Episode 102: Shoulders and Bellies

Barbecued Lamb Shoulder with Black Dip

Barbecued Lamb Shoulder with Black Dip

Lamb isn’t the first meat that comes to mind when you think of barbecue — unless you come from Owensboro, Kentucky, where for two centuries, barbecue has meant mutton.

This recipe is a Project Smoke twist on a Bluegrass State classic: Barbecued Lamb Shoulder with Black Dip.

Kentucky-style lamb shoulder actually gets two sauces. The first is a basting mixture that is basted onto the lamb for each and every hour the lamb cooks, approximately 8 to 10 hours. The other sauce is the Black Dip, which has similar ingredients to the basting mixture but with different proportions. Mostly tart, the Black Dip cuts through the fattiness of the lamb.

To serve, shred the lamb and pile them high on buttered toasted hamburger buns. Ladle the Black Dip over the lamb.


More Barbecue Lamb Recipes:


Barbecued Lamb Shoulder with Black Dip

Recipe Notes

  • Yield: Serves 6 to 8
  • Method: Hot smoking
  • Equipment: Smoker: Horizon Marshall; 4 cups hickory chips or chunks, soaked in water for 1 hour, then drained


  • 1 lamb shoulder (about 6 pounds)
  • Coarse salt (kosher or sea) and freshly ground black pepper, about 1 tablespoon each)

For the basting sauce:

  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1 cup cider vinegar
  • 2/3 cup Worchestershire sauce
  • 5 tablespoons salt
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper

For the black dip:

  • 2 cups water
  • 1/4 cup Worchestershire sauce
  • 1/4 cup cider vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon MSG (optional)
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice powder

  • 10 to 12 hamburger buns (optional)
  • 5 tablespoons melted butter (for the buns)

Recipe Steps

Step 1: Generously season the lamb on all sides with salt and pepper.

Step 2: Prepare the basting sauce: Combine the water, vinegar, Worchestershire sauce, salt, lemon juice, and black pepper in a large saucepan and bring to a boil. Set aside.

Step 3: Prepare the black dip: Combine the water, Worchestershire sauce, vinegar, brown sugar, lemon juice, pepper, salts, garlic powder, MSG (if using) and allspice in a large saucepan, bring to a boil, and cook until richly flavored and slightly reduced, about 5 minutes. Transfer the sauce to a serving bowl and set aside to cool.

Step 4: Set up your smoker following the manufacturer’s instructions and preheat to 250 degrees. Add the wood as specified by the manufacturer.

Step 5: Place the lamb, fat side up, on the grate over the drip pan away from the heat.

Step 6: Smoke the lamb until fall-off-the-bone tender and the internal temperature reaches 195 degrees, 8 to 10 hours. (The cooking time will depend on the size of the roast and heat of the grill.) Add charcoal and wood chunks as needed. Baste the lamb with the basting sauce every hour. If the lamb starts to burn, tent the meat with foil. If desired, transfer the lamb (wrapped in foil) to an insulated cooler to rest. In the meantime, brush the buns with melted butter and grill, cut sides down, until lightly toasted.

Step 7: Transfer the lamb to a cutting board. (Let it rest for at least 5 minutes if you did not rest it in a cooler.) Thinly slice it across the grain or finely chop it with a cleaver. Spoon half the dipping sauce over the meat. Serve the lamb on toasted or grilled hamburger buns or slices of white bread or all by itself, passing the remaining dip on the side.

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Steven Raichlen, a national barbecue treasure and author of The Barbecue! Bible, How to Grill, and other books in the …

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