There is grilling lamb and then there is grilling a whole spit roasted lamb. Big difference, mainly because of the size of the whole lamb.
This recipe for spit-roasted whole lamb was originally submitted to Cookingnook.com by Farhood Zafari, who has generously submitted several of his favorite recipes.
Grilling Lamb: Whole Spit Roasted Lamb
- 1 whole lamb, dressed
- aromatic wood, olive, oak, apple, cherry, or hardwood charcoal
- olive oil
- lemon juice
- sea salt
- crushed Greek oregano, rigani
- crushed garlic, optional
- Start the fire about 2 hours before cooking. The spit should be at least 20 inches longer than the lamb (10 inches or more to extend out each side).
- Sprinkle the inside of the lamb liberally with salt and pepper and rub in. Lay the lamb on a flat surface and pass the spit between the hind legs, through the stomach cavity and out through the mouth. The lamb's spine should be straight along the line of the spit. Tie the front and hind legs to the spit. Tie the middle of the lamb to the spit or clamp along the spine. (For a larger lamb, tie in two places: behind the front legs and at the top of the hind leg. Sew the stomach cavity closed with butcher's twine or aluminum wire (use a pliers). The lamb should be tied securely and not slip when turned.
- With hands rub the entire lamb with lemon juice and oregano.
- Place the spit over the fire and spread the coals so they are under the shoulder and thigh (thickest parts). A drip pan can be set under the middle of the animal to catch the juices.
- Keep olive oil at hand with a paint brush.
- At the beginning, the lamb needs to be turned quickly in order not to burn. Once the fire settles and the lamb is golden all around and starting to crisp, turning can slow, to approximately 1/4 turn every 15 minutes. Replenish wood or charcoal as needed. Brush occasionally with the oil.
- Cooking time will depend on the size of the lamb. The skin on the legs and chest of the lamb will crisp and crack open. The color should be a deep brown.
- Testing for doneness: With a meat thermometer, internal temperature at the thickest part should be 155°F for medium. If you don't have a meat thermometer, stick a knife or skewer into the thigh (thickest part). The juice should run clear.
- Lift the spit with the lamb and place on carving surface. Remove wire, ties, clamps, or straps, and carve.
According to local experts, the best size lamb for spit roasting is generally around 22-25 pounds (10-11 kilos).
Cooking time is 3-5 hours.
Don’t want to cook an entire lamb? Use this same method to cook lamb roasts.