How To Smoke Lamb Shoulder
For a not-your-typical backyard BBQ, try smoking a lamb shoulder with your smoker. You will find that the flavors of lamb pair very nicely with a light smoke and some rosemary, even people who said didn’t really like lamb were tasting this and enjoying it, down to the last shred.
A whole, bone-in lamb shoulder may be a little hard to find than the more traditional cuts, but if you plan ahead and ask your butcher to order it for you, it should be relatively simple to get a hold of one. In contrast to smoking a traditional pork shoulder, the flavors of lamb need a subtler type of smoke than the usual hickory, so I chose apple wood, but any type of fruit wood will do. This recipe also cooks at a slightly hotter temperature in order to help the fat render and get crispy as the lamb cooks.
Time to wow your guests at your next backyard BBQ with this delicious and tasty smoked lamb shoulder cooked on a Weber Smokey Mountain!
Serves: 4 people (about 2 pounds of pulled meat)
Prep Time: 30 minutes (to set the rub)
Cook Time: 5-5 ½ hours
1 1/2 cups dark brown sugar
4 sprigs rosemary, fresh (stem and mince)
1/3 cup kosher salt
2 teaspoons cayenne, ground
1 teaspoon white pepper, ground
1 tablespoon cumin, ground
1 Lamb shoulder, bone in (about 5 lbs)
8 pices apple wood chunks
2/3 cup apple juice, hot
2 tablesppons BBQ spice (your favorite)
1. Mix the ingredients for the rub together in a mixing bowl, set aside.
2. Clean the lamb shoulder of any excess fat. Don’t be too aggressive with the trimming, about ¼” is good for basting as the lamb smokes.
3. Rub the seasonings onto the shoulder all over. Press the rub onto the meat. Let this sit for 30 minutes to dissolve slightly and stick to the meat better. This also helps develop a skin called a “pellicle” that begins to set the outside crust.
4. Set up the smoker for about 250-275F smoking, slightly higher than usual, as this is to help more of the fat to render off. Fill the water pan halfway full. Add the 5-6 wood chunks to the coals now and close the lid
5. 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. The lamb is done when the meat has pulled back to expose more of the bones and the internal temperature reaches 195F in at least 3 places.
7. After the lamb has cooked, remove from the smoker, cover loosely with foil and allow let it rest for 20-30% of the cooking time (about 45-60 minutes) in a warm place.
8. Once the lamb has rested, pull the meat apart, just like pulling the meat from a pork shoulder (if the meat is very hot, use the “bear claws” to help with the shredding). It should shred easily. If it is too tough, the meat has not cooked long enough. If this is the case, cover with foil and cook at 250F for another 30 minutes and check again.
9. Once all the meat has been pulled from the bones (discarding any large chunks of fat), mix in a bowl with the apple juice and bbq spice. If the meat has cooled off and is starting to clump up, place it in a pan and warm up in the oven or on the grill for 15 minutes.
10. As a final step, check out my light coleslaw recipe that pairs well with the pulled lamb. This also makes a great sandwich with a toasted bun.
Keep the coals hot!