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  • Writer's pictureAlissa Love

Smoked Barbecue-Braised Lamb Shoulder

Updated: Feb 6, 2020

If you've been following me for awhile, you'd know that I am pescatarian (and I don't eat meat) - but cooking is and will always be my first love, and so I decided to make this recipe for a taco party we hosted for a couple of friends last weekend. Like all men, my boyfriend loves meat-on-barbecue, so we decided to try out this barbecue-braised lamb shoulder that we left to braise for 5 hours over indirect heat. We even used apple wood chips for smoking that added a delicate sweet flavor to the meat! Fan-cy!

Smoked Barbecue-Braised Lamb Shoulder Taco

This recipe serves 20-25 people when eaten with a taco.


1kg lamb shoulder, cubed

1 large red onion, sliced

1 cup coke

4 cloves garlic, whole

1 tablespoon olive oil

4 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

3 tablespoon tomato paste

1 cup coriander stems, roughly chopped

3 chili padi, left whole

For the marinate

6 tablespoon chili powder

4 tablespoons cumin powder

1 tablespoon cinnamon powder

1/2 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 cup coriander, chopped

1 tablespoon garlic & ginger paste



1. In a ziplock bag, marinate the lamb in olive oil, garlic & ginger paste, coriander, cinnamon, cumin and chili powder. Combine well with the lamb and make sure it is completely coated. You can set aside in the fridge the night before until ready to cook, or in the freezer if longer than a day. This is a relatively dry-rub and holds well for days.

Smoked Barbecue-Braised Lamb Shoulder Taco

2. Set up your charcoal BBQ 30 minutes before you're ready to cook to ensure even heating. Add in the apple wood chips only when the lamb is on the heat as the chips will run out and burn quickly otherwise. Any BBQ with a lid works fine, no reason to get fancy here! The main aim is to braise the meat slowly, and smoke it throughout the cooking process.

3. On a stove, heat up a dash of oil on a medium pan on medium-high heat. Add in the marinated lamb, and brown all sides. Browning meat creates a caramelized surface that lends a rich flavor to the finished dish.

Smoked Barbecue-Braised Lamb Shoulder Taco

4. In a heavy duty pot/ cooking tin, combine the olive oil, chopped onions, whole garlics, tomato paste, apple cider vinegar, coriander stems, chili padi and remaining spices from the marinade. Stir in 1 cup of Coke and 2 cups of water.

5. Add in the browned lamb into the pot in a single layer. Season with salt.

6. Add in the apple wood chips into the charcoal and set the pot on the grill over indirect heat. Cover the pot with aluminium foil and close the BBQ lid.

7. Every hour, check in on the pot to make sure it doesn't burn. Stir gently and add water or Coke whenever necessary. The goal is to have melt-in-your-mouth meat that falls off effortlessly with a fork - so make sure to maintain enough braising liquid to help the lamb cook.

8. After 4-5 hours, depending on the thickness of your lamb cuts, the meat should be tender enough to separate with a fork. Poke the meat with a fork. If it breaks in half effortlessly, it is ready!

9. Take off from heat and remove lamb pieces from the pot. In a separate bowl, break up the lamb pieces with a fork.

10. Add in the leftover braising sauce bit by bit while breaking up the lamb, making sure the consistency is more meat than sauce.

11. Stir in the lamb pieces together with the sauce until completely combined. Garnish with chopped coriander and serve... in between hot tacos!

Smoked Barbecue-Braised Lamb Shoulder Taco


1. The longer you marinade the lamb, the more flavorful the end product is. Minimum marination time is 12 hours imo!

2. I used Coke in this recipe as it helps break down the meat. The apple cider vinegar does just that too, but I find that Coke gives an unexpected tangy-sweet taste too!

3. You can use any kind of heavy duty pot for this recipe. As long as the pot can withstand high heat and does not have any plastic components, feel free to use it! I've used a deep-dish baking tin for this recipe (didn't wanna ruin my better pots!)

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