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Perfect smoked lamb shoulder & dry rub recipe
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Perfect pulled smoked lamb shoulder & dry rub recipe

Get the internal temperature and the rub right and it'll be the best meat you've ever had!
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Keyword Lamb Shoulder, Smoked
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 6 hours
Resting time 1 hour
Total Time 7 hours 15 minutes
Servings 4 people
Author Joost Nusselder
Cost $15


  • 5 lbs lamb shoulder 1 chunk (bone in)
  • 8 pcs apple wood chunks

For the dry smoked lamb rub

  • cups dark brown sugar
  • 4 sprigs rosemary minced
  • cup kosher salt
  • 2 tsp cayenne pepper ground
  • 1 tsp white pepper ground
  • 1 tbsp cumin ground


  • cup apple juice
  • 2 tbsp BBQ spice (your choice)


How to make the smoked lamb rub

  • Mix all your ingredients for the rub in a small mixing bowl, and then set them aside.
  • Remove any excess fat in the lamb shoulder. However, you shouldn’t be too aggressive as you trim off the fat. Around ¼” will be ideal for basting as your lamb smokes.
  • Once you trim off the excess fat, it’s time now for you to rub all the seasonings onto the lamb shoulder—make sure that you press the rub onto the meat. Once you are done, allow the meat to sit for around 30 minutes for the seasonings to dissolve and to stick well to the meat. This step is very important as it helps the meat to develop a skin known as the pellicle—which begins to set the exterior crust.

Start smoking your lamb shoulder

  • When done, set up your smoker for around 250 – 275 degrees F, this should be a bit higher than the usual temperature as it helps more of the fat to melt off. Next, fill the water half-full, and then add 5 to 6 chunks to the coals and close the lid.
  • Once your smoker starts to smoke, you can place the shoulder on the top rack—make sure that the fat side faces up, while the bones face towards the bottom.

Check the smoked lamb shoulder internal temperature

  • Smoke for around 5 hours and then start to check the internal temperature of the meat after every 30 minutes. You will know that the lamb is done if the meat pulls back and exposes more of the bones, and its internal temperature reaches around 195 degrees F in around 3 places.

Rest, marinade & serve

  • Once the lamb shoulder is done, remove it from the smoker, and the cover it loosely with foil paper, and let it sit for around 20 – 30% of the entire cooking time in a warm area—this should be around 45 – 60 minutes.
  • After the lamb shoulder has rested, you can then pull the meat apart, as if you are pulling the meat from a pork shoulder. You can use bear claws if the meat is still hot, as this will assist with the shredding of the meat. If the meat is done well, it should shred very easily, and if it’s still hard, it has not cooked well. When you notice that the meat hasn’t cooked well, cover it with an aluminum foil and cook for an additional 30 minutes, at around 250 degrees F, and then check again.
  • When you manage to pull all the meat from the bones—removing any large portions of the fat, mix it with the apple juice and BBQ spice in a bowl. If you notice that the meat has already cooled off and it has started to clump up, put it in a pan, and then warm it up in the grill or oven for around 15 minutes.