Full instructions for fail-proof roast lamb shoulder! The best boneless lamb shoulder roast recipe out there with tips and tricks to ensure success in the kitchen!
At first my kids made a disgusted face when they saw the very pink piece of meat. Even though they eat skirt steak like that without a problem, huh?! Once they tried the lamb they couldn’t stop eating. It was hard to save some for my husband.
The thing about big pieces of meat is that if cooked the wrong way they taste gross, however, if cooked the right way they become a glorious gourmet experience.
It’s scary to cook a big piece of meat. If done the wrong way, it’s ruined and it’s ruined all at once. There is no second try with a second piece of steak. This is why I wrote this post.
I want you to feel confident that you can do it. This is a failproof recipe for Roast Lamb Shoulder. There is nothing to loose.
Here are all the tips and tricks on how to achieve the BEST roast lamb shoulder:
Where to buy lamb shoulder
Like with any piece of meat, the quality is crucial for successful cooking. If you plan to buy your lamb shoulder at any regular supermarket store, be warned it might not turn out that delicious.
You don’t know how exactly the piece has been cut, how much cartilage they left in (probably a lot to increase weight and thus price) or what they fed that lamb.
If your regular supermarket leaves in tons of cartilage, which you have to tediously remove, you end up with much less meat and in the end didn’t even save that much money per pound of edible meat.
It’s best to go to local farms and buy directly from them or at least go to a small butcher that knows where his meat comes from and how it’s been raised. They will be able to guarantee high quality cuts which result in a high quality lamb shoulder roast.
How much lamb shoulder per person
Ok, so here I am suggesting a 2.5 lbs lamb shoulder for 4 people, that’s 10 oz per person. There is no exact amount though of course.
It all depends on what you will serve as a side dish, how many women/men will eat. How much the dinner guests usually eat.
As a rule of thumb you can calculate 10-11 oz per person in case served with a light side dish such as a salad and 7-8 oz per person in case served with side dishes high in carbohydrates such as potatoes that are very filling.
How long to roast lamb shoulder and at what temperature
I hate searing meat before putting in the oven because it’s such a mess. What I like to do is preheat the oven to much more than needed for roasting and then immediately reduce heat when I put the cut of meat into the oven.
In this case, for the lamb shoulder I preheated the oven to 450°F (230°C) and then immediately turned the heat down to 350°F (180°C).
In general, with a preheated oven to 450°F and then heat reduction to 350°F you can calculate 17-19 minutes per pound for your meat to be rare, 21-23 minutes per pound for your meat to be medium-rare, 25-27 minutes per pound for your meat to be meat to be medium and 28-30 minutes per pound for your meat to be done.
I never recommend to cook red meat to absolute doneness. It should always be at least medium to not be all dry.
To what internal temperature to roast lamb shoulder
The best way to roast your lamb to absolute perfection is to use a meat thermometer. With a meat thermometer you can check the internal temperature.
No need to cut into the meat and risking the juices run out instead of redistributing. The safe temperature to cook lamb is apparently 145F.
Now that I’ve told you what is “safe”, I’m “safe” to say I never cook it to that temperature. Way too done for me. I live a risky life filled with unsafe but deliciously juicy meat instead ;)
It is important to note that the temperature of big pieces of meat will rise another 5-ish degrees after taking out of the oven. The temperatures I am commenting below are for right-out-of-the-oven-measured temperatures.
To give you an idea about temperature and doneness I’ve roasted this piece of meat 3 times to different temperatures.
The lamb shoulder on the photos was cooked to 115F right out of the oven. The lamb shoulder in the recipe video was roasted to 125F right out of the oven. The third time I roasted it to 160 right out of the oven and it was completely done but not dry. If you like your meat done but still a bit juicy aim for 160F.
How to please dinner guests who all like their meat at different tastes of doneness
What I like to do when I cook roasts for several people with different meat doneness tastes, is to make it rare and then fry each individual slice in a cast iron skillet to the doneness each person desires .
That way everybody can eat their meat the way they like without much fuss. My kids and I like it pink, my husband likes it more rosy for example.
Since he doesn’t usually come home for dinnertime and eats dinner way later than us I can just fry it in the pan later when he comes home. Perfect, right?
Why not cut the shoulder and fry each “steak” individually right from the beginning? Because it would a) take forever and b) become all dry.
Lamb shoulder is a tough piece of meat and needs to be cooked over low heat for a long time instead of high heat for a short time.
Now let’s get to the recipe. I really hope you give this one a try. It is so so so easy to make and uuuuuuuh-maaaaaaay-zingggg!!!
Your butcher doesn’t have lamb shoulder? Ask for boneless pork shoulder instead ;)
Roast Lamb Shoulder
- 2.5 lbs lamb shoulder - (1200g, out of fridge at least 1 hour before starting to preheat oven!!)
- 2.5 oz butter - (70g, room temperature!!)
- 1 sprig rosemary
- zest of 1 lemon
- 2-3 cloves garlic
- sea salt
- Preheat oven to 450 F (230°C).
- Wash and destalk rosemary and chop finely.
- Wash and zest lemon.
- Peel and crush 3 cloves of garlic.
- With your fingers mix butter, rosemary, crushed garlic, lemon peel, salt and pepper together until very well combined.
- Cover the lamb shoulder with rosemary lemon butter all over. Make sure all sides are covered in butter. I used my hands. Then place it in a ovenproof dish.
- Place in the oven and reduce heat to 350 F (180°C) and roast for 50-75 minutes depending on desired doneness (more explanation in recipe post).
- Once roasted, take out of the oven and let it rest for at least 10 minutes without cutting into it. This is to ensure the meat sucks up all its released juices again.
I cooked a rolled boneless shoulder to 120F (using a meat thermometer)and it was way overcooked – no pink at all. I suspect that happened because, when I unwrapped and sliced it, there was an air gap in the centre (not rolled tightly enough). Nevertheless, the meat was tender and the herb butter gave it amazing flavour! Thank you for this recipe!
I’m actually a chef, I look around for different things to try…. I was very impressed with your article, I don’t make lamb often so I was looking for something to try. Most people overcook their meat, especially pork, the long-standing rules make it a chewy dry thing that most wouldn’t find appetizing there hasn’t been a case of pork-related trichinellosis since the ’60s… I’m a firm believer you should treat any beef/ pork / lamb products the same temperature wise… If you want rare pork it’s completely safe and delicious…. keep up the good work!
I tried this with bone-in lamb shoulder (about 3.5 pounds worth) and it came out great. I cooked it using your recipe, and used a cast iron dutch oven with the lid off for the ultimate seering on the outside of the meat, while still getting a nice medium rare inside. Checked the temp of the lamb after an hour, and popped it back in for another 20 minutes to account for the bone. Rib portions were closer to well done, but the main roast was medium rare. A nice treat!
Nowhere near done with your recommended time! I am sorry that I followed your recipe!
Lorena Grater says
I’m so sorry it didn’t turn out to your liking Richard. How much did your shoulder weigh? Does your oven heat correctly? (Do you have an oven thermometer)? How long did you roast it and what doneness were you hoping for?
Heres my tuppence ha’penny: use spring lamb as opposed to ‘lamb’. ‘Lamb’ can be 2 yrs old – getting on a bit!! Also, try getting your hands on connemara lamb – this is a mountain lamb thriving on herbs and limestone-native to the west of ireland. If you think new zealand/australian lamb is tasty, well its like elephant meat compared to connemara lamb. Put it on your bucket list before you pop your clogs, or better still, come on over and treat yourself and wash it down with a few pints of creamy guinness – bliss!!!
Just put that on my bucket list for next travel to Ireland :D Can’t wait!
Christine Vince says
Reading your recipe do you not need to cover the lamb to cook it?
I don’t, no. The fat on top keeps it moist and juicy and protected.
Interesting comments about imported vs. local lamb and I think I need to put this to the test. We have a bone-in shoulder from our butcher in the freezer and I will ask him where it comes from. I suspect Australia but need to confirm. Gonna go to our local weekly market next Tuesday and see if I can find a shoulder to cook alongside the one mentioned above. I know that this is locally raised young lamb so, if I can get a shoulder, it will be interesting to see how they differ when cooked the same way.
Oh, please, please come back and report how that experiment went. I’m super curious. I love experiments like this!
No shoulder at the market last Tuesday so I ordered one and picked it up this morning.
The rub is on the shoulder and it will go into
Time to put on the B-52s and start cookin’.
Update on last night’s dinner. I was a little surprised and very pleased that the lamb shoulder cooked as directed was tender, juicy and flavourful.
Next week I will try the larger ‘Australian’ lamb shoulder cooked the same way and report back.
Great! Thank you for your feedback :D
So, a few days ago, we cooked our larger Aussie lamb shoulder following the same procedure as before. And as before it was juicy and flavourful. However it was also quite a bit less tender. I think that ‘low and slow’ would have yielded a better outcome. I just picked up another local lamb shoulder that is from the same farm as the first one and will try it soon but cooked at a low temp for a longer time.
Brian Lewis says
Well we finally cooked our 3rd lamb shoulder (local lamb this time) low and slow and, as expected, it was delicious too. I will probably stay with low and slow cooking in the future when we have older and larger shoulder cuts to cook but otherwise there seems to be no need to go that way. Great recipe Lorena and thanks for sharing it.
My mother always made this, alittle different but always good and filling, especially when you have alot to feed! This is one of my favorite dishes.I love all your recipes. They are good and easy to make.
In your narrative you say to preheat the oven to 450, but in the recipe steps you say to preheat to 400. Which is the best way? I am looking forward to trying this recipe! It looks wonderful and I have never cooked lamb shoulder before.
Oh gosh, thank you for noticing!! It’s 450F (230C). I just corrected the mistake. You want to preheat to a super high temp and then immediately reduce. This helps to kind of “sear” the roast.
I’ve (tried) to cook lamb sucesfully a few times, this was the best advice, We had an 8lb rolled shoulder from a very good butcher, I seasoned like you said and followed the temperture advice, took it out at 120 2 hrs and let it rest for 30 mins, amazing, juicy medium to rare lovely flavor, guest loved it..thanks
Roger, I am so happy you found the recipe useful!! What a wonderful review :D
I followed the recipe to the dot (used local Quebec lamb) and my husband, who just loves lamb, couldn’t stop saying how absolutely delicious and tender it was. I cooked it to internal temperature 135 degrees, and it came out medium rare. Totally happy with this lovely recipe. Thanks for sharing it with us!