How to Spit Roast Lamb, Whole

how to spit roast lamb
Easter Sunday has just passed, but, as some of you may be aware, May 1 marks the celebration of traditional Greek Easter. What does that mean? Well, it means that for many families it’s time to  devour an entire roasted lamb.

Despite the religious holidays, the spring is traditionally known as being the best season for serving lamb. Though it may be harsh to think of a roasted “spring” lamb, this cooked meat is one of the finest treats for any carnivore, especially when it is cooked right.

Since some of us at The Manual are well versed in the spitfire roasting of lamb (read: this writer), we have decided to create a simple step-by-step guide on how to roast lamb whole.

Step 1: Buy Your Spit and Motor

You can’t cook a lamb without a spit and a motor. You can try your local hardware store or meat market as well as a little thing we like to call the Internet, which has a variety of places for ordering materials.

Step 2: Find Your Lamb

No matter where you live, chances are you can find a butcher that will sell a whole lamb to you—spit and all. It may take a little convincing and bribing, but chances are your butcher or meat market will be interested in helping you out. Luckily, for those of us in the New York area, there is no shortage of willing butcher shops, such as Star Meat Market (formerly known as My Favorite Butcher).

Step 3: Get Your Wood Charcoal

Once you have found a kind butcher to prepare your lamb, make sure to pick up your natural wood charcoal. There is no alternative to wood charcoal when roasting a lamb and there is a fantastic go-to manufacturer as well. Depending on the size of your roast, you’ll want to buy four to five 17 pound bags of charcoal.

Step 4: Get Your Sides

If you happen to be in a place like Astoria, you might as well make a pit stop. If you’re not, well I’m sure you have a super market that can provide all the potatoes, carrots, rice, etc (tell the reader what sides they need so they dont have to click on a link to find out)

Step 5: Set Up Your Grill Space

Once the lamb has been transported to your home, keep it in a cool shaded place. Then, prepare your roasting area. From first hand experience, we recommend marking off an ovular space approximately five feet long and three feet wide (though the dimensions may vary depending on the size of your lamb) with rocks or bricks. Place the poles or posts for your spit to rest on at opposite ends of the oval. Then, line the open space with two to three layers of tin foil. After that, empty two to three bags of wood charcoal in the middle of the roasting space.

Step 6: Burn it!

The charcoal that is! Depending on when your guests are arriving and when you plan to eat, you want to leave about four hours for the coals to burn down as well as for the lamb to cook.

Step 7: Roasting

Once the charcoal is no longer emitting open flame, set your lamb and spit across the cooking area. Keep the lamb approximately three feet above the burning coals. As the lamb begins to roast, spread the coals evenly beneath the length of the meat. Incrementally lower the spit as time passes, though you will not want it any closer than about a foot and a half from the flames. While the lamb cooks, you may want to periodically brush it with a mixture of oil, garlic, salt, oregano, basil and bay leaf. However, that’s only if that delicious basting concoction sounds good to you.

After two hours check the meat, if it is cooked to your liking, remove to from the roasting area and let it rest on the carving table for 10 to 20 minutes. If not, lower the spit and cook until done.

Step 8: Carving

You’re on your own with that one.

There you go—now there’s no excuse to not have that big lamb roast barbeque your friends and family always told you you should have. It is a great way to bring friend and family together. It isn’t often these days you find a whole animal roasting over a pit in a backyard. It certainly is a conversation starter!

Image courtesy of

Food & Drink

Gobble this Up: How to Smoke a Turkey (The Right Way, Every Time)

Find out how to not mess up the centerpiece of a meal where you're surrounded by your whole family (including judgmental Aunt Carol).
Food & Drink

Morning Joe: How to Use a French Press Coffee Maker

Learning how to use a French press coffee maker is a valuable life skill. Get everything you need to know about that life skill right here.

The Complete Guide to Kitchen Knives and Their Uses

You could be missing out on the perfect utensil for making sushi, slicing ribs, or creating radish roses and not even know it.
Food & Drink

10 Top Shelf Vodka Brands that are Actually Worth a Damn

Price doesn't always equate to flavor, but these high-end vodka brands are worth breaking out the piggy bank.