Persian Roast Lamb Recipe and Video (with Pomegranate Molasses)

This Persian Roast Lamb is one of my favourite ways to cook lamb, a very easy, straightforward marinade using some basic Persian and Western ingredients and voilà – you’ve got yourself, a juicy, aromatic and delightful roast with a touch of the exotic!

Estimated reading time: 7 minutes

roast lamb on rice, shot from the top

Roast Lamb for Any Occasion

A roast of any kind always makes a great table centrepiece, whether it’s dressed to impress or straight out of the oven without a care in the world.

Today’s roasted leg of lamb is a favourite with my Middle Eastern customers here in the UK as well as readers in Iran. So that’s saying something, right?

The customers are long standing ones and twice a year, regular as clockwork, I can expect them knocking on my door to discuss the next Persian dinner and menu.

What makes this Persian Roast Lamb so Special?

In one word (erm, 2 really) – Pomegranate Molasses.

Pomegranate Molasses is a heavenly ingredient that adds tangy and slightly sweet flavours to whatever you use it in. To me, it’s a cross between a mild honey and balsamic vinegar; that’s the closest comparison I can give you!

However, go on ahead to the page on Pomegranate Molasses to read more about it. I also give you a diy pomegranate molasses recipe.

It is easily available here in the UK from our large supermarkets like Waitrose, Sainsburys and Ocado. Or try your hand online, if you can’t find it wherever you are. Here is my affiliate link for getting it on Amazon.

The pomegranate gives a beautiful and delicious glaze to our roast. It adds depth with all its touches of tart, sweet, caramel coming into play. These flavours are heightened by the other ingredients that we have, like saffron, lemon, turmeric, pepper, cumin and some honey. Sounding good to you?

On a side note, as you can see in the images here, I finish the recipe of with sprinkling some pomegranate seeds, my go-to food photography bling. Not everyone likes crunching on them, so just be aware of that.

thick syrup dripping off back of spoon dark photo
Pomegranate Molasses

The Recipe

As mentioned, our Persian Roast Lamb is very easy to cook. This is what we’ll be doing:

  1. Make the marinade.
  2. Make cuts/slits in the lamb leg with a small, sharp knife.
  3. Rub the marinade all over and in the cuts (marinate for as long as you can).
  4. Roast the lamb for 1 1/2 hrs.

There is no need to marinate the lamb at all if you don’t have time but if you do, leave it in the marinade for a couple of hours, even overnight, if you are that organised! We cut some slashes into the meat to allow the marinade to penetrate through and get soaked up by the meat fibres for a better all round flavour.

Other Ingredients

The Lamb

My favourite cut for this recipe and other roast lamb recipes is leg of lamb. It produces plenty of meat and how well you want to cook it is completely up to you.

A whole leg of lamb is great for a crowd as it yields plenty of lean meat.

Lamb shoulder is also another great cut to make today’s Persian Roast Lamb.

Liquid Saffron (or Bloomed Saffron)

Liquid Saffron is an indispensable kitchen ingredient in the Persian kitchen, but perfect for all cuisines – this is liquid gold!

When you only soak the saffron in water (as called for in most cuisines), you are not utilising everything that this potent ingredient has to offer. You get the aroma, the flavour and the colour but the very substance of the saffron, to me, remains elusive when you leave it whole.

To get liquid saffron, we crush the saffron in a pestle and mortar first, with just a tiny pinch of salt or sugar to aid the grinding, then we soak it in about 2 Tbsp of hot water (or more, depending on the recipe).

I show you how to do it in the video.

Liquid saffron in a small white bowl on black background
Liquid saffron


Adding stock to our roast allows for a delicious sauce to accompany the lamb and whatever you’re serving it with.

I find lamb stock overpowering, so always go for chicken stock when I’m cooking with lamb, for a subtle flavour addition. This is a matter of choice, and you can always just use water but the result won’t be as potent.


With certain dishes, I can be a bit of a traditionalist. So, I’m sticking with just onions in this recipe, more for flavouring and adding body to the finished sauce at the end of cooking time. You could go the usual way by adding some carrots and celery if you like.

One Pot Dish

Or, turn this into a one pot dish by adding vegetables as mentioned above and par boiled potatoes in the last hour of cooking time. Or roast your potatoes separately.

Take a look at this Slow Roast Lamb Shanks on what I mean by turning this roast into a one pot meal.

Other Flavourings

We have a handful of ingredients here that add flavour to our Persian Roast Lamb, namely the pomegranate molasses, garlic, saffron, cumin, turmeric, lemon juice and rosemary.

I think that’s plenty. However, if you’d like a little more, you could perhaps use thyme instead of rosemary and as mint is a natural accompaniment to lamb, that’s always good to.

I’d just stick with what we have above, although 1/4 tsp sumac will blend in very nicely with its lemony inclinations.

You could also use lime juice instead of lemon.

Persian Roast Lamb
Persian Roast Lamb

How to serve our Persian Roast Lamb?

This rather depends on the type of meal you’re having. Take a look at the suggestions below for Middle eastern inspiration.

When I cook this for Nowruz, the Persian New Year, I keep it all Persian or with North African/Middle Eastern accompaniments. I do the same if my guests or customers are from that part of the world.

Morasa Polo, Persian Jewelled Rice, is just perfect for this, with its “twinkling gems”. Or the more traditional Nowruz rice dish of Sabzi Polo (Herbed Rice).

Or, keep it simple with my specially written Easy Persian Saffron Rice.

Then to complete the meal, you can have a borani (yoghurt dish) and a salad. Perfect.

This Persian Roast Lamb makes a wonderful Easter main on Easter Sunday, something I’ve done a few times over the years, as it’s always a huge hit. It also makes a wonderful Christmas main meal if you’re not a fan of turkey.

Accompaniments for Persian Roast Lamb

Morasa Polow (Persian Jewelled Rice)
The King of all Persian dishes, the Persian Jewelled Rice or Morasa Polow bedazzles the eye with twinkles of red, green, orange and gold. Morasa means jewels.
Last Updated May 2023.
Get the Recipe!
Morasa Polow, Persian Jewelled Rice
Easy Persian Saffron Rice (with Rose Water)
A quick and easy Persian style rice with flavours of saffron and rose water, without the customary tahdeeg.
Get the Recipe!
Easy Persian Saffron Rice
Salad Shirazi | Persian Cucumber, Tomato and Red Onion Salad
Salad Shirazi is a simple Persian salad of cucumber, tomato and red onions that will shake your tastebuds alive with every tingling mouthful.
Get the Recipe!
Close up shot of Salad Shirazi, simple persian salad
Borani Laboo (Persian Yoghurt and Beetroot Dip)
Borani Laboo is a dreamy, creamy Persian recipe of beetroot in yoghurt. It can be eaten as a dip or a condiment in a meal, much like raita.
Get the Recipe!
pink yoghurt with beetroot in white bowl with blue paisley tablecloth

Do you like this recipe? Please give it a 5-star rating below! And when you make it, share it on Instagram or any other social medium and tag me @azlinbloor. Merci!

Noushe jan | نوش جان

Lin xx

Images from LinsFoodies

Persian Roast Lamb Recipe and Video

Persian Roast Lamb recipe. Super easy and extremely delicious with pomegranate molasses. Perfect for Nowruz, Easter and Christmas!
Last Updated April 2023.
4.99 from 257 votes
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Course: Main Course
Cuisine: British/Persian Fusion
Keyword: christmas, lamb, middle eastern, nowruz
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 2 hours 30 minutes
Total Time: 3 hours 50 minutes
Servings: 8 (6-8)
Calories: 311kcal
Author: Azlin Bloor


  • 1 pestle and mortar for crushing saffron
  • 1 large knife
  • 1 small knife
  • 1 bowl for marinade
  • 1 large roasting pan
  • 1 over
  • aluminium foil


  • 1 leg or shoulder of lamb weighing about 1.5-2kg (3.5-4.5 lb)
  • 1 large onion sliced in rings
  • 250 ml chicken or vegetable stock or water


  • 5 cloves garlic finely chopped or crushed
  • 4 Tbsp pomegranate molasses
  • 2 Tbsp honey
  • 1 Tbsp EV olive oil
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 Tbsp liquid saffron (7:42 on the video) (made with a pinch of saffron + 2 Tbsp hot water, see below)
  • 1 Tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 2 strip of fresh rosemary leaves only and either pounded or finely chopped

Liquid Saffron

  • 1 pinch saffron
  • 2 Tbsp hot water


Liquid Saffron

  • Tip your saffron into a mortar, along with a small pinch of salt. Crush the saffron with the pestle, going round and round (see video at 7:42).
  • Add the hot water and leave to soak while you get everything else ready (onions, garlic, get the spices ready, slice the lemon, etc).

The Marinade

  • Mix the marinade ingredients together and set aside.

Marinate the Lamb

  • Preheat the the oven to 180˚C/350˚F.
    If you're leaving the lamb to marinate, do this later.
  • Taking a small, sharp knife, make half a dozen slashes straight down into the lamb, especially around the thicker parts.
  • Rub all over the lamb, pushing down into the cuts and into the meat folds.
    If you have time, leave the lamb to marinate a minimum of 2 hours, overnight is great and will also save you time the next day.

Roast the Lamb

  • Line your chosen baking dish with the sliced onions.
  • Sit the lamb on the onions.
  • Pour your chosen stock or water in, making sure to pour it on the onions and not the lamb.
  • Cover with a foil and roast for 1 hour by which time your lamb will be almost done.
  • Take the cover off and roast for another 30-60 minutes, depending on how well done you like your meat. 30 minutes will give you meat still bordering on the pink, a little like the images here. 60 minutes will give you well done.
  • When the lamb is done, you'll have a delicious bit of sauce/gravy that you can serve separately. Just get rid of excessive fat from it first, if you like, but I don't bother.
    Leave to rest for 20 minutes, covered, in a warm place. Serve as suggested in the article above.



Calories: 311kcal | Carbohydrates: 15g | Protein: 38g | Fat: 10g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 115mg | Sodium: 161mg | Potassium: 596mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 10g | Vitamin A: 10IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 24mg | Iron: 4mg
Did you make this recipe?Mention @azlinbloor and tag #linsfood!
Made it? Upload your photosMention @azlinbloor and tag #linsfood!

76 thoughts on “Persian Roast Lamb Recipe and Video (with Pomegranate Molasses)”

  1. Can I make the marinade ahead of time and save it in the fridge? I want to marinate it over night but I work so I was hoping I could make the marinade the day before so all I have to do is apply it when I get home

      1. Thank you so much! Will cooking time change if I am doing two legs in the same oven at the same time

        1. My pleasure. You’ll need about 30 minutes more, if cooking 2 roasts. This is assuming both are about the same size as in the recipe. Switch the roasting tins over (top to bottome and vice versa) to ensure even cooking for both.

  2. 5 stars
    I too crush the saffron many a times but not always, thanks for detailing it out.
    I like this roast lamb marinade with molasses, would add so much flavour. Looking forward to make this for our next party

  3. Emily Menken

    Hi there. I’m thinking of making this with lamb shoulder chops. How should I modify the cooking time/marination time? Thank you!

    1. Hi Emily, you’ll only need about 20 minutes of marinating time. But you could also do it the night before and leave the chops in the fridge. The next day, bring them out about 30 minutes before cooking time to allow them to come to room temperature.
      I usually just cook lamb chops on the stove, about 8-10 minutes (total time for both sides). This depends on how thick the chops are and how rare/done you like them.
      If cooking in the oven, same temperature, about 12-15 minutes, for the same reasons.

  4. Hi Azlin, thanks for this recipe, looks fabulous. I am planning to make this dish for 10 people. I got a 3.5kgs leg of lamb. I was just wondering do I just need to double the ingredients since your recipe is for 1.5 to 2kg lamb. Also how long do I need to roast it in the oven and what temperature. Thanks heaps 🙂

    1. Hi Laura, I hope I’m not late with the reply. You will need to increase the ingredients, but I wouldn’t go as far as doubling. Get a calculator our and multiply everything by 1.5. Then just round up.
      As far as time is concerned, I would aim for 2 1/2 to 3 1/2. Pierce the fleshy part with a knife, if the juices are not clear, keep going for another 15-30 minutes, if that makes sense. It’ll partly depend on the thickness too.
      Temp – 180˚C/350˚F.

  5. This was great. I also made the Persian jewelled rice to go with it. It was beautiful.
    I was going to post a picture but can’t figure out how to do that

    1. I’m really pleased to hear that – again! The pictures you see have been posted on social media (Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram). I download, then post them here. If you are not on social media, you can email it to me if you like, and I’ll post it. If the jewelled rice can be seen, I’ll post it on both.
      Thank you, Rania!

  6. Viv Campbell

    5 stars
    I made this lamb last night for our family and it was delicious! I was inspired when I saw a bottle of pomegranate molasses in the pantry, a quick Google later came across your recipe – thank you! I was wondering if you had any suggestions about what to do with the leftovers? I have just enough to spread to another dinner tonight.

  7. Lyndsey Woodward

    Fab recipe. I’ve never heard of pomegranate molasses. But I’m in the UK, so I assume I should be able to get it. You are in the UK, right?

  8. Hi! I tried the recipe tonight. It was my first time roasting lamb. The dish turned out good, my friends liked it. I paired it with zereshk pulow. I enjoyed the lamb as well, which is unusual for me, as I identify more towards the vegetarian side of the scale. Thank you so much for the recipe. It was hassle free and I didn’t need to constantly keep checking it every now and then. Just popped it in the oven for few hours and it was ready with mouth watering aroma.
    The pomegranate molasses did add a subtle twist to the taste. Thanks again

    1. Hi Fayeza, you are very welcome, I’m so glad to hear that you enjoyed the recipe. And a great job for a first time too. The zereshk polow was a great compliment to it. And yes, I love that it is hassle free too!

    1. I think it’s going to be lamb for Christmas day. Already salivating over your recipe. Thank you Azlin.

  9. I was wondering if I could use this recipe for rack of lamb? How long would I cook it for?

  10. Farzana Simons

    Thank you Azlin. I was looking around for a good lamb recipe for this Easter. Yes, I like to plan early! My family is a mix of Syrian and British, so I think this is going to be a really good main meal. I’m planning to check out your Middle Eastern page for more inspiration.

  11. David Mallinson

    I am cooking this right now in Tehran for my Persian wife and friends to enjoy. Nooshe Jan!

    1. Oh wow David, I am more than impressed! Thank you so much for letting me know, I hope you and more importantly, your wife, enjoys the recipe! Nooshe Jan!

      1. David Mallinson

        Yep they all loved it! Now back in Oman with our new found friend….pomegranate molasses.

  12. Yona Williams

    I have only had lamb one time in my life, and it was something I’d eat again. I am intrigued by the use of pomegranate molasses in this recipe.

  13. Confession – I’ve never tried lamb before other than in a Gyro. I’ve wanted to but just haven’t but this looks amazing!

  14. That looks so delicious! I’ve never actually tried lamb before. I need to try it soon because I’d love to try out your recipe.

  15. The flavor of this is amazing for sure! I really like that it’s a one pot dish, it makes cooking easier. Thanks for all the tips! I’m keeping this recipe!

  16. Elizabeth O.

    I love pomegranate! But I’ve never tried pomegranate molasses before, it sounds so interesting. I think there’s a lot of flavor in this dish and that’s what makes it awesome.

  17. I love lamb but can’t get anyone in my house to eat it. Looks like I will have to save this recipe for when I go to visit my folks. They love it just like me. This recipe looks fantastic. Can’t wait to try it.

  18. what a beautiful presentation! I’m afraid it’s a rare thing to find lamb in any form at my local butchers. This makes a trip into the city to find a good roast worthwhile!

      1. 5 stars
        Wow!!! That’s a dish fit for a royal feast! It looks perfect to become the star of the show for any festive dinner.

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