This Slow Cooker Lamb Shoulder is seasoned with fresh rosemary, thyme, and garlic and slow cooked in tomatoes to make a lamb shoulder roast that boasts big flavor! It's tender, juicy, and a meal made to impress.
Slow cooker lamb shoulder is a wonderful and elegant alternative to a classic Sunday pot roast. Lamb has been a big part of my holiday and special occasion meals. Stuffed grape leaves cooked in a lemony broth and little lamb meatballs simmered in a tomato sauce with vegetables were always a must- and you should try them too!
This slow cooker lamb shoulder recipe is a truly simple recipe, with just a few wholesome ingredients and minimal preparation. It's almost a dump and go meal, with just a little bit of meat searing prior to adding everything into the crockpot and going about your business!
There is no broth added to this recipe, as the tomato juices and those given off from the lamb bones are enough to pack in big flavor. You can choose to make it a full one-pot meal by adding carrots and potatoes, or simply cook just the lamb shoulder.
As a one-pot meal, it's wonderful on special occasions, Sunday family dinners, or formal dinner parties.
Ingredients and Substitutions
- Lamb shoulder: this is a tender cut of lamb meat perfect for slow cooking and roasting. Bone-in lamb shoulder will give the best flavor and more tender meat, but boneless lamb shoulder works too. A whole roast may be difficult to find, so using lamb shoulder chops is my preferred way to make this.
- Canned diced tomatoes: unseasoned
- Fresh rosemary and thyme sprigs: remove the leaves for use and discard the stems. Can substitute with dried herbs with a ratio of 1 sprig to approximately ¼ teaspoon of dried herb.
- Garlic: fresh garlic cloves give better flavor than minced garlic in a jar.
- Carrots and potatoes (optional): you don't need to add vegetables unless you'd like to make this a one-pot meal.
- Salt and pepper
STEP 1: Add the olive oil to a large frying pan and sear the lamb shoulder over medium heat for 2 minutes on each side. If you want to skip this step, you can but searing locks in the juices and make a more tender outcome.
STEP 2: Pour the canned tomatoes and their juices into the slow cooker. Add the seared lamb and sprinkle the black pepper, salt, rosemary leaves, thyme leaves, and minced garlic on top.
STEP 3 (OPTIONAL): Cut the potatoes in half and peel and halve the carrots. Put into the slow cooker on top of the lamb.
STEP 4: Cover and set to LOW for 4 hours or HIGH for 2 hours. When finished, submerged the carrots and potatoes into the broth and cover for 30 more minutes on the KEEP WARM setting.
Tips For Cooking Slow Cooker Lamb Shoulder
- This recipe works best with bone-in lamb shoulder. Lamb shoulder chops are generally easier to find than lamb shoulder roasts. Either works!
- If you only have boneless lamb shoulder, you can use it but add a little more garlic and herbs to increase the flavor you lose from the bones.
- Make it a one pot dinner by adding potatoes and carrots! As written, this recipe will feed 2-4 adults, depending on how much they eat. Feel free to increase ingredients as needed.
- Opening the lid before the time is up extends the cook time, so don't be tempted to do so before the time is done! If you do, add 20 minutes for each time it was opened.
- Lamb bones can be reserved to make bone broth. Freeze cleaned bones until ready to use.
Lamb is best when cooked low and slow, whether you are cooking it in a slow cooker or the oven. A long cook time at a low temperature creates juicy and tender lamb roasts. I prefer to cook lamb in my slow cooker on low for this reason but you can use both the LOW and HIGH settings. This recipe takes just 4 hours on low, but if you'd like it done quicker use the high setting for 2 hours.
Lamb is best when it's cooked to medium-rare or rare, as it becomes tough when overcooked. Of course, this depends on your preference for doneness. You'll know it's cooked when the internal temperature reaches between 130 and 160 degrees Fahrenheit.
Yes! This is a great recipe to prepare ahead of time. As the meat, potatoes, carrots, herbs, tomatoes and juices sit, the flavors meld together even more! Prepare lamb shoulder up to 2 days in advance for optimal flavor. It can be reheated in the oven, microwave, or slow cooker.
Technically, yes. However, searing the meat prior to slow cooking locks in the juices and makes for a more tender and juicy outcome.
Slow Cooker Lamb Shoulder
- Add olive oil to a large frying pan and sear the lamb shoulder over medium heat for 2 minutes on each side.
- Pour the canned tomatoes and their juices into the slow cooker. Add the seared lamb and sprinkle the black pepper, salt, rosemary leaves, thyme leaves, and minced garlic on top.
- Optional: Cut the potatoes in half and peel and halve the carrots. Put into the slow cooker on top of the lamb.
- Cover and set to LOW for 4 hours or HIGH for 2 hours. When finished, submerged the carrots and potatoes into the broth and cover for 30 more minutes on the KEEP WARM setting.