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Slow Cooked Lamb Shawarma

Slow Cooked Lamb Shawarma

This meltingly tender Slow Cooked Shawarma is the stuff food dreams are made of!! Slathered in a deceptively simple shawarma spice rub then slow cooked until fall apart, the flavour and fragrance of this lamb is absolutely heavenly. Make this Middle Eastern speciality with lamb shoulder or lamb leg. Finishing on the BBQ is optional - ideal for reheating if making ahead / summer BBQ's!


2kg / 4 lb lamb shoulder (bone in) or 1.7 kg / 3.5 lb butterflied lamb leg (Note 1)


3 garlic cloves , minced

1 tbsp ground coriander

1 tbsp ground cumin

1 tbsp ground cardamon

1 tsp cayenne pepper (1/2 tsp = not spicy)

2 tsp smoked paprika (ordinary also ok)

1 1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp black pepper

1/4 cup / 65 ml extra virgin olive oil

2 - 3 tbsp / 40 - 60 ml lemon juice


2 cups / 500 ml water


1. Preheat oven to 180C/350F (standard) or 160C/320F (fan forced / convection).

2. Place Paste ingredients in a bowl, starting with 2 tbsp lemon juice, and mix. It should be a wet paste that can be slathered onto the lamb (see video).

3. Place lamb in a large roasting pan. Slather all over with paste. Optional: Marinate 24 hours (not mandatory, I usually skip).

4. Position the lamb with the fat side up. Pour water around, cover tightly with foil.

5. Roast 3 hours, removing from the oven 2 - 3 times to spoon over pan juices (ie baste).

6. Remove foil. Meat should be tender - check with 2 forks.

7. Baste again, then return to oven for 30 minutes to get a nice crust.

8. Remove lamb from roasting pan - reserve juices.

1. Cool the lamb for 20 minutes or so (so it firms up slightly, easier to handle).

2. If you used shoulder, pull the meat off the bone in 4 or 5 chunks (see video).

3. Preheat BBQ to medium and oil if required.

4. Coat lamb in pan juices. Sear on both sides until deep golden and a crust forms. Dab with pan juices on both sides.


1. Slice or shred lamb, as desired. Drizzle with plenty of juices.

2. Make Lamb Shawarma wraps by serving with shredded lettuce, tomatoes and minted yoghurt (Note 3) or pile over Lemon Herbed Couscous (Note 4) and garnish with pomegranate seeds and parsley or chopped coriander/cilantro (if desired). Both pictured in post.

Recipe Notes:

1. Both lamb leg and shoulder are great for this recipe. Lamb shoulder is fattier than leg so it will be juicier, and because of this it will reheat better (ie still be really juicy when reheated). However, leg reheats great too, especially because there's plenty of pan juices to drizzle over the slice or shredded meat. If using leg, butterflied leg is ideal because the slather can be rubbed all over the meat. (Butterflied lamb leg is lamb leg with the bone removed.)

However, this can be made with bone in lamb leg but if you do so, do not skip the marinating time.

Marinating is optional for this recipe because the slow cooking time allows the spices to penetrate and also the pan juices drizzled on the lamb has such an intense flavour.

2. Finishing on the BBQ is optional. It creates an amazing crust, and is a great way to reheat lamb if you make ahead and in the spirit of gatherings!

3. Minted Yoghurt: Plain Greek yoghurt + finely chopped mint + lemon juice + olive oil + salt & pepper. Optional 1/2 garlic clove, minced. Set aside 20 minutes.

4. Lemon Herb Couscous: Combine 3/4 cup raisins or sultanas (or other dried fruit of choice) with 1.5 cups each couscous and hot boiled vegetable stock. Cover with cling wrap, leave for 10 minutes. Fluff with fork. Stir through lots of finely chopped parsley and mint, lemon zest, juice, salt, pepper and extra virgin olive oil to taste.

5. MAKE AHEAD: I like to use shoulder for making ahead because it reheats better simply because it has more fat marbled through the meat. Let it cool then refrigerate in the pan juices. Reheat in the oven covered at 160C/320F for around 20 minutes or microwave. Or bring to room temperature then BBQ on medium (per recipe) to reheat, basting as you go.

6. SERVINGS: A 2 kg / 4 lb shoulder will serve 5 hungry or 6 normal servings, the leg will serve 6 - 7 (it shrinks less).

7. SLOW COOKER: This would be terrific to do in a slow cooker as long as the lamb will fit (which mine would not!). Reduce water to 1 cup and slow cook for 10 hours on low, then transfer the lamb either to the oven (including juices in the slow cooker) or finish it on the BBQ. The Slow Cooker Roast Lamb Leg video shows how to do these steps (just the rub is different).

8. Nutrition per serving, assuming 6 servings and that all pan juices are consumed which they probably won't be, so the calories are higher than it should be (especially because there's lots of fat in the juices).

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