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Grilling Butterflied Leg of Lamb

With this butterflied leg of lamb recipe you will discover that hot smoking lamb meat is easier than you might think. Ay mate! This easy barby meat recipe does not take too long, and the result is a beautiful piece of really spicy and juicy hot smoked lamb. After an hour of hot smoking on charcoal briquettes and oak wood, followed by a little rest under aluminium foil, this butterflied lamb meat was cooked to medium and had already developed a fairly nice smoke ring around the edges.

Picture of Hot Smoked Leg of Lamb with Smoke Ring by Hot Smoke BBQ.

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Butterfly ???

Don't worry, we're not going to barbecue butterflies here.

To butterfly meat means that you cut a round and thick piece of meat in such a way that you end up with a flat piece of meat which is much thinner.

Butterflying a cut of meat has some advantages, for example:

For more info, please check out our dedicated webpage:

How to Butterfly a Leg of Lamb

Photo of Butterflied Leg of Lamb by Blue Smoke BBQ. By butterflying a leg of lamb you get a thinner piece of meat which will shorten cooking time by a factor 2 or more. You will also increase the effectiveness of a marinade or dry rub.

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Smoking Leg of Lamb

1. Leg of Lamb

Buy a nice leg of lamb. The lamb on the photos came from New Zealand and weighed about 3 pounds. I also buy Australian lamb, or I buy local lamb at a Turkish butchershop here in town.

I butterflied this leg of lamb as indicated above.

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2. Dry Rub or Wet Rub?

While most of the time we use a dry rub or marinade to add that extra touch of flavour to barbecue meat, there is also an option to use a wet rub made out of fresh herbs.

Although here at Hot Smoke BBQ we are really into barbecue, we are also crazy about hot and spicy Indian lamb curries. It was therefore quite obvious that we developed a fresh curry paste for use on barbecue lamb.

Wet Rub / Barbecue Curry Paste for Lamb

Photo of Wet Rub or Barbecue Curry Paste for Lamb by Blue Smoke BBQ. This particular barbeque curry recipe, in which Thyme and Rosemary are combined with Cardamom, Cloves and Allspice, is especially suitable to flavour bbq lamb.

As an alternative to wet rub, we can also recommend the following dry rubs for barbeque lamb:

Brazos Beef Rub

Brazos Dry Rub The Brazos Beef Rub recipe is quite easy to make: salt and pepper, and a hint of Tex-Mex: garlic, paprika, rosemary and cummin.
While it was designed for beef, it is also great on lamb or mutton!

Juancho's Mustard Rub Number 1

Photo of Juancho's Mustard Dry Rub No. 1 for Grilled Chicken, Lamb or Barbecue Pork Spare Ribs by Blue Smoke BBQ. "Juancho's Mustard Rub #1" is one of our favourites for grilled chicken, Guinea fowl, barbecue lamb or hot smoked pork!

And as you might have thought, this mustard rub combines very well with Juancho's Honey Mustard Glazing.

Put the leg of lamb on a clean and dry surface, or in large non-reactive bowl, and apply the dry rub or wet rub, spreading the rub with your hands and working it into all crevices until you have the whole cut of meat nicely and evenly covered on all sides.

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3. The Barby

You could prepare your Weber barby or similar covered barbecue grill for indirect grilling as per the method provided in the instruction booklet (if any), but we recommend Juancho's Split Grill.

Juancho's Split Grill

Photo of Juancho's Split Grill by Blue Smoke BBQ. To obtain sustained lower heat and improved temperature control, and to increase the grate area and be able to accommodate more meat or larger cuts, I developed an improved hot smoking method whereby the Weber Grill is set up for indirect grilling on one side.

A few things worth noting:


Pour about half an inch of water in the drip pan. Some fanatics will replace the water with beer or wine. It may sound idiot, but you will notice the difference!


Hot Smoke BBQ - Charcoal Briquettes We always use charcoal briquettes because of their even shape and size. We also found they have a more constant quality when compared with regular "lump" charcoal (mostly small lump charcoal, that is...).


For smoking we use a few water soaked chunks of oak, beech, plum or apple wood of, say, about 1"-2" thick and 3"-5" long.

You could put your smokewood on top of the charcoal once the charcoal in in your barbecue is glowing and grey. We prefer to put chunks of smokewood in between the coals so they will burn a bit more gradually.


About half an hour before you plan to put your meat on the barby you should take it out of the fridge to let it gradually adjust to room temperature;

In this way you will gain the first few degrees of heat in your meat without a flame touching it!

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4. Time to Relax

With your barbecue all set and smoking, stick the leg of lamb on the grill above the dripping pan. Close the lid, open the vent valves on top of your Weber, close the bottom vents to 1/4 open, and Bob's yer uncle!

Photo of leg of lamb just placed on the barbecue grill, along with some potatoes.

You might also consider putting some potatoes on the grate next to the leg of lamb.

With that butterflied leg of lamb resting in your black backyard coal-fired microwave, take it easy.

While whisps of Hot Smoke travel through your backyard or over the edge of your porch or balcony, take a seat, read a good cookbook, shake a cocktail, or just do nothing.

Photo of whisps of Hot Smoke travellig through the garden by Hot Smoke BBQ.

Enjoy that lovely smell. There's nothing that can make you feel more down to earth and relaxed.

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5. Check that Roast

Try to resist peeking under the lid of your bbq too often. Every time you open your smoker you will loose heat, and the cooking process will take longer. On the other hand, if you have time anyway, what the heck...

Photo of Leg of Lamb after 45 minutes of smoking on the barbecue grill.

After about half an hour of hot smoking at temperatures in between 350°F and 400°F, you should check under the lid to see if the skin is not turning too dark.

If you are afraid that the skin will turn too dark, cover the lamb cuts loosely with aluminium foil.

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5. Dinner Time

Like beef, overcooked lamb will turn out dry. For that reason we prefer our lamb done to medium, with juices still flowing a bit.

Photo of two butterflied legs of lamb after one hour of hot smoking by Hot Smoke BBQ.

Taking into account that the meat will continue cooking even after you have taken it off the grill - the "Afterburner" as described under our Rib Roast - we should take the meat off the grill at some time before it is cooked to medium.

After one hour of hot smoking at temperatures in between 350°F and 400°F without opening the lid too often, these butterflied legs of lamb - which were about 1.5 inch thick - were cooked medium rare.

To check in how far a barbecue roast is actually done, I simply cut into the meat to look inside. Within 3 seconds you know everything you need to know!

I took the meat off the grill, covered it loosely with aluminium foil, and let it rest for a while to allow the internal juices to redistribute. This is quite important to increase the overall quality of a barbecue roast.

Photo of hot smoked butterflied leg of lamb on the cutting board by Hot Smoke BBQ.

Here you see the hot smoked butterflied leg of lamb on the cutting board. Note the hidden cross cut that I made to check for doneness.

Attack !!!

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The PitBoss Suggests:

Blue Smoke Barbecue Fries

Photo of Grilled Potatoes by Blue Smoke BBQ. Once you have tried these smoke-grilled potatoes, you won't be able to resist making them every time you see some spare space on the grate...

Corn Tomato Cucumber Salad   ("CTC Salad")

Photo of Cor Tomato Cucumber Salad by Blue Smoke BBQ. This robust barbecue salad recipe includes a balanced corn tomato cucumber combination and can be prepared a couple of hours in advance of the party.

Favourite Drinks

Cold beer (!) or a red wine like Rioja, Merlot or Malbec.

Also: cold mineral water with fresh lemon slices.

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At Hot Smoke BBQ we love Chile Peppers!

Keep Smokin' !