How-To Guides

How to bbq a butterflied leg of lamb

Butterflied leg of lamb cooking time

This boneless cut of lamb is perfect for the barbecue. When opened out, the meat resembles a butterfly’s wings, hence the name. This preparation gives roughly an even thickness for even cooking times over direct heat. Its versatility lends itself to many mouthwatering marinades or rubs.

Try your butterflied leg of lamb marinated with rosemary and garlic, or our personal favourite – garlic, thyme leaves, smoked paprika, cracked black pepper, red wine vinegar, and olive oil rubbed all over for an aromatic yet smoky flavour, perfect with braised chickpeas and a chopped salad.

Cooking your lamb to medium-rare (our desired doneness) will take approximately 40-50 minutes over medium-high heat. Use a meat thermometer and aim for an internal temperature of 58°C.

The best way to bbq a butterflied leg of lamb

  1. Remove the lamb from the fridge, pat dry, and let it come to room temperature.
  2. If you’re using a marinade or rub, this must be applied at least an hour before cooking, but overnight is ideal as this allows the flavours to penetrate.
  3. A rub or marinade isn’t essential. Lamb simply seasoned by the fire’s smoke is wonderful in its simplicity. Rub olive oil over the lamb and generously season with salt and cracked black pepper, much in the same way you would if cooking a steak.
  4. Heat the bbq to medium heat. If cooking over charcoal, which would be our recommendation (we see wood smoke as a seasoning), the ideal timing is when the charcoal has burned down to grey-white, this will provide an ideal even heat.
  5. Place the butterflied leg of lamb fat side down on the griddle for 20-30 minutes. If close to the coals and turned regularly, it will be towards the lower end of the time window – if this is the case, keep a close eye on the lamb as it can easily scorch. Turn every 1-2 minutes. Alternatively, cook a little further away, perhaps 6-7 inches from the coals and turn every 8 minutes or so.
  6. Once the lamb has reached an internal temperature of 58°C, remove the meat from the bbq, cover it with foil and allow it to rest for a minimum of 15 minutes.

Top tips

  • Given lamb’s robust flavour profile, you’ll need hardwoods with big, bold flavours. Mesquite, hickory, and apple will all give you the authentic, rounded flavour that pairs excellently with lamb.
  • Rubs will add flavour, while marinades add flavour and tenderise. If cooked to medium-rare, the texture will be tender anyway, but a marinade will act to further tenderise. We love yoghurt spiked with garlic, ginger, lemon juice, and tandoori spices. A dry rub of North African spices, such as ras el hanout pairs wonderfully with lamb. Cumin is a particular favourite – perking up a timeless seasoning of salt and pepper with ground cumin is a simple, effective way to impart notable flavour.