butterflied lamb recipe chopped on wooden board

Butterflied lamb is a fantastic way to cook this delicious meat. Splitting the joint and ‘unrolling’ it means the meat has a fairly uniform thickness, ensuring it cooks evenly and quickly.

This recipe demonstrates the key steps of perfect butterflied lamb. We’ve chosen to cook the meat on the barbecue with a Mexican-inspired marinade, but, once you’ve mastered the butchery, you can take this any direction you like!

Serve your lamb with a chicory salad and a dressing of hot harissa mixed into cool yoghurt. It’s a surefire winner.


1 x 2kg leg of lamb

2 dried ancho chillies

½ teaspoon black peppercorns

1 teaspoon pink peppercorns

2 teaspoons fennel seeds

1 teaspoon coriander seeds

1 lemon

1 teaspoon sweet smoked paprika

6 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

1 bunch of fresh oregano

4 cloves of garlic

2 fresh red chillies


2 chicory

1 large handful of watercress

1 pomegranate


1-2 teaspoons harissa

500g fat-free Greek yoghurt


  1. If you can, prepare your lamb the day before you want to cook it. Using a sharp knife, carefully cut down the lamb leg to expose the bone.Image of carefully cutting down the lamb leg to expose the bone
  2. Keeping your knife as close to the bone as possible, cut along one edge to completely reveal it.Image showing knife being kept close to the bone
  3. Cut right around the bone, then remove it.Image of the bone being removed
  4. Lay the lamb flat on a chopping board, skin-side down. With your knife, make an incision halfway into the flesh on each side, where the meat is thicker, then open it out like a book.Image of the lamb being opened out like a book
  5. You should now have a flat piece of lamb of more or less even thickness.Image showing flat piece of lamb of roughly even thickness
  6. Soak your dried chillies in a bowl of hot water for 10 minutes.
  7. Meanwhile, in a small frying pan over a medium heat, dry-toast the black and pink peppercorns, fennel and coriander seeds for 30 seconds, until they begin to pop and smell delicious.Image of peppercorns, fennel and coriander seeds being dry toasted in a pan
  8. Remove the softened chillies from the soaking water and transfer to a spice grinder or small food processor. Add the toasted spices and a splash of the soaking water, then blitz to a fine paste.Image of softened chillies, toasted spices and water being blitzed into a paste
  9. In a large bowl, mix the spice paste with the lemon zest, paprika, oil, vinegar and a pinch of sea salt. Pick in the oregano leaves, peel and crush in the garlic, then finely slice and stir through the chilli until combined. Add the butterflied lamb to the bowl and rub the marinade all over the meat. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 to 6 hours, but ideally overnight.Image of pasta and remaining ingredients being rubbed into lamb
  10. Remove from the fridge at least 30 minutes before you’re ready to cook, so the lamb comes up to room temperature. Fire up your barbecue, then once hot, cook the meat for 40 to 45 minutes, or until medium-rare, turning it every 10 minutes or so.Image of lamb being cooked on the BBQ
  11. Transfer the lamb to a board and allow to rest for 15 minutes while you make your salad.
  12. Combine the chicory leaves with the watercress and pomegranate seeds in a serving bowl.
  13. In a small bowl, stir the harissa through the yoghurt and season to taste.
  14. Slice the lamb on the board and halve the zested lemon. Serve the lamb on the board with the salad, yoghurt dressing and lemon halves on the side.

Image of cooked, butterflied leg of lamb on a wooden chopping board


Watch Jamie cook up a Roast leg of lamb here:

For more delicious lamb inspiration, check out our full collection of lamb recipes here.


How to, Lamb, Meat