The best slow-roasted shoulder of lamb with harissa & garlic

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A recipe for slow-roasted shoulder of lamb with harissa & garlic

Slow roasting a shoulder of lamb with harissa and garlic is one of those incredibly easy and hands-off recipes where the oven does all the work. The lamb roasts slowly for four hours until it falls off the bone. The strained pan juices make a delicious jus to pour over the shredded meat.

The vegetables in the pan for slow-roasted shoulder of lamb with harissa & garlic recipe

This lamb with Middle Eastern flavours is the perfect centrepiece for a feast. I like to serve it with a few sides and tzatziki along with pita bread so people can build their own pockets. Family-style eating like this is the best way. 

Slow-roasted shoulder of lamb with harissa, garlic & rosemary recipe

For years I have been stuck making slow roasted shoulder of lamb with garlic and rosemary and it’s really a great recipe. However adding harissa, thyme, smoked paprika and stock to the pan along with some cut-up root red onions and garlic heads makes a delicious sauce that keeps the meat succulent. This is my new favourite roast shoulder of lamb recipe and I can’t wait to make it again.

I prefer to cook lamb shoulder on the bone. This is where all the flavour lies. You can use a deboned shoulder if you prefer but you may need to adjust the cooking time slightly.

Shredded slow-roasted shoulder of lamb with harissa, garlic & rosemary on a platter

How to make slow-roasted shoulder of lamb

I cook the lamb completely covered for a full four hours. There is no need to even check it. If you feel it needs any additional browning after this time, simply put it back into the oven uncovered for 5 – 10 minutes. I find to browns enough with this method and if your oven is hot enough.

Raw shoulder of lamb in a roasting pan for a slow roasted lamb recipe with harissa and garlic

While the lamb rests, strain the pan juices and vegetables through a fine sieve and then strain out the fat. I have included my foolproof and preferred method to skim lamb fat off roasting liquid. See below.

I developed this recipe for Backsberg Pumphouse Shiraz, a full-bodied wine aged for 12 months in predominantly French oak with 10% American oak driving the vanilla and coconut notes. This wine needed a flavour-packed and rich meat dish to pair with it.

TASTING NOTE: On the nose expect old spice, cedar and vanilla. Exhibiting a wonderful velvety depth, this is a powerhouse of a wine with flavours of ripeplum, black cherry, mulberry, liquorice and spiced fruit cake. A generous wine that just keeps giving. Pair with hearty stews and rich roasts.

Slow roasted shoulder of lamb with Backsberg Pumphouse Shiraz

What to serve with the slow-roasted shoulder of lamb?

I love to serve this with a herby cous cous salad with mint, olives and parsley. You can add any other roasted vegetables to the cous cous such as aubergine, zucchini, red onion and peppers.

A bowl of herby cous cous for slow-roasted shoulder of lamb with harissa & garlic recipe

Griddle-fried halves of zucchini are my favourite way to prepare this vegetable. I can honestly eat a whole tray. I season the zucchini halves with a salt mix and olive oil, and fry until golden on each side on a griddle pan. This can be served at room temperature.

Griddle fried zucchini with slow roasted lamb

Roast potatoes. or roast potato wedges are always a great accompaniment with lamb.

A mixed green salad or my spinach salad with grilled zucchini, peas, feta and mint is perfect here and delivers green vegetables and salad in one. Or a Lebanese fattoush salad would be lovely.

I love to make simple tzatziki with thick Greek yoghurt, mint and lemon, or my quick zucchini tzatziki to serve with this lamb along with homemade or store-bought pita bread.

Homemade pita bread for slow-roasted shoulder of lamb with harissa & garlic recipe

For more lamb recipes:

Instant Pot lamb shanks with red wine & rosemary

Classic Greek lamb moussaka with aubergines

Slow cooked Asian style lamb shanks

Lamb pie with mint & peas

Slow-roasted shoulder of lamb with harissa and garlic

A recipe for lamb roasted slowly for four hours in the oven until it falls off the bone. Flavoured with harissa paste, garlic and rosemary
Print Recipe
A recipe for slow-roasted shoulder of lamb with harissa & garlic
Prep Time:10 minutes
Cook Time:4 hours


  • 1 shoulder of lamb on the bone – approx. 2.5kg
  • 5 – 6 rosemary stalks
  • 6 – 8 sprigs of thyme
  • 3 – 4 bay leaves
  • 2 whole heads of garlic cut horizontally
  • 2 small red onion cut into wedges
  • 2 Tbs Olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp harissa paste
  • ½ tsp cumin
  • ½ tsp smoked paprika
  • 250 ml lamb stock made from 1 cube
  • Salt and pepper


  • Preheat the oven 250C/480F.
  • Place the most of the rosemary (reserve a couple of sprigs), thyme, bay leave, 3 of the garlic head halves and the red onion in the bottom of a high sided roasting dish. Drizzle with the olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
  • Place the lamb on top of the vegetables and herbs.
  • Prepare the lamb by slashing through any fat if there is, but not penetrating the meat.
  • Smear the harissa paste over the meat and sprinkle over the cumin and smoked paprika, season with salt and pepper.
  • Break up the remaining half head of garlic and bruise the cloves. Place them on top of the meat along with the remaining sprigs of rosemary
  • Place the remaining 2 sprigs of rosemary and the
  • Tightly seal the whole tray with heavy-duty aluminium foil ensuring it is completely sealed.
  • Place in the hot oven and cook for 10 minutes and then reduce the temperature to 180C and leave it to roast for 4 hours. Do not open and check the meat. Just leave it.
  • After 4 hours take out the oven and remove the lamb and set it aside covered in the foil for about 10 – 15 minutes.
  • Strain the pan juice and the roast garlic and herbs through a fine sieve into a wide vessel. Press down to release as much liquid as possible. Allow the fat and juices to settle/ separate into distinct layers.
  • Either use a fat separator to skim the fat off the top, alternatively, lay a sheet of paper towel over the top surface and lift it off with the fat. Repeat this another 4 – 5 more times until no more fat comes off and the towel starts soaking the pan juices.
  • Carve the meat, it falls off the bone. Shred the meat into large chunks. Reheat the pan juices in a microwave or on the stove top and pour this over the meat.


Any leftovers can be stored in a air tight container or frozen in ziploc bags for later use. 
Servings: 4

*This post is proudly sponsored by Backsberg Family Wines


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  1. Janene Melville says:

    5 stars
    My son made this lamb for Christmas and was an absolute winning dish.
    Your recipes are beyond delicious – thanks for sharing them with us.

  2. Thanks so much for the feedback Janene that made my day : – enjoy the rest of the festive season. Sam

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