Easy lamb marinade perfect for almost any cut of lamb - chops, steaks, leg, shoulder - and for virtually any cooking method – pan-frying, air frying, roasting, or grilling.
One delicious lamb marinade for any cut of lamb you like. I make it to marinate lamb chops or steaks that I fry in the pan, air fryer, or grill pan. It’s perfect as a BBQ marinade in summer and great for kabobs or souvlaki cooked on the grill.
Try it on the Baked Lamb Chops, the Pan-Seared Lamb Lollipops, or the Fried Lamb Chops in the Cast Iron Skillet.
You can also make a larger batch and use it to marinate a whole leg or shoulder of lamb; you will love it! Try it on our Roasted Leg of Lamb or the Lamb Shoulder in the Oven.
And you could also make our Homemade Lamb Seasoning.
What’s the lamb marinade good for?
- Lamb chops, lamb rib chops, sirloin chops, lamb loin chops, lamb cutlets, and lamb steaks that you will pan-fry, air fry, roast, or cook on a barbecue.
- A rack of lamb, lamb shoulder, or lamb leg that you will roast in the oven. In this case, you will have to make a larger batch, at least 2X the recipe or more, depending on how large your piece of meat is.
How much of the marinade do I need?
This recipe makes enough marinade for about 1.5 lb/ 700 g lamb chops or steaks. You will need at least a double batch to marinate a medium leg or shoulder of lamb.
How long does the lamb need to marinate?
- Small cuts of lamb need at least one hour of marinating time; 4-5 hours would be great.
- Larger cuts need between 8 and up to 24 hours.
Simple ingredients and substitutes
- Garlic: Two larger or three smaller garlic cloves.
- Rosemary: Fresh rosemary leaves are best, but dried rosemary makes a good substitute. Alternatively, you can use other fresh herbs like thyme or fresh mint leaves. The use of mint changes the flavors of the lamb marinade completely, but it’s a nice variation.
- Juniper berries: They are not the kind of spice one usually has in the spice cupboard, but I feel it’s worth it to buy a small bag just for this recipe. The crushed berries are incredibly flavorful, and they impart this marinade for lamb a specific flavor (See Expert Tips).
- Red pepper flakes for a bit of heat. You can use more to taste or leave them out altogether. Substitute them with cayenne pepper to taste.
- Extra virgin olive oil is best, but the marinade also works fine with vegetable oil or another oil.
- Vinegar: I like balsamic vinegar, but white or red wine vinegar is also fine.
- Fine sea salt or Kosher salt: If using table salt, take a bit less; usually, table salt is more potent than sea salt or Kosher salt.
- Freshly ground black pepper.
How to make a good marinade for lamb?
- Prepare ingredients: Grate the garlic cloves, finely chop the rosemary leaves (discard the stalk), and crush the juniper berries with a mortar and pestle or in a ziplock bag with a meat mallet.
- Mix: Place them in a small bowl and mix them with the oil, balsamic, red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper.
- Use: Pour lamb marinade over the fresh meat (patted dry with a paper towel) and marinate as instructed.
- Greek style: Use oregano instead of rosemary and lemon juice instead of vinegar. Add a little lemon zest as well. Leave out the juniper berries.
- Spanish-style: Add about ½ teaspoon of smoked sweet paprika. If using hot smoked paprika, ¼ teaspoon should be enough, and leave out the red pepper flakes and the juniper berries.
- Middle Eastern: Leave out the juniper berries and use about 1 teaspoon of a typical spice mixture like Za’atar seasoning, Baharat, 7-spice, or Ras el-Hanout for a Moroccan touch.
- Indian: Leave out the berries and use 1 teaspoon of good quality curry powder, garam masala, or a mixture of ground cumin and coriander.
- Don’t use a metal container to store the lamb chop marinade or marinate the meat; the mixture might react with it.
- For food safety, always discard the remaining marinade; don’t be tempted to use it again or add it to a sauce.
To help you use up that packet of juniper berries, check out Crispy Pork Hocks, German Red Cabbage, or Confit de Canard. Add them to homemade stocks or broth, to winter soups, dishes made with cabbage, and so on.
It tenderizes the meat, allows more moisture to be absorbed by the meat, and imparts much flavor.
You can also use it for pork, beef, or chicken.
It’s also great as a sauce drizzled over steaks, chicken breast, or fish.
The mixture is also great as a salad dressing.
Keep refrigerated in a small jar or airtight container for up to 1 week. Bring the lamb marinade to room temperature before using, the oil will solidify in the fridge, but it will become liquid again once it comes to room temperature.
More homemade seasonings and condiments
- Hot Peri Peri Sauce
- Aromatic Mint Basil Pesto
- Wild Garlic Oil
- Wild Garlic Salt
- Parsley Paste (Herb Paste with Garlic)
- Homemade Orange Mustard
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Easy Lamb Marinade
- Mortar and pestle or a meat mallet
- Small bowl
- 3 small garlic cloves grated
- 2 sprigs rosemary finely chopped, Note 1
- 5-6 juniper berries crushed
- ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- ½ teaspoon fine sea salt or Kosher
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- Prepare ingredients: Grate the garlic cloves. Release the rosemary leaves from the stalk and chop them finely (discard the stalk). Crush the juniper berries with a mortar and pestle (Note 2).3 small garlic cloves, 2 rosemary sprigs, 5-6 juniper berries
- Mix: Place all the ingredients in a small bowl or jar and mix well.garlic + rosemary + juniper + ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes + 3 tablespoon olive oil + 2 tablespoon balsamic + ½ teaspoon salt + ¼ teaspoon pepper
- Use lamb marinade: Pour the marinade over the lamb pieces and turn the meat into it to coat it all over. Marinate the meat for at least one hour or longer. Cook the lamb as the recipe requires (pan-fry, air fry, grill, or roast).
- Substitute fresh rosemary with fresh thyme or with ½ teaspoon dried rosemary.
- Juniper berries: If you don’t have a mortar and pestle, place them in a Ziplock bag and smash them with a meat mallet.
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