Lamb Kleftiko (Oven Baked Lamb with Herbs)

Lamb Kleftiko (Oven Baked Lamb with Herbs)

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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