These smoky, succulent Grilled American Lamb Skewers are an addicting appetizer that will disappear in no time. Cubes of tender lamb shoulder are marinated in a zesty blend of lime juice, aromatics, and spices before being threaded onto skewers and seared over live fire. The natural sweetness of the lamb mingles with the sizzling, charred notes from the grill, resulting in mouthwatering, highly addictive bites.

Served with a creamy, smoky chipotle sauce with a kick of heat, these skewers have all the irresistible flavors of street food, cooking in less than 15 minutes (after marinating). Lamb isn’t always thought of as an appetizer, but these tender, flavorful skewers are such an approachable way to get people to try this incredibly delicious preparation.

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

ingredients for marinated lamb skewers

Ingredients You’ll Need

  • Boneless American Lamb Shoulder or Lamb Leg – Cut into 1-inch cubes. The Lamb shoulder is a flavorful and affordable cut that becomes tender when cooked properly.
  • Marinade: Since the lamb shoulder is a tougher cut, a wet marinade with acid will help tenderize it. For this recipe, we’re using lime juice combined with spices and aromatics like smoked paprika, thyme, oregano, garlic, and olive oil. I like to marinate the lamb overnight but do it for at least 1-hour so the marinade has time to work its magic with this tougher cut of meat.
  • Creamy Chipotle Sauce Ingredients: This creamy sauce packs a punch of heat and tanginess to perfectly complement the grilled lamb skewers. Mayonnaise, sour cream or crema, chipotle peppers from a can, adobo sauce from the chipotle peppers, lime juice, smoked paprika, and kosher salt.

See the full recipe card for full information on ingredients and quantities.

Why Source American Lamb

When it comes to lamb, it’s all about sourcing domestic, American lamb that’s raised closer to home. Not only is it a fresh option, but you’re also supporting local farmers and ranchers who take pride in producing the best quality product.

The boneless lamb shoulder is an ideal cut for these skewers due to its marbling and fat content, which infuses the meat with incredible flavor when cooked over direct flames. This nicely marbled, flavorful cut is often more affordable than other lamb cuts, making it a great choice for serving a crowd. You can even buy a larger lamb shoulder and use it for multiple recipes, such as grilled lamb sliders or smoked lamb shoulder.

Here in San Diego, I source my American lamb from reputable butchers like The Wise Ox Butcher or Siesel’s Meats. Find a local source for American lamb near you with help from the American Lamb Board.

How to Make the Skewers

Step-by-step instructions for marinating and grilling lamb shoulder skewers. Jump down to the recipe card for the full instructions.

  1. Marinate: In a bowl, combine the lamb shoulder cubes with the flavorful marinade of lime juice, aromatics, and spices. Cover and refrigerate for at least 45 minutes, preferably overnight.
  2. Skewer: Thread the marinated lamb cubes onto skewers, allowing any excess marinade to drip off.
  3. Grill: Preheat your grill to medium-high heat. Sear the skewers for 3-5 minutes per side, rotating occasionally, until the lamb reaches your desired doneness.
  4. Serve: Remove the skewers from the grill and serve with the creamy chipotle sauce for dipping or drizzling.
dipping lamb skewer in chipotle dipping sauce

Tips for Success

  • Grilling hot and fast over direct heat is key to developing flavor on the outside without overcooking the lamb. I also much prefer to grill over charcoal for the extra smoky flavor, but any type of grill or even skillet on the stove or under the broiler in the oven will cook great.
  • Use Metal Skewers, which are reusable and won’t burn on the grill.
  • Use an instant-read meat thermometer to verify the lamb reaches your desired doneness (130°F for medium-rare, 140°F for medium). *USDA recommends the following time and temperature parameters Internal temperature of 145°F, with a 3 minute rest.
grilled lamb skewers on sheet pan vertical

Perfect Pairings & Serving Suggestions

Use the creamy chipotle sauce for dipping these flavorful skewers – every bite is better with a dollop of that smoky, zesty sauce. Pair the lamb skewers with a refreshing cucumber salad or classic potato salad on the side to balance out the richness. For a heartier meal, these skewers are equally delicious served over a bed of warm, creamy polenta or mushroom risotto.

While these make for an excellent appetizer, this lamb is versatile enough to be enjoyed as a main course. Serving them atop a fresh salad of mixed greens or nestled into a warm pita with tzatziki sauce for a Mediterranean-inspired meal, or in a rice bowl with other grilled veggies.

grilled lamb skewers on a sheet pan horizontal

Grilled American Lamb Skewers

Tender American lamb shoulder cubes marinate in zesty lime and spices before being grilled until smoky and succulent. Served with creamy chipotle sauce, these versatile skewers pack addictive flavors and a tender texture.
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Course: Appetizer
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Marinating Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Servings: 12
Calories: 170kcal


  • 1 1/2 lbs boneless American lamb shoulder (cut into 1-inch cubes)


  • 2 tsp Diamond kosher salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme (chopped)
  • 1 tsp dried oregano (or fresh)
  • red pepper flakes (optional, to taste)
  • 2 garlic cloves (chopped)
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 limes, zested and juiced
  • 1 tsp honey

Creamy Chipotle Sauce

  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup sour cream or crema
  • 2 chipotle peppers from can *See ingredient note.
  • 1 tbsp adobo sauce from the chipotle peppers
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 1/4 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt


  • Make the Marinade: In a medium bowl, whisk together all the marinade ingredients.
  • Marinate the Lamb: Add the cubed lamb to the marinade and stir to coat evenly. Cover and refrigerate, preferably overnight or for 8 hours *see note. Stir occasionally to redistribute the marinade. Alternatively, place the lamb and marinade in a resealable plastic bag, remove excess air, and refrigerate.
  • Prepare the Chipotle Sauce: In a blender or food processor, combine all the chipotle sauce ingredients and blend until smooth. Taste and adjust seasoning with additional chipotle peppers or lime juice, if desired.
  • Preheat the Grill: Prepare your grill for medium-high heat cooking. Alternatively, you can cook the skewers in a very hot skillet or under the broiler in your oven.
  • Assemble the Skewers: Thread the marinated lamb cubes onto skewers, allowing excess marinade to drip off. (If using wooden skewers, soak them in water for 30 minutes before using to prevent burning.)
  • Grill the Skewers: Sear the skewers for 3-5 minutes per side, rotating them occasionally, until the lamb cubes are cooked through (130°F for medium-rare, 140°F for medium), about 10 to 15 minutes total, depending on the heat of your grill. Use an instant-read meat thermometer to verify doneness.
  • Serve: Remove the skewers from the grill. You can either leave the lamb cubes on the skewers or remove them and serve on toothpicks as an appetizer, or just serve the cubes. Serve with the creamy chipotle dipping sauce on the side.



  • *USDA recommends the following time and temperature parameters Internal temperature of 145°F, with a 3 minute rest.
  • A Note on Marinating Time: Marinating the lamb for an extended period, preferably overnight, helps tenderize the meat and allows the flavors to penetrate. However, if you’re short on time, letting the skewers sit with the marinade for at least 1-hour will still infuse flavor and start to tenderize.
  • If using wooden skewers, be sure to soak them in water for 30 minutes before using to prevent burning.
  • Chipotle peppers in adobo sauce are available in small cans in the ethnic aisle of most grocery stores.
  • Adjust the amount of chipotle peppers and lime juice in the sauce according to your desired level of heat and tang.


Calories: 170kcal | Carbohydrates: 3g | Protein: 8g | Fat: 14g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 5g | Monounsaturated Fat: 6g | Trans Fat: 0.02g | Cholesterol: 30mg | Sodium: 522mg | Potassium: 141mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 159IU | Vitamin C: 5mg | Calcium: 21mg | Iron: 1mg

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