A while ago we tried to cook a whole lamb in a fire pit. Basically we dug a pit about 2-2.5 feet deep, lined it with rocks to try and retain the heat, made a large fire in it, and started to drink. Then when the fire had died down a bit we lined the fire with some damp straw, put in the hessian wrapped lamb, put more damp straw on top then covered the whole thing with earth and left for 24 hours.

When we dug it up, the lamb was done beautifully on the fire side, but raw on the top.

What might we have done wrong, apart from getting drunk whilst the fire was burning? Has anyone done this before and what are the things that we should bear in mind if we do it again?

  • 2
    I think that getting drunk may have been the thing you did right :) Commented Jul 20, 2010 at 10:48

5 Answers 5


In the past when I've cooked in the ground I put rocks into the fire. Don't really know what sort of rocks, but I've been involved in sessions that use bricks.

Point is that you needs some way to "envelope" the heat around the thing you are cooking so what we did was put the rocks into the fire to heat them up.

Carefully remove the rocks before putting the lamb in and then put the hot rocks on top of the hessian covered meat before putting the dirt back on top.

Let it sit for a while and you should get a much more even result

  • oops, forgot to say that we lined the pit with rocks before making the fire. The fire was very large, flames up to hip/chest height at its biggest, and so even when it had died down it was still substantial, so getting the rocks out would not have been possible. The idea behind the straw on top was to try and create a layer in which the air could circulate, a bit like an oven. Maybe we just didn't have enough of a layer of straw. We could have placed more rocks in the fire though and put them on the lamb then the straw on top, that would have helped keep air flowing too. nice idea...
    – Sam Holder
    Commented Jul 20, 2010 at 9:19

The best way to cook a Lamb (leg) in a Pit:

We do this on hunting trips, its the best thing you can have when you are tired, beat and hungry as hell.

  • Firstly use a lamb leg (or two, but lay them flat in the ground. the whole lamb is very complex. requires at least 12 hours of cooking with a wood stack of 20 to 25kg Lamb leg Technique:
  • dig up a pit in ground 1 foot.
  • marinate the lamb leg (at least 2 to 3 hours)(use any recipe for marination)
  • Cover it with think layer of dough (like the pizzas dough, if you cannot do this step than skip it)
  • Cover the dough with aluminium foil (triple if no dough)
  • Plan the lamb leg in the pit cover about 8 to 10 inches only
  • Place the wood on top, stack about 5 to 6 kg of wood.
  • allow 5 hours of cooking time. (if the meat is not done for any odd reason that re foil it and cook it on the coal from the wood)

And when its done the cooked dough and the meat is magical. specially when its in the middle of no where. I hope this helps:


I've always done "Fire on both bottom and top" and came out with a lamb that falls apart every time. But make only a gentle fire on top after the initial burial. It also depends on how well you cover your meat with soil and which soil your pit is in.

  • 1
    Welcome to the site. Your post was a bit unclear and marked as low-quality and I tried to edit it. Please check whether I understood you correctly. Perhaps you'd like to explain a bit more how exactly you do your lamb - this would make this answer a lot better. As you claim to know how to do it: Please teach us...
    – Stephie
    Commented Apr 5, 2015 at 18:13

Try forming some sort of wire cage with some reinforcing mesh to place over the rocks (under the meat) as well as over the meat (leaving a bit of a gap between the top mesh and the meat and not touching the meat) that will allow the heat from the rocks underneath to circulate around all of the meat. Line the bottom of the cage with banana palm leaves, cabbage leaves or tinfoil as a last resort. Place the meat in the cage/tray, cover the meat with some damp cheesecloth followed by some wet hessian sacks over the mesh cage. Cover that with soil over the top and around the edges to seal the heat in. That should ensure a nice even cook of the meat. Chuck in (with the meat but not in contact with it) a muslin bag of frozen peas and a separate bag of spuds & that's dinner :-) Should take about three hours but depends on how hot the rocks are.


AFAIK the traditional way of cooking something in a fire pit involves building the fire on top of the buried carcass. But I might be wrong here.

  • 1
    I've never heard that and I would then be concerned about the bottom of the beast not being cooked, after all heat rises...
    – Sam Holder
    Commented Jul 20, 2010 at 9:19
  • Could always do both... Commented Jul 20, 2010 at 10:48

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