My slow cooker lamb shoulder is so tender and moist and the meat just falls off the bone. Prepare it in the morning and then leave it to cook for the rest of the day. Come evening time, you have melt in the mouth lamb and flavour packed potatoes ready to enjoy.
My family love lamb, but it can be an expensive meat so I prefer to use cheaper cuts of lamb and slow cook them. One of my favourite easy meal-in-one is these slow cooker Greek lamb shanks that use pasta that’s cooked in the slow cooker not only saving on washing up, but the pasta soaks up all those delicious lamb and Greek herb flavours. Instead of pasta, here I have used potatoes. With a larger cut of lamb like lamb shoulder or lamb leg, this slow cooked lamb is an easy no fuss meal to feed a crowd, or gathering such as Easter.
Why we love this recipe
- This recipe works with both lamb shoulder and lamb leg – I have tested it with both cuts and they are equally delicious!
- Cooking the potatoes with the lamb not only means they absorb all that delicious rich lamb flavour, but it really is a prepare and leave meal, and less washing up.
- The lamb is so beautifully soft and tender it falls from the bone (which made it very difficult to photo!)
- Whilst you can overcook lamb in a slow cooker (see below) it is pretty hard to do so, so if you are a little nervous about cooking lamb then using the slow cooker is a perfect method of doing it.
Ingredient notes and substitutions
Please scroll down to the recipe card at the end of the post for ingredient quantities.
- Lamb – lamb shoulder or lamb leg. Use bone in lamb for the best flavour.
- Onion – brown onion or use a red onion if you prefer.
- Potatoes – I have tested this recipe with both small potatoes, leaving them whole, or large potatoes cut into chunks (as in these images). Both work just as well.
- Olive oil
- Garlic – 2 cloves of garlic are sliced and poked into holes cut into the lamb, the other clove is crushed and mixed into the marinade.
- Lemon – both the lemon zest and lemon juice are used in the marinade.
- Rosemary – I have used fresh rosemary as I have it in the garden. You can use ½ – 1 teaspoon of dried rosemary instead if you prefer, and mix it into the marinade with the dried oregano.
- Dried oregano – the most popular herb in Greek cooking. If you can find Greek oregano, Rigani, use that for maximum flavour.
- Bay Leaf – if you don’t have a bay leaf, here are the best substitutions for bay leaves.
- Stock – chicken or vegetable stock. You can either use bought liquid stock, a stock cube, or homemade stock.
How to make slow cooked Greek lamb from scratch
Please scroll down to the recipe card at the end of the post for the full recipe.
- If using large potatoes, cut them into quarters or sixths. Peel the onions, then chop into quarters and seperate the layers. Place both the potatoes and onions into the slow cooker, spreading out in an even layer.
- Using a sharp knife, make indentations all over the lamb shoulder or lamb leg.
- Stuff each indentation with a slice of fresh garlic or small sprig of rosemary.
- In a small bowl mix the oil with crushed garlic, dried oregano, lemon juice and zest, and salt and pepper.
- Rub this marinade all over the lamb.
- Place the lamb in a hot frying pan and sear each side of the lamb leg / lamb shoulder until it is golden.
- Place the seared lamb on top of the potatoes and onions, pour over the stock and add the bay leaf. TIP: For maximum flavour, pour the stock into the frying pan you seared the lamb in and use a non stick spatula to get all those bits of toasted garlic, herbs and bits of lamb off the pan and into the stock.
- Place the lid on the slow cooker and cook on low for 8 hours, until the lamb is cooked and tender.
You can overcook lamb in a slow cooker, although it is harder to overcook it than if you are say, roasting the lamb. To prevent overcooking the lamb it is best to cook it in the slow cooker on a low heat over a period of about 8 hours.
For many dishes, especially lamb dishes such as this one, it is better to slow cook on a low heat as it brings out the flavours from the ingredients and gives any chewy gristle a chance to melt into the dish and add flavour to the dish rather than being hard to chew on.
My recipe tips
- Browning the lamb before adding to the slow cooker not only adds flavour, but helps with presentation as it stays a lovely golden colour.
- When browning the lamb you want the pan to be hot, but once you place the lamb in you may need to turn it down slightly otherwise it will burn the rosemary and garlic and become bitter.
- If using a boneless lamb shoulder, the lamb will take a little longer to cook (the bone helps conduct the heat making it cook quicker). Check at 8 hours but it may need a little longer.
If you serve a combination of sides, and serve slightly less meat you can make this stretch to feed 8-10 people.
Add a tin of chickpeas
If you add a drained tin of chickpeas 20-30 minutes before the end of cooking, this will help the lamb stretch a little further.
The beauty about this dish is that is only needs a few veggies on the side!
Here are some of my favourites
- Green beans, or green beans with feta and almonds.
- Steamed or mashed carrots, or these air fryer carrot fries.
- Steamed or roasted broccoli or cauliflower.
- If you are wanting to feed a crowd and have some different potato options on the side, try these crispy parmentier potatoes or these piped mashed potato swirls.
Slow cooker lamb is great to make ahead, although it does have a tendency to not be as attractive once it has cooled. If you want to make it ahead of time, you can skim of some of the fat before reheating: let the gravy and lamb cool, as it cools the fat will solidify on the top, making it easy to spoon / scoop off.
To store in the fridge: cool then store, covered, in the fridge for up to 3 days. Reheat on the stove top or in the microwave.
To freeze: cool the lamb shoulder or leg completely, then shred and mix with a little of the gravy (this will stop it from drying out). Place in a sealable container or bag and freeze for up to 3 months. I don’t recommend freezing the potatoes as I find they can become mushy on thawing.
Ideas for leftover lamb
As we are a smaller family, I find the most economical way for us to enjoy lamb is to cook a larger cheaper cut like the shoulder or leg, and then freeze some of the cooked lamb to enjoy later. Here are some of our favourite leftover lamb recipes:
- Crispy lamb wraps – leftover lamb is cooked until crispy and served with hoisin sauce, cucumber and spring onions in a wrap in this quick and easy meal.
- Leftover lamb shepherd’s pie – lamb and gravy is cooked in a rich gravy and topped with fluffy mashed potato.
- Leftover lamb pastitsio – layers of pasta, rich lamb and creamy bechamel make this comforting pasta bake.
- Greek leftover lamb wraps – leftover lamb is heated with Greek spices, then spooned into a pita with homemade tzatziki and tomato salad in this quick and easy recipe that is a useful family dinner for busy weeknights.
Why not try…
You may also like these other family friendly dinners:
Slow Cooker Lamb
- slow cooker
- large non stick frying pan
- 2kg (4-4.5 lb) Lamb Shoulder or Lamb Leg
- 600g (21 oz) potatoes, scrubbed, no need to peel.
- 1 onion
- 3 cloves garlic, 1 clove crushed and 2 cloves sliced
- 2 sprigs rosemary
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice (from approx ½ lemon)
- 1 tablespoon lemon zest (from approx ½ lemon)
- black pepper
- 150ml (⅔ c) stock
- 1 bay leaf
- Peel and quarter the onion then seperate each segment into layers and place in the bottom of the slow cooker.
- Slice the potatoes. If using large potatoes, cut into quarters or sixths, if using small or baby potatoes slice in half or leave whole. No need to peel them. Place into the slow cooker with the onion.
- Slice 2 of the cloves of garlic and break bits of rosemary off the sprigs.
- Using a sharp knife, make incisions all over the lamb shoulder or lamb leg, slicing deeply but not all the way through the meat.
- Stuff each hole with a slice of fresh garlic or small sprig of rosemary, until all the rosemary and garlic are used.
- In a small bowl mix the oil with the crushed garlic, dried oregano, lemon juice and zest, and salt and pepper.
- Rub this marinade all over the lamb.
- Place the lamb in a hot non stick pan over a medium heat and sear all over until golden brown. You don't want the pan to be super hot otherwise it will burn the rosemary and garlic and become bitter.
- Remove the pan from the heat and place the seared lamb on top of the potatoes and onions. Pour the stock into the frying pan and use a non stick spatula to loosen all those bits of toasted garlic, herbs and lamb that are stuck to the pan.
- Pour this over the lamb, potatoes and onions and add the bay leaf.
- Cover with the slow cooker lid and slow cook for 8 hours, until the lamb and potatoes are cooked and tender.
- Serve straight away.
- If there is a lot of thin gravy left in the slow cooker, use a ladle to scoop it out and place it in a saucepan. Simmer to reduce and thicken.
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