These succulent Grilled American Lamb Sliders with a herby and vibrant chimichurri sauce, are flavor-infused, grilled perfection and a backyard gathering treat. The lamb shoulder is marinated in a blend of garlic, shallots, jalapeño, thyme, olive oil, Dijon mustard, and red wine vinegar, infusing each bite with a robust sweet and zesty of balanced flavors.

Lamb shoulder is often cooked low and slow to help make it tender, however grilling it over indirect heat before searing it over direct flames yields tender and ultra-flavorful results in a much shorter cook time.

The secret lies in the 24-hour marinade, which tenderizes the lamb shoulder, allowing the flavors to penetrate deep into the meat. After marinating, the lamb is reverse-seared on the grill – first cooked over indirect heat until it reaches the perfect doneness, then seared over direct flames to develop a delicious, flavorful crust. In about an hour of cook time on the grill, you’ll have incredibly juicy and flavorful lamb that is ready to be thinly sliced and piled onto soft buns.

This post was created in an ongoing partnership with the American Lamb Board. All thoughts and opinions are always my own.

Why We Love It

  • It’s a match made for a party: American lamb and chimichurri are a dynamic duo, complementing each other’s flavors with their boldness and vibrancy. The lamb shoulder cut is often more affordable than other cuts, and its higher fat content ensures the meat stays juicy and tender.
  • Make-ahead convenience: These sliders are incredibly make-ahead friendly. Prepare the marinated lamb a day in advance, then simply grill and slice it before serving, allowing you to enjoy the party without being stuck in the kitchen.
  • Butterflied for efficiency: By butterflying the lamb shoulder, you increase the surface area exposed to the marinade, resulting in more intense flavor penetration. This technique also promotes much quicker and more even cooking on the grill.
  • Versatile leftovers: Any leftover lamb from these sliders is ready to repurpose throughout the week in tacos, tostadas, quesadillas, pasta sauces, or simply serve it over creamy polenta.
ingredients on board for grilled lamb shoudler

What You’ll Need

  • Boneless American Lamb Shoulder or Leg – Butterflied into uniform pieces for quicker and more even cooking. This flavorful and affordable cut becomes tender when cooked properly, and butterflying it allows the marinade to penetrate and helps it cook evenly.
  • Marinade Ingredients – Garlic cloves, shallot, jalapeno pepper, fresh thyme, sugar, ground black pepper, olive oil, Dijon mustard, red wine vinegar and a seasoning of kosher salt – The marinade infuses the lamb with a blend of aromatic, savory, and tangy flavors, helping to tenderize and season the meat.
  • Slider Buns – Small, soft buns are perfect for assembling the lamb sliders and soaking up the flavorful juices. Hawaiian buns, brioche or even pretzel buns will be great!
  • A Sauce – We’re going with a bright, fresh chimichurri in the recipe, but you can also try the sliders with a chipotle mayo, mint chimichurri, Italian salsa verde, or a BBQ vinaigrette which will all be great sauces on the sliders to pair with the lamb.
  • A Grill – You want to be able to control the heat with a cooler side and a hotter side with a two-zone setup for optimal cooking. A charcoal grill is going to give the most flavor, but whatever you have will work.

Jump down to the recipe card for specifics on ingredients and quantities.

Why I Source American Lamb

I get pretty excited when it’s time to fire up the grill and cook up a beautiful cut of lamb for a party. Knowing just how good it’s going to be and seeing the look on people’s faces when they are unexpectedly surprised by how delicious it can be.

American lamb is a flavor-packed, delicious, and a nutritious protein that loves to hit the flames of the grill. And yet, we don’t eat enough lamb – it is such an underrated option and it’s often raised right in our home state. When sourced locally, we support our ranchers, farmers, and butchers, which in turn sustains and grows our local economy.

Additionally, by choosing domestic lamb, you’re not only getting a high-quality product but also promoting sustainable agricultural practices and preserving the livelihoods of those dedicated to raising this exceptional protein.

So the next time you fire up the grill, ask your butcher for American lamb and ask for some more info on the farm. There might be an interesting story to discover.

lamb shoulder marinating in bag for the grill

The Marinade

An acidic marinade is key to making this cut tender with a relatively fast cooking time. A combination of aromatics and some acid from vinegar combine to tenderize the tough cut while adding some amazing flavor that pairs so well with the sweet lamb flavor and a kiss of the grill.

Marinating in a ziplock bag with the marinade reduces the amount of liquid needed and keeps it completely surrounded as it marinates. I still like to flip it over to redistribute it.

Tips for Success

  • Use a two-zone grill setup to reverse sear the lamb so it cooks evenly and doesn’t burn from flare-ups.
  • Use a leave-in probe meat thermometer to know when the lamb is finished cooking. *The USDA recommends the following time and temperature parameters Internal temperature of 145°F, with a 3 minute rest.
  • Slice it thin with a very sharp knife for the most tender slider bites and slice off unrendered fat pieces before serving.
  • Check out the lamb grilling guide for even more lamb grilling tips.

A Few Variations

Customize the recipe to make it your own.

  • Swap the cut – Lamb leg or shoulder chops will also be great for the sliders.
  • Cook it in the smoker – Use smoky pulled lamb shoulder in the sliders.
  • Add wood chips to the grill for extra smoke flavor. I like to use Oak with lamb.
  • Serve it warm or cold – Hot off the grill and sliced after a rest might be best, but these sliders can also be served at room temperature or can be sliced cold out of the fridge for a cold lamb sandwich.
  • Make it a Rice Bowl or a Salad with your favorite seasonal veggies instead of sliders.
butterflied American lamb shoulder on the grill

Make Ahead Option

If planning for a barbecue or party or just meal prepping for the week and want to be prepared without any stress, just be sure to start a few days early with the marinade. The lamb shoulder can even be grilled the day before, then sliced and reheated before serving.

Reheating Options

  • In the Oven: Wrap the grilled lamb shoulder and place in a 300° F oven until it reaches 140° F internal temp.
  • Skillet: Heat up a cast iron skillet and quickly crispy up the sliced lamb shoulder before serving on the sliders. This makes them even more flavorful@
  • Sous Vide: Vacuum seal the grilled lamb shoulder and reheat it in a sous vide water bath before serving.

Grilling vs Smoking Lamb Shoulder

I love to both grill and slow-smoke lamb. The results and techniques are quite different and each has its advantage. The advantage of low and slow smoking and cooking it to a higher internal temperature is the fat will render and it becomes unbelievably melty-tender for pulled lamb. However, the cook time will be somewhere between 5 to 7 hours in the smoker compared to just 1 hour in a 300°f grill, which is a pretty significant difference.

On the grill, you can cook the butterflied shoulder to medium-rare or medium and it will still be super tender when it’s marinated first. It’s a different texture and a much different outcome. Both are super delicious and a must-try!

grilled lamb sliders on a plate with chimichurri

Grilled American Lamb Sliders

All you need is lamb shoulder, a zesty marinade, and a hot grill – then marinate, grill, sear, and slice your way to irresistibly tender and smoky lamb sliders topped with vibrant chimichurri. These flavor-packed sliders make for the ultimate crowd-pleasing backyard BBQ fare.
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Course: Appetizer, Main
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Marinade Time: 1 day
Total Time: 1 day 1 hour 30 minutes
Servings: 10

Ingredients

  • 3 lb Boneless American lamb shoulder (butterflied and excess fat trimmed)
  • kosher salt
  • 12 slider buns

Marinade

  • 2 garlic cloves (minced)
  • 1 shallot (minced)
  • 1 jalapeno pepper (thinly sliced crosswise)
  • 2 tsp fresh thyme leaves (chopped)
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • Ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard

Chimichurri Sauce

  • 1/2 cup packed fresh cilantro
  • 1/4 cup packed fresh Italian parsley
  • 2 garlic cloves chopped
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/8 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes or to taste
  • 1/2 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1 small shallot chopped (or red onion)
  • 1 Fresno chili seeded and diced fine

Instructions

  • Combine the marinade ingredients in a small bowl and stir to dissolve. Place in a plastic bag or container.
  • Trim excess fat from the lamb and butterfly it into uniform pieces. Season all sides liberally with kosher salt, then place the butterflied lamb in the plastic bag with the marinade.
  • Remove the lamb from the fridge, drip off any excess marinade from the bag, and pat the lamb dry with paper towels. Allow it to sit at room temperature for 30 to 60 minutes before cooking. Insert a probe thermometer into the thickest part of the butterflied lamb to monitor the internal temperature.
  • Prepare the grill for two-zone cooking (one direct heat zone and one indirect heat zone) and maintain a temperature of around 300°F on the indirect side. Add wood chips or chunks to the charcoal or smoker box for extra smoke flavor.
  • Place the marinated lamb shoulder on the indirect heat side of the grill, close the lid, and cook until the internal temperature registers 140°F on the probe thermometer, about 45 to 60 minutes.
  • Using tongs, transfer the lamb to the direct heat side of the grill and sear for 2-3 minutes per side until the internal temperature reaches 145°F for medium doneness.
  • Remove the seared lamb from the grill and let it rest for 10-15 minutes on a cutting board before slicing.
  • While the lamb rests, prepare the chimichurri sauce by combining all the sauce ingredients in a food processor or blender and pulsing until chopped and combined but not puréed.
  • Toast the slider buns, optionally with butter on top.
  • Thinly slice the lamb against the grain into slider-size pieces using a sharp knife. Slice off any excess fat that didn't render during cooking.
  • Assemble the sliders by placing the sliced lamb on the toasted buns and topping with chimichurri sauce.

Video

Notes

  • *USDA recommends the following time and temperature parameters Internal temperature of 145°F, with a 3 minute rest.
  • Plan for approximately 2 oz of cooked lamb per slider. The recipe serves 6 to 10 people.
  • Marinating the lamb for an extended period helps tenderize the meat, but too long and it can change the texture.
  • If you grill isn’t hot enough for searing after the cook, remove the lamb from the grill to rest it and increase the heat before searing. 
  • More slider topping ideas: pickled vegetables, sliced avocado, slaw, microgreens.

Thank you to the American Lamb Board for sponsoring this post.

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