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Grilled Moroccan Spice-Crusted Lamb with Spicy Chili Sauce

Maren Caruso

Servings: 4

Serve this grilled lamb with Mediterranean sides like saffron couscous and grilled zucchini and green and yellow bell peppers. Stuff any leftover lamb in a fresh pita with salad greens, tomatoes, and the chili sauce. The sauce is potent, so a little goes a long way.

This recipe is excerpted from Big Buy Cooking.


For the lamb

  • Kosher salt
  • 1 Tbs. light brown sugar
  • 1 Tbs. ground cumin
  • 1 Tbs/ dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. hot pimentón (smoked paprika) or chipotle powder
  • 5 lbs. boneless leg of lamb, trimmed
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

For the sauce

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, cut into 1/4-inch dice (about 2 cups)
  • 2 large jalapeño peppers (preferably red), cored, seeded, and finely diced (about 1/4 cup)
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 large cloves garlic, finely chopped (about 1 Tbs.)
  • 2 tsp. ground coriander
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 Tbs. tomato paste
  • 2 Tbs. white vinegar, more to taste


Prepare the lamb

  • In a small bowl, mix 4 tsp. salt with the sugar and spices. Sprinkle all over the lamb, transfer to a large non-reactive dish, and cover; refrigerate for at least 4 hours and up to 2 days.

Make the sauce

  • Heat the oil in a medium (10-inch) sauté pan over medium heat until it’s shimmering. Add the onion, jalapeños, and 1 tsp. salt, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion softens and becomes translucent, about 8 minutes. Add the garlic, coriander, cumin, and red pepper flakes, and cook, stirring, until the garlic becomes fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the tomato paste, and cook, stirring, until the paste starts to darken, about 1 minute. Add 3/4 cup water and the vinegar; bring to a boil, then simmer until the onion is completely tender, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a food processor and purée. Let cool to room temperature, season to taste with more salt, pepper, and vinegar if needed. Set aside; or transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate for up to three days.

Grill the lamb

  • For a gas grill, light the front burner to medium-high and the back burner(s) to medium-low. For a charcoal grill, light a medium-hot fire (400°F) with two-thirds of the coals banked to one side. Clean and oil the grill grates. Grill the lamb over the hotter part of the fire without moving it until it’s nicely browned, 6 to 8 minutes. Turn, move to the cooler part of the fire, and cook until an instant-read thermometer inserted into a thicker part of the lamb registers 135°F for medium-rare, 8 to 10 more minutes.

To serve

  • Transfer the lamb to a cutting board, tent with foil, and let rest for 10 minutes. Thinly slice across the grain, transfer to a large platter, and sprinkle with the cilantro. Serve with the sauce on the side.


There are plenty of indicators used to check for doneness, but the best way to ensure you get your meat just to your liking is by taking its temperature with an instant-read thermometer. Just insert the thermometer in the thickest part of the meat, away from the bone.


Rate or Review

Reviews (4 reviews)

  • joyfullady | 04/16/2022

    One of our favorite recipes for grilling lamb!

  • biofab | 07/25/2015

    delicious and flavourful! It is easy to make. I have made it several times and everyone enjoyed this tasty dish.

  • debchap | 06/14/2012

    Excellent. Tender and very flavorful. And easy. Will make again.

  • JumpinJackie | 09/12/2010

    The entire family (ages 16 to 75) agreed that this was the best tasting lamb they had ever had; and we've prepared lamb a LOT of different ways. A new favorite for sure!

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