Elevate taco night with these easy beer braised lamb tacos! The meat is fall apart tender, melt in your mouth, and full of familiar, warm flavors from the Mexican-inspired seasoning.
Why do we love them so much?
- Hands off cooking — the lamb braises low and slow in an oven until impossibly tender.
- Once shredded, the lamb returns to the cooking liquid, keeping it juicy and moist!
- The spice blend! The combination of beer, chili powder, and cumin is a perfect pairing with the lamb. A touch of cinnamon adds warmth and sweetness.
- No need to add a dozen different taco toppings. Lamb tacos require little more than minced onion (a lot!), radishes, cotija, and cilantro!
You’ve never had tacos like these before!
Love lamb? Be sure to try our Braised Lamb Curry or this Lamb Shawarma recipe next!
Ingredients for Braised Lamb Tacos
For the braised lamb shanks:
- 4 lamb shanks (3-4 lbs)
- Canola or vegetable oil
- Kosher salt
- Chili powder
- Ground cinnamon
- Brown sugar
- Red wine vinegar
- Tomato paste
- Bay leaves
To serve tacos:
- Small corn or flour tortillas
- Cotija cheese
- Lime wedges, for serving
How To Make Braised Lamb Tacos
Mix the spices:
Combine chili powder, cumin, ground cinnamon, and brown sugar in a small bowl, then set aside.
Cook the lamb:
- Pat lamb shanks dry with a paper towel, then season on all sides generously with kosher salt.
- Heat canola or vegetable oil in a large dutch oven over medium-high heat. Sear lamb shanks on all sides, about 10 minutes total. Transfer to a plate.
- Deglaze the pot with beer, then add spices, red wine vinegar, and tomato paste. Use a wooden spoon to scrape up any brown bits on the bottom of the pan.
- Return lamb to the dutch oven, then add bay leaves, garlic, onion, and, orange. Pour water on top, then cover and cook until fall apart tender, about 3 – 3 ½ hours.
- Remove from oven and uncover. Allow braised lamb shanks to cool for about 15 minutes, then strain cooking liquid (reserving liquid, if desired) and shred lamb with fingers or two forks.
Place heaping spoonfuls of braised lamb on one or two stacked tortillas. Top generously with minced onion, thinly sliced radishes, cotija, and lots of cilantro. Serve with lime wedges.
Is This Similar to Lamb Barbacoa?
Braised lamb is similar in texture to lamb barbacoa, but they vary in cooking method and taste. Also, lamb barbacoa is traditionally made with lamb shoulder.
If you can’t find lamb shanks at your local market, boneless lamb shoulder is a great substitution. Bonus — the cooking method in this recipe remains the same! Shoulder requires the same low and slow love that lamb shanks need to become fork tender!
Ways To Serve Braised Lamb
- burrito bowls
- over salad
- on top of nachos
- as quesadilla filling
- in enchiladas
- on a torta (my husband’s favorite!)
- in flautas
- over rice
If you dream it, you can serve the shredded braised lamb in any way you like! We’re sticking with Mexican-inspired dishes that compliment the marinade and spices used to season the lamb.
Our Favorite Taco Toppings
The braised lamb is so flavorful that we don’t want to mask it by piling on toppings. We love to keep it simple: finely chopped onion, radishes, cotija, and cilantro. Don’t forget a few lime wedges on the side!
Other toppings great for tacos include:
- shredded cheese
- sour cream
- shredded lettuce
- sliced avocado
- hot sauce
Side Dishes That Go Well With Lamb Tacos
The classics: chips, guacamole, and an ice cold margarita!
If you love this braised lamb shank recipe, we think you’ll go crazy for our braised beef short ribs!
A squeeze of fresh lime and a hearty appetite are all you need to bring to the table when it’s lamb taco night!
If you make Braised Lamb Tacos, please let us know by leaving a review and rating below.
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For more dinner recipes, check out the following:
- Slow baked salmon
- Easy chicken milanese
- Lamb and mint ragu
- Pan seared scallops
- Baked chicken teriyaki
Beer Braised Lamb Tacos Recipe
For the lamb
- 4 lamb shanks about 3-4 lbs
- 3 Tbsp canola or vegetable oil
- 1 Tbsp kosher salt
- 2 Tbsp chili powder
- 1 Tbsp cumin
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp brown sugar
- 3 cups beer
- 2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
- 2 Tbsp tomato paste
- 6 cloves garlic peeled and smashed
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 large onion peeled and quartered
- 1 orange halved
- 1 cup water
- Small corn or flour tortillas
- 1 cup radishes thinly sliced
- 1 medium onion minced
- ½ cup cotija cheese
- Lime wedges for serving
Additional topping suggestions
- Hot sauce
To make the lamb
- Preheat oven to 325 F. Pat lamb shanks dry with a paper towel, then season on all sides with 1 Tbsp kosher salt.
- Combine 2 Tbsp chili powder, 1 Tbsp cumin, and 1 tsp cinnamon in a small bowl, then whisk to combine.
- Heat 3 Tbsp canola oil in a large dutch oven over medium-high heat. When hot, add lamb shanks and sear until browned on all sides, about 10 minutes total. Transfer lamb to a plate.
- Add 3 cups beer to the hot pan, then use a wooden spoon or spatula to scrape up any brown bits at the bottom. Add 2 Tbsp vinegar, 2 Tbsp tomato paste, and spice blend, then whisk to combine.
- Return seared lamb shanks to the pot, then add garlic, bay leaves, quartered onion, and halved orange. Pour 1 cup water on top.
- Cover and cook until meat is fork tender and falls off the bone, about 3 – 3 ½ hours. Uncover and allow lamb to rest about 15 minutes until cool enough to handle.
- Transfer lamb to a plate, then pull meat by shredding with two forks or using your hands. Discard fat and bones.
- Optional: strain braising liquid into a medium sauce pan. Cook over medium-high heat until reduced and thickened, about 10 minutes. Can serve on the side.
To assemble tacos
- Place a spoonful of lamb on top of two stacked tacos. Garnish with radishes, onion, cotija, and cilantro. Serve immediately with lime wedges (and reduced sauce, if using).
- If making ahead, store pulled lamb in an airtight container in cooking liquid to keep moist.
- Cooked lamb can be frozen for 3 months in a freezer safe container.
- If you can’t find lamb shanks readily available at your market, call ahead to order. Alternatively, boneless shoulder is a great substitution. Cooking instructions are the same; the shoulder will need about 3 hours at 325F to be fall apart tender.
Let us know your thoughts!