The Meatwave

Butterflied Leg of Lamb with Rosemary, Garlic, and Mustard Crust

Butterflied Leg of Lamb with Rosemary, Garlic, and Mustard Crust View Recipe

I was looking back at all my Easter recipes and noticed that year after year I've been cooking the same thing—leg of lamb. I had a bit of a breakdown thinking I've lost some creativity and fallen into a predicable pattern that's not representative of the experimentation that I love in cooking. So I went off racking my brain about what else I would love on Easter, and the more I thought, the more nothing came up that could rival a leg of lamb. Instead of making something inferior, I decided that maybe the repetition isn't such a bad thing. For one, it's incredibly delicious and a treat that I usually need an excuse like a holiday to make. Second, there are no limitations on how to introduce new flavors into a leg of lamb—while I've been doing the same cut each year, each subsequent recipe is pretty unique from the last. So another leg of lamb it is, this year adorned with a rosemary, garlic, and mustard crust.

Mustard Crusted Leg of Lamb

I say leg of lamb is usually reserved for a holiday, and that's mainly because of the high cost of purchasing a full butterflied leg. I thought it was time to mitigate that a bit and learn how to butterfly the leg myself. I didn't come out with a piece that represented the skill of my butcher—it wasn't as even and had a couple holes here and there—but it wasn't too bad either and had the added bonus of savings a few bucks.

Mustard Crusted Leg of Lamb

With the leg butterflied, I ventured forth with infusing garlic flavor throughout by cutting small slits into the meat and pushing little pieces of garlic into them. This method creates pockets of intense roasted garlic flavor as the leg of lamb cooks on the grill.

Mustard Crusted Leg of Lamb

For the marinade, even more garlic was combined with mustard, whole grain Dijon mustard, olive oil, white wine, rosemary, and lemon juice.

Mustard Crusted Leg of Lamb

This thick and textured paste was poured all over the lamb and let rest in the fridge overnight to soak up some flavor.

Mustard Crusted Leg of Lamb

Out of the fridge, the mustard marinade clung heavily to the lamb, keeping it well coated when it hit the high heat of the grill.

Mustard Crusted Leg of Lamb

The leg cooked quickly, turning that paste turned into a beautiful brown crust. The relatively thin leg of lamb only took about ten minutes to hit 130 degrees—the medium-rare mark that I think delivers the perfect combo of texture and flavor for leg of lamb.

Mustard Crusted Leg of Lamb

This lamb gave back a lot for what little effort went into it. The meat had a rich lamby flavor and a silky texture. The mustard crust gave it a noticeable heft, adding a slight bite and herbal character that complemented the meat nicely. It was decidedly different than other leg of lambs that I had done in the past and left me with a feeling of content—even if I'm making the same piece of meat each Easter, at least I'm not only doing it differently, but each one just seems to be getting better and better.

Print Recipe

Butterflied Leg of Lamb with Rosemary, Garlic, and Mustard Crust

  • Yield 8-10 servings
  • Prep 15 Minutes
  • Inactive 8 Hours
  • Cook 20 Minutes
  • Total 8 Hours 35 Minutes


  • 1 boneless leg of lamb, butterflied to even 2-inch thickness and trimmed of excess fat, about 6 pounds total
  • 8 medium garlic cloves, peeled, divided
  • 1/2 cup whole grain Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh rosemary
  • 2 tablespoons fresh juice from 1 lemon


  1. Thinly slice 4 cloves of garlic. Spread lamb open on cutting board. Using tip of a paring knife, make 1/2-inch-deep slits all over lamb. Insert garlic slices into slits in lamb.
  2. Combine remaining 4 cloves of garlic, mustard, olive oil, white wine, rosemary, and lemon juice in the workbowl of a food processor. Pulse until coarse puree forms.
  3. Place lamb in a large shallow container and spread half of mustard mixture over top. Flip lamb and spread with remaining mustard mixture. Cover and let sit in refrigerator overnight.
  4. Remove lamb from refrigerator 1 to 2 hours before grilling, allowing to come to room temperature. Light one chimney full of charcoal. When all the charcoal is lit and covered with gray ash, pour out and spread the coals evenly over entire surface of coal grate. Set cooking grate in place, cover gill and allow to preheat for 5 minutes. Clean and oil the grilling grate. Grill lamb over high heat until well seared, 8 to 10 minutes. Flip and continue to cook until second side is seared and meat registers 130 degrees on an instant read thermometer inserted into thickest part of lamb, 8 to 10 minutes more. Transfer to a cutting board and let rest for 15 minutes. Slice and serve immediately.

Adapted from Bon Appetit.

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