Spiced Leg of Lamb on the Grill

March 22, 2010
3 Ratings
  • Prep time 24 hours 10 minutes
  • Cook time 40 minutes
  • Serves 4 to 6
Author Notes

I had been looking for a lamb recipe and kept running into ones that used herbs and aromatics. I was looking for something with spices. Aggregating ideas from a number of sources, plus some taste memories of my own, I came up with this one. (The structure of the recipe relies on two recipes by Mark Bittman: a marinated steak and a grilled leg of lamb. It's not far from marinating the lamb in a mulled wine. It takes a little work in advance, plus the patience (or planning) to wait for the marination, but it is simple, and tasty, too. The recipe is tolerant of variation. For wine I chose Zinfandel (Ridge 2007 Ponzo Vineyard), but any bold red like a fruity Syrah or Malbec would do. The choice of spices is only limited by your spice merchant and your palate. I chose spices that reminded me of India. —asabnis

Test Kitchen Notes

The title of this recipe conjures up a lengthy process in your kitchen and on your deck, but it's one of the fastest recipes around. The marinade takes about 10 minutes to make and the lamb, because it's butterflied, cooks in about the same time. It was pouring rain the day we made this so we opted to broil it, and it turns out it's a terrific alternative. We laid the butterflied lamb on a baking sheet and set it about 6 inches from the broiler flame. Five minutes per side and we had perfect medium-rare, spicy and fragrant lamb. - A&M —The Editors

What You'll Need
  • 4 pounds boneless butterflied leg of lamb
  • 2 cups red wine
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 6 cloves
  • 1 tablespoon cumin, ground
  • 1 tablespoon coriander, ground
  • 2 pieces cardamom
  • 2 tablespoons ginger, minced
  • 2 tablespoons garlic, crushed
  • 1 sprig mint leaves
  • 1 piece orange or lemon peel
  • 1 cup low-sodium soy sauce
  • salt and pepper
  1. Boil the wine with the sugar, peppercorns, cinnamon, cloves, cumin, coriander, and cardamom.
  2. Simmer the marinade for 10 minutes, then add ginger, garlic, mint, orange peel, and soy sauce.
  3. Remove marinade from heat and cool to room temperature. (This can be done up to a day in advance, however, then refrigerate the marinade and strain the mint and solid spices out after 24 hours.)
  4. Trim as much fat as possible from the leg of lamb (or ask your butcher).
  5. Place lamb in a large zipper bag or airtight container, add marinade, and refrigerate for up to 24 hours.
  6. Remove lamb from marinade and dry with paper towels. Sprinkle salt and pepper on both sides.
  7. Grill over medium heat, about 10 to 15 minutes per side, or until the internal temperature at the thickest part measures 125°F for medium rare.
  8. Remove lamb from grill. Rest for 10 minutes. Slice and serve with any collected juices.
Contest Entries

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Hilarybee
  • matthewddsg
  • lastnightsdinner
  • hayley
  • Culinista Annouchka
    Culinista Annouchka

23 Reviews

EBS April 21, 2017
made this for easter and was the first time I cooked lamb. IT WAS SOOOOO GOOD, and a huge hit. The only lamb recipe I need! Super easy, and delicious.
Erin L. April 6, 2015
If using ground cardamom, how much would you use, instead of the two pieces referenced in the recipe?
cyndie October 14, 2012
this was so smooth! thought the spices might overpower the meat, but not at all. we vacuum packed the meat in the marinade for 8 -9 hours before putting on the grill. what a hit!!
shoesthatilike April 13, 2012
I made this for a group this past Easter Sunday. It was a HUGE hit. The marinade was really easy to prep. I only ended up marinating for 3-4 hours (poor planning) but the flavor and the color of the meat was still rich. I'm sure an overnight marinade would only make it all the more flavorful.
WedgeMom October 9, 2011
Awesome recipe . . . Except I get my lamb from a local farmer and have to de-bone and butterfly myself. It gets pretty gruesome but what is left of the poor lamb is good.
asabnis February 13, 2012
I bet the marinade would work with a whole leg. You could roast using your favorite method.
Hilarybee April 22, 2011
I'm making this for Easter Brunch! Wish me (and my grillmaster husband) luck!
asabnis April 23, 2011
Good luck and happy Easter. Let me know how it turns out.
KateCooks April 21, 2011
Looks fantastic! I'm thinking about doing a leg of lamb for Easter Brunch (to be served with other goodies like quiche, biscquits, asparagus, etc). Would this be good for brunch, or is it more of a dinner/bbq type marinade? Thanks!
asabnis April 23, 2011
The spices are pretty forward, so just be sure it won't clash with or overpower the rest of the dishes.
matthewddsg July 19, 2010
I made this yesterday and it was loved by all. Thanks the delicious recipe!
cocomacaroon April 7, 2010
Oh, yummy! - love the spice combo.
emmo April 5, 2010
Butterflied lamb is nifty smart, and the spice galore is scrumptiously yummy.
captainCook April 4, 2010
This is a wonderful recipe. Cinnamon stick really does the wonder. Thanks for the recipe.
lastnightsdinner April 4, 2010
This was amazing. Strong flavors in the marinade but they left such beautiful echoes.
FancyCook April 4, 2010
I tried this recipe, and the lamb turned out fantastic.
hayley April 2, 2010
Sounds great. What sides would you serve with this to complete the meal? Thanks!
asabnis April 2, 2010
Thanks. I made a brown-rice pilaf with clove, a cherry-tomato + parsley salad, and Mark Bittman's chick-pea-and-spinach-and-chorizo dish (google it at the New York Times, it's delicious). Couscous was my plan B.
Culinista A. April 1, 2010
We can't wait until our BBQ arrives so we can try this out! Great recipe
aargersi March 23, 2010
Wow, and yum. Will definitly be trying this - a great spring or summer lamb!!!
asabnis March 23, 2010
Thanks! We loved it.
Abra B. March 22, 2010
That sounds delicious. I'm looking forward to trying it.
monkeymom March 22, 2010
wow, is that pink meat lovely. It's beautiful.