Lamb Kleftiko (Oven Baked Lamb with Herbs)


Lamb Kleftiko (Oven Baked Lamb with Herbs)

Here my Dad, George shares his recipe. Over to him.

Kleftiko literally means ‘stolen’ and the name was derived during the Ottoman Empire when Greek freedom fighters stole lamb, goats or sheep and cooked the meat in clay ovens or underground to eliminate smoke not to betray their positions. The lamb was cooked very slowly until it literally fell off the bone. Bake potatoes in the same tray for extra flavour.

Serves 4


  • 4x 350g lamb pieces from leg or shoulder with the bone on
  • 4x cloves of garlic cut into slithers
  • 125ml olive oil
  • Juice of a large lemon
  • A small handful of fresh oregano or ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 4 sprigs of fresh oregano
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Garnish: sprigs of fresh flat-leaf parsley


  1. Preheat oven to 190 degrees c/ 375 degrees F/ Gas 5
  2. Make 3-4 slits in every piece of the meat in different positions and insert the garlic slithers in the slits. Mix olive oil and lemon juice in a small bowl and brush the whole of the meat with the olive oil and lemon juice mixture. Sprinkle the dried oregano and ground cinnamon on both sides of the lamb.
  3. Place the lamb in a foil large enough to make a parcel. Place a bay leaf, 1 sprig of oregano, 2 pinches of salt and 2 pinches of ground pepper on top of the lamb and wrap up lamb with foil but not too tightly. Place parcels in a tray or a large oven proof dish filled with water 1/3 of the way up.
  4. Place the tray in the oven and cook for 1 hour, then reduce the oven temperature to 170/Gas Mark 3 and cook for a further 90-120 minutes, turning over once or twice. Check if meat is tender by inserting a skewer in the middle of the meat and if it slides easily, the meat is ready.
  5. Serve on warm plates, garnished with sprigs of fresh flat-leaf parsley, accompanied with roast potatoes, crusty bread and a fresh, crisp Greek salad.

Recipe © George Psarias.


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59 Responses

  1. Vicki Montague

    Gosh that lamb looks so lovely! We only have meat on special occations now really so I might have to crack that out at Christmas! Thanks for the recipe!

    • honestmum

      Wonderful Vicki, I recently quite meat (bar fish) but will still be showcasing meat recipes from my family here, definitely a great festive option x

  2. thefolia

    Love lamb and this one looks amazing. I don’t eat much meat but I know that lamb (besides game) is one of the meats that are still in its pure form…I hope it never goes to industrial farming! I just found out one of George Stefanapolis’s ancestors was a Klefti. It was on an American program where the host digs deep and goes as far back as they can to your roots.

    • honestmum

      Oh that’s funny! Yes I’ve recently quit meat in fact bar fish but will keep sharing my Dad’s wonderful meat recipes here x

  3. Angela

    I’ve never made this, but I’ve always wanted to give it a go. I’ll have to give this recipe a try. Thanks for running #TastyTuesdays.

  4. Donna

    Oh that lamb looks incredible! Lamb is my favourite meal but we don’t have it often as it is quite expensive. I’ll be trying this next time we buy a joint! x

  5. Mel

    I don’t eat lamb but Hubby and the children would love it! I must make an effort to cook more lamb for them. xxx

    • honestmum

      Funny as recently stopped eating meat myself Mel, just fish but will still be sharing the gorgeous meat dishes from my Dad. Let me know if you get to make this x

    • honestmum

      Hehe well I’ve recently stopped eating meat (husband is pescetarian) and wanted to see if I felt better limiting it but I don’t want to stop showcasing meat recipes here, thanks for your lovely words, husband took the fab photo x

  6. Jenny

    Lamb looks good. I have never attempted to cook lamb too scared but this looks so good I just might have to try it for once. Yummy! Thanks for hosting.

  7. Samantha Rickelton

    One of my best friends LOVES lamb kleftico but I have to say I’ve never tried it – your recipe looks delicious and easy though so I think it’s time I gave it a go! #TastyTuesday


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