A slow-cooked lamb shoulder is an easy roast option because you need only a nice piece of lamb shoulder (bone-in or boneless), an oven and time. With that simple combo, you’ll end up with succulent, pull apart, tender lamb meat.

By choosing different herbs, spices or rubs to put on the lamb before you roast it, you’ll get delicious melt-in-your-mouth lamb to enjoy for a classic Kiwi lamb roast dinner, Greek-inspired lamb for summer salads, smoky pulled lamb for lamb burgers or tortillas and more.

If you have a covered roasting pan, great. Otherwise a regular roasting pan and some foil does the trick.

Slow Cooked Lamb Shoulder

Here’s the basic process for how to slow cook a lamb shoulder roast with the bone in. Scroll down for our great flavour options.
Serves 4

2kg approx. piece of bone-in lamb shoulder
2 T olive oil
Black pepper
1 C water or beef stock

  1. Get your lamb out of the fridge and any plastic packaging 30 to 60 minutes before you want to start. Leave it on a plate covered with a clean tea towel or fly net come up to room temperature.
  2. Heat your oven to 240°C (220°C fan). Rub the lamb shoulder all over with the olive oil and sprinkle with salt and cracked black pepper. Put the lamb in your roasting tray, skin side up, add the water and cover with the lid or two layers of foil tightly crimped around the tray edges.
  3. Turn the oven down to 170°C (150°C fan) and put the lamb in the centre of the oven and cook for 3.5 hours.
  4. After that time, remove the lid/foil, being careful of the steam. The lamb should be tender enough to part with two forks. If not, add more water to the pan if needed, recover, cook another half hour and check again.
  5. Transfer lamb from the roasting pan to a big plate or wooden board, cover loosely with foil and a couple of tea towels to leave rest for 20 minutes while you get everything else ready.
  6. Cut slices of meat or pull into chunks – and shred smaller if you want – to serve.

Note re cooking times and lamb weight

The cooking time for different size lamb shoulder roasts doesn’t change a great deal, because shoulder meat needs a minimum time to breakdown and get tender. A 1kg piece could be cooked in 2.75 to 3 hours. A big 3-4kg shoulder of lamb or hogget is more likely to take 4 to 5 hours. But you can’t really overcook it with this method so just give yourself enough time to get the meat nice and tender.


Flavour options

Classic lamb with onion, garlic and rosemary

Add to your ingredients: 1 onion, cut into thick slices; 3 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced; 8 sprigs rosemary

At step two, after you’ve oiled the lamb, use a thin, sharp knife to make 10-15 incisions into the roast, about 1-2cm deep, then stuff rosemary sprigs and garlic slivers into the holes. Then place the onion slices into the roasting pan so you can sit the lamb roast on top of them, before adding water, covering, roasting, etc.

Savoury BBQ flavours for pulled lamb
Great for stuffing flatbreads or burgers

Pick up one of these great Rum & Que rubs at the Butcher’s Block and Smokehouse when you get your lamb shoulder.

  • Ram Rod is specially designed for lamb, venison and game with a good hit of savoury spice and a blend of herbs.
  • Bull Dust is a great all-purpose rub for red meats. It has a savoury, gently peppery profile with garlic and warm spices.

At step one, when you’ve got the lamb out of the fridge, apply your chosen rub on both sides of the lamb roast and let the flavours develop while the lamb warms up. Roasting the lamb on the onion slices, as mentioned in the above flavour option, fits well with these flavours too.

Greek-inspired lemon, garlic and herb lamb

The day before you want to cook the lamb, make this chunky marinade in the food processor with 2 whole lemons, washed, seeded, and chopped; 2 sprigs fresh rosemary leaves (substitute fresh oregano leaves if you prefer); 5-6 garlic cloves, peeled; 1 T flaky salt; 0.5 t ground black pepper; 4-6 T olive oil. Blitz this all together in the processor to make a paste then spread it across the lamb shoulder, top and bottom, seal in a container or big plastic bag and pop in the fridge for 12-24 hours. Then bring to room temperature, and slow cook as above.

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