Introduction: How to Smoke a Lamb Shoulder


In a previous Instructable, I showed you how to smoke a rack of pork side ribs. Continuing on with summer cooking, I am going to smoke a lamb shoulder. Typically the lamb is roasted but I thought I would give it a try smoking it. Lamb is an acquired taste for some, it has a gamey taste that is closer to wild meat than pork or beef. Smoking it helps take away or at least mask some of the gamey taste.

The smoking and gameyness of the lamb makes for a nice combination and complements well.

Step 1: Ingredients


  • Lamb shoulder
  • Ground black pepper
  • Salt
  • Onion powder
  • Garlic powder
  • Ground cumin
  • Dried Rosemary

Step 2: Video

Check out my full video of how to smoke a lamb shoulder, the written directions follow.

Step 3: Preparing the Lamb

The cut of lamb I'm cooking is a shoulder with part of the rib. There is a nice amount of fat and connective tissue that will breakdown over a long cook. The meat will stay moist and become tender.

I'm going to season it lightly with a rub and let the smoke add the majority of the flavor. The combination of smoke and the gameyness of lamb will go nicely together.

First rub some vegetable oil over the shoulder this will help the spices stick to the meat. Season with a generous amount of salt, lots of coarsely ground pepper, a small amount of onion powder, a small amount of garlic powder, a bit of ground cumin and some dried rosemary. If you have trouble spreading the spices evenly, you can rub it in with your hand. You don't have to be too picky with it.

Repeat on the other side of the shoulder.

If you like you can season ahead of time and let sit in the fridge overnight if you like, I'm going straight on the smoker tho.

Step 4: The Cook

I'm using a Weber Smoky Mountain smoker to do the first part of the cook. What I will do is smoke for 5-6 hours on the smoker and then finish the cook in an oven.

I use a charcoal chimney to start a bed of charcoal and bring the smoker up to 250-275F which is my go to temperature for smoking low and slow BBQ.

Once up to temperature, place the meat in the smoker.

The water pan in my the smoker protects the meat, acts as a moderator to keep temperatures steady and adds humidity. But this will depending on the type of smoker you use, you may not opt to have a water pan.

Let it smoke for 2 hours. Maintain the temp at 250F.

For the fuel and to create the smoke that will flavor the meat I switch to burning wood, the charcoal is just to get the initial fire going. I stoke the fire every 20 to 30 minutes with small pieces of wood. The wood I'm using is apple, I like it because it imparts a nice medium smoky flavor to the meat, nothing overpowering.

In my smoker I keep the door open slightly as I find the vents are inadequate and don't provide enough airflow. If the wood smolders you get lots of smoke but also all kinds of creosote build up which does not make good BBQ.

You want the smoke to be light and bluish white coming from the stack or vents, if you get brown or really dark smoke, open up the vents and get lots of airflow going. Reduce the amount of coals and fuel if the temperature gets too hot. You might need to stoke the fire more often if reduce the amount of coals but a clean fire will make the best BBQ.

After two hours the meat should be starting to get some color on the it, keep stoking the fire and maintain temperature for another 2 hours.

After another 2 hours, the meat should have nice brown coloring, give the meat spray of water and let smoke for another hour.

After a total of 5 hours, the meat should be ready for wrapping in foil. If there isn't enough color on it, let it cook longer, it all depends on your equipment and the temperature. Learn and get to know your smoker.

Get a few large sheets of aluminum foil and wrap the shoulder tightly, give it a spray of water before wrapping.

I'm going to finish the cook in the oven as once wrapped the meat won't take on any more smoke so it's just easier to stick it in the oven for another 5 hours at 275F. I've increased the temperature to speed up the cook a bit. But by all means you can place back on the smoker and cook for another 5 hours as well.

Note that that the final amount of time of the cook might be more or less than what I am showing as your cooker will be different.

Step 5: Pulling and Serving

After 10 hours of cooking low and slow, the meat should be super tender. You can take the temperature of the meat to determine if the meat is done but really I just know from experience that it takes about 10 hours. I just check it and if it's not tender enough I cooking it longer at 30 minute intervals.

Remember that if you are looking you ain't cooking, so don't check it too often. Every time you check the meat, you are losing heat and it take extra time to get the temperature of the smoker or oven back up to cooking temperature. This can really can be an issue if it's cold out.

A bunch of the fat will have rendered out and what is left is moist and tender meat. You should let the meat rest and keep it wrapped for 30 minutes to let it cool slightly before pull the meat apart or else it will dry out very quickly if the meat is left spread out.

You can see how there is a really nice pink smoke ring and it should have a nice smoky aroma. The combination of the light smoke and gameyness of lamb goes really well together. It doesn't need any BBQ sauce and if done right the meat will be tender and juicy.

So that's is how I smoke a lamb shoulder, hope you enjoyed this and go give it a try.