This meltingly tender Slow Cooked Lamb Shawarma is the stuff food dreams are made of!! Slathered in a deceptively simple shawarma spice rub then slow cooked until fall apart, the flavour and fragrance of this lamb is absolutely heavenly. Sensational for feeding a crowd – and finishing on the BBQ! 🇦🇺🇦🇺🇦🇺
This one’s for everyone who doesn’t have a charcoal spit in the middle of their kitchen….. and for Australia Day!!!🇦🇺 🇦🇺🇦🇺 Quick to prepare but tastes like you’ve been slaving away in the kitchen all day, this is absolutely terrific for gatherings because it’s easy to make loads, can be cooked ahead then reheated. Or in the spirit of Australia Day, finish it on the BBQ!
This Slow Cooked Lamb Shawarma is 100% me. Big hunk of meat. Big flavours. Simple, fast prep, with big pay offs. Meltingly tender, fall apart meat, dripping with the beautiful roasting juices. Food made for sharing with family and friends. Food to pile onto platters to let everyone help themselves, rather than using tweezers to daintily plate up.
Rustic. That’s how I describe my food. As opposed to refined and elegant! 😂
Just remembering how good this was is killing me as I sit here on the couch late on a Wednesday night sipping on a green smoothie of all things. Suddenly, this spinach-kale-mango-pineapple-ginger smoothie is very unappealing. 😩
So, here’s how this Slow Cooked Lamb Shawarma goes down. We start with a simple homemade Shawarma slather, my go-to mix that I use for my Chicken Shawarma and all things Shawarma on this site (Lamb Shawarma Chickpea Soup, One Pot Chicken Shawarma and Rice Pilaf). Nothing exotic in it, you’ll find all the spices at the supermarket: coriander, cumin, paprika, cayenne and cardamon. Plus olive oil, garlic, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Mix and slather.
LAMB LEG OR SHOULDER
As for what to slather, take your pick – lamb shoulder or lamb leg. In the recipe video, I’ve used lamb shoulder because I wanted to show how to pull the lamb apart in order to finish it on the BBQ. Also because I think lamb shoulder is not quite as popular as lamb leg but I rate it highly and I want to encourage people to try it! It’s usually cheaper than lamb leg and it’s fattier which means juicier (and better for reheating), making it ideal for gatherings.
Lamb shoulder has a bone through it, like pictured below. Because the shoulder is cooked to fall apart perfection, the meat slides off the bone in 4 or 5 large pieces which you can then either slice, shred or BBQ to get an extra tasty crust on it / reheat (see the video, it looks SO GOOD!).
BUTTERFLIED LAMB LEG
When making this with lamb leg, I prefer to use butterflied lamb leg because you can rub the Shawarma slather into the meat better. Even if you leave the lamb to marinate, a bone-in leg of lamb is very thick so the marinade doesn’t penetrate right through to the bone. Though having said that, there is plenty of heavily flavoured roasting juices to drizzle all over the meat once sliced or shredded.
Lamb leg is leaner than shoulder but it’s cooked until meltingly tender. One of the “pros” of butterflied lamb leg is that it holds together in one piece even after hours of slow cooking making it easier to slice neatly. Also for handling on the BBQ – one piece rather than the multiple pieces of shoulder you’ll see in the video.
Whether you use shoulder or lamb leg, you’re going to end up with this – incredible tender lamb. Sliceable but shreddable (I also show this in the video).
Now for the hardest part – choosing how to serve it. What will you do – make Lamb Shawarma Wraps or pile it on a platter with couscous? 🙂
🇦🇺HAPPY AUSTRALIA DAY!! 🇦🇺 I can’t wait to share what I’m doing…… stay tuned next week! – Nagi x
PS Jeez, my hands look extra small compared to that giant platter!!! 😂
This meltingly tender Slow Cooked Shawarma is the stuff food dreams are made of!! Slathered in a deceptively simple shawarma spice rub then slow cooked until fall apart, the flavour and fragrance of this lamb is absolutely heavenly. Make this Middle Eastern speciality with lamb shoulder or lamb leg. Finishing on the BBQ is optional - ideal for reheating if making ahead / summer BBQ's! SLOW COOKER directions added in notes. Recipe VIDEO below.
- 2kg / 4 lb lamb shoulder (bone in) or 1.7 kg / 3.5 lb butterflied lamb leg (Note 1)
- 3 garlic cloves , minced
- 1 tbsp ground coriander
- 1 tbsp ground cumin
- 1 tbsp ground cardamon
- 1 tsp cayenne pepper (1/2 tsp = not spicy)
- 2 tsp smoked paprika (ordinary also ok)
- 1 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 1/4 cup / 65 ml extra virgin olive oil
- 2 - 3 tbsp / 40 - 60 ml lemon juice
- 2 cups / 500 ml water
Preheat oven to 180C/350F (standard) or 160C/320F (fan forced / convection).
Place Paste ingredients in a bowl, starting with 2 tbsp lemon juice, and mix. It should be a wet paste that can be slathered onto the lamb (see video).
Place lamb in a large roasting pan. Slather all over with paste. Optional: Marinate 24 hours (not mandatory, I usually skip).
Position the lamb with the fat side up. Pour water around, cover tightly with foil.
Roast 3 hours, removing from the oven 2 - 3 times to spoon over pan juices (ie baste).
Remove foil. Meat should be tender - check with 2 forks.
Baste again, then return to oven for 30 minutes to get a nice crust.
Remove lamb from roasting pan - reserve juices.
Cool the lamb for 20 minutes or so (so it firms up slightly, easier to handle).
If you used shoulder, pull the meat off the bone in 4 or 5 chunks (see video).
Preheat BBQ to medium and oil if required.
Coat lamb in pan juices. Sear on both sides until deep golden and a crust forms. Dab with pan juices on both sides.
Slice or shred lamb, as desired. Drizzle with plenty of juices.
Make Lamb Shawarma wraps by serving with shredded lettuce, tomatoes and minted yoghurt (Note 3) or pile over Lemon Herbed Couscous (Note 4) and garnish with pomegranate seeds and parsley or chopped coriander/cilantro (if desired). Both pictured in post.
1. Both lamb leg and shoulder are great for this recipe. Lamb shoulder is fattier than leg so it will be juicier, and because of this it will reheat better (ie still be really juicy when reheated). However, leg reheats great too, especially because there's plenty of pan juices to drizzle over the slice or shredded meat. If using leg, butterflied leg is ideal because the slather can be rubbed all over the meat. (Butterflied lamb leg is lamb leg with the bone removed.)
However, this can be made with bone in lamb leg but if you do so, do not skip the marinating time.
Marinating is optional for this recipe because the slow cooking time allows the spices to penetrate and also the pan juices drizzled on the lamb has such an intense flavour.
2. Finishing on the BBQ is optional. It creates an amazing crust, and is a great way to reheat lamb if you make ahead and in the spirit of gatherings!
3. Minted Yoghurt: Plain Greek yoghurt + finely chopped mint + lemon juice + olive oil + salt & pepper. Optional 1/2 garlic clove, minced. Set aside 20 minutes.
4. Lemon Herb Couscous: Combine 3/4 cup raisins or sultanas (or other dried fruit of choice) with 1.5 cups each couscous and hot boiled vegetable stock. Cover with cling wrap, leave for 10 minutes. Fluff with fork. Stir through lots of finely chopped parsley and mint, lemon zest, juice, salt, pepper and extra virgin olive oil to taste.
5. MAKE AHEAD: I like to use shoulder for making ahead because it reheats better simply because it has more fat marbled through the meat. Let it cool then refrigerate in the pan juices. Reheat in the oven covered at 160C/320F for around 20 minutes or microwave. Or bring to room temperature then BBQ on medium (per recipe) to reheat, basting as you go.
6. SERVINGS: A 2 kg / 4 lb shoulder will serve 5 hungry or 6 normal servings, the leg will serve 6 - 7 (it shrinks less).
7. SLOW COOKER: This would be terrific to do in a slow cooker as long as the lamb will fit (which mine would not!). Reduce water to 1 cup and slow cook for 10 hours on low, then transfer the lamb either to the oven (including juices in the slow cooker) or finish it on the BBQ. The Slow Cooker Roast Lamb Leg video shows how to do these steps (just the rub is different).
8. Nutrition per serving, assuming 6 servings and that all pan juices are consumed which they probably won't be, so the calories are higher than it should be (especially because there's lots of fat in the juices).
WATCH HOW TO MAKE IT
LIFE OF DOZER
Someone is happy that I’m so terrible at butterflying lamb leg…. plenty of meat left on that bone!