Grilled Butterflied Leg of Lamb

DinnerGrillLow CarbLamb

This leg of lamb is butterflied for easy grilling and marinated with rosemary and garlic to give it great flavor. Make it for a big summer cook-out, or even for a twist on Easter dinner.

Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

Where to start? Somehow I suspect that the following method—fat is good, flame is good—is going to get me in trouble with some of you. But since this was the best lamb roast I’ve ever eaten in my life, I will forge ahead and tell you how we did it.

The lamb roast was succulent—crusty, flavorful char on the outside, pink and tender on the inside.

Note that the more fat on the lamb roast, the more likely you’ll have flare-ups when you grill. Flare-ups are okay as long as they are controlled and don’t get out of hand.

Grilled and Marinated Leg of Lamb cut into pieces

What Is A Butterfield Leg of Lamb?

Why use a butterflied the leg of lamb? A butterflied lamb roast is one that has the leg bone removed so that you can lay the roast out flat. You can do it yourself or have your butcher do it. Laying the roast flat on the grill helps it cook faster and more evenly.

To make it easier to turn on the grill, I recommend inserting a few metal skewers through the lamb, crosswise and parallel to the surface of the lamb.

Marinate Before Grilling

By the way, it used to be that people were worried about char grilling being carcinogenic. Turns out if you marinate the meat in an acid-based marinade first, you negate the cancer-causing elements. (Grillers everywhere rejoice.)

The marinade I’m using for this recipe is made with onion, garlic, rosemary, lemon zest, apple cider vinegar, and olive oil. Purée it all in a food processor and let the lamb marinate in it for one to two hours before grilling.

What to Serve with Grilled Lamb

Some people take offense at the very idea of using mint jelly with lamb. I wouldn’t have lamb without it. Homemade mint jelly is fantastic with lamb. And if we’re out, I’ve been known to chop up some fresh mint leaves just to go with the lamb. So, to each her own when it comes to the jelly. (Mint chimichurri or Horseradish sauce are also good!)

For side dishes, try braised leeks, a fresh arugula salad, or grilled asparagus.

Love Lamb? Try these recipes!

Updated April 15, 2019 : We spiffed up this post to make it sparkle! No changes to the original recipe.

Grilled Butterflied Leg of Lamb Recipe

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  • Prep time: 1 hour, 10 minutes
  • Cook time: 1 hour
  • Yield: Serves 8 to 10

In this recipe we sear the lamb first, on both sides, grilling on high heat for a short amount of time. Then we cook the lamb on lower heat until it is cooked through. In our opinion, the only way to eat lamb is medium rare or rare.

There is nothing more depressing than dried-out, over-cooked lamb. For this reason it is essential that you use a meat thermometer to test the internal temperature of the roast.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 onion
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 2 tablespoons fresh rosemary leaves, or 1 tablespoon dried
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 boneless leg of lamb, 5 to 6 pounds, butterflied

Special equipment:

Method

1 Make the marinade: Put onion, garlic, rosemary, lemon zest, apple cider vinegar, and olive oil into a food processor and pulse to combine. (If you don't have a food processor, just chop the onions, garlic, and rosemary very well and combine with the rest.)

2 Marinate the lamb: Sprinkle a generous amount of salt and pepper over the lamb. Place marinade and lamb into a 1-gallon freezer bag. Spread marinade over all sides of the meat. Seal the bag and refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours.

3 Remove lamb from refrigerator and let come to room temperature (about 20 minutes). When ready to put on grill, remove from marinade bag.

To help make the lamb easier to turn on the grill you can insert a couple of skewers through the lamb, crosswise. (A tip learned from Rick Rodgers in Kingsford Complete Grilling Cookbook.)

4 Prepare grill: If you are using a charcoal grill, prepare the coals so that they are double layered on one side of the grill, and sparsely single layered on the other side of the grill (this is called "banked" grilling).

If you are using a gas grill, heat the grill on high on all burners to start. After the initial browning you will reduce the heat.

5 Sear the lamb: Place the lamb, fat side down, on the grill on the hot side (double layer charcoals). You will get likely get flareups, so be prepared with a squirt bottle of water or a couple of cups of water (if using a charcoal grill) to control the flames if needed. (My brother Matt swears by shaking the bottle of beer he is drinking to squirt some beer on the coals when needed for flareups.)

Sear one side for 4 minutes, then flip the lamb over to sear the other side for another 4 minutes.

6 Move to cool side of grill and finish cooking: If you are using a charcoal grill, move the roast to the less hot side of the grill. If you are using a gas grill, lower the heat to low. You will want to maintain a temperature of 300-350°F.

Cover the grill and let cook for an additional 35-45 minutes (depending on how thick, and how many pounds the roast is), until a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the roast registers 130°F (for medium rare).

7 Let rest before cutting: Transfer to a cutting board with a well to catch the juices. Cover with aluminum foil and let rest for 5-10 minutes. Remove the skewers if you are using any.

Cut across the grain, 1/4 to 1/2-inch thick slices. Serve slices on a warm platter; pour meat juices over the slices. Serve with mint jelly or horseradish. Serves 8-10.

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Elise Bauer

Elise Bauer is the founder of Simply Recipes. Elise launched Simply Recipes in 2003 as a way to keep track of her family's recipes, and along the way grew it into one of the most popular cooking websites in the world. Elise is dedicated to helping home cooks be successful in the kitchen. Elise is a graduate of Stanford University, and lives in Sacramento, California.

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30 Comments / Reviews

No ImageGrilled Butterflied Leg of Lamb

Did you make it? Rate it!

  1. Alyss

    We loved this recipe, definately a keeper. Mine turned out beautifully. Grilled on a gas grill as above. I did trim the bulk of the fat off and per our taste will stuff with garlic cloves next time as well.

    xxxxxyyyyy

  2. Foodiewife

    Well, this recipe turned out a total success. I had to make a couple of tweaks, to suit my taste. I ended up adding Dijon mustard to the marinade and extra olive oil, only because it seemed a little dry. Our leg of lamb wasn’t butterflied to the way I had hoped my butcher would do… next time, I think I’ll cut it into sections so that the thicker pieces can cook longer. Some folks preferred rare while others wanted medium rare. Either way, even lamb haters loved it– especially with your mint-parsley chimichurri sauce ( added some lemon juice to that). I’ll definitely make it again.

    xxxxxyyyyy

  3. Lynne

    We tried grilling two legs of lamb for a family Easter dinner for the first time and they turned out perfectly! What a special treat… the family loved the lamb! We were a bit nervous about trying a new recipe for the first time for a family dinner, but the detailed instructions were spot on, as always. We cooked the lamb on a Big Green Egg seared the lamb on high heat ~450 degrees, then turned down the Egg to about 325 degrees. Excellent tip on using the skewers to hold the meat together as it cooked more evenly. We served the lamb with a beautifully bright green mint/mango based chutney…. so good!

    xxxxxyyyyy

  4. naya

    Im making this recipe tonight for myself but I only have a half pound piece of butterflied lamb leg. i wanted to roast it in the oven but cant find how long should i let cook. any advice?

    Show Replies (1)
  5. Sarah B

    This recipe (with your Mint Chimichurri) was a huge hit at our Easter dinner last night. Thank you SO much for the detailed instructions on grilling~my hubby was nervous to attempt (& potentially mess up) such a large, expensive cut of meat but it turned out beautifully. Such a blessing for us as nervous hosts of our first Easter lamb meal

    xxxxxyyyyy

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