These Lamb Barbacoa Tacos are full of flavor and make the perfect dinner on busy nights. They’re incredibly easy to make and are braised to tender perfection in the oven! Dress them up with your favorite toppings for a dinner the whole family will love.
Thanks to our friends at the American Lamb Board for sponsoring this post! All opinions are my own.
Why you’ll love this recipe:
- Braised Lamb – Lamb leg (or lamb shoulder) is braised in the oven for fall apart tender meat.
- Barbacoa Flavor – Traditional barbacoa seasonings – chipotle chilis, garlic, cumin, oregano, and lime juice – add a ton of flavor to this lamb barbacoa.
- One Pot – One pot dinner recipes are the actual best! Sear your meat and braise it in the same pot, then shred your meat and serve it in tacos.
- Lamb Shank – You can more commonly find lamb meat in a butcher or whole foods grocery store. Be sure to buy locally produced lamb for the best flavor and quality. It also helps support your local producers! And, have them cut the lamb into smaller pieces – a few large sections will do.
- Chipotle Peppers – Use chopped chipotle chili peppers if you like spicy tacos. See sub below.
- Toppings – Use whatever toppings you like on your lamb tacos. I like cotija cheese, red onions or spring onion, lime wedges, and cilantro.
- Chipotle Peppers – Sub 2 tsp chili powder for the peppers if you want mild tacos. You can also try ancho chiles for a milder option, or chopped dried chilies.
- Beef Broth – You can substitute beer for the beef broth if desired.
- Lamb Shoulder – Lamb shoulder works as well if you can’t find lamb shank.
- Tortillas – Use flour or corn tortillas – whichever you prefer.
How to Make this Recipe Step-by-Step:
Step 1: Marinate the Lamb. Place the lamb in a lidded container and marinate it in the rest of the marinade ingredients for at least 1 hour or up to 24 hours. This is the best way to enhance the flavors.
Step 2: Brown & Braise the Lamb. Once marinated, transfer lamb to a large dutch oven and sear all sides of the lamb shoulder or leg on medium-high heat. Then add all the meat at once, and the remaining marinade.
Step 3: Braise in a 350 degree F oven for about 2 hours, until the meat is fall apart tender.
Shred & Serve. Serve the shredded lamb in tacos with all your favorite fixings! You will love this tender lamb barbacoa recipe.
Expert Success Tips:
- Low and Slow – Be sure to cook your lamb at 350 degrees F as directed. This lower temp will ensure fall apart tender meat. You can sit back and relax while the meat cooks!
- Marinate – Let the lamb rest in the marinade at least 1 hour so it can develop flavor.
- Boneless – Be sure to get boneless leg of lamb to make things easier.
- Orange Juice – Orange juice is a common ingredient in barbacoa – feel free to add 1/4 cup to the marinade. I didn’t have any on hand so I just used lime juice.
- Where can I buy lamb? For help sourcing locally-produced lamb, visit American Lamb’s website and use their “where to buy” page – linked here.
- What is Barbacoa? This is a traditional way of cooking meat that originated in Mexico &/or the Caribbean – meat is slow cooked with seasonings, then shredded and served. Barbacoa is the Spanish word for barbecue, and a truly traditional barbacoa recipe would be cooked over an open fire, or in a pit oven in the ground, covered with agave leaves.
- Beer – Use your favorite beer to braise the lamb in place of the beef broth, if desired.
- Toppings – Serve your lamb tacos with any fixings you like. I’ve given my suggestions, but feel free to switch it up to fit your tastes.
- Slow Cooker – Sear the meat as directed, then cook in the crock pot for 6-8 hours on low heat.
- Sauce – Reduce the cooking liquid from the lamb in a small saucepan if you’d like a thicker sauce to serve with your tacos.
Serving + Storing this Recipe:
Store leftover lamb meat in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-4 days.
- Dutch Oven – This is my favorite dutch oven and it’s great for so many recipes from no knead bread, to braised meat, to cozy soups. Any oven proof serving dish with a lid will work as well (or you can cover it with foil).
More Lamb Recipes to Love:
- Lamb Sliders
- Grilled Lamb Pizzas
- Guinness Irish Lamb Stew
- Weeknight Broccolini Pasta with Lamb
- Moroccan Spiced Lamb Meatballs
Did you make this recipe? Snap a photo and leave a comment!
Lamb Barbacoa Tacos
For the Lamb
- 1 and 1/2 lbs boneless American lamb shank, cut into large cubes Have your butcher do this
- 1-2 tbsp olive oil
- 6 large garlic cloves, minced
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 and 1/2 tsp cumin
- 2 tsp oregano
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- 1 small lime, zested & juiced (about 2 tbsp)
- 1 tbsp chili powder Use chopped chipotle chilis if you want more spice
- 3/4 cup beef broth
- cotija cheese
- red onions
- any other toppings as desired, like salsa verde
- Marinate the Lamb: Add the lamb and all remaining ingredients for the marinade to a large tupperware container and stir to combine, rubbing it all over the lamb. Refrigerate at least 2 hours or up to 24.
- Braise the Lamb: Preheat your oven to 350° F. Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a large dutch oven (or similar oven-safe pot) over medium heat. Brown the lamb on all sides, working in batches as needed. Once lamb has been browned, pour in the marinade, and add a bit of extra beef broth so the lamb is at least halfway submerged in liquid. Add the lid, and place in the oven. Cook for 1 hr 45 minutes to 2 hrs 15 minutes. The lamb meat will be fall apart tender when tested with a fork when done.
- Serve + Store: Remove meat from the pot and skim any fat from the braising liquid. Return the meat to the liquid, then get out your taco fixings – sliced onion, cilantro, etc. and serve! Store leftovers in an airtight container for 3-4 days.