How to Roast a Whole Lamb on a Spit

  • 01 of 10

    Traditional Spit-Roasted Lamb of Greek Easter

    Traditional Greek Spit-Roasted Lamb being carved
    Photo © Ted Christou

    The roasting of the Paschal lamb is a Greek tradition that is carried out with great joy and celebration. After seven long weeks of fasting and dietary restrictions, families, and friends gather together for a great feast, the highlight of which is this traditional centerpiece.

    Roasting the lamb on a spit is a task usually carried out by the men of the family who happily tend to the spit or souvla while sipping ouzo and enjoying mezethes or appetizers.

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  • 02 of 10

    Gather Your Tools and Ingredients

    ingredients for roasting lamb
    Getting Ready to Roast the Lamb. Photo © Ted Christou

    The first step in any recipe is making sure you have all the ingredients on hand. Roasting a whole lamb on a spit is a lengthy process, so plan to spend at least four to five hours at it, depending on the size of the lamb.

    Light one bag of charcoal in the center of the spit. Prepare the basting mixture while the coals are heating. Now you're ready to prep the lamb.

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  • 03 of 10

    Seasoning the Lamb

    man seasoning lamb
    Seasoning the Lamb with Dried Herbs. Photo © Ted Christou

    Cover a table or large work surface with plastic trash bags. Lay the lamb down on its side and rub the insides and outside with the cut sides of two lemons. Brush the lamb with olive oil, then season liberally with sea salt, freshly ground black pepper, dried oregano, rosemary, and parsley.

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  • 04 of 10

    Insert Slivers of Garlic into the Skin

    Inserting Garlic into the lamb Skin
    Inserting Garlic into the Skin. Photo © Ted Christou

    Make small incisions every few inches in the skin using the tip of a paring knife. Insert slices of slivered garlic to flavor the meat. Then flip the lamb over and repeat seasoning process on the other side.

    Skewer and secure the lamb on the spit. Using two "U" clamps or passing two wires around the skewer and exiting the back of the lamb prevents the lamb from spinning as it turns on the spit.

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  • 05 of 10

    Fill the Cavity with Herbs, Lemon, and Garlic

    Stuffing Marinated Herbs, Garlic and Lemon into Cavity
    Stuffing Marinated Herbs, Garlic and Lemon into Cavity. Photo © Ted Christou

    Stuff marinated herbs, lemon rinds, and sliced garlic into the cavity of the lamb. Save a few sprigs of rosemary for basting the lamb during cooking.

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  • 06 of 10

    Stuff the Cavity with Bread Slices

    Stuffing the lamb Cavity with Sliced Bread
    Stuffing the Cavity with Sliced Bread. Photo © Ted Christou

    Fill the rest of the cavity with sliced bread soaked in wine. This absorbs fat drippings and allows the wine to steam the meat from the inside.

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  • 07 of 10

    Tightly Stitch the Cavity Closed with Twine

    Stitching the Lamb Cavity Closed
    Stitching the Cavity Closed. Photos © Ted Christou

    It's important to stitch the cavity closed tightly with twine so the stuffing doesn't leak out during cooking. You can use needle-nose pliers to push a thick needle threaded with twine for the job. Mastering the technique isn't hard, but it may take a few tries to get the stitching correct.

    Be sure to wash your hands and disinfect surfaces and any seasoning bottles you may have touched with your hands. Then place the skewered lamb on the notch lowest to the coals and begin roasting. Wrap more...MORE twine around the legs to secure the lamb to the skewer. Cook at the lowest level for 30 minutes.

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  • 08 of 10

    Baste the Meat Every 15 Minutes

    Basting Lamb Meat
    Basting the Meat Every 15 Minutes Keeps it Moist. Photo © Ted Christou

    Raise the skewer to a higher position after 30 minutes of roasting close to the coals. Maintain even heat by adding six to eight coal briquettes every so often. You also can add hardwood to the coals for a smokier flavor.

    Baste every 15 minutes to keep the meat moist.

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  • 09 of 10

    Slow Roasting Is a Lengthy Process

    lamb slow roasting over spit
    A Slow Roasted & Perfectly Smoked Lamb. Photo © Ted Christou

    You can expect to roast a 25- to 30-pound lamb for four to five hours. The lamb can be removed from the coals when a meat thermometer inserted into the leg/shoulder registers 170 F (63 C). Allow the meat to rest for at least 15 minutes before carving.

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  • 10 of 10

    Slice, Serve, and Enjoy

    cooked lamb being served
    Serving up The Traditional Lamb. Photo © Ted Christou

    It's hard to resist sneaking a slice or two of crispy skin and flavorful meat before you set the platter of carved meat on the serving table.