Lamb Carnitas Tacos with Roasted Tomatillo Salsa (Originally published 2014, updated 2023)
These lamb carnitas tacos are an amazing addition to my self proclaimed best diet ever, the " all taco diet". Doesn't that sound like the perfect diet? All tacos. All the time. Who doesn't love tacos?!?
This page contains affiliate links. Affiliate links support Pineapple and Coconut at no additional cost to you. If you choose to make a purchase via these links, I earn a small commission to help keep this blog running and it is much appreciated. I am an Amazon and Adorama affiliate.
The recipe for these were inspired from classic pork carnitas after I had gotten a ton of lamb from a lamb company and was wanting to come up with some creative ways to use it.
The lamb is a perfect stand in for pork here. Just a variation, pork carnitas still reigns supreme. But these are an amazing variation, fantastic for lamb lovers.
Carnitas tacos ingredients:
- Lamb- top round roast
- Garlic - 8 big cloves
- Yellow Onion
- Sea Salt
- Ground Black Pepper
- Chili Powder
- Orange Juice - freshly squeezes
- Chicken broth
How to make the lamb carnitas:
I prepped the lamb shoulder the same as I would with pork. It is leaner than pork so I kept the fat on the lamb.
These were also smaller roasts than the size roast we normally use for pork carnitas tacos so we used both of them. Carnitas is typically made with either pork leg or shoulder roast. These were lamb top round roasts.
You can see that the lamb is very lean so we added more liquid than typically called for and we cooked it with the pan lid on so it wouldn't dry out. We added in more liquid when it looked like it was getting low and it cooked a lot faster than pork usually doe. Once it was cooked in the oven we shredded it and crisped it up a little in a cast iron pan.
What to serve with carnitas tacos:
To go with the tacos we of course made simple pickled red onions. The pickled red onion recipe is in the recipe card's notes.
Corn tortillas. I soften these in the oven with a little coconut oil brushed on them and heat on a cookie sheet at 275 Deg F and flip once or twice then keep wrapped in a towel. They will stay nice and pliable so they don't crack or tear.
And some freshly roasted tomatillo salsa using tomatillos and cilantro from our garden. The recipe for the carnitas, red onions and salsa are all in the recipe card.
You can make this recipe over several days, make the salsa and onions a few days ahead of time if you like.
Roasted Tomatillo Salsa Ingredients:
- Poblano pepper
- Jalapeño pepper
- White Onion
- Sea salt and pepper to taste
- Hot sauce optional
- Place diced onion in ice water. This takes off the bitter edge
- Dry roast (no oil) the garlic, tomatillos and jalapenos
- Remove peels, husks and seeds
- blend it up with cilantro and lime
- drain the ice water from the onion and combine everything
- season to taste
Lamb carnitas tacos. A welcome addition to my all taco diet
Lamb Carnitas Tacos with Roasted Tomatillo Salsa
For the lamb:
- 4-5 lbs lamb top round roast
- 8 cloves garlic peeled and roughly chopped
- 1 whole medium yellow onion diced
- 1 tsbp sea salt
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1 cup orange juice
- Juice from one lemon
- Juice from one lime
- 1 ½ c chicken broth
For the Tomatillo salsa:
- 1 poblano pepper
- 1 jalapeño pepper
- 2 lbs of tomatillos husks removed, cut in half
- 6 cloves of garlic
- ½ white onion diced small
- Juice of one lime
- 1 /2 c cilantro
- Sea salt and pepper to taste
- Hot sauce optional.
- Corn tortillas
- Avocado Slices
- crumbled goat cheese or cotija cheese
- Preheat the oven to 300 Deg. F
- Prepare the lambCut the lamb into 2- 3” square chunks, do not trim any fat
- Place the lamb in a large ovenproof skillet and distribute the garlic and onion over the top. Season with spices then add in the orange, lemon and lime juice and one cup of the chicken broth.
- Place a lid on the pan and place in the oven. Cook for 4-6 hours total depending on how much meat is being cooked. Start checking the meat every hour after the first two hours of cooking to see if the liquid is simmering, if its not turn the heat up to 350 and cook until it starts to simmer, leaving the lid on still.
- Once simmering, bring the heat back down to 300 then check every 20 min or so until the meat starts to shred easily, turning the pieces of meat over every time you check it. If the liquid is getting too low, add in the remaining half a cup of chicken broth.
- Once the lamb can be shredded easily with a fork remove the pan from the oven and roughly shred with two forks. Heat a cast iron skillet on medium high and add a little coconut oil. Cook the shredded lamb a few minutes to crisp it up then transfer back to the original pan with the remaining liquid and keep warm until ready to serve. Taste the lamb and season with more salt and pepper if desired.
- Make the salsa: While the lamb is cooking. Place the diced onion in a small bowl of ice water.
- In a skillet over medium high heat dry roast the peppers, garlic cloves still in their peel and the tomatillo halves. Turning the tomatillos once and the rest of the ingredients often to make sure all sides are starting to brown. Remove from the pan.
- Let cool then remove the garlic peels, stems and seeds from the peppers and place in a blender along with the roasted tomatillos, add in the lime juice and cilantro and blend until mostly pureed. Transfer to a bowl, drain the ice water from the onions and add the onion to the bowl and stir. Taste and season with salt and pepper.
- To assemble the tacos:
- Soften the tortillas in a 275 deg oven, lightly brush with oil and heat on a cookie sheet for a few minutes until soft and pliable. Repeat with desired number of tortillas. Keep the tortillas wrapped in a kitchen towel on a plate to keep warm.
- Take one tortilla, place about 2-3 ounces of the lamb in the center and top with some pickled red onion, avocado slices, some tomatillo salsa, fresh goat cheese crumbles and a dash of hot sauce if desired.
- Serve with chips and margaritas of course!!