7 cities. 54 chefs. It's Lamb Jam Restaurant Month.
Learn More
June 24, 2022

Mexican American Lamb Tacos with Tequila-Soaked Raisins and Pepitas


Recipe Provided By
"Shared Appetite"
Prep Time

30 min

Cook Time

3 hrs

Total Time

3 hrs 30 min


4 to 6

Mexican American Lamb Tacos with Tequila-Soaked Raisins and Pepitas in taco shells on a serving dish


  • 6 to 8 pound boneless American Lamb shoulder
  • 2 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon chile powder
  • 1 teaspoon ancho chile powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 medium red onion, chopped
  • Kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup golden raisins
  • 3 tablespoons tequila
  • Flour or corn tortillas
  • 1/2 cup pepitas
  • 2 avocados, chopped
  • Pickled onions
  • Mexican crema*
  • Hot sauce
  • 1 cup crumbled queso fresco
  • Cilantro, chopped, for garnish


Cut American Lamb shoulder in large pieces, approximately 4 to 5 inches, and remove excess fat. Season generously on all sides with salt. 

In a large heavy-bottom oven-safe pot or Dutch oven, heat oil over medium-high heat. Sear lamb shoulder on all sides until deep golden brown, approximately 2 to 4 minutes per side. If the pot is too small to cook all the lamb at once in a single layer, sear in batches. 

Remove browned lamb from the pot; use a paper towel to blot away excess grease. Pour in 1 cup water; use a wooden spoon to scrape up browned bits in the bottom of the pot. Stir in chile powder, ancho chile powder, cumin, garlic, bay leaves, onion and a big pinch of salt. Return all lamb to pot; add enough water so that it submerges two-thirds of the meat. 

Place uncovered pot in a 350°F oven for 2-1/2 to 3-1/2 hours; turn lamb a couple times throughout the braising process. Lamb is done when almost all liquid is evaporated and the meat literally falls apart when picked up with a fork. 

Remove bay leaves; discard. Remove meat to a large bowl; shred with two forks (or allow to cool a bit and shred with your fingers). Discard any visible big chunks of fat. 

If serving right away: Discard any excess braising liquid left in pot. Add shredded lamb back into pot; return to oven, turning shredded lamb occasionally, until crispy and caramelized as desired.

If making ahead: Let lamb cool completely; refrigerate for up to a few days. Alternatively, wrap shredded lamb in foil and seal in a zip-sealed bag; freeze for several weeks. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator; reheat at 350°F wrapped in foil placed on a baking sheet. Once lamb is heated through, unwrap foil and let lamb get crispy and caramelized, if desired. 

In a small mixing bowl, submerge raisins in tequila; let soak for approximately 2 hours. 

To serve: Warm tortillas. Top with shredded lamb, tequila soaked raisins, pepitas, avocado and pickled onions. Drizzle with crema and hot sauce, and garnish with queso fresco and cilantro.


Note: *If unable to find Mexican crema, combine 1/2 cup sour cream with 1/4 cup half and half. Season with salt; if too thick, thin with filtered water to desired consistency.

USDA recommends the following time and temperature parameters

Ground Lamb

Internal temperature of 160°F

All Other Cuts

Internal temperature of 145°F, with a 3 minute rest

Mexican American Lamb Tacos with Tequila-Soaked Raisins and Pepitas
thermometer timer illustration
Visit our Lamb Cooking Time & Temperature page for recipe inspiration and tips on preparing the perfect lamb.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *