Tender, juicy and picture perfect, Slow Cooker Lamb Shoulder is ready for your ordinary Sunday dinner or special holiday meal.
Boneless or bone-in lamb shoulder will both work for this recipe. My Slow Cooker Lamb Shoulder is unique in its flavorings. I wanted a roast that would look really pretty on the table for Easter. But my kids and I ate the lamb with mashed potatoes on a weeknight after I photographed it. We all loved it. So it’s perfect as an ordinary Sunday roast dinner as well.
What flavors pair well with lamb?
I looked here to find the answer. And here’s the combination I came up with for my cooking liquids and herbs for slow cooking my lamb shoulder:
- Apricot Nectar – I took a gamble on this instead of using wine or broth and it really paid off! It made a beautifully flavored gravy, with just a hint of sweetness to compliment the other earthy, salty, umami goodness going on.
- Butter and Flour – I’ve been using a microwave roux to thicken my slow cooker sauces and gravies and I am never looking back. It is perfection every time.
- Artichoke Hearts – I use one can to cook with the lamb shoulder and one can as garnish on the plate. The garnish is optional but it looks pretty for serving on your table.
- Capers – The salty, earthy flavors work really well with the lamb, apricot and everything else.
- Lemon Juice – Helps to tone down the sweetness of the apricot nectar and lemon pairs really well with lamb.
- Rosemary and Thyme
- Salt and Pepper
How to Slow Cook a Lamb Shoulder
I used a boneless lamb shoulder that I ordered online because I was unable to find one locally. I was told it wasn’t close enough to Easter-time and also supply chain issues.
First, carefully trim off any large areas of fat from the shoulder and discard. Drain a can of quartered artichoke hearts and place them in the bottom of the slow cooker insert. Place the lamb shoulder on top of the artichokes and season the shoulder with salt and pepper.
Make the microwave roux (find the recipe for that here). Whisk in the lemon juice and apricot nectar until smooth. Drain and rinse the capers. Stir the capers and dried thyme into the liquid. Pour the liquid evenly over the top of the shoulder. The liquid should come up more than halfway around the shoulder in the slow cooker insert.
Top the lamb with a few fresh slices of lemon and few sprigs of fresh rosemary. Cook the lamb on LOW heat for 8 – 10 hours, or until the meat is fall-apart tender.
Can you make Lamb Shoulder in advance?
I made my lamb one day in advance before photographing. My shoulder was pretty fatty, so I wanted to remove some of that fat from my gravy before serving. This is an optional step and dependent on your personal preference. I removed the meat, artichokes and capers into a bowl, covered it with plastic wrap and stored it in the refrigerator overnight.
Then I strained the cooking liquid (gravy) into a large measuring cup and also covered it with plastic wrap, storing it in the refrigerator overnight. The next day I was able to remove the hardened fat layer off the top of the gravy and discard. Then I microwaved the gravy until it was boiling, gave it a good stir and it was ready to go.
To reheat the meat and vegetables, place them in a pan and cover with foil. Then heat in an oven set to 300 degrees F for about 30 minutes, or until the meat is at least 120 degrees.
What to serve with Slow Cooker Lamb Shoulder
Orzo pasta goes well with lamb for entertaining. Cook some orzo according to package directions, drain it, then stir about a 1/2 cup of the lamb gravy into it. Sprinkle it with some feta cheese to serve. Pomegranate arils also make a great garnish for this dish when entertaining.
Alternatively, my kids and I enjoyed this lamb and its gravy over traditional mashed potatoes. Other options for sides and desserts include glazed carrots, peas, homemade dinner rolls, raspberry tart and blueberry pie.
- I use a 6-quart Crock-Pot to test all of my recipes.
- Find lamb shoulder here if you can’t source it locally.
- Pyrex glass measuring cups for making the roux, storing and reheating the gravy.
- Small whisk for making the gravy.
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Slow Cooker Lamb Shoulder
- slow cooker
- 1 lamb shoulder I used boneless
- 1 can quartered artichoke hearts drained
- 2 tbsp butter
- 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 3/4 cup apricot nectar
- 2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 3.5 oz capers drained and rinsed
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
- 2 slices fresh lemon
- First, carefully trim off any large areas of fat from the lamb shoulder and discard.
- Drain the can of quartered artichoke hearts and place them in the bottom of the slow cooker insert.
- Place the lamb shoulder on top of the artichokes and season the shoulder with the salt and pepper.
- In a 4-cup glass measuring cup, microwave the butter for about 50 seconds, or until melted.
- Whisk in the 2 tablespoons of flour. Microwave for one minute and whisk. Microwave again for one minute, whisk again. Then microwave for a third minute and whisk one final time. This is your roux to help thicken the cooking liquid. You don't want to microwave it for 3 minutes all at once because the butter and flour will burn.
- Into the microwave roux, whisk in the lemon juice and apricot nectar.
- Stir in the capers and thyme. Pour the liquid over the lamb shoulder and top the lamb with the lemon slices and rosemary.
- Cover and cook on LOW heat for 8 - 10 hours, or until the lamb is fall-apart tender. Serve immediately with mashed potatoes or orzo pasta.
- Follow the instructions in the post if you'd like to make this lamb shoulder one day in advance.