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Lamb Tacos

  • Serves: 6
  • Prep Time: 10 min
  • Cook Time: 4 hrs
  • Calories: 518
three homemade lamb tacos on a plate topped with cilantro, tahini and tzatziki sauces, sumac and pickled onions Photography by Gayle McLeod

Inspired by our love for carnitas and barbacoa—give us all the braised meats!—this easy lamb taco meat recipe can be made in a slow-cooker, Instant Pot or on the good old stove top.

Lamb Tacos? Heck Yeah Lamb Tacos!

You love tacos. Everyone loves tacos. But have you tried lamb meat in tacos yet? Well, get ready to love your beloved tacos just a little bit more! Imagine juicy, shredded lamb that’s been braised with all of the same lovely spices that you’d use to make carnitas—it sounds wild, we know. But it’s so delicious! You’ll braise that lovely lamb shoulder until the meat is meltingly saturated with flavor and absolutely falling apart. Then, simply shred it to make the best gosh darn shredded lamb tacos you’ve ever tasted. Lamb shoulder is a pretty affordable cut of meat, too. It’s hard to mess up this recipe and you’ll have leftovers for days! Our lamb taco meat even freezes well—you can make the shredded lamb taco meat and freeze it for up to three months so that future-you will have a speedy dinner at their fingertips.

lamb shoulder, chicken stock, onion, orange and lime juice, spices and bay leaves in bowls on the counter to make lamb tacos

Our Carnitas-Inspired Lamb Taco Seasoning

Though we like to dress our shredded lamb tacos up with tzatziki and tahini sauce—like a mash up of everything we love about Mexican tacos and everything we love about gyros—the inspiration for the braised lamb recipe came straight from our classic pork carnitas recipe. We adore those flavors—the heady mixture of warm spices and zesty citrus—and we love the texture of them, too. Here’s everything you’ll need to make our lamb taco meat recipe:

  • Lamb shoulder meat

  • Chicken stock

  • Onion

  • Orange

  • Lime

  • Dried oregano

  • Chili powder

  • Kosher salt

  • Ground cumin

  • Black pepper

  • Cayenne pepper

  • Bay leaves

lamb shoulder, chicken stock, onion, orange and lime juice, spices and bay leaves in a slow cooker to make lamb tacos
cooked lamb with chicken stock, onion, orange and lime juice, spices and bay leaves in a slow cooker to make lamb tacos
shredded lamb, carnitas-style, on a baking sheet being brushed with reserved cooking juices ready to be crisped in the oven
homemade shredded lamb, carnitas-style, on a baking sheet after being crisped in the oven

3 Quick Tips for Buying Lamb Shoulder

What to look for, what to ask for and how to be sure you’ve got yourself a lovely cut of meat.

  1. What to ask for: When you walk up to the butcher counter, all you need to know is that you’ll need to walk away with 3 pounds of lamb shoulder meat. Whether they have bone-in or boneless lamb shoulder on hand, the butcher should be able to help you out.

  2. Lamb shoulder is a fattier cut and should be well-marbled. The fat should look creamy white and the meat should be a healthy pink—if you see lots of grey, walk away.

  3. Save yourself a little work and ask the butcher to cut the lamb for you. You need the shoulder cut into 4-inch pieces.

homemade shredded lamb, carnitas-style, on a baking sheet after being crisped in the oven being scooped with a fork
three lamb tacos on a plate topped with cilantro, tahini, tzatziki and pickled onions surrounded by plates of garnishes

How To Make The Best Braised Lamb Taco Meat, Ever

Make ahead, make it in a Crock-Pot, make it in an Instant Pot—this lamb taco meat recipe does all the things and then some. You can use it to make tacos, but you totally don’t have to! This carnitas-ish braised lamb shoulder is so juicy and flavorful, you’ll find many uses for it. You could make super delicious burrito bowls, or even use it in quesadillas or breakfast hash. But before you can do any of that, you’ll need to cook the lamb in all its braised glory. Here’s how to make the best lamb taco meat ever:

  1. Season. A whole bunch of classic Mexican spices plus two kinds of citrus to work their magic.

  2. Braise. Low-and-slow cooking—another magic-maker. Particularly with a cut of meat like lamb shoulder, braising is a wonderful cooking technique that’ll turn even a tough or fatty cut into absolutely tender, moist, juicy heaven.

  3. Shred. Once the lamb meat is fully cooked and falls apart easily with the poke of a fork, you’ll shred it and pop it under the broiler for a few minutes to give the shredded lamb a wonderfully crisp texture.

three lamb tacos on a plate topped with cilantro, tahini, tzatziki and pickled onions surrounded by plates of garnishes

Tools You’ll Need

More Super Duper Taco Recipes to Try

three lamb tacos on a plate topped with cilantro, tahini, tzatziki and pickled onions surrounded by plates of garnishes

Mix Up Your Taco Night

We love a classic ground beef taco night just as much as the next guy, but it’s good to break out of our ruts sometimes, right? Enter this lovely, out-of-the-box taco meat. You can use Middle Eastern accompaniments—like the tzatziki and tahini sauce we suggest—or really anything that seems yummy to you. This meat is super versatile. You don’t even have to make tacos out of it! Whatever way you serve it, we’d love to see! Share a photo and tag us on Instagram using @themodernproper and #themodernproper so that we can see your stuff! Happy eating!

Lamb Tacos

  • Serves: 6
  • Prep Time: 10 min
  • Cook Time: 4 hrs
  • Calories: 518

Ingredients

  • 3 pounds boneless lamb shoulder, cut into 4-inch pieces
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 medium yellow onion, quartered
  • 1 large orange, juiced, rind reserved
  • 2 tbsp lime juice (from 1 lime)
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper cayenne
  • 2 bay leaves

For Serving

Method

Slow-Cooker

  1. In a slow-cooker, combine the lamb, stock, onion, orange juice and rind, lime juice, oregano, chili powder, salt, cumin, black pepper, cayenne, and bay leaves. Cover and cook until the lamb falls apart easily, about 6 hours on high or 8 hours on low.

  2. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the lamb meat to a large rimmed baking sheet. Use two forks to shred the lamb meat into bite-sized pieces. Discard bones and any large pieces of fat. Brush the meat with reserved liquid from the slow-cooker.

  3. Turn on the broiler with a rack in the center position. Broil the shredded lamb until the edges are crispy and caramelized, about 5 minutes. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and use a spatula to flip the meat over. Brush it with more of the reserved liquid and broil until it’s crispy on top, about 5 more minutes.

    Note: The lamb taco meat can be made ahead of time. Store it in the refrigerator and use for just about anything! To freeze the lamb meat: Cool to room temperature. Store in an airtight container or a zip-top bag for up to three months.


Instant Pot:

  1. In an Instant Pot, combine the lamb, stock, onion, orange juice and rind, lime juice, oregano, chili powder, salt, cumin, black pepper, cayenne, and bay leaves. Lock the lid in place, making sure to close the vent valve. Cook on manual high pressure for 40 minutes. Allow the pressure to release naturally for 10 minutes, then quick release if needed.

  2. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the lamb to a large rimmed baking sheet. Use two forks to shred the lamb into bite-sized pieces. Discard any bones or large pieces of fat. Brush the lamb with the reserved liquid from the Instant Pot.

  3. Turn on the broiler with a rack in the center position. Broil the shredded lamb until the edges are crispy and caramelized, about 5 minutes. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and use a spatula to flip the meat over. Brush it with more of the reserved liquid and broil until it’s crispy on top, about 5 more minutes.


Stovetop:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F with a rack in the center position.

  2. In a Dutch oven, combine the stock, onion, orange juice and rind, lime juice, oregano, chili powder, salt, cumin, black pepper, cayenne, and bay leaves. Place the pot over high heat and bring to a boil. Remove from heat.

  3. Nestle the lamb into the liquid, cover, and transfer the pot to the oven. Roast until the lamb falls apart easily, about 3 hours.

  4. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the lamb to a large rimmed baking sheet. Use two forks to shred the lamb into bite-sized pieces. Discard any bones or large pieces of fat. Brush the lamb with the reserved liquid from the Dutch oven.

  5. Turn on the broiler and move a rack to the center position in your oven. Broil the shredded lamb until the edges are crispy and caramelized, about 5 minutes. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and use a spatula to flip the meat over. Brush it with more of the reserved liquid and broil until it’s crispy on top, about 5 more minutes.

Nutrition Info

  • Per Serving
  • Amount
  • Calories 518
  • Protein 62 g
  • Carbohydrates 5 g
  • Total Fat 28 g
  • Dietary Fiber 1 g
  • Cholesterol 238 mg
  • sodium 394 mg
  • Total Sugars 3 g

Lamb Tacos

Questions & Reviews

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  • Jenn

    SO AMAZING! Unlike anything I've made before. Used the crockpot so the effort was very minimal my husband and I LOVED these. I made your tahinis sauce (also a real winner) but got store bought tzatziki to save some time. Don't skip the broil part, the crispyness is amazing!

    Thanks Jenn, so glad you went outside your comfort zone and loved it!