Grilled Butterflied Leg of Lamb Recipe
Want to make a tender, fall-off-the-bone leg of lamb, but don’t have a rotisserie? Well, you’re in luck! This recipe is perfect for those of us who don’t have a rotisserie (or the time to rotisserie) at home. I often find those dry out the lamb before the center gets nice and juicy anyway. To roast leg of lamb is quicker, simplifies carving, and makes it easier to determine doneness—three of the many reasons why this is my go-to method. For this recipe you won't need anything heavier or bigger than an 8-pound leg of lamb.
Since this recipe uses a grill, woodchips aren’t necessary to get a great final product. So if you don’t have any or don’t want to use them—that’s perfectly fine. However, I did slip in a few hickory woodchips to get some extra smoky flavor into the meat. Applewood, barbecue, or whatever bag is shoved under your grill will work just as well for this particular recipe.
While temperatures are listed below for different stages of doneness, I highly recommend going medium-rare to medium with this one. Any more done and the lamb may become dry and stringy, which is the exact opposite of how this recipe should taste!
I’ve tried a lot of lamb leg recipes floating around out there, but this one has to be the best so far. This lamb recipe is worthy to be called the main dish at your Christmas dinner even. The mustard and cardamom hold up really well against the Dijon, while the rosemary brings some freshness to an otherwise savory dish.
And the apple cider vinegar and apple juice impart this incredible sweet-tangy flavor that compliments the natural flavor of lamb. I honestly don’t know why I didn’t think of combining them both before!
I made the mistake of grinding up cardamom pods the first time around—and I’m here to warn you against that! Using whole cardamom will obliterate any other flavor nuances this meat should have.
So if you only have pods on hand, you’ll need to shell them and only grind up the actual seeds. Since cardamom can sometimes be hard to find, you can sub it with ground ginger without much of a flavor difference.
But now that all of that is out of the way—read on to make a ridiculously tender and delicious leg of lamb!
What You'll Need For This Leg Of Lamb Recipe
- Grill (gas grill or charcoal grill)
- Woodchips (optional)
- Meat thermometer
- Baking dish
- Plastic wrap
Ingredients For Butterflied Leg of Lamb
- American lamb leg, boned and butterflied (4 to 6 pounds)
- ½ cup Dijon mustard
- ½ cup frozen apple juice concentrate, thawed
- 2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon dry mustard
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary leaves
- 1 teaspoon ground cardamom*
- Coarse kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
*You may substitute with ground ginger if you prefer.
Pro-tip: Add a dash of paprika or cayenne for a spicier version, you can also use garlic cloves to add more taste. You can also add some garlic (slivered, minced, or powdered) if you have it on hand for added flavor. I personally love tucking some slivered garlic pieces into the meat folds right before sticking the lamb on the grill.
1. Combine dry mustard and ground cardamom (or ground ginger) in a small bowl.
2. Gradually whisk in the vinegar until mixture is mostly smooth. Allow to stand for 15 minutes to develop flavors properly.
3. Whisk in apple juice concentrate, dry mustard, rosemary, Dijon mustard, and extra virgin olive oil until no lumps remain.
4. Season the marinade with a dash of salt and black pepper to taste. Add a couple f cloves garlic to add more taste.
5. Place butterflied lamb leg in a glass baking dish. Sprinkle directly with salt and black pepper.
6. Now coat the lamb leg with 1/3 cup of the marinade. Turn over and sprinkle other side with salt and pepper. Now spread remaining marinade over lamb.
7. Cover the entire dish with plastic wrap and chill overnight so marinade can penetrate the meat. Turn periodically for even absorption.
8. Preheat the grill to medium-high heat. Add woodchips of choice. Spray with nonstick spray so the lamb doesn’t stick and burn.
9. Remove lamb from marinade, pat lamb dry and place on grill. Keep leftover marinade to the side (don’t throw away!).
10. Grill for 15 minutes. Turn the lamb over and grill an additional 15 minutes, all while brushing with reserved marinade from baking dish.
11. Turn the lamb leg a quarter of a turn and grill until meat thermometer registers 140 F for medium rare, 160 F for medium, or 170 F for well-done depending on preference.
12. Brush often with marinade and grill lamb for an additional 5 minutes per side to seal in flavors.
13. Transfer lamb to a serving platter. Cover loosely with foil and allow to rest for 15 minutes. Don’t skip the resting stage—if you cut too soon, you’ll be left with a really dry leg of lamb.
14. After resting, slice the lamb thinly against the grain and arrange on a platter to serve. You don't want thick slices, even though your grilled leg of lamb looks delicious. Garnish with fresh herb sprigs if desired, like fresh mint or spritz with a bit of fresh lemon juice.
And there you have it!
This juicy, tender leg of lamb has always been a hit at my house. The key is pulling it from the grill right on the edge of medium-rare to medium and allowing it to rest long enough to lock in those delicious juices. Slice thinly against the grain for optimum presentation and ease of eating.
Personally, I like to serve grilled lamb leg with garlic mashed or baked potatoes and sautéed carrots. Lemon-herb squash, zucchini, or new potatoes are also some great options to keep in mind. My wife particularly loves this with a huge pile of leafy greens and vinegary dressing to compliment the apple cider vinegar in the lamb.
Don’t forget about the sauce! As an addition to this quick recipe, I have another handy tutorial for a sauce that will go well with pretty much everything! Quick and Easy Steak Sauce Recipe: Balsamic Reduction Recipe for Beef, Lamb, Chicken, or Pork Steak
If you like to serve dinner with a drink, this recipe tastes great with a dry red wine like merlot or cabernet. Of course, your guests will be just as pleased with water as the lamb is the real star here!
What do you like to serve with leg of lamb? Do you enjoy grilling with woodchips or without? Did you enjoy this recipe? Let us know below!
Frequently Asked Questions
What Temperature Should You Cook Lamb?
Although you can cook lamb to more well done temperatures, it really does taste best when enjoyed medium rare. This is cooking the lamb to 145 degrees F as measured by an instant read thermometer. If you like a more well done product, you can cook it to medium at 160 degrees F but this could lead to a tough, stringy, dry product.
What Does It Mean to Butterfly a Leg of Lamb?
Butterflying is a cutting technique that makes large, thick pieces of meat thinner and larger. To butterfly a leg of lamb, you would place it on your cutting board and cut in half parallel to the cutting board. Do not cut it through all the way. Once cut most of the way through, you can flip it open so it is now half of the width and twice as long as the original piece.
Do You Have to Butterfly Meat Yourself?
You can easily butterfly meat at home using a sharp knife, but you can also ask the butcher for assistance. Butchers are meat experts and they can perform these types of task with ease.
How Long Does it Take to BBQ a Butterflied Leg of Lamb?
Since the leg of lamb has been butterflied, it will take half as long to cook. After preheating the grill to medium-high heat, cook the lamb for 15 minutes on each side. Use an instant-read thermometer to know when the lamb has reached the desired temperature.
Should You Slice Lamb With the Grain or Against the Grain?
You should always slice lamb against the grain. This will result in the most tender slices of lamb possible.