Are you ready for the tastiest, most tender melt in your mouth meat you’ve ever had? Pulled lamb is, quite simply, sensational.
If you’ve never cooked lamb in this way, you’re in for a treat. Pulled lamb is cooked low and slow, to allow all the flavours to infuse and to give the meat a chance to become perfectly tender.
Intrigued? Let’s find out how to make this incredible BBQ pulled lamb.
Products you need for this recipe
Here’s a list of essential kitchen items and ingredients you’ll need for this slow cooked shredded lamb recipe:
- Mixing bowl – mix up your spices for the marinade in a mixing bowl
- Casserole pot – a good casserole pot is worth its weight in gold. It’ll last for years and will give you so many incredible meals, including this melt-in-your-mouth pulled lamb shoulder
- Meat claws – the best way to shred meat is to use a pair of these. Extra sharp stainless steel claws make pulled lamb a cinch
- Smoked paprika – the smoky yet sweet Spanish spice brings a beautiful smoked flavour to this slow cooked pulled lamb
- Ground cumin – ground cumin adds a certain earthy character when your lamb shoulder is cooked low and slow
- Cayenne pepper – another great spice that adds a bit of heat and a wonderful earthiness to this pulled lamb recipe
- Mild mustard – English mustard tastes fantastic and certainly packs a punch, but I prefer a milder mustard with this recipe. Dijon is my pick
- Worcestershire sauce – ah, the magic ingredient. When it comes to adding an extra hit of rich, savoury flavour, it just doesn’t get any better than Worcestershire sauce
- Vegetable oil – you can use olive oil in this recipe, but I think the flavour of vegetable oil sits better with the lamb shoulder and other ingredients
The history of pulled meat
Pulled meat can be made from most types of meat. It’s slow cooked until it’s incredibly tender and falling apart from the bone.
Beef, lamb, chicken and pork are all good options as “pulled meat”. The bone, fat and gristle are removed and then the pulled meat is mixed in the sauce before serving.
Long ago, before fancy ovens and kitchen gadgets, even before electricity, ancient cooks made holes in the ground and lit fires. Over this fire is where they would cook their food, with a triangular stand made of logs over the fire holding the pot.
When the flames died down, all that was left was burning embers. Then, the meat was placed in the pot to cook over the stoked embers for hours on end.
Another primitive alternative was to place the entire animal on a stick over the burning embers and turn it – the original rotisserie. In these times there was little deboning done before cooking.
So, once the meat was cooked everyone would gather round and pull the meat off the bone to eat.
Instead of being a new fashionable way of eating meat, it’s just going back to the way we always used to do it. Talk about retro cooking!
What cut of lamb is best for slow cooking?
Of all the different cuts of lamb meat, lamb shoulder has the most flavour. It does take a while to tenderise, but if you give it time the rewards are glorious.
That’s why slow cooker lamb or slow oven cooked lamb tend to use lamb shoulder. When cooked on a low heat for a number of hours, this is the most tender meat you’ll ever eat.
For me it’s perfect, especially when you add an unbelievably tasty spiced rub.
How do you clean a lamb shoulder?
Get your lamb from a quality butcher and ask them to debone and trim the fat from your lamb shoulder. Then you’re good to go!
What spices go well with lamb?
Lamb is a great tasting meat on its own. Add spices and it becomes irresistible.
The flavour profile of lamb lends particularly well to being paired with earthy spices. Cumin, coriander, fenugreek, cardamom, and cinnamon all go great with lamb. No wonder you see so many spiced lamb recipes in Middle Eastern, African and Indian cuisine.
Of course, lamb always goes very well with smoky spices such as paprika and cayenne pepper. Black pepper is always key to seasoning any type of meat and lamb is no different.
What herbs go well with lamb?
There are lots of great tasting, fragrant herbs that pair well with lamb. The very best is rosemary, with its woody aroma and flavour – the two are a match made in heaven.
Other herbs that go well with lamb are oregano, thyme and, of course, mint.
Do you need to marinate lamb?
Some people argue that adding a marinade can make it tougher. With this recipe, as the lamb shoulder is cooked for a very long time, the marinade helps to break down the tough fibres of the shoulder. The end result is amazingly tender meat, flavoured to perfection.
So, make your marinade, rub it on the lamb, and rub your hands together in anticipation. This is going to be special!
What can I substitute for Worcestershire sauce?
If you can’t find any of this magical stuff, there are a few options. Check out my Worcestershire sauce substitute guide for a full breakdown of the best alternatives to this unique flavour enhancer.
At what temperature do you pull lamb?
Aim for a temperature of around 90ºC (195ºF). Lamb is a bit more forgiving than a lot of other meats, so don’t stress too much.
Still, I highly recommend that you invest in a quality meat thermometer. It will make life so much easier and will take the pressure off of slow cooker recipes and low and slow masterpieces.
How do you shred lamb?
There are a few ways you can shred lamb. The most straight forward is to place your lamb on a large plate and use two forks to pull the meat.
My preferred way is to use some shredding claws. This method is easier than using two forks, but treats the delicious meat with a little more respect than blitzing it with a stand mixer.
How do you serve BBQ pulled lamb?
Shredded lamb can be served in so many different ways. Try serving it in a burger, in a wrap, in tacos or just on a plate with a big helping of chips.
Is lamb good for you?
Lamb is one of the healthiest meats and is packed full of essential vitamins and minerals.
Although it’s quite high in saturated fats, lamb has so many benefits that hugely outweigh any potential negatives.
It’s one of the best sources of protein. Protein is crucial when it comes to promoting muscle growth, maintenance and performance. Just one serving contains at least half of your recommended daily amount.
It also contains lots of B vitamins, including vitamin B12, as well as lots of minerals that are crucial to maintaining a healthy immune system, such as iron and zinc.
The spices in this dish also have great health benefits. Most of them have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, which can help strengthen the immune systems and prevent certain diseases.
What to serve with BBQ pulled lamb
Stuck for what to serve alongside your roasted and pulled masterpiece? Don’t worry… here’s some delicious recipes for a little divine inspiration:
- Tobacco onions – a sumptuous smoky side dish that’s incredibly easy to whip up, tobacco onions take minutes to make and taste amazing
- Parmentier potatoes – serve these wonderful potatoes alongside your roasted slow cooker classic. It’s a very easy side to prepare and tastes fantastic
- Macho peas – these are no ordinary peas. If you want your peas to pack a punch, make these little firecrackers. Add them to the side of any roast recipe and you won’t go wrong
- Baked sweet potato fries – serve up a batch of sweet potato fries on the side to mop up the gravy and sweet spicy liquid
- Sweet potato gratin – another easy sweet potato side that would make a perfect pairing with this roast recipe
- Animal style fries – A fantastic side dish that will make your mouth water.
- Cucumber Ribbon Salad – Refreshing, creamy, minty and nutty, this cucumber ribbon salad might be set to become your new favorite summer salad.
More luscious lamb recipes
Got a taste for lamb? Check out some more incredible recipes that get the best out of this underrated meat:
- Lamb leg steak – fast cooking doesn’t get better than this! Cook up these sensational steaks in less than 20 minutes for a quick and easy Sunday lunch
- Lamb sloppy Joes – big, messy and utterly marvellous, these sloppy Joes are the height of good ol’ comfort food.
- Indian leg of lamb – if you’ve never had Indian leg of lamb, you’re in for a treat. It’s a spicy slow-cooked masterpiece!
- Lamb massaman curry – a heavenly Thai curry that’s hearty and intensely flavored, yet mildly spiced with cumin, bay leaves, star anise and nutmeg.
- Lamb shish kebab – for those who doubt you can have a healthy kebab, here’s your proof. The perfect demonstration of healthy fast food with big flavours. Best of all, it’s really quick to prepare.
- Slow cooker lamb shanks – this lamb steaks recipe is the ultimate Sunday lunch comfort food!
- Smoked leg of lamb – just one mouthful of this amazing recipe will be enough to have you hooked. When it comes to taste, smoked meat is in a different league and this is the perfect recipe for smoking newbies and experts alike.
- Lamb noisettes with rosemary sauce – when it comes to flavour pairings, few things go together like lamb and rosemary. Lamb noisettes are similar to lamb steaks, and this simple recipe is beautiful, elegant, full of flavour and very easy to make.
- Lamb sandwich with avocado and jam – if you have lamb leftovers, this is the recipe for you!
- Lamb jalfrezi – traditional curry recipes like lamb jalfrezi are the perfect way to use up leftover lamb
- Lamb pasanda – creamy and delicious, this curry can be made with leftover lamb
- Lamb dopiaza – a hearty stew-like curry that’s super comforting, the lamb is simmered in until tender
- Honey glazed rack of lamb – you’ll be surprised how something so simple can taste so good!
- Lamb shish kebab – can you believe that you can make a healthy kebab? Here’s the proof. The whole family will love these quick and easy, incredibly tasty kebabs
- Lamb massaman curry – Have you ever made a massaman curry? If not, this succulent Thai curry is soon to become a firm favourite of yours!
- Lamb Tacos – These amazing Mexican lamb tacos are off-the-charts tasty! Tender, smoky and spicy slow-cooked lamb that melts in your mouth, served up in a warm tortilla and finished with your favorite toppings.
Serve this easy BBQ Pulled Lamb in burger buns with your favourite coleslaw, and some chunky chips. The juicy meat is fork tender the BBQ sauce luscious.
- 17g (2 tbsp) salt
- 7g (1 tbsp) ground pepper
- 7g (1 tbsp) smoked paprika
- 7g (1 tbsp) ground cumin
- 16g (1 tbsp) brown sugar
- 7g (1 tbsp) cayenne pepper
- 1 lamb shoulder, weighing about 2kg (4lbs)
- 400ml (1½ cup) tomato ketchup
- 100g (½ cup) brown sugar
- 60ml (¼ cup) mild mustard
- 125ml (½ cup) Worcestershire sauce
- 4 garlic cloves, crushed
- 60ml (¼ cup) vegetable oil
- Mix the salt, ground pepper, paprika, cumin, sugar and pepper in a bowl.
- Rub the lamb all over with the spice mixture and leave in the fridge overnight to 2 days to marinate.
- Preheat the oven to 150°C/fan 180°C/300°F/gas mark 2.
- Place the lamb in an ovenproof dish and cover tightly with foil, or lid, and place it in the oven.
- Cook the lamb for 5 hours.
- In the meantime, prepare the BBQ sauce by mixing the ketchup, sugar, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, garlic and oil in a bowl.
- After the 5 hours have elapsed, remove the lamb from the oven and pour the BBQ sauce over the meat.
- Place the lamb back in the oven and cook for another hour.
- Remove from the oven and let the meat rest.
- Shred the lamb and stir in the BBQ sauce.
- Lamb shoulder is the ideal cut for this kind of recipe because of its high fat content. However, if you’d like to be slightly healthier, opt for boneless leg of lamb.
- The pulled lamb works great in burgers served with coleslaw and chips on the side.
- If you’re using a smaller piece of lamb, remember to adjust the cooking time to a short length of time. Otherwise, it will just dry out and become stringy.
- Prep Time: 30 minutes
- Cook Time: 5 hours
- Category: Main Course
- Method: Slow Cook
- Cuisine: American
Keywords: pulled lamb, bbq lamb shoulder, slow cooked lamb shoulder, slow cooker lamb shoulder, lamb spice rub, bbq recipe