Smoked Lamb Barbacoa


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Mexican Influence!

I am a huge fan of Nicky from The Kitchen Sanctuary. She has some fantastic recipes on her website, many of which will work really well on the BBQ. When I saw the recipe for Lamb Barbacoa Carnitas, I knew I needed to give it a go on the smoker.

I did tweak the recipe slightly and changed the method to accommodate it being cooked on the smoker.

Preparation and Cook

The preparation started the night before with the Lamb being marinated overnight. I took the meat out of the fridge first thing in the morning and set up the smoker, getting it to sit at a temperature of 235°F.

Once the smoker was ready, I popped on a few cherry wood chunks and then added the Lamb. My general method is to cook cuts like this for around 3 hours aiming for an internal temperature of 160°F. I will then braise the meat for the remainder of the cook.

Whilst the Lamb was cooking, I prepared the braising liquid, and once ready removed the Lamb from the smoker and added it to the braising liquid. It then went back on the smoker covered, until the meat was at an internal temperature of 207°F.

Once ready, I removed it from the smoker and tightly wrapped it in foil, before making a sauce from the braising liquid.

Finally, I pulled the meat after around 30 minutes and served this on Tacos with some of the sauce drizzled over.

The Verdict

I really enjoyed this cook. I think it’s the whole process of marinating, smoking, braising, and then pulling the meat. It was great making the sauce from the braising liquid once the lamb had been removed.

The lamb pulled so easily and was tasty with a really nice heat. I do worry sometimes when using dried chillies that the heat will be too much but this was really spot on.

This Lamb Barbacoa recipe is another keeper!


Lamb Barbacoa

Tender slow-cooked smoked lamb shoulder, marinated in a barbacoa sauce, pulled and served on tacos and topped with pickles.
Servings 4
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 8 hours 30 minutes
Total Time 9 hours


  • 1 kg Bone-in Lamb Shoulder
  • 5 tbsp Chipotles in Adobo Sauce
  • 4 tbsp Olive Oil
  • 4 Garlic Cloves
  • 1 tbsp Cumin
  • 1 tsp Ground Coriander
  • 1 tbsp Oregano
  • 300 ml Vegetable Stock
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1 tsp Ground Black Pepper
  • 3 Cloves
  • 2 Limes Juiced
  • 2 Lime Rind
  • 3 Adobe Chillies (dried)


  • Start by making your marinade. Mix together 3 tbsp Chipotles in Adobo Sauce, Olive Oil, Cumin, Coriander, Oregano, Salt, and Pepper. Place the lamb on a tray and pour over the marinade. You will probably have to get your hands a little messy here and rub the marinade all over the lamb. Make sure you get a really covering. Place in the fridge overnight.
  • A couple of hours before you want to start cooking, remove the lamb from the fridge. This is to bring the meat up towards room temperature. Prep your smoker, aiming for a temperature of 235°F.
    Marinate Lamb Shoulder
  • Remove the lamb from the marinade and smoke until the internal temperature of the lamb hits 160°f (this will probably take 3-4 hours). You can take it off earlier to braise if you are under time pressures.
    Smoking Lamb Barbacoa
  • Whist the lamb is smoking make your braising liquid. Add the marinade to a saucepan and then add the Dried Chillis, Whole Cloves, Garlic, 2 Tbsp of the Chipotle in Adobo Paste, and 300ml of Vegetable Stock. Bring to a simmer and then turn down to a low heat.
  • Once you are ready to remove the lamb from the smoker, pour the braising liquid into a tray. Add the lamb and tightly cover with foil.
  • Place the lamb back on the smoke and cook until the internal temperature hits 207°f.
  • Remove from the smoker, and take the lamb out of the braising liquid. Tightly wrap in foil and allow the lamb to rest for at least 30 minutes. If I am early on my cook I will also place it in a coolbox.
  • After the lamb has rested carefully unwrap it (there will be lots of juices) and then pull the lamb. Add the lamb to your tacos and top with the pickles of your liking.
    Pulled Lamb


Tip: Rather than throwing the braising liquid I strained it through a sieve into a saucepan.  I then added 80g of brown sugar and 3 tbsp of Tomato Ketchup and cooked for around 45 minutes, reducing the liquid down into a lovely sauce which I topped the tacos with.
Making a BBQ Sauce
Course: Lunch, Main Course
Cuisine: Mexican
Keyword: Carnitas, Lamb, Lamb Barbacoa, Lamb Barbacoa Carnitas, Pulled Lamb, Smoked Lamb Shoulder

Join the Conversation

  1. did you mean for the lamb to reach 207 F (97 C)? That seems hot to my inexperienced eyes

    1. Hi Miles

      I did mean 207F. When slow cooking large cuts of meat you want to pull, the recommendation is to take it to point where the internal temperature is around 200F. I’ll typically see how the meat is doing when it gets to this point and decide if I am going to take it higher.



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