Lebanese Lamb Tacos: Tacos Arabes

Lebanese Lamb Tacos: Tacos Arabes

There is nothing more satisfying than slow roasted meat in a pocket of bread with toppings. Yes, I’m taking about the taco! These Lebanese Lamb Tacos, or Tacos Arabes are just what you need in your life. Fall apart American lamb shoulder cooked for hours to create the most succulent meat and an undeniable filled taco.

This post is sponsored by the American Lamb Board, all opinions and ideas are my own.

The History: Lebanese Influence

The taco, while we typically associate with Mexican cuisine, was in fact influenced by the Lebanese. Beginning in the late 19th century, mostly Christian Lebanese began immigrating to Mexico fleeing turmoil as the Ottoman Empire began crumbling. As this large wave of immigrants moved to into Mexico, their culture and food followed. Spices and food techniques were something they brought with them to this new land. They began making shawarma and called them tacos arabes, translated to Arab tacos. Flour tortilla or pita breadpan árabe – was used for these tacos. They began with lamb, as it is more customary in Lebanon but wasn’t something that was common in Mexico and instead began serving pork – tacos al pastor which translates to “in the style of the shepherd” – another nod to Arabs. Traditionally, and till this day, the meat is cooked on a vertical spit. Tacos al pastor is one of the most popular tacos served throughout Mexico. You can still find many Lebanese in areas throughout Mexico serving tacos al pastor or barbacoa tacos which are traditionally made with lamb. In a nod to traditional Arab cuisine, today we’ll be making Tacos ArabesArab Tacos with lamb!

Lamb Taco

What’s In a Taco?

The taco is a simple dish – some form of bread, in our case we’ll be using pita, stuffed with meat and some accompaniments to bring out the flavor. Tacos are extremely versatile but for me, the best tacos have the fewest ingredients and pack the most flavor.

American Lamb

We use a lot of lamb in Lebanese cooking, it’s a traditional meat and has such wonderful flavor. I always choose American Lamb for my family and for all the dishes I cook. By choosing American Lamb I can be sure I’m supporting local farmers and ranchers – especially in current times. Not only that, but I want to ensure my meat is fresh – not traveling thousands of miles before it hits my table. There are more than 80,000 farmers and ranchers in the United States caring for over 6 million sheep, I can be sure to always find fresh lamb near me. You can use this locator to find out where you can buy American Lamb in your state.

Shredded Lamb

Lamb Shoulder

One of my favorite cuts of meat is the shank, you’ll see many braised dishes here on the blog using braised lamb shanks. But today, we’re going to slow roast a boneless lamb shoulder. I’m combined braising and roasting for this dish, typically roasting involved keeping your meat uncovered while cooking. I prefer to sear and then cover with a bit of liquid – slightly less than traditional braising. Slow roasting lamb shoulder is an amazing way to create depth of flavor and that perfect succulent meat perfect for our tacos. While roasting the shoulder gives us slightly larger and firmer cuts vs braising lamb shanks. Meat that can hold up to pita and toppings.

Here is a basic guide for roasting lamb shoulder. Checking on your lamb is the best way to get the right texture and ensure you’re taco ready. Today I used a 3.5 lb boneless lamb shoulder and cooked it for 3 hours for fall apart goodness.

Cooking temperatures for boneless lamb shoulder

Ingredients

Tacos should be simple and allow each flavor to shine through, most of our seasoning is going into our lamb and minimal toppings which can be adjusted to your flavors. The best part of this dish is it’s a perfect meal to cook on a Sunday and enjoy the leftovers all week. The hardest part is waiting for your lamb to cook, the rest is easy!

Boneless Lamb Shoulder – As I mentioned above we’re going to slow roast an American lamb shoulder. Such a delicious cut of meat that will be studded with garlic and spices for a long roast.

Garlic – Garlic is one of my best weapons! Which you know if you make my famous toum. Similar to many roasted pork dishes, we’re going to stud whole garlic throughout the lamb so they slowly cook and melt into our lamb.

Spices – I love to create my own spice blends, but you will definitely see some common spices throughout my dishes. Today we’re going to use: salt, pepper, paprika, mixed spices (or 7 spice), sumac, garlic powder, toum (or olive oil) and onions.

Liquid – While we are not doing a traditional roasted lamb, but rather a hybrid roast/braise instead, we’ll be adding a bit of liquid to our heavy-bottomed pot, I love using an enamel coated cast iron pot for dishes like this. You can also use a roasting pan and cover with foil. We’re going to add some wine to the bottom to ensure less smoking as the lamb gets hot and roasts. You can always sub water or a stock of your choice if you prefer.

Slaw – Love this slaw so much, it’s so easy and packs so much flavor! Using cabbage, sliced fresh beets (uncooked), yogurt (or sour cream), garlic, salt, pomegranate molasses and lemon this slaw will bring our tacos to life!

Pita – If we’re making traditional Tacos Arabes – pita is our avenue!! You can certainly make your own fresh pita which is AMAZING but a store bought variety that you like will work perfectly, just heat them up before serving. While I prefer a thinner pita, for these tacos, a thicker pita is great to hold everything together. Many people use naan with great success as an alternative.

Cheese – In many traditional Mexican tacos you’ll find any of these following cheeses: Queso fresco, Queso añejo, Cotija, Queso de Oaxaca, Panela, Crema, Manchego. Any of those delightful cheese would work, I’ve used feta to top ours which is tangy and bold which goes very well with our lamb.

Lebanese Lamb Tacos: Tacos Arabes

Before preparing your lamb, be sure to remove from the fridge about 30 minutes ahead of time to allow it to come to room temperature. This allows the meat to cook more evenly.

Cooking Lamb

  1. Begin by preheating your oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Next, begin preparing your boneless American boneless lamb. I prefer working on a large sheet pan to prep.
  3. Mix your spices together in a small bowl: salt, pepper, paprika, mixed spices (or 7 spices), sumac and garlic powder. Combine.
  4. Peel 10 cloves of garlic, if some are larger pieces, you can cut in half.
  5. With your lamb still wrapped in twice or netting, begin making small slits in and then place a garlic clove inside. Continue on all sides of your lamb until you’ve used all your garlic cloves. Use or more or less to your taste. Remember, the garlic will melt and become sweet when roasted, so no heavy garlic flavor.
  6. Once you’ve inserted your garlic, coat your lamb with toum or olive oil – I of course prefer toum as it lends a bit of extra flavor + oil.
  7. Next, rub your spice mixture all over your lamb sides and both front and back until fully coated. Set aside.
  8. In the bottom of a heavy-bottomed dutch oven (or oven safe pot) add your remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil and begin sautéing your onions over medium-high heat. Cook for 4-5 minutes until translucent then remove from pot and set aside.
  9. Turn your burner to high and place your lamb in the same pot and begin searing on one side for 3-4 minutes, then flip and continue to sear on all sides until golden brown all around.
  10. Add your onions back to the pot as well as your wine or other cooking liquid, lemon juice and another dollop of toum if you’d like.
  11. Cover and place in preheated oven. Cook for 3 hours, begin checking at the 2.5 hour mark. When you remove from oven, you want the lamb to be fork tender, meaning when you take a fork to it, it will begin to fall apart. If it’s still tough – cover and add additional time in 30 minute increments.
  12. One your lamb is cooked, remove from cooking liquid and allow to rest 15 minutes.
  13. Place your cooking liquid to the side and allow to cool, once cool – the fat (lamb has a lot of rendered fat) will surface to the top and you can skim away and compost or place in garbage – do not put down sink!
  14. Reserve the remaining liquid/sauce + onions and mix with your lamb.

Cabbage + Beet Slaw

You can make this slaw ahead of time and pop into the fridge, a great time is when you’re lamb is cooking!

  1. Make your dressing by smashing your garlic cloves with a mortar and pestle. Next add your salt, pomegranate molasses, lemon juice and salt.
  2. Whisk until smooth.
  3. Add your shredded cabbage and sliced beets to the bowl. Begin working into the dressing.
  4. Toss until fully combined.

Assembling

  1. To assemble your tacos, heat your pita slightly over an open flame on stovetop or for just a few seconds in the oven or microwave.
  2. Add in your sliced lamb pieces, top with cabbage slaw then finish with feta cheese and scallions. Enjoy!

Tips for making Lebanese Lamb Tacos

Quality lamb – ensuring you have the best quality American lamb makes a world of difference in this dish for both flavor and cooking.

Make ahead – While many of us are home right now, making a dish like this isn’t so out of our reach. Prep in the morning and allow to cook all afternoon for a dinner ready to go. The slaw can be made a day ahead of time and enhances flavor with time.

Alternative cuts of lamb – If you are choosing a different cut of lamb to cook, please reference the cooking guide on the American Lamb page.

Sauce – I find it extra special to take my lamb apart once cooked then combine with the sauce from cooking. It adds a depth of flavor that is so good.

Lamb Tacos

Lamb Lovers Month

Did you know February is Lamb Lover’s Month? To celebrate, the American Lamb Board is hosting a fun giveaway on both their Facebook and Instagram page. Tag a friend and comment on the giveaway posts to be entered to win great prizes! From dutch ovens (which are helpful in this recipe) to wool blankets and more! Head to their social pages to enter each week!

Click to head to American Lamb’s Instagram page for a change to win some amazing prizes this month!!!

If you make this these Lebanese Lamb Tacos, please let me know by leaving a rating and review below!

As always, I love seeing your creations. Please leave a review or share your dish with me on social media #cosetteskitchen which lets me know what is working for you! You can find me on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter , Tiktok and Pinterest. For more delicious recipes to your inbox, sign up for my newsletter!

xoxo,
Cosette

This post is sponsored by the American Lamb Board, all opinions and ideas are my own.

Pin for later!

Other Recipes You Will Love

Braised Eggplant Lamb Stew
Fasolia bi Lahme – Lebanese Lamb Stew
Lamb Kofta Burgers with Sumac Yogurt Sauce
Crispy Lamb Salad with Yogurt Dressing
Mediterranean Lamb Bowls

Print
clock clock icon cutlery cutlery icon flag flag icon folder folder icon instagram instagram icon pinterest pinterest icon facebook facebook icon print print icon squares squares icon heart heart icon heart solid heart solid icon
Lamb Tacos

Lebanese Lamb Tacos: Tacos Arabes

  • Author: Cosette’s Kitchen
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 3 hours
  • Total Time: 3 hours 15 minutes
  • Yield: 12 servings 1x
  • Category: Lamb
  • Method: Roasting
  • Cuisine: Lebanese

Description

A delicious lamb taco filled with middle eastern flavors.


Ingredients

Scale

Lamb Shoulder

  • 3.54 pound boneless American lamb shoulder
  • 3 teaspoons kosher salt*
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon paprika, any variety
  • 2 teaspoon mixed spices or 7 spice, you can sub all-spice if you can’t locate
  • 1 teaspoon sumac
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 10 cloves of garlic, peeled and trimmed
  • 2 Tablespoons toum, or olive oil
  • 2 large onions, sliced
  • 1 cup red wine or veggie/chicken/beef stock
  • juice of 2 lemons
  • extra dollop of toum (optional)
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil

Cabbage + Beet Slaw

  • 12 cloves of fresh garlic
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt*
  • 1 teaspoon pomegranate molasses
  • 2 whole lemons, juiced
  • 1 cup yogurt or sour cream
  • 2 cups shredded cabbage
  • 1 whole fresh beet, peeled and sliced thin into matchsticks*

Other Taco Ingredients:

  • Pita bread, fresh made or store bought
  • Feta cheese, or other preferred cheese
  • Additional thick yogurt if desired
  • Scallions

Instructions

Lamb Shoulder

  1. Begin by preheating your oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Next, begin preparing your boneless American boneless lamb. I prefer working on a large sheet pan to prep.
  3. Mix your spices together in a small bowl: salt, pepper, paprika, mixed spices (or 7 spices), sumac and garlic powder. Set aside.
  4. Peel 10 cloves of garlic, if some are larger pieces, you can cut in half.
  5. With your lamb still wrapped in twice or netting, begin making small slits in and then place a garlic clove inside. Continue on all sides of your lamb until you’ve used all your garlic cloves. Use or more or less to your taste. Remember, the garlic will melt and become sweet when roasted, so no heavy garlic flavor.
  6. Once you’ve inserted your garlic, coat your lamb with toum or olive oil – I of course prefer toum as it lends a bit of extra flavor + oil.
  7. Next, rub your spice mixture all over your lamb sides and both front and back until fully coated. Set aside.
  8. In the bottom of a heavy-bottomed dutch oven (or oven safe pot) add your remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil and begin sautéing your onions over medium-high heat. Cook for 4-5 minutes until translucent then remove from pot and set aside.
  9. Turn your burner to high and place your lamb in the same pot and begin searing on one side for 3-4 minutes, then flip and continue to sear on all sides until golden brown all around.
  10. Add your onions back to the pot as well as your wine or other cooking liquid, lemon juice and another dollop of toum if you’d like.
  11. Cover and place in preheated oven. Cook for 3 hours, begin checking at the 2.5 hour mark. When you remove from oven, you want the lamb to be fork tender, meaning when you take a fork to it, it will begin to fall apart. If it’s still tough – cover and add additional time in 30 minute increments.
  12. One your lamb is cooked, remove from cooking liquid and allow to rest 15 minutes.
  13. Place your cooking liquid to the side and allow to cool, once cool – the fat (lamb has a lot of rendered fat) will surface to the top and you can skim away and compost or place in garbage – do not put down sink!
  14. Reserve the remaining liquid/sauce + onions and mix with your lamb.

Cabbage + Beet Slaw

  1. Make your dressing by smashing your garlic cloves with a mortar and pestle. Next add your salt, pomegranate molasses, lemon juice and salt.
  2. Whisk in your yogurt or sour cream until smooth.
  3. Add your shredded cabbage and sliced beets to the bowl. Begin working into the dressing.
  4. Toss until fully combined.

Assembling

  1. To assemble your tacos, heat your pita slightly over an open flame on stovetop or for just a few seconds in the oven or microwave.
  2. Add in your sliced lamb pieces, top with cabbage slaw then finish with feta cheese, scallions and additional yogurt or sour cream. Enjoy!

Notes

  • If using table salt vs kosher salt, half the amount in the recipe and taste before adding more. Table salt has a higher saltiness factor than kosher salt. My preferred brand of kosher salt is Diamond.
  • If you don’t have a fresh beet, you can use a canned beet and slice into matchstick pieces. Cooked beets will also work but the crunch from fresh is preferred.
  • Store your lamb in a sealed container and reheat just what you want when remaking tacos.
  • Lamb and slaw are good in the fridge for 4-5 days. Lamb can be frozen in a well sealed freezer safe container for up to 3 months. 
  • A Dutch oven is preferred for this dish, here is an option for you. Otherwise, be sure your cooking vessel and lid are safe to 325 degrees. If your lid is not, you can always cover with foil. 

Keywords: tacos arabes origin, tacos al pastor, tacos, lamb tacos, lebanese tacos al pastor, lamb tacos recipe, lamb tacos al pastor, barbacoa, barbacoa tacos recipe, barbacoa tacos, american lamb, authentic lamb tacos, authentic tacos, gyros



4 thoughts on “Lebanese Lamb Tacos: Tacos Arabes”

  • What a beautiful recipe and history lesson Cosette! I loved reading this and can’t wait to try this mouthwatering recipe!! Jason and the kids will love it! (And most importantly, so will I!) 😉 xoxoxo – Anita

  • These were truly phenomenal!!! Followed the recipe exactly as written except that I had a bone in lamb shoulder, just had to cook it a little longer. This is one of those special recipes that layers flavors to build something truly phenomenal. Don’t skip the toum, and don’t skip the beets in the slaw – they added such a great crunch! So excited to have found this recipe and include it in our regular rotation.

Leave a Reply

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

Recipe rating