Luciano Becchio came off the bench to score his first hat trick in Leeds colours to move the club back into the Play off positions.
Davide Somma was preferred in attack to Becchio but it was the Argentinian, who turned the game in Leeds favour when he came on for the last half hour.
Leeds had huffed and puffed for the first hour without looking like making the breakthrough.
Somma was struggling against a strong Bristol City back line that seemed happy to sit back and welcome the Leeds pressure.
He did have a great chance however to open the scoring when he was thwarted by a fantastic save by David James.
Neil Kilkenny and John Howson linked well to put Somma in but James turned his effort that looked like it was destined for the bottom corner around the post for a corner.
Bradley Johnson also saw a shot deflected for a corner as Leeds increased the pressure.
Leeds were almost given the lead when Carey almost turned a Leeds cross into his own net but James saved the defenders embarrassment with a save on the line.
Bristol did not look like troubling the Leeds back line and only had a long range shot from Jon Stead that was excellently saved by Schmeichel, gave the home side anything to worry about in the first half.
Leeds started the second half pretty much the same way the first had gone, with most of the ball but Bristol more than happy to defend deeply and try and frustrate Leeds.
Leeds best chance of the opening fifteen minutes came after some swift movement that eventually saw Somma shoot straight at James.
Simon Grayson decided to make a double substitution on 61 minutes, Lloyd Sam and Luciano Becchio replacing Max Gradel and Davide Somma and within five minutes they decision was to prove inspired.
Robert Snodgrass worked hard to gain the ball down the right side, his excellent ball into the middle found the head of Becchio, and he gave James no chance with a downward header into the corner.
Bristol who had not looked that interested in attacking all afternoon were now forced to attack and within two minutes were on level terms.
George McCartney was out muscled down the left by Adomah and his ball into the middle found Stead who gave Schmeichel no chance.
Leeds had not won at home in their previous four games and after dominating the midweek game with Hull City only finished with a point, so the equaliser had fans fearing the worst.
There was to be no repeat this time though and within two minutes Leeds were once again back in front.
Bradley Johnson played a good ball into the middle to find Sam, his shot could only be parried as far as Becchio and his left foot shot across James eventually found its way into the back of the net.
With the game precariously poised at 2-1, Bristol were trying to put Leeds under pressure, any worries the players and fans were having were put to bed when Becchio completed his hat trick on 83 minutes.
This time a great ball in from the left from McCartney found the head of Becchio and once again, his precise placing of the ball gave James no chance.
The goal killed off any hope of a Bristol revival and Leeds cruised to victory, despite one late scare.
Schmeichel produced an excellent save when he tipped over the bar from Caulker in the closing moments.
A great three points at Elland Road for Leeds, their first home win since the end of September.
The win moves them back into the play off places in fifth place and they now travel to Norwich City next Saturday, who are just one point behind them in eight place.
Schmeichel, Connolly, O`Brien, Bruce, McCartney, Howson (Paynter 90), Gradel (Sam 61), Kilkenny, Johnson, Somma (Becchio 61), Snodgrass
Subs not used
Brown, Hughes, Collins, McCormack
James, Fontaine, McAllister, Carey (Hunt 65), Caulker, Campbell-Ryce, Elliott, Haynes (Pitman 55), Stead, Adomah, Johnson (Rose 81)
Subs not used
Clarkson, Skuse, Gerken, Cisse
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