Lamb Kleftiko: A Greek Lamb Cooked in Parchment Paper Recipe

This lamb kleftiko recipe is one of the most popular Easter ones! However, what does kleftiko imply? Kleftiko means “of the thief”. Thus, it 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 so the owners of the lambs could not trace and catch them. Nowadays, Greeks cook lamb kleftiko wrapped in grease paper to seal all the juices and flavors within, after they marinate it in garlic and lemon, among others.

This lamb kleftiko recipe requires the leg of a lamb, oregano, garlic cloves, lemon juice, salt, pepper, olive oil, feta, kefalotyri, onions, potatoes, mustard, and of course a lot of grease paper! Kefalotiri is available in Greek grocery stores, but not in regular supermarkets. If you cannot find this cheese, you can replace it with Parmesan cheese, which is the closest widely available equivalent.

There are two valuable secrets you need to follow to surprise your guests with this Greek lamb cooked in a parchment paper recipe. First, marinate the lamb kleftiko for at least 2 hours if not overnight. Second, unwrap the grease paper before the meat is almost ready, turn the temperature up, and cook a bit more to get the lamb is brown.

Ideal for your Easter or any Sunday table, this lamb kleftiko recipe takes 40 minutes to prepare and one hour and a half to cook.

Lamb kleftiko (Greek lamb cooked in a parchment paper recipe)

Lamb Kleftiko - Ingredients

  • 1 kg of   lamb meat (thigh)
  • 1 cup  of butter
  • 5 onions (dry, whole)
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 10 small potatoes, peeled
  • 1/2 cup of grated kefalotyri cheese
  • 5 pieces of feta cheese
  • Pepper 
  • Oregano 
  • Salt 
  • Olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons of mustard 
  • Parchment paper
  • Kitchen string

Lamb Kleftiko - How to Make

  1. Starting this lamb kleftiko recipe by washing thoroughly the lamb with fresh water and cutting the lamb meat into five pieces. 
  2. Take a large bowl, add the lamb, onions, garlic cloves, some olive oil, oregano, and mustard. Mix well the ingredients with the meat. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for at least two hours if not overnight.  
  3. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before cooking. 
  4. Put it in a pot with a little butter, simmer lightly, together with the potatoes.
  5. Open the parchment sheets one by one and coat them with melted butter. 
  6. Put in each one a portion of lamb meat, 1 clove of garlic, two potatoes, one onion, feta, and some parmesan cheese  Pour it with some lemon juice and olive oil.
  7. Add salt and pepper.  
  8. Add a little more butter, and tie tightly with a kitchen string.  
  9. Preheat oven to medium temperature. 
  10. Take a baking pan and coat it with some oil. 
  11. Coat the exterior of each of the packages with butter.
  12. Bake in medium oven heat covered with aluminum foil for about an hour.
  13. Unwrap the grease paper before the meat is almost ready, turn the temperature up, and cook a bit more to get the lamb is brown.
  14. Serve
This lamb kleftiko recipe coming from middle mainland Greece is also known as "eksohiko" (meaning "of the countryside"). Enjoy.