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June 26, 2023

Smoked Lamb Tostadas 


Recipe Provided By
"Salt & Pepper Skillet"
Prep Time

20 min

Cook Time


Total Time




smooked lamb shoulder tostadas with veggies, crema, and limes


  • 3 pounds boneless American lamb shoulder
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • Wood chips or pellets (apple, cherry or oak)

Pickled Veggies

  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup vinegar (white wine, cider vinegar or rice vinegar)
  • 2 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 carrot, (julienned)
  • 1 bell pepper, (sliced)
  • 1 small red onion, (peeled and sliced thin)
  • Optional: peppercorns, garlic cloves, fresh herbs, mustard seed

For serving

  • Corn tostada shells (pre-made or make your own)
  • Mexican crema
  • Fresh cilantro
  • Lime wedges


Prep and season the lamb shoulder (the day before cooking if possible). Trim off excess fat, score the fat cap in a cross-hatch pattern, and tightly tie the boneless shoulder together with butcher twine. Drizzle on some oil, then liberally season the entire surface of the meat with kosher salt. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Make the pickled veggies (8 to 24 hours ahead of time)

Make the pickle brine by combining the water, vinegar, salt and sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat. Whisk to dissolve, then remove from the heat.

Place the veggies in mason jars. Carefully pour the pickling liquid into the jars, completely submerging the vegetables. Let them sit out on the counter for 1 hour to cool, then cover tightly and place in the refrigerator for 8 hours to pickle, or longer for more flavor.

To Smoke the Lamb

Remove the lamb shoulder from the refrigerator 1 hour before smoking. Insert a remote probe thermometer into the thickest part of the meat.

Set up your smoker according to the manufacturer's instructions for indirect heat cooking and preheat to 225 degrees F.

Place the lamb shoulder fat side down in the smoker and close the lid.

Begin checking the temperature after 3 hours. When it reaches 165 degrees F, wrap tightly with aluminum foil or butcher paper, after about 4 to 6 hours of cooking. Then place it back in the smoker (or in the oven).

For faster cooking, you can increase the temperature to 275 to 300 degrees F to finish cooking more quickly once it is wrapped.

For dice-able texture, remove from the heat between 190 to 195 degrees F. For shred-able texture, remove at 203 to 205 degrees F.

Rest for 30 minutes to 1 hour, then dice or shred.

Crisp up the lamb: Heat a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat and crisp up the pulled or diced lamb shoulder for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring a few times.

Assemble the tostadas with your sauce and toppings. Enjoy!


The lamb can be made the day before. Just heat up in a skillet for the tostadas.

Place a water drip pan in the smoker to create a more humid environment, which helps attract smoke and keep the meat juicy.

Spritz if you wish. Use a 50:50 ratio of water and cider vinegar (or apple cider) in a spray bottle and spray it on the lamb shoulder a few times after the first two hours to help keep it moist and attract smoke.

Cook time: figure 2 to 2 1/2 hours per pound, but it's always best to cook to temperature rather than time. *

*The USDA recommends a minimum internal temperature of 145 °F (62.8 °C) with a 3-minute rest.

The pickled veggies will last for 2 weeks in the fridge

Additional topping ideas: cotija cheese, avocado, hot sauce, grilled corn.

cutting board with ingredients. tortillas, pickled veggies, cilantro, crema, and whole lamb shoulder
three smoked lamb shoulder tostadas with toppings
thermometer timer illustration
Visit our Lamb Cooking Time & Temperature page for recipe inspiration and tips on preparing the perfect lamb.


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