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Lamb Kleftiko Recipe: A Traditional Greek Lamb Baked in Paper Recipe

This lamb kleftiko recipe is one of the most popular Greek Easter recipes! So, what does kleftiko mean? Kleftiko means “of the thief”. Thus, it actually means “in the style of the thief”! Tradition says that the bandits of the past would steal lambs as they did not have their own flocks and cook the meat in a sealed pit to avoid being caught.

Today, lovers of lamb kleftiko cook and wrap it in grease paper to seal all the juices and flavors within, after being marinated in garlic and lemon among others! In order to prepare this lamb kleftiko recipe, you would need the leg of a lamb, thyme, oregano, garlic cloves, lemon juice, salt, pepper, olive oil, and of course a lot of grease paper! However, there are two small secrets to follow in order to surprise your guests with this traditional Greek food dish. First, marinate the lamb kleftiko for at least 2 hours if not overnight. Second, unwrap the grease paper just before the meat is completely ready. Then, turn the temperature up and cook until the lamb gets a nicely brown color.

Ideal for the Easter or any Sunday table, this lamb kleftiko recipe takes 40 minutes to prepare and two hours and a half to cook. It serves 6 persons.

Lamb Kleftiko Recipe

Lamb Kleftiko Recipe

  • 1.2 kg leg of lamb, cut into portions
  • 4 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon of thyme
  • 4 cloves of garlic 
  • The juice of two lemons
  • 1 tablespoon of dried oregano
  • 200g of Greek feta cut to cubes
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/2 ripe tomato, sliced
  • Mustard (optional)
  • Greaseproof paper
  • Kitchen string

Lamb Kleftiko Recipe

  1. First of all, start this lamb kleftiko recipe by carefully washing the meat under fresh water. Then, wipe meat with kitchen roll.
  2. Take a large bowl and place the meat.
  3. Take a sharp knife and make incisions on all sides of the meat and insert pieces of garlic clove.
  4. Rub each piece with the lemon juice. Add the olive oil and sprinkle with the herbs, salt, and pepper.
  5. Now with your hands mix all of the ingredients together.
  6. Cover the bowl with a plastic wrap and place in refrigerator for at least two hours.
  7. Take the bowl out of the refrigerator and allow cooling down to room temperature.
  8. Preheat oven to 350°F (176 °C).
  9. Now, add the feta cheese and mix again with your hands.
  10. Take long pieces of parchment paper and place one on the other in such a way that they make a star.
  11. Place each meat piece, along with the feta cheese cubes and one slice of tomato.
  12. Optionally, you can add some mustard.
  13. Wrap securely the greaseproof paper and tie with string.
  14. Cook lamb kleftiko for approximately 1 hour and 45 minutes or until the meat becomes tender. Finally, remove the pan from the oven and increase oven temperature to 428°F (220°C).
  15. Now, unwrap each paper. Put back in the oven and cook for 30 mins or until the meat gets a nice brown color.
  16. Serve right away.

Combine this mouthwatering lamb kleftiko recipe with baked potatoes and Greek salad! Stay tuned for more traditional Greek food recipes. Enjoy!

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