Tender slow-cooked shredded Welsh lamb in a spicy Mexican-style barbacoa sauce, piled onto soft tacos and loaded with toppings.
I'm making a taco FEAST today, and most of the work is done by the slow cooker.
Everyone will adore this special dish. So great for a family get together and it makes a brilliant alternative to the traditional Sunday Roast!
This post was created in partnership with PGI Welsh lamb. All opinions are my own.
Last year Chris and I spent a fantastic couple of days down in south Wales, learning all about lamb.
We visited the Salt Marshes at Gower Salt Marsh Lamb and made this delicious slow roast shoulder of lamb with it when we got back home.
Now we're working with Welsh lamb again!
You may not notice, but we do very little brand work. We work with just a handful a year, so we only pick our absolute favourite brands to work with.
We adore Welsh lamb, so that's why we're working with them again!
This time I really wanted to show of the versatility of lamb and how it can take on some seriously big flavours. So we're going Mexican and making these amazing barbacoa-style lamb carnitas tacos.
What do we need?
- 2 kg bone-in shoulder of Welsh lamb
- For spicy rich heat - adobo paste and chipotle paste
- Aromatics and spices - garlic, cumin, ground coriander, dried oregano, ground cloves
- Chicken or lamb stock
- Salt and Pepper
- 2 Limes
- Soft tacos - I like to warm them in the oven or brown them on the griddle
- Plenty of choices for toppings - my favourites include: red onion, fresh coriander (cilantro), jalapenos, cherry tomatoes, sour cream, salsa, guacamole and lime wedges.
How to make it
Full recipe with detailed steps in the recipe card at the end of this post.
- Sear the lamb on all sides in a large frying pan, then add in adobo paste, chipotle paste, minced garlic, cumin, coriander, oregano, stock, salt, pepper, cloves and lime juice and bring to the boil.
- Transfer to a slow cooker and cook on low for 8-9 hours or high for 6 hours (see tip in the recipe card for cooking in the oven).
- Remove the lamb from the slow cooker and shred the meat using two forks.
- Fry the shredded meat in a pan in a little oil until crisp and golden.
- Divide the meat between warmed tacos. Drizzle on some of the sauce from the slow cooker and top with red onion, fresh coriander, jalapenos, tomatoes, salsa sour cream and guacamole.
- Serve with wedges of lime.
Don't be shy with those toppings now.
And be sure to drizzle on some of the cooking liquid from the slow cooker - it tastes AMAZING. In fact I like to include little individual bowls of the cooking liquid for dipping.
Watch how to make it
Lamb Barbacoa Carnitas
- 4 tbsp vegetable oil
- 2.2 kg (4.8 lbs) bone-in shoulder of Welsh lamb
- 1 tbsp adobo paste
- 1 tbsp chipotle paste
- 4 cloves garlic - peeled and minced
- 1 tbsp cumin
- 1 tsp ground coriander
- 1 tbsp dried oregano
- 480 ml (2 cups) chicken or lamb stock
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp ground black pepper
- ¼ tsp ground cloves
- Juice of 2 limes - (about 4 tbsps of fresh lime juice)
- 10-12 soft tacos - warmed
- 1 red onion - peeled and sliced
- 4 tbsp chopped fresh coriander
- 2 jalapenos - sliced
- 10 cherry tomatoes - quartered
- 4 tbsp salsa
- 120 ml (½ cup) sour cream
- 200 g (1 cup) guacamole - – shop-bought or homemade guacamole
- 2 limes - sliced into wedges
- Heat 2 tbsp of oil in a large frying pan. Add the lamb and sear on all sides.
- Add the adobo paste, chipotle paste, minced garlic, cumin, coriander, oregano, stock, salt, pepper, cloves and lime juice to the pan.
- Bring to the boil, then turn off the heat and transfer to a slow cooker. Cook on low for 8-9 hours or high for 6 hours (see tip below for cooking in the oven).
- Once cooked, remove the lamb from the slow cooker.
- Place on a board and shred the meat using two forks. Discard the bones.
- Heat the remaining 2 tbsp oil in a large frying pan over a high heat. Fry the shredded lamb for 3-4 minutes, turning every minute or so, until crisp and golden.
- Divide the meat between warmed tacos and drizzle on some of the sauce from the slow cooker.
- Top with red onion, fresh coriander, jalapenos, tomatoes, salsa, sour cream and guacamole.
- Serve with wedges of lime.
If you don't want to cook the lamb in a slow cooker, you can cook it in a heavy-based, oven-proof pan, with a lid, in the oven at 160C for 3 hours. Add an extra 180ml (¾ cup) of stock and check a few times during cooking to ensure the lamb doesn't cook dry. Add good splash of boiling water or stock if it starts to look too dry. Can I make it ahead? Yes - you can make up the carnitas right up to the point you shred the meat. Then cool, cover and refrigerate the lamb for up to two days.
Cool, cover and refrigerate the cooking liquid too. To reheat, fry the lamb in a large frying pan in two tbsp of oil until golden and piping hot throughout.
The cooking liquid can be reheated in a saucepan until piping hot. Can I freeze it? Yes. Make up the carnitas right up to the point you shred the meat. Then cool, cover and freeze.
Freeze the cooking liquid too (leave a little space in the container as the liquid will expand slightly upon freezing.
Defrost in the refrigerator overnight, then reheat as per the 'make it ahead' instructions above. How to scale down this recipe to serve fewer people If you want to scale down this recipe for 2-3 people (around 6 tacos), replace the lamb shoulder with a half shoulder joint or 2 lamb shanks. Reduce the all of the other ingredients by one quarter and cook in the same way. Nutritional Information is approximate, per serving, including the tacos and toppings (this whole recipe serves 10).
Some of the links in this post may be affiliate links – which means if you buy the product I get a small commission (at no extra cost to you). If you do buy, then thank you! That’s what helps us to keep Kitchen Sanctuary running. The nutritional information provided is approximate and can vary depending on several factors. For more information please see our Terms & Conditions.