How to cook the perfect roast lamb, according to Michelin-starred chef Marcus Wareing

Perfectly timed for the spring season, this is your foolproof guide to a satisfying roast this Easter Sunday...

Roasting lamb perfectly isn’t as easy as your mother made it look. If you’ve attempted to cook this Easter classic in years gone by, you’ll know that. But, as it’s an essential part of the spring festive season, roasting lamb is as important a skill to master as rolling out the marzipan for your Simnel cake or buttering a hot cross bun.

So, to ensure that your lamb roast gets mouths sufficiently watering this Easter, we’ve teamed up with one of Britain’s best chefs, Marcus Wareing. His Michelin stars speak for themselves, and his impact on the restaurant industry is immeasurable. So listen up.

How to cook the perfect roast lamb, according to Michelin-starred chef Marcus Wareing
Marcus Wareing

“Salt-baking lamb shoulder is one of my favourite ways to cook it,” says Wareing. “The high fat content in the shoulder means that it renders slowly throughout the salt-baking process and ensures the meat retains a wonderful moist texture. The herbs in the dough also gently scent the lamb, enhancing its flavour even further.”

So roll up your sleeves, sling on your apron and get cooking. Here’s Wareing’s step-by-step recipe below.


Salt Dough:

  • 100g rock salt
  • 200g plain flour
  • Chopped herbs (advised: 2 tablespoons of chopped rosemary, 2 bay leaves, finely chopped, and 2 tbsp thyme leaves)

For the lamb:

  • 1 shoulder of lamb, bone in (approx. 1.8kg)
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 2 carrots, quartered
  • 1 leek, white part only, quartered
  • 1 garlic bulb, halved horizontally
  • 100ml Madeira wine 200ml white wine
  • 6 sprigs of rosemary
  • 500ml lamb stock
How to cook the perfect roast lamb, according to Michelin-starred chef Marcus Wareing


1. To make the salt dough, combine all the ingredients in a bowl with 200ml cold water (enough to bind the mixture). Knead until well combined. Roll out the dough on a sheet of baking parchment to a size large enough to enclose the entire shoulder of lamb. Place the shoulder on top and wrap the salt dough around it until it is completely enclosed. Place the dough-wrapped lamb in a large roasting tray and bake for 3 ½ hours.

2. While the lamb is cooking, make the lamb sauce. Heat the vegetable oil in a large saucepan over medium high-heat, add the onion, carrots, celery and garlic and cook for 7-10 minutes, until browned. Add the Madeira and white wine, bring to the boil, then simmer rapidly for about 15minutes until the liquid becomes a syrup. Add the rosemary and lamb stock and simmer gently for 40 minutes.

Strain through a fine sieve into a clean saucepan. Bring to a simmer and reduce until it has the consistency of single cream. Season to taste and remove from the heat until the lamb is cooked.

3. Remove the lamb from the oven and allow it to cool in the dough for 5 minutes, then carefully remove and discard the dough, using a knife to prise it off. Cover the lamb shoulder with foil and let it rest for a further 10 minutes before carving.

4. Serve with the sauce, as well as new potatoes, peas and roasted carrots, if you wish.

Looking for more food inspiration? These are the perfect wine pairings for your roast dinner…


Further Reading