How to Grill a Butterflied Leg of Lamb

Preparing lamb differs from beef in that it contains several lean cuts, such as the shoulder, rib, and leg…From a health perspective, that is excellent news. For the home cook, it means that you must balance doneness without drying out the meat. A butterflied leg of lamb removes the challenge of ensuring that it’s cooked through to your desired temperature without charring the outside.

Let’s go through the cooking process step-by-step.


Your butcher can take care of the cut or you can remove the leg bone yourself. The key to grilled a butterflied leg of lamb is…

Even thickness.

After trimming any excess fat, place the meat between two pieces of plastic wrap or inside of a Ziplock bag. Pound it gently with a kitchen mallet.

At this point, you have some choices to make.

You can marinate the lamb with a rub, a selection of fresh herbs with olive oil, or use a barbecue sauce to baste it over the coals.

You can also tie the meat into a roast with kitchen twine and smoke it. It’s a tasty way to make buying this smoker a smart investment.

Spice and Herb Options
Garlic and rosemary are the soulmates of lamb. However, they aren’t your only choices. It also works well with Mediterranean spices like turmeric and cumin. Give it a French twist with tarragon or herbes de Provence.

The possibilities are endless.

Getting Ready for the Grill
You should bring the lamb to room temperature before you cook it. That will assure even cooking throughout the meat. If you’re using a marinade, it’s a great opportunity to do both things at the same time.

Since it is a relatively large cut, you’ll find it helpful to use skewers both horizontally and vertically tomake it easier for you to turn on the grill.

Prepare your grill to get it to medium to medium-high heat. A quick gauge of this temperature is being able to keep your hand over the coals for about 5 seconds.

Remove the meat from the marinade and pat it dry with paper towels, which you should do anyway even if you didn’t marinate it. That will prevent the lamb from sticking to the rack.

Get Set! Barbecue!

You will need a set of tongs, hand oven mitt, and an instant-read thermometer. Also, have a platter with a sheet of aluminum foil within reach. It’s essential not to use the same plate that held the raw meat to
prevent foodborne contamination.

Make sure the rack is clean and oil it lightly. You can grill the meat for 10 to 15 minutes on each side, depending on the doneness you prefer. recommends an internal temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit for fresh cuts like the butterflied leg of lamb.

That temperature puts it in the medium-well category, which can be a bit tough for a lean cut like this one. If you prefer something different, the ranges for the doneness levels are as follows:

● Rare: 120 degrees Fahrenheit
● Medium-rare: 125 degrees Fahrenheit
● Medium: 135 degrees Fahrenheit
● Medium-well: 145 degrees Fahrenheit
● Well-done: 150 degrees Fahrenheit

You should, of course, verify the temp with your instant-read thermometer to be certain. Place it on the clean platter, and cover lightly with the foil. Remember that the temperature will continue to rise as it sits.

We recommend waiting at least 10 minutes before you cut into the lamb.

Using a Barecue Sauce

The method for using a BBQ sauce varies slightly because of the basting. We suggest that you use the sauce as you grill the meat. Don’t coat it before you put it on the coals.

The reason is…sugar.

Since your medium to medium-high grill is over 350 degrees, the sugar will likely burn first instead of getting the yummy caramelized effect from the Maillard reaction. You might also risk a flame-up when the sauce hits the coals.

Not a good thing when you have a platter in hand and tongs in the other.

Final Thoughts

Lamb is a healthy lean protein that makes a delicious addition to your grilling rotation. It cooks quickly and is versatile for a wide range of cuisines. The smoky goodness that the barbecue adds makes it taste
that much better. Get out of the beef and hamburger rut! Give lamb a chance for something new.

Annabelle Carter Short is an experienced writer, editor, proofreader, blogger, teacher and photographer. She likes to cook, sew, and she’s very passionate about healthy food that tastes delicious. She loves designing new healthy recipes in her kitchen. She writes for

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