This grilled butterflied leg of lamb marinated in yogurt is a mediterranean specialty that uses yogurt and mint marinade to tenderize and flavor the meat.
Lamb is one of those cuts of meats where you either love or hate it. Luckily for my family, we love it! Most people who hate lamb say it’s because of it’s overwhelming aftertaste or smell. The preparation of this delicious meat is pretty important.
One of our favorite ways to serve lamb is grilled, either skewered or straight up, like with this Grilled Yogurt Marinated Leg of Lamb.
Why you must try this recipe
I purchased my leg of lamb already deboned. You can, of course, remove the bone yourself or you can try my Grilled Leg of Lamb with Rosemary which has the bone still on.
With the bone removed, the meat is already butterflied. Unwrap your lamb and spread it out on a work surface. The meat will not perfectly flat so you will need to make cuts into the lamb to open it up and flatten it even more.
There will also be large chunks of fat. Although much of the fat will render while on the grill, I still like to remove the larger chunks of fat and sinews before I marinate the lamb. I am sharing my video for my stuffed leg of lamb so you can see how I do this.
If you are surprised by my marinade, don’t be. Yogurt makes a terrific marinade. The active bacteria in yogurt helps break down protein, thus making your lamb super moist and tender. Remember, the reason why we marinate our meats before cooking is not only add flavor, but to also tenderize the meat.
A yogurt marinade works more slowly than the traditional acid version, so you will need a good 12 hours of marinating time. Here’s a great article for you to learn everything about using yogurt in a marinade.
The marinade I am sharing today is made with yogurt and dried basil and mint. You can also use dried oregano. I find that the dry herbs work better with yogurt marinade than fresh.
See my Butterflied Leg of Lamb Web Story for a quick visual guide to making this recipe.
Ingredients you need
- Boneless leg of lamb: You can buy it already deboned or remove it from the bone yourself.
- Plain yogurt: Use plain full fat yogurt. The better quality yogurt you use, the better marinade it will make.
- Lemon juice: You can use freshly squeezed or bottled lemon juice.
- Onion: The acid in onion breaks down the meat beautifully. You will grate the onion and use its juice.
- Garlic: Use fresh garlic and not garlic powder.
- Dried herbs: I used dried mint and dried basil. You can also use dried oregano and dried parsley.
- Black pepper
1. Open lamb up and cut into the larger chunks of meat so that it is of even thickness. Remove and discard the larger deposits of fat, reserving some fat on the meat which will add flavor during the grilling process. Place lamb in a large non-reactive pan.
2. In a small bowl, whisk together remaining ingredients. Pour marinade over the lamb, covering all parts of the lamb entirely. Massage the marinade into the meat. Cover and refrigerate for a minimum of 8 hours and up to 24 hours.
3. About an hour prior to grilling, remove lamb the refrigerator and allow it to come to room temperature. This helps cook the lamb evenly.
4. Preheat grill to medium-high heat. Sear lamb on one side, about 7 minutes, then flip over to sear the other side.
Reduce heat to medium and continue cooking the lamb until a thermometer inserted to the center of the meat reads 145ºF for medium-rare, 160ºF for medium and 170ºF for well-done.
Recipe tips and FAQs
When your leg lamb has marinated in yogurt overnight, you are ready for the grill. Remove most of the yogurt marinade from the lamb and let it sit to room temperature before grilling.
As you can see above, I separated the smaller piece of meat from the larger and grilled them separately. You do not have to do this. In my attempt to further flatten the meat, I found this end piece was dangling so I separated it.
A butterflied boneless leg of lamb will cook more quickly on the grill than a bone-in leg of lamb. So cook until the center of your lamb is 145ºF for medium-rare, 160ºF for medium and 170ºF for well-done. A meat thermometer is a MUST.
Seasoned with mint, basil and even oregano, you can picture yourself on the Mediterranean and feasting on this meal. I like to serve it rustic style, with fresh herbs, flat bread, mast-o khiar (yogurt with cucumbers) and pickles and olives.
We sit together, tearing off pieces of bread, make little sandwiches filled with herbs and dipped in yogurt. My family went nuts and there were hardly any leftovers.
“This is so GOOD!”
So, sit down with the family and be prepared for an amazing meal together!
Whether you are cooking a bone-in or boneless leg of lamb, cook until the internal temperature reaches 140ºF/60ºC. This is the temperature whether you are grilling your lamb outdoors or roasting it indoors.
When grilling a boneless leg of lamb on a charcoal grill, preheat grill to medium-high heat. Sear lamb on one side, about 7 minutes, then flip over to sear the other side. Depending on how thick the butterflied lamb is, it should only take about 7-10 minutes to cook each side.
- 4 ½ lb butterflied boneless leg of lamb
- 1 ½ cup plain yogurt
- ½ cup lemon juice
- 1 onion, grated with juice
- 5 large garlic cloves, crushed
- 2 teaspoon dried mint
- 2 teaspoon dried basil
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- Open lamb up and cut into the larger chunks of meat so that it is of even thickness.
- Remove and discard the larger deposits of fat, reserving some fat on the meat which will add flavor during the grilling process.
- Place lamb in a large non-reactive pan.
- In a small bowl, whisk together remaining ingredients.
- Pour marinade over the lamb, covering all parts of the lamb entirely. Massage the marinade into the meat.
- Cover and refrigerate for a minimum of 8 hours and up to 24 hours.
- About an hour prior to grilling, remove lamb the refrigerator and allow it to come to room temperature.
- Preheat grill to medium-high heat.
- Sear lamb on one side, about 7 minutes, then flip over to sear the other side.
- Reduce heat to medium and continue cooking the lamb until a thermometer inserted to the center of the meat reads 145ºF for medium-rare, 160ºF for medium and 170ºF for well-done.
- Allow meat to rest 5-10 mins prior to carving and serve.
Serving Suggestions: Serve with yogurt, fresh herbs, olives and flat bread. Dried oregano can used instead of or in addition to dried basil.
Cooking Tips: The cooking time will vary depending on how thick your meat is. You can also decrease the cooking time, by cutting the lamb into smaller chunks of equal size.
Serving Size:6 oz
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 475Total Fat: 29gSaturated Fat: 12gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 14gCholesterol: 160mgSodium: 147mgCarbohydrates: 7gFiber: 0gSugar: 5gProtein: 45g
PS If you try this recipe, why not leave a star rating in the recipe card right below and/or a review in the comment section further down the page? I always appreciate your feedback.
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