This Slow cooker lamb shoulder is an easy and delicious way to get your fix of takeout-style Chinese food! The sticky Asian lamb is cooked until tender in a fragrant sauce made with hoisin, soy sauce, rice wine, and spices and is served over steamed rice. It's the perfect meal for a busy weeknight!
🌟 Why this recipe works
A slow cooker is a set-it-and-forget-it appliance that can make even the toughest cuts of meat tender and delicious. Lamb shoulder is one of those tough cuts, but when cooked low and slow in the slow cooker, it becomes fall-apart tender and full of flavor.
You can find lamb shoulder at most butcher shops or grocery stores and is relatively cheap compared to other cuts of lamb.
This recipe for slow-cooked lamb shoulder is seasoned with a sweet Asian-inspired glaze with hoisin sauce, garlic, and soy sauce, then cooked until it's meltingly tender. The aroma of the lamb will have your whole house smelling amazing!
The flavors of the Asian spice rub infuse right the way through the meat, making every bite incredibly flavorful and delicious. The meat is so tender that it literally falls apart, and the sticky glaze makes it irresistible!
Lamb dinners are perfect for a Sunday roast or special celebrations, but this dish is easy enough to make for a weeknight meal. Serve it over steamed rice or noodles, and you've got a delicious lamb roast dinner the whole family will love.
🍽 Key ingredients
What makes this tender roast lamb special is the combination of Asian spices that infuse into the meat as it slow cooks. The spices are easy to find in the Asian aisle of most grocery stores.
Lamb - Ask your butcher for a thick cut of bone-in lamb shoulder from the top front leg, as it is lean and full of flavor. You could also use boneless lamb shoulder chops, which will still yield the same result.
Asian marinade - A mixture of brown sugar, minced garlic, hoisin sauce, soy sauce, and rice vinegar are the main ingredients for the sauce that infuses into the roast lamb shoulder a sweet sticky flavor.
Additional seasoning - You could also add cayenne pepper or chili powder for some extra heat if you prefer and toast some sesame seeds to sprinkle over the tender meat.
If you can't find lamb shoulder, you could use another cut of lamb such as leg or loin.
I chose an Asian inspired recipe because my husband and I both love Asian cuisine and he is familiar with it in case I needed help.
🔪 How to make Slow Cooked Asian Lamb
This slow cooker lamb shoulder is easy to make with 5 minutes prep time and 4 hours cooking time and only requires a few simple ingredients. Just follow the step-by-step instructions below to make the best lamb dinner EVER!
Mix the marinade ingredients in a small mixing bowl.
Set a skillet over medium-high heat and add a tablespoon of Asian stir-fry oil or olive oil.
Sear the lamb shoulder on all sides until evenly browned.
Switch on your slow cooker and add the browned lamb shoulder to it with any juices from the skillet. Pour the marinade over the lamb and set the slow cooker to high, cooking for 2 hours.
After 2 hours of slow cooking, flip the lamb, spoon over the cooking juices, and continue cooking it for a further 2 hours on high. Alternatively, you can slow cook lamb shoulder on low heat for 4 hours.
Remove the cooked lamb from the slow cooker and allow it to rest for 10 to 15 minutes before carving or tearing the cooked lamb roast with two forks.
Serve the slow-cooked lamb over rice topped with toasted sesame seeds, and spoon over the delicious cooking juices. ENJOY!
💭 Cooking tips
Searing the lamb
When searing the lamb, make sure that the skillet is very hot before adding the lamb shoulder so that the meat browns evenly.
If you want to add extra flavor to the lamb, you could marinate it overnight in the fridge in a Ziplock bag before cooking.
If the sauce is a little on the watery side, you can easily thicken it up in a pan over medium heat until it reduces. As it reduces, it will become thick and sticky.
Lamb recipes are pretty versatile with the seasonings you can add to them. Here are a few suggestions to give this lamb recipe a twist.
Cook lamb in red wine
Pour 1 cup of red wine over the lamb shoulder and sweet sauce. The wine will add a rich flavor to the juices and give you a dark-colored gravy.
Pour all the juices into a pan over medium heat and thicken the juices with 1 tablespoon of cornflower and 1 tablespoon of water. Then pour the gravy through a sieve into a gravy jug.
Add fresh rosemary
Stick a few sprigs of fresh rosemary into the lamb before placing it into the slow cooker. This will add a subtle herby flavor combined with the sweetness of the Asian spices.
Use Moroccan spices
If you want to give the lamb a Moroccan flavor, try adding 1 teaspoon of Ras el Hanout spice mix and 2 tablespoons of honey to the marinade. This will add savory flavors to the lamb shoulder.
🥗 What to serve with
Many different sides go well with this slow cooker lamb shoulder. Most commonly, mint sauce is a must-have item to accompany lamb recipes, but as this recipe already has a sticky sweet Asian sauce, it only requires some starchy side dishes and greens.
Here are a few of our favorites:
Cauliflower rice is a low-carb alternative to standard rice with additional flavor. This cauliflower rice recipe is easy to make and has lime, garlic, and cilantro mixed into the rice to add layers of flavor and pairs wonderfully with lamb.
A classic side dish that goes with any main course! This mashed potato recipe is fluffy, creamy, and has a hint of garlic. It's made with cream cheese, butter, and milk to make it extra decadent.
A healthy and flavorful side to any meal. You can use any garden veggies you have in your pantry to make steamed vegetables, and when mixed with the delicious Asian cooking juices, they taste even better.
🙋 Frequently asked questions
What cut is lamb shoulder?
Lamb shoulder is a prime cut for slow-roasting, as it has the thickest and most flavorful meat. The thick cut from the top front leg of the lamb has a lot of lean juicy meat with a bone and rich marbling to keep it juicy and delicious.
How do I know when the lamb is cooked?
The best way to check if the lamb is cooked is to use a digital meat thermometer. Stick it into the thickest part of the lamb, and if the internal temperature reaches 145 degrees Fahrenheit, it is cooked.
Is lamb shoulder or leg better for slow cooking?
Lamb shoulder is the best cut of meat to use for slow cooking as it has a high-fat content that helps keep the meat moist during the cooking process.
Do you have to brown lamb before slow cooking?
No, you don't have to brown lamb before slow cooking, but doing so adds extra layers of flavor to the dish.
🧊 Storing and ♨️ reheating
The leftover slow-cooker lamb shoulder can be easily stored once cooled and reheated another day.
Fridge - Place the leftover lamb shoulder in an airtight container with the Asian glaze and refrigerate it for up to 3 days. The glaze will keep the meat juicy and enhance its flavor of it, making it even more delicious.
Freezer - Place the slow-cooked lamb shoulder leftovers and glaze into a freezer-safe container or bag and freeze it for up to 3 months. When you're ready to eat it, thaw it overnight in the fridge.
Reheating - If you're reheating the lamb shoulder from frozen, then place it into a pot on the stove over medium heat and cook until warmed through. If you're reheating it from the fridge, then you can either cook it on the stove over medium heat or reheat it in the microwave.
👪 Serving size
This slow-cooker lamb shoulder recipe serves 4-6 people using the meat as a Sunday dinner with extra side dishes. If you're making a stacked burger with the meat, it makes 4 servings.
Slow-cooked lamb shoulder is a delicious and easy-to-make recipe that is perfect for any occasion. Whether you're looking for a Sunday dinner or a weekday meal, this recipe will fit the bill. The best part about it is that all you need is a slow cooker and some simple ingredients to create a flavor-packed dish.
Slow Cooker Sticky Asian Lamb
- 2-3 lb lamb shoulder
- ½ cup soy sauce
- ¼ cup hoisin sauce
- ¼ cup brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon Asian stir fry oil
- 4 cloves minced garlic
- ¼ cup rice wine vinegar
- teaspoon cayenne pepper - optional
- 1 tbs toasted sesame seeds - optional
- Mix the marinade ingredients in a small mixing bowl.
- Set a skillet over medium-high heat and add a tablespoon of Asian stir-fry oil or olive oil.
- Sear the lamb shoulder on all sides until evenly browned.
- Switch on your slow cooker and add the browned lamb shoulder to it with any juices from the skillet. Pour the marinade over the lamb and set the slow cooker to high, cooking for 2 hours.
- After 2 hours of slow cooking, flip the lamb, spoon over the cooking juices, and continue cooking it for a further 2 hours on high. Alternatively, you can slow cook lamb shoulder on low heat for 4 hours.
- Remove the cooked lamb from the slow cooker and allow it to rest for 10 to 15 minutes before carving or tearing the cooked lamb roast with two forks.
- Serve the slow-cooked lamb over rice topped with toasted sesame seeds, and spoon over the delicious cooking juices. ENJOY!
Robin (Masshole Mommy)
That sounds SO good. I have been craving Asian food this past week, too 😉
Audrey at Barking Mad!
OK so I have to admit, I don't really care for lamb, but I bet this would be good, really good with a pork shoulder too! If I can figure out how to use to the brand new pressure cooker I just bought, as a slow cooker (it has that option), I'm going to make this, this week!
Yum. Now this pregnant mama wants this in her belly right now! I have never tried lamb to be honest...but I should give it a try. I think I could get my family to eat this if I dont divulge the kind of meat they are eating!
I have never tried lamb. This looks delicious though. I love how it looks tender but juicy.
Have never cooked with lamb before, but this looks divine! Your pictures are fantastic and this recipe looks amazing. Will have to try it out!
That lamb looks so tender and delicious. Oh, I could eat a big plate of that right now - you've made me hungry!
Shop with Me Mama (Kim)
Well, first off I must say that you make that lamb look DELICIOUS!!! But, I just can't do lamb. I think of them too much as animals to love on!!!
I don't think I've ever had lamb. It looks perfect on this bed of rice though -- mouthwatering!
Woah! This looks amazing! I think I will need to try it with some paleo ingredients and see how it turns out! I love lamb
I'm not sure if I've ever bought lamb shoulder but this looks amazing. I need to try this recipe. By the way, that lamb looks soooo tender!
That looks delicious! I didn't know you could cook lamb in the slow cooker. Now that I know, I have to try this recipe!
I've never cooked with lamb but I'm not a big fan of that type of meat. Regardless, your recipe looks absolutely delicious. I'd definitely try it 🙂
Dude, I was reading through this thinking, "Damn, this looks amazing. I really wish it was from someone who understands gluten free." Then I got to the end and it was YOU. And like, I know this is your blog, but it was YOU. And that's SO exciting to me because my fam loves Asian food and this one? It's being made this week.
I'd love to try and make this Paleo. We went with the ingredients we knew would work - the hoisin sauce and the brown sugar because it was the first time I made anything like this. Next time I'm going with honey and maybe a homemade BBQ instead of the hoisin.
This looks absolutely amazing. I love the addition of cayenne and sesame seeds. Great pictures!!
I love the sauces used in Asian food and of course anything slow cooked usually turns out delicious! To be honest I have NEVER cooked with Lamb. I never see it around here and even when I go to the butchers he doesn't carry it without special ordering it because people rarely cook it around here. I have had lamb once and that was when I was a pre teen. I couldn't even tell you what it tasted like!
I have never eaten lamb, but I do love slow cooker meals. It's the perfect time of year of them.
Ashley - Embracing Homemaking
Wow, Kim! That looks delicious! I never thought I could cook lamb but that actually sounds doable. Thank you!
Sara P. (@SensiblySara)
So it looks delicious ... but I don't think I'd eat it. I am not a fan of lamb. I couldn't tell you WHY though, because I don't think I've ever tried it.
The sauce is somewhat similar to one I use to roast pork shoulder. It's the bomb.
I actually don't like lamp but I would do this with pork. In fact I did something similar the other night for tacos., It was so good.
Geez Kimberly, this looks delicious! I need to try this for New Years.
Sounds yummy! I love anything you can cook in a slow cooker.
Mmmm, that looks tasty. I'll be passing this along to the chef in our house....my hubby. He'll be making this for sure. Thank you for sharing.
Oh, YUM! I think I've been afraid to cook lamb, not sure why.
I have never had lamb, can you believe that?! That looks amazing though!
I have not, I guess I just never had it so didn't think about it. I would love to try though!
I absolutely LOVE lamb! It's been a favorite of mine since I was a child. We always serve it at Easter. Last month when I went home to France to celebrate my parents anniversary we had a "mechoui" -- a whole lamb roasted on a spit over a charcoal fire. It was out of this world! I can't wait to try this recipe. It sounds delicious!
You know I don't think I have ever had lamb, but I have heard it is delicious. This recipe looks very yummy and filling!
Currently in the slow cooker now and smelling Amazing 🙂
Im from Perth, Western Australia and lamb is probably on the menu weekly for most Aussies!
If I want to prep this before I go to work what would be the best temp to put it on since I won't be there for it to be on high for 2 hrs?
I would just put it on low for all day, maybe increase the liquid using water or a combo of water & soy since the water will dilute the sauce already in there, or increase all of the liquid ingredients slightly since you won't be able to baste it and don't use water.