Juicy, succulent shredded braised lamb meat makes for the most delicious tacos and a welcome flavor reprieve from beef.
The carefully curated toppings boast bright flavors making the savory lamb shine as the star of the show!
Apparently, I was the last person on earth to know about taco “twos-day” this week on 2/22/22.
How’d I find out? I was actually writing a check (yes, people still do that) to my accountant and asked what day it was. Yes, my accountant literally had to tell me.
So per my typical fashion of being late to the game of any and every food “holiday” that exists, here we are we tacos 3 days after the fact.
I think when you taste these insanely juicy and tender lamb tacos though, you’ll forgive me.
Here’s an unpopular opinion about tacos…
I love to eat them but absolutely loathe making them at home.
And I’ll tell you why in hopes that someone out there will agree with me on this because I can’t be the only one.
The amount of toppings required for a proper taco is just far too tedious.
A casually thrown together taco night is just not possible. Or maybe it is but you’ll end up with a subpar celebration and sorry, but when I want tacos I want tacos done right.
That means pickled radishes, pickled red onions, avocado, a well made pico de gallo, some sort of cream sauce and of course cilantro and lime for good measure.
Guys, that’s a lot of effort!
So 90% of the time when the taco craving strikes, I’m headed out to a restaurant to get my fix.
The 10% of the time I decide to go for it at home though, I go all out.
After making this braised leg of lamb and having upwards of 2 pounds of leftovers though, a lamb taco night was in the cards.
And despite the fact that prepping all the condiments and taco toppings took a ton more effort than braising the lamb itself, after polishing off 4 tacos myself, I can say with 100% certainty this meal was worth the effort.
INGREDIENTS TO MAKE BRAISED LAMB TACOS
- shredded braised lamb
- taco shells or tortillas
- prepared pico de gallo
- sour cream, plain yogurt or yogurt alternative
- ripe avocado
- fresh cilantro
- lime wedges
- pickled red onions and radishes (see the recipe below for how to quick pickle both for this recipe)
BRAISED LAMB – I personally think lamb tacos are a million times better with braised shredded lamb than ground lamb. The flavor and juiciness of this cut of lamb is akin to a good carnitas tacos. Ground meat in tacos is just so school lunch vibe, ya know? Plus, in my braised lamb recipe, I use spices like cumin, coriander and garlic, all of which lend the perfect Mexican flavor to these tacos.
And if you don’t have a leg of lamb to braise, lamb shanks are a great alternative. You can check out these apple cider braised lamb shanks or these citrus braised lamb shanks for the general method with that cut of meat.
TACO SHELLS VS. TORTILLAS – I used Siete grain-free hard taco shells here but usually opt for soft corn tortillas. Use whichever you prefer.
PICO DE GALLO – Buying this pre-made is one easy way to cut back on the prep time of making tacos. A good pico is a total must for any good taco but why not let the grocery store do the prep work?
SOUR CREAM – I think you all know by now, I choose to eat dairy-free so I always use unsweetened plain coconut yogurt in place of sour cream or regular yogurt. The Culina brand is an excellent swap!
HOW TO MAKE LAMB TACOS
Making the tacos is the easy part once the prep work is done!
It’s really just assembling everything in your taco shell or tortilla and doing your best not to overfill things and end up with a mess on your plate after one bite.
I suck at that by the way. Chronic over-filler here.
Grab a tortilla or taco shell, layer in the cooked shredded lamb and then choose the desired toppings. Whatever you do, just make sure to end things with a few leaves of fresh cilantro and a healthy squeeze of lime.
A taco without those two things just isn’t worth eating!
WHAT DO LAMB TACOS TASTE LIKE?
I’ve made tacos with lamb before and done these spring lamb gyros too but I’ve always taken the flavor in the Mediterranean direction which of course seems appropriate when you think of lamb.
But with these tacos, we go full on Mexican taco mode.
Everything about these tasty lamb tacos is authentic to a real taco. There’s no Mediterranean twist or cultural fusion here. Just succulent, tender lamb layered into a taco the way you’d find at a roadside Mexican joint.
And I say that having had one of the best taco experiences of my life at such a place somewhere between Cabo San Lucas and Todos Santos a few years back.
Each bite is a perfect blend of savory lamb and bright fresh produce. The pops of cilantro and lime combined with the pickled vegetables and spicy kick from jalapeño slices can only be described as “lively and loud” before the avocado and creamy yogurt (or sour cream) balance everything out.
And that’s why I love a good taco so much.
If we’re being honest, Americans have kind of made a disgrace of the food dumbing it down to what often gets passed as a “taco” either in our kitchens, in schools or even at some restaurants.
A good traditional taco is so much more than meat, cheese and sour cream!
MAKE THE LAMB AHEAD OF TIME
To save time preparing these lamb tacos, I suggest braising the lamb a day or so before.
Braising an entire leg of lamb will result in a lot of meat.
Lamb tacos are a great recipe to use up leftovers from that process. The bonus being that the lamb becomes even more flavorful as it sits in the braising liquid.
And if you still have leftovers even after making these tacos, give these lamb nachos a try next subbing out the ground lamb for the leftover shredded braised lamb.
MORE TACO RECIPES TO TRY:
- 2 cups shredded braised leg of lamb
- 8 taco shells or corn tortillas
- 1 cup prepared pico de gallo
- 1/3 cup sour cream or, unsweetened plain coconut yogurt for dairy-free option
- 1/2 avocado chopped
- 1 jalapeño thinly sliced
- fresh cilantro leaves
- lime wedges for serving
Quick pickled radishes and red onion
- 3-4 radishes thinly sliced
- 1/2 medium red onion thinly sliced
- 1 cup hot water
- 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Make the quick pickled radishes and red onion by placing both in a large jar or bowl. Combine the hot water, vinegar, sugar and salt in a measuring cup. Stir until the sugar and salt dissolve then pour over the radishes and red onion. Let sit for an hour at room temperature then place in the refrigerator until ready to use.
- Place warmed lamb meat in the bottom of a taco shell or tortilla then layer as desired with the toppings including the pickled radishes and red onion.
- Serve with lime wedges and enjoy!
This website provides approximate nutrition information for convenience and as a courtesy only. Nutrition information can vary for a variety of reasons. For the most precise nutritional data use your preferred nutrition calculator based on the actual ingredients you used in the recipe.
Gina Matsoukas is the writer, founder, photographer and recipe developer of Running to the Kitchen — a food website focused on providing healthy, wholesome recipes using fresh and seasonal ingredients as much as possible. Her work has been featured in numerous media outlets both digital and print, including MSN, Huffington post, Buzzfeed, Women’s Health and Food Network.