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Lamb Shoulder in the Slow Cooker

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Easy to make lamb shoulder in the slow cooker, amazingly delicious, fall-off the bone meat served with a rich gravy.

The perfect fuss-free recipe for cooking lamb for Easter. The shoulder of lamb and a few veggies, a slow cooker and just forget about it. Use the time to cook the sides or to bake an Easter cake, go for a walk or whatever. The crock pot will take care of the main dish.

close up of a slow cooker shoulder of lamb served with potatoes.

I love lamb and I’ve been cooking it in lots of different ways over the years. From soups to stews or a Romanian-style roasted leg, goulash and so on, we’ve had it all. I can’t count how many times we’ve had the oven slow-cooked lamb or pulled lamb. But ever since buying the slow cooker, this has become my standard recipe for fall-off the bone lamb.

Why? Because the recipe is even easier than the previous one (which is already ridiculously simple). Just season the meat, chop some veggies and turn on the machine. Forget about it! You can’t undercook or overcook the meat, there is no need to check the internal temperature, nothing at all.

The meat just falls off the bone, you can shred it with the fork, there is no need for a knife. When I took the pictures for this post, I wanted to lift one piece of the shoulder by grabbing it by the bone. Well, I had the bone in the hand, but the meat was left in the pot. That tender!

Once the cooker has done its job all you have to do is to make the sauce. And that takes a couple of minutes as well. And it’s so delicious!

overhead picture of lamb roast being served on a wooden board.

What do you need for slow cooking lamb shoulder?

  • The meat: The shoulder is the perfect cut for slow cooking, it’s juicy and full of flavor. I had a 2 kg/ 4.4 lbs piece and I asked the butcher to cut it at the joint, the shoulder was too big for my cooker.If your piece is a little bigger or smaller it will not matter when it comes to the cooking time.
  • Vegetables: 2 carrots, one large onion, 4-5 garlic cloves.
  • Liquids: dry red wine and stock. If you happen to have lamb stock, do use it. Otherwise, chicken stock is fine as well.
  • Spices: salt, pepper, dried rosemary.

What could you add?

  • Fresh rosemary: I use it all the time when cooking this shredded lamb. However, I could not find fresh rosemary anywhere last time, so I had to replace with dried. Do use fresh though if you have it. Stuff bits of it together with the garlic into the slits you will cut into the meat.
  • Anchovies: they add an extra delicious saltiness. Cut it into tiny pieces and insert into the slits together with the garlic.
  • Other spices: for a Moroccan touch for instance, rub the meat with ras-el hanout, I did that a few times and we all loved it.
lamb shoulder, stock, wine, vegetables, spices arranged on the table.

How to roast lamb shoulder in the slow cooker?

  • Peel and cut the carrots and the onions into large pieces. Place in the crock pot. Add salt and pepper.
  • If the shoulder is not already divided at the joint and it does not fit in the slow cooker, you will have to divide it at the joint now.
  • Trim all excess fat from meat, I do trim a lot of it and I also remove the thick layer of fat on top. Really last time it was almost 1 cm/ 0.4 inches thick, I just cannot leave it there, the gravy drippings would be oily beyond rescue. And there is enough fat left on the meat to ensure a juicy roast even after removing that huge piece of skin.
  • Rub well with salt, pepper, and rosemary.
  • Make incisions into the lamb using a sharp thin knife. The incisions should be deep but take care not to pierce all the way through the meat.
  • Stuff the slits with slivers of garlic. If using rosemary or anchovies, cut them into tiny bits and use to fill the cavities as well.
  • Arrange the meat in the cooker over the veggies.
raw lamb shoulder preapared with garlic.
collage of two pictures of a slow cooker filled with raw vegetables and meat.
  • Pour the wine and the stock around the meat. Not on top, you don’t want to wash away the seasoning.
  • Turn on the slow cooker and cook for 5 hours on high and for 7-8 hours on low.
  • The cooking time depends on the type of pot you have. Mine has a ceramic pot and that will heat much slower than slow cookers with metal pots. Make sure to read the cooker’s instruction manual regarding the cooking times.
  • You will know that the lamb is ready when it will be incredibly soft, and you will be able to pull the meat apart easily with a fork.
  • Let the slow cooker lamb shoulder rest for while you make the gravy, covered loosely with foil.

Gravy:

  • Remove as much fat from the drippings as possible (See tips).
  • Pour the gravy into a saucepan and bring to a boil. (1)
  • In the meantime, mix the cornstarch with a few tablespoons cold water, enough to obtain a thick yet pourable paste.
  • Slowly whisk the slurry into the gravy. Let simmer for half a minute or so, then turn off the heat. (2)
  • Taste the gravy and add seasoning, if necessary. I rarely do, this kind of gravy is already rather well seasoned most of the time.
collage of two pictures showing lamb gravy made from drippings.

Tips

Do remove the excess fat from the raw meat or the gravy will be too greasy. To remove more fat from the gravy, place the drippings into a large shallow bowl and refrigerate for about 10-15 minutes, while the meat rests. It will be easier to remove the fat from the surface using a large flat spoon.

As mentioned above, read the slow cooker’s instruction manual regarding cooking times. Cookers with a ceramic pot might need longer than cookers with a metal pot.

Each time you open the pot to check the meat, add another 10-15 minutes to the cooking time.

fall-apart lamb roast on a wooden board.

Prepare in advance?

  • You can prepare the slow cooker lamb in the evening: excess fat removed, seasoned and stuffed with garlic and herbs. Cut the veggies into chunks. Cover and refrigerate.
  • Once ready to cook, all you must do is to transfer the food to the crock pot and to add the wine and the stock.

What to do with leftovers?

You will probably have some, the piece of meat is rather large. I often make leftover lamb ragu with pasta. You can also make burgers or sliders, stuff pita bread or wraps, make salads or add to soups or stews.

The leftovers keep well in the fridge for 2-3 days and they can be frozen in freezer bags or airtight containers for about 2 months.

lamb roast served with oven potatoes on a vintage platter.

What to serve with slow cooker lamb?

More lamb recipes:

close up of slow cooker lamb shredded with a fork.
overhead picture of lamb roast being served on a wooden board.

Lamb Shoulder in the Slow Cooker

Yield: 6
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 5 hours
Total Time: 5 hours 15 minutes

Easy to make lamb shoulder in the slow cooker, amazingly delicious, fall-off the bone meat served with a rich gravy.

Ingredients

  • Lamb:
  • 2 kg/ 4.4 lbs lamb shoulder
  • fine sea salt and ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 2 carrots
  • 1 large onion
  • 4-5 garlic cloves
  • a few sprigs rosemary or 3-4 anchovy fillets, optional (Note 1)
  • 250 ml/ 8.5 fl. oz/ 1 cup dry red wine
  • 300 ml/ 10 fl. oz/ 1 1/3 cups lamb or chicken stock
  • Gravy:
  • the pot drippings
  • 3 tablespoons corn starch
  • 3-4 tablespoons cold water
  • fine sea salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

Lamb:

  1. Peel and cut the carrots and the onions into chunks and place them in the crock pot. Add about ½ teaspoon fine sea salt and pepper.
  2. If the shoulder doesn’t fit in the slow cooker, you will have to divide it at the joint.
    Trim all excess fat from meat, I do trim a lot of it and I also remove the thick layer of fat on top. Rub well with salt, pepper and dried rosemary. If using fresh rosemary, leave out the dried one.
  3. Make deep slits into the lamb using a sharp thin knife, take care not to pierce all the way through the meat. Stuff the holes with slivers of garlic. If using rosemary or anchovies, cut them into tiny bits and use to fill the cavities as well.
  4. Arrange the meat in the cooker over the veggies. Pour the wine and the stock around the meat, but not on top of it.
  5. Cook for 5 hours on high and for 7-8 hours on low. (Note 2). You should be able to easily pull apart the meat with a fork.
  6. Let rest for a while you make the gravy, covered loosely with foil.



Gravy:

  1. Remove as much fat from the drippings as possible (See tips).
  2. Pour the gravy into a saucepan and bring to a gentle boil.
  3. Mix the cornstarch with a few tablespoons cold water, enough to obtain a thick yet pourable paste.
  4. Slowly whisk the slurry into the gravy. Let simmer for half a minute or so, then turn off the heat. Adjust the seasoning if necessary.

Notes

  1. Both optional, but delicious. If you decide to use them, cut them into tiny bits and press into the slits in the meat together with the garlic. If using fresh rosemary, leave out the dried one.
  2. The cooking time depends on the type of pot you have. Mine has a ceramic pot and that will heat much slower than slow cookers with metal pots. Make sure to read the cooker’s instruction manual regarding the cooking times.
  3. You will know that the lamb is ready when it will be very soft, and you will be able to pull the meat apart easily with a fork.
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1/6 of the dish
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 529Total Fat: 18gSaturated Fat: 6gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 9gCholesterol: 215mgSodium: 667mgCarbohydrates: 11gFiber: 1gSugar: 3gProtein: 69g

Nutritional information is not always accurate.

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