons of complex flavors and tastes positively elegant (hello, dinner party or holiday). If a string of pearls could take on a culinary form, they would want to be this lamb dish.

The original recipe for this lamb included a homemade mint sauce, but I have always enjoyed mint jelly with my lamb, so I stuck with that. Both times I served it with smashed red potatoes and roasted baby carrots, both of which complement the lamb beautifully. I hope you’ll give this recipe a try and enjoy it as much as I have!

One year ago: Russian Pound Cake
Two years ago: Marshmallow Crunch Brownie Bars
Three years ago: Homemade Pierogi
Four years ago: Outrageous Brownies

Cumin and Fennel-Crusted Roast Lamb

Yield: 4 servings

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes


1½ lb. boneless lamb roast
3 cloves garlic, finely minced or put through a garlic press
1 tablespoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon black peppercorns
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 teaspoon cumin seeds


1. Remove lamb from the refrigerator 1 hour before starting to bring it to room temperature.

2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Put the salt, black peppercorns, fennel seeds and cumin seeds in a spice grinder (or use a mortar and pestle) to roughly grind.

3. Rub the outside of the lamb with the garlic. Sprinkle half of the rub over one side of the lamb in a thick layer. Heat a cast iron skillet over medium heat until very hot. Add a splash of olive oil and place the lamb in the pan, seasoned side down. Sprinkle the remaining rub on the other side of the lamb. Saute until brown and seared, 5 to 6 minutes, then flip and repeat on the other side. Put the pan in the oven and roast until desired doneness (135 degrees F for medium). Remove the pan from the oven and let sit for 15 minutes (it should come up to 145 degrees F for medium while it rests).

4. Slice the lamb and serve with mint jelly.

(Recipe adapted from No Recipes)


23 Responses to “Cumin and Fennel-Crusted Roast Lamb”

  1. CouponClippingCook on October 10, 2011 at 1:05 am

    Sounds like a delicious combination of flavors with the fennel, cumin, and garlic. And the smashed red potatoes sound so good with this dish.


  2. Heesoon on October 10, 2011 at 3:04 am

    I have never cooked lamb before, but that looks so good and makes me want to try! All your food looks so good. I am glad that I found your food blog. I found it today!! I am so excited!


  3. Jennifer@Peanut Butter and Peppers on October 10, 2011 at 7:21 am

    I tried fennel the first time this weekend and it’s really good! Truly tastes like licorice! And way better for you!! Thanks for the recipe, I’ll give it a try!!


  4. Heather (Heather's Dish) on October 10, 2011 at 7:56 am

    i’ve always been a little wary of lamb but this looks SO flavorful and good!


  5. Kel on October 10, 2011 at 8:19 am

    So sorry to hear about your grandmother. I checked last Friday because I had missed your blog, and thought maybe my google reader was messed up! Glad to see you are back at it today. I hope you had lots of time to spend with your family.


  6. Paula on October 10, 2011 at 9:22 am

    My husband enjoys lamb on occasion and your recipe for it sounds lovely. I think he would really enjoy your garlic with crushed peppercorn with fennel & cumin crust. How sweet of you to surprise your *Chief Culinary Consultant* with this meal.


  7. amanda @ fake ginger on October 10, 2011 at 10:35 am

    Yum! I’m not a huge fennel seed fan but I bet they were delicious with the cumin seeds. I know my husband would love it.


  8. Christine on October 10, 2011 at 11:22 am

    We are not big lamb eaters, but the flavors sound awesome. Do you think this would work with another cut of meat as well?


    • Michelle on October 10th, 2011 at 5:44 pm

      Hi Christine, I definitely think so. The flavor combination is awesome!


  9. Brandi on October 10, 2011 at 3:20 pm

    This looks soooo good!

    Also, you’ve been nominated for a few awards on Foodbuzz… Good luck!


  10. Ridwan on October 10, 2011 at 5:37 pm

    Roast lamb looks really good,I love lamb but i find interesting serve with mint jelly 🙂


  11. Jenna on October 10, 2011 at 6:15 pm

    This sounds really good, but I typically have ground cumin rather than cumin seeds. Do you think the ground cumin would work fine? I’ve never made lamb, so this would be an adventure for me.


    • Michelle on October 10th, 2011 at 6:36 pm

      Hi Jenna, A lot of the flavor comes from those crushed seeds so I would recommend a special trip to pick up cumin seeds. I think you’ll love it! 🙂


  12. emiglia on October 10, 2011 at 6:16 pm

    I never really make lamb, but I love it — we used to eat it with mint jelly as well, and it was my great-grandfather’s favorite meal. I’ll be passing this memory on to my Mom in hopes she’ll take the amazing crust of herbs and spices into account the next time she prepares this for the family!


  13. angela on October 10, 2011 at 8:21 pm

    Knock out dish and perfect time of year for it. Would go awesome with a mint pesto too.


  14. Becki's Whole Life on October 10, 2011 at 9:39 pm

    Love leg o’ lamb so much. Have never made it with a crust and this sounds like a great flavor combo – I can definitely see how the cumin complements the unique flavor of the lamb…very different and sounds wonderful!


  15. Ann on October 10, 2011 at 9:57 pm

    I’m glad you’re posting again…I’ve missed you! I’ve never been a lamb person, but this may change my mind!


  16. Audrey Hennefer on October 11, 2011 at 9:50 am

    I love lamb and this spice blend sounds amazing, but I would cook it much rarer. You might find you enjoy lamb better if it’s not overcooked.


    • Michelle on October 12th, 2011 at 8:12 pm

      Thanks for the feedback, Audrey. I typically enjoy all of my meat (steak, lamb, etc.) a medium doneness. Well is too much, but I just can’t eat bleeding meat. I think it tends to be a personal preference though, and I do love lamb, even done medium!


  17. Jill @ MadAboutMacarons on October 12, 2011 at 12:46 pm

    All that’s missing is the scratch and sniff stickers. Can just imagine the smell, though. I normally adore marinaded lamb in curries but with this rub, it might change things!


  18. Peggy on October 13, 2011 at 12:14 pm

    Lamb and I have a love-hate relationship. Sometimes I can cook it fine, sometimes it’s a train wreck. Might have to take your word for it and serve this one up soon =)


  19. Diane on October 13, 2011 at 1:11 pm

    Sounds really unique and delicious–I’ll be making this ASAP since I love lamb anyway and don’t have it often. Thanks for sharing the link to the original, because I was equally curious about the sauce. Growing up, like you, I had mint jelly with lamb, but it always seemed a little strange (the sweetness and the jelly texture), and when my mom went to England and came home with mint sauce (in a jar), that cleared it all up! The zingyness of the vinegar and the texture of chopped mint made it all come together as something much more suited to meat. It’s just preference, of course, but I look forward to trying the sauce recipe with FRESH mint (a first) when I make the roast.


  20. Michelle Bolfa on May 24, 2013 at 3:18 am

    Younger lambs are smaller and more tender. Mutton is meat from a sheep over two years old, and has less tender flesh. In general, the darker the colour, the older the animal. Baby lamb meat will be pale pink, while regular lamb is pinkish-red.”–:

    http://calaguas.orgMy current blog site


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