Smoked Lamb Shoulder Recipe (2024)

You are here:Home Recipe Index

Mary

4.50 from 6 votes

Jun 09, 2021, Updated Feb 12, 2024

Jump to Recipe

Smoked Lamb Shoulder is an absolute treat. This slowly smoked lamb shoulder recipe is spritzed with a savory mix of apple cider vinegar and juice, and then pulled for tender and flavorful lamb. This recipe is a great one for your next summer cookout!

Smoked Lamb Shoulder Recipe (2)

Recipe Highlights

  • Lamb Shoulder needs a low and slow cooking method, either on a smoker or in some braising liquid for the tender pulled texture.
  • The lower temperature slowly renders the intramuscular fat for a juicy and tender bite.

It’s common to hear folks dismiss the flavor of lamb. This is unfortunate, as it can be absolutely incredible when done right (and sourced from quality meat). This misconception often comes from the experience of eating overcooked lamb, or even mutton (meaning lamb that is over 1 year old, and thus not officially “lamb”).

Table of Contents

  • Recipe Highlights
  • Ingredients
  • Preparation
  • How to Smoke Lamb Shoulder
  • Chefs Note
  • Pulling
  • Saucing
  • Serving Suggestions
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • What To Serve With Pulled Lamb
  • More Lamb Recipes
  • Smoked Lamb Shoulder Recipe

The idea for this lamb shoulder recipe was inspired by how we smoke pork shoulder. The technique is identical and the flavor is out of this world, especially when you start with a high-quality lamb.

Ingredients

  • Lamb Shoulder – It’s most likely you will find boneless lamb shoulder, and we recommend it so you don’t have to cut away the bones.
  • Binder – We use extra virgin olive oil to help bind the seasoning to the shoulder. You can also use chicken stock, mustard, or other liquids that you like the flavor.
  • Seasoning – Our favorite lamb seasoning is our pork seasoning, which has sugar, herbs, and savory spices. It also has a good portion of kosher salt.
  • Spritz – Spraying flavored liquid onto the lamb while it smokes helps the smoke and flavor stick to the meat. We use apple cider vinegar and apple juice.

What is Lamb Shoulder

Lamb Shoulder, as implied by the name, comes from the upper portion of the leg of a lamb. Most often it’s from the front legs and can also be called lamb arm. It’s similar to the pork butt in that it is a muscle that gets a lot of movement, which makes for a tough cut.

The meat is tough if you just grilled it hot and fast, therefore it really needs to be slowly braised or slowly smoked in order to render out the intramuscular fat resulting in that soft delicious texture.

As it smokes, it also mellows out the unique and often gamey flavors that can come from lamb. But those signature flavors will also vary from rancher to rancher, so don’t assume a fresh lamb is going to be gamey at all.

Buying Lamb Shoulder

Lamb shoulder will either come bone-in or boneless. We have smoked both and found that buying boneless is much easier for consistency in size and for the pulling process after it’s done. For the price of lamb, it also cuts back on the per pound price that you would pay for by adding the bone.

Consider buying from a reputable butcher, where they know the lamb rancher. This assures that the lamb will be fresh and less than 1-year old sheep. The older the lamb and as it crosses the 1-year threshold, the more it can take on the more pronounced flavor of mutton. You can read more about lamb in our recipe for leg of lamb.

Preparation

For this lamb shoulder recipe, we are preparing a boneless lamb shoulder.

  1. Start by removing the butcher twine holding it all together. Do this to open the meat up for trimming and seasoning. Lay it out flat on a sheet pan.
  2. Next trim away any excess fat on both sides of the shoulder or cartilage using a good quality filet or boning knife.
  3. Coat both sides of the lamb with olive oil and lamb seasoning. If you want a more savory rub with no sugar, consider our herb-focused chicken seasoning.
  4. Tie the lamb back up again with more butcher twine tightly so it’s one uniform roast as you put it on your smoker.
Smoked Lamb Shoulder Recipe (3)

Now it’s time to smoke the lamb shoulder.

How to Smoke Lamb Shoulder

Smoked Lamb Shoulder Recipe (4)
  1. Prepare your smoker targeting 250 degrees Fahrenheit (F) using fruit wood, like apple or cherry. Alternatively oak or hickory are good options. We find mesquite a little too smoky for lamb.
  2. Place the lamb shoulder on the smoker and smoke for three hours. Insert an instant-read Bluetooth thermometer, like the Thermoworks Smoke Unit, to monitor the internal temperature. In this phase, the smoked lamb will start to turn red and develop a bark.
  3. After three hours, start to spray the shoulder with the spritz. The spritz adds some moisture to the smoked lamb and helps the smoke molecules to stick to the meat. Make sure to use a food-safe spray bottle for this.
  4. After spritzing for two to three hours (five to six hours total) the internal temperature of the shoulder should be at, or around, 165 – 170 degrees Fahrenheit. At this point, wrap the shoulder in butcher paper or aluminum foil and place it back into the smoker to continue cooking.
  5. Place the thermometer probes back into the shoulder and continue smoking until the internal temperature of the lamb reaches 200 – 205 degrees F. You know it’s done when somewhere in that range an instant-read thermometer can probe the meat with no resistance, much like the feeling of room temperature butter (i.e. it should feel soft and tender). We use the Thermoworks Thermapen One.
  6. Remove the roast and then let it rest for 30 minutes. Then remove and pull the meat.

Chefs Note

If the smoked lamb is done earlier than you want to serve, then store the lamb wrapped (not pulled) in a cooler with no ice for up to four hours. This will hold the temperature until ready to pull and serve.

Pulling

Using two large forks, or a pulled pork shredding tool, gently pull at the edges of the shoulder. If you pulled while probe tender, the meat should easily come off. As you shred, remove any cartilage or leftover fat pockets and discard.

Smoked Lamb Shoulder Recipe (5)

Saucing

There are a number of sauces we would recommend. If using a sauce, just toss it with the warm pulled lamb. Note that we aren’t using mint.

  • Carolina Style Vinegar Sauce
  • Chimichurri Sauce
  • Garlic Butter Sauce

Serving Suggestions

To stretch your dollar you can serve it as an appetizer and place on a crostini, similar to this brisket crostini recipe. You can also use it for a pizza or lamb sliders.

But one of our favorite uses is to serve it in pita bread with a little bit of tzatziki sauce. The smoky and super tender meat is nicely balanced by the fresh and cooling tzatziki. Just fill some pita bread with some crunchy greens, and a hefty amount of pulled lamb, and top with your favorite tzatziki recipe.

Smoked Lamb Shoulder Recipe (6)

Frequently Asked Questions

how long does it take to smoke lamb shoulder

Plan 30 minutes per pound for smoked lamb shoulder at 250 degrees Fahrenheit. It is also about the same time if you choose to smoke at 225 degrees F.

should you wrap lamb when smoking

Yes, we recommend wrapping after the lamb has reached 165 degrees Fahrenheit. This will speed up the smoking process and lock in the juices. You will lose a slight bit of the bark but it’s a good tradeoff.

is lamb a good meat to smoke

Lamb is a perfect meat to smoke low and slow. It brings out the rich flavor with the added smoke flavor profile.

What To Serve With Pulled Lamb

Whenever we serve pulled lamb shoulder we like to add a rich side dish and pair with wine.

Wine Pairing for Lamb Shoulder

For the lamb alone I loved it with a nice Pinot Noir (I vote Oregon Pinot for the balance of earthy and fruity flavors). But with pitas, smothered in that bright citrusy and herbal tzatziki sauce, it works surprisingly well with a bright and fruity rosé.

Side Dishes

  • Grilled Romaine Caesar Salad
  • No Mayo Coleslaw
  • Grilled Hasselback Potatoes

More Lamb Recipes

  • Smoked Lamb Lollipops
  • Pulled Lamb Sliders
  • Smoked Lamb Burgers with Rosemary Aioli and Pickled Onions
  • Grilled Rack of Lamb with Jalapeno Chimichurri
  • Smoked Lamb Meatballs
  • Boneless Leg of Lamb
  • Bone-In Leg of Lamb
Smoked Lamb Shoulder Recipe (7)

Now on 2nd edition

Fire + Wine Cookbook

“This book is a one-stop guide for anyone truly interested in elevating their BBQ experience into a culinary work of art.”
5 out of 5 Stars
San Francisco Book Review

About Vindulge

Mary (a certified sommelier and recipe developer) and Sean (backyard pitmaster) are co-authors of the critically acclaimed cookbook, Fire + Wine, and have been creating content for the IACP nominated website Vindulge since 2009. They live in Oregon on a farm just outside Portland.

*This post was originally published April of 2016 and updated June of 2021 with more recipe details, how to instructions. The recipe remains the same.

Smoked Lamb Shoulder Recipe (8)

4.50 from 6 votes

Smoked Lamb Shoulder Recipe

By Mary Cressler | Vindulge

How to smoke a lamb shoulder and what to do with it after it's cooked.

Prep: 15 minutes mins

Cook: 10 hours hrs

Resting Time: 30 minutes mins

Total: 10 hours hrs 45 minutes mins

Servings: 8 servings

Save RecipePin RecipeRate RecipePrint Recipe

Equipment

  • Butcher Twine

Ingredients

For the Smoked Lamb Shoulder:

  • 5 pound lamb shoulder, (We recommend boneless)
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • ¼ cup Ultimate Dry Rub

For the Spritz:

  • ½ cup apple cider vinegar
  • ½ cup apple juice

Instructions

  • Pre-heat Smoker: Prepare your smoker targeting 250 degrees Fahrenheit (F) using fruit wood, like apple or cherry. Alternatively oak or hickory are good options. We find mesquite a little too smoky for lamb.

  • Prep Lamb: Start by removing the butcher twine. Lay the meat out flat on a sheet pan. Next, trim away any excess fat on both sides of the shoulder or cartilage using a good quality filet orboning knife. Coat both sides of the lamb with olive oil and dry rub. Tie the meat back up again with more butcher twine tightly so it’s one uniform roast as you put it on your smoker.

  • Smoke: Place the lamb shoulder on the smoker and insert an instant-read Bluetooth thermometer, like the ThermoworksSmoke Unit,to monitor the internal temperature. Smoke for three hours. In this phase, the lamb will start to turn red and develop a bark.

  • Spritz: After the first three hours, start to spray the shoulder with the spritz. The spritz adds some moisture to the lamb and helps the smoke molecules to stick to the meat. Make sure to use a food-safe spray bottle for this.

  • Wrap: After spritzing for two to three hours (five to six hours total) the internal temperature of the shoulder should be at, or around, 165 – 170 degrees Fahrenheit. At this point, wrap the shoulder in butcher paper or aluminum foil and place it back into the smoker to finish cooking.

  • Place the thermometer probes back into the shoulder and continue smoking until the internal temperature of the lamb reaches 200 – 205 degrees F. You know it’s done when somewhere in that range an instant-read thermometer can probe the meat with no resistance, much like the feeling of room temperature butter.

  • Remove and Rest: Remove the roast and then let it rest for 30 minutes, then pull the meat.

Notes

Buying: Consider a boneless lamb shoulder. Be sure you have butcher twine at home.

Pulling: Using two large forks, or a pulled pork shredding tool, gently pull at the edges of the shoulder. If you pulled while probe tender, the meat should easily come off. As you shred, remove any cartilage or leftover fat pockets and discard.

Chef’s Note:If the lamb is done earlier than you wish to serve, then store the lamb wrapped (not pulled) in a cooler with no ice for up to four hours. This will hold the temperature until ready to pull and serve.

Nutrition

Calories: 378kcal | Carbohydrates: 4g | Protein: 48g | Fat: 17g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 8g | Cholesterol: 152mg | Sodium: 167mg | Potassium: 739mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 77IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 61mg | Iron: 5mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Author: Mary Cressler | Vindulge

Prep Time: 15 minutes minutes

Cook Time: 10 hours hours

Resting Time: 30 minutes minutes

Total Time: 10 hours hours 45 minutes minutes

Course: Main Course

Cuisine: barbecue, bbq, grilling

Servings: 8 servings

Calories: 378

Keyword: lamb shoulder recipe, pulled lamb, smoked lamb shoulder

Like this recipe? Leave a comment below!

Categorized as:

Dinner, Food, Recipes, Red Wines, Rosé Wine, , Wine

Smoked Lamb Shoulder Recipe (9)

Vindulge

About Mary

I'm Mary, a wine/food/travel writer, Certified Sommelier, mom of twins, former vegetarian turned BBQ fanatic, runner, founder of Vindulge, and author of Fire + Wine cookbook. Thanks for stopping by!

About Me

You May Also Like:

Burgers & Sliders

Smoked Hamburger Recipe – with Cheese

co*cktails

Smoked Old Fashioned co*cktail Recipe

Food

29 Recipes for Valentine’s Day On Your Smoker or Grill

Poultry

Smoked Wings with Thai Chili Sauce

Smoked Lamb Shoulder Recipe (2024)

FAQs

How long does it take to smoke a lamb shoulder? ›

Lamb shoulder typically takes 7 hours to cook at a smoker temperature of 107 - 120°c (225 – 250 °F). You could go for a boneless lamb shoulder, but I like it to be cooked with the bone in. Also before cooking, make sure you trim the excess fat and rub the meat with your favourite mixture or paste.

Should you wrap lamb when smoking? ›

After three hours take the lamb off the BBQ and wrap tightly in foil (or butchers paper if you prefer), return the BBQ and cook for another two hours - at this point it's fine to let the temperature creep up to around 135C/275F, the foil and moisture trapped within the package will insulate the meat well and will ...

How long does it take to smoke lamb at 225 degrees? ›

It will take approximately 3-4 hours to fully smoke a 5-7 pound boneless leg of lamb to Medium doneness with the smoker running steady at 225 degrees F. You can estimate approximately 30 minutes per pound of lamb for total smoke time.

Do you spritz lamb when smoking? ›

Spritz the lamb with the beef stock in a spray bottle, every hour. After 4 ½ hours, or until well coloured, place the lamb on several sheets of aluminium foil and generously spritz. Tightly wrap the lamb in foil. Insert a Weber meat probe into the thickest part of the meat, avoiding touching the bone.

How do you keep lamb moist in a smoker? ›

  1. Water Pan – Use a water pan in your smoker to maintain a humid environment so the meat doesn't cook with hot, dry air. ...
  2. Spritzing – Many pit-masters keep a spray bottle filled with stock, apple juice or spray butter handy, spritzing the meat when the surface starts to dry.

Does lamb shoulder get more tender the longer you cook it? ›

Slow cooking in liquid transforms tougher cuts of lamb into fork-tender meat. Neck, shoulder and belly, either diced or as whole joints, are the best cuts for slow cooking and need to be cooked for at least 2 hrs at 150C to soften the meat.

Do you smoke lamb shoulder fat side up or down? ›

Once the smoker has started to smoke, place the shoulder on top rack (fat side facing up, bones towards the bottom). 6. Smoke/cook for at least 5 hours, then start checking the internal temperature every 30 minutes.

Does smoked lamb taste good? ›

It's hard to get good smoke flavor at temps higher than 250°F (121°C), so we'll keep it low to maximize smokiness. The combination of the smoke flavor and the lamby, almost gamey flavor is quite wonderful. The smoke helps tame some of the wildness of the lamb without eliminating what makes it unique.

What is a good binder for lamb shoulder? ›

Olive oil is great as a binder, particularly on vegetables, chips, chicken, and lamb. Mayonnaise – Mayo is an easy way to add a little extra moisture to the meat, and it will keep the integrity of your spice rub.

What temp does lamb fall apart? ›

Whether boneless or bone-in, the perfect leg of lamb should be either oven-roasted until blushing pink on the inside (with an internal temp around 130°F) or roasted long and slow for several hours until the meat is very tender and falls apart to internal temp around 175°F (I often use the slow cooker for that).

What temperature to smoke lamb shoulder? ›

Preheat your smoker to 250°F (121°C) with your choice of wood. Use the Smoke and it's air probe to watch the temperature of the pit, with the high-temp alarm set for 275°F (135°C) and the low-temp alarm set for 225°F (107°C). Pat the lamb shoulder dry with some paper towels then rub it down with the oil.

What is the best wood to smoke lamb with? ›

Hickory – This is a dense wood that can burn over long periods of time, it is perfect for lamb cuts that need several hours to cook, such as shanks and ribs. When smoking a leaner cut such as lamb loin or chops, one may want to consider a softer hardwood, such as apple or oak.

What is the best smoke flavor for lamb? ›

In addition to a versatile history, however, it is one of the woods that has been used the most for smoking lamb. Hickory is one of the most popular woods to make almost any barbecue with. It is a strong and flavorful wood that gives the meat a uniquely smoky taste.

What temperature is smoked lamb shoulder done? ›

Smoked Lamb Shoulder Ingredients

Put back in smoker to cook for a further 3 – 5 hours until internal temp is 87° – 90°C for sliced lamb & 95° – 98°C for shredded lamb. and enjoy. BBQ sauce to add more flavour the shredded lamb.

How long should you smoke lamb for? ›

Place the lamb in your smoker. Cook until the internal temperature of the meat reaches 145°F on an instant read thermometer, about 2 to 3 hours. Hot TipIf you choose to smoke a boneless leg of lamb, unlike most meats, it will take longer to cook than a bone-in leg.

What temperature should you smoke lamb at? ›

Smoker temp for smoking leg of lamb

Susie recommends 225°F (107°C) and you could go as high as 250°F (121°C), but don't go any higher than that. We'll keep it low and slow for two reasons: smoke and doneness.

References

Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Zonia Mosciski DO

Last Updated:

Views: 5592

Rating: 4 / 5 (71 voted)

Reviews: 94% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Zonia Mosciski DO

Birthday: 1996-05-16

Address: Suite 228 919 Deana Ford, Lake Meridithberg, NE 60017-4257

Phone: +2613987384138

Job: Chief Retail Officer

Hobby: Tai chi, Dowsing, Poi, Letterboxing, Watching movies, Video gaming, Singing

Introduction: My name is Zonia Mosciski DO, I am a enchanting, joyous, lovely, successful, hilarious, tender, outstanding person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.