Karl’s Greek Barbecued Lamb

This Sunday is Easter, and around our house this means barbecues lamb and barbecued lamb means Greek. The combined flavors of garlic, lemon and herbs are always a big favorite. I decided to have Greek mushrooms, rice pilaf, and spanakopita rolls to go with the lamb and Jan made a lemon bundt cake for dessert. It has been a long 40 days and I am looking forward to the end of Lent.

Karl's Greek Barbecued Lamb

Karl’s Greek Barbecued Lamb

I have looked at recipes on the net, but none of them come close to the one I made up several years ago, but have never written down until now. Many of the recipes on-line call for too much oil or too little garlic and herbs. My bi-level barbecuing technique I learned from Cook’s Illustrated.

When a leg of lamb is butterflied there is usually one part that is a bit thicker than the rest. As a result you get one part that is medium well done (or rare if you take it off before I do) and the rest which gets the dark crispy surface that is very popular with my family.

Note: When you buy a leg of lamb there is a thick layer of fat on the outside called the cap. Although many cooks would disagree with this, I remove most of the fat cap before marinating the meat. The logic in keeping the fat cap is that as the meat is cooking this fat is rendered and self-bastes the meat. This hopefully keeps the meat more moist. I disagree for a several reasons.  First, Jan has trouble digesting the fat. Second, this fat prevents the marinade from working its wonders on almost half of the meat’s surface. Thirdly, this dripping fat causes flare-ups that tend to scorch the meat. And finally, none of us needs all of that dense animal fat. We are all watching our figures [constantly expand].

Karl’s Greek Barbecued Lamb


½ leg of lamb (about 4lb., boned and butterflied)
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup fresh lemon juice
15 large cloves garlic, crushed
1 Tbs. dried oregano, rubbed
2 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp lemon zest
1 tsp. fresh rosemary, chopped fine
1 tsp. honey
½ tsp. Kosher salt


1. The day before your dinner, put all the ingredients (except the lamb) in a bowl and make a paste.

2. Spread the marinade on the inside surface of the lamb. Roll the meat up and place it into a gallon plastic bag.  Pour half of the remaining marinade over the meat and then rotate it in the bag.  Pour the rest of the marinade in and spread it around until all of the meat is coated.

3. Press all of the air out of the bag and seal it well.

4. Put the lamb in the refrigerator and turn it over every 4 to 6 hours.

5. An hour before you barbeque, set the bag of lamb on the counter to come to room temperature.

6. Start your coals about 20 minutes before starting to cook. When most of the coals are well lit, push all of them to the back of your barbeque.

7. Sear your lamb by laying it over the hot coals for 6-8 minutes per side.

8. Move the lamb to the front of the grill (the side with no coals) and insert a meat thermometer into the thickest part of the meat. I use a constant read electric model with a temperature alarm that buzzes when the meat reaches the set point. Close the cover and mostly close any vents on the barbeque.

9. Remove and tent your meat when the lamb reaches an internal temperature of 160°F (155° for rare).

10. Rest the lamb for 10 minutes and then slice across the grain.


Filed under Main Dishes, Pork

6 responses to “Karl’s Greek Barbecued Lamb

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