This Harissa Lamb Taco Recipe has been sponsored by the American Lamb Board. All thoughts and opinions expressed here are my own.
Slow Cooker Harissa Lamb Tacos– Delicious Slow Cooked Lamb smothered in fun and flavorful harissa sauce and served with an easy avocado smash, fresh pomegranate salsa, and crunchy jicama sticks. Enjoy these mouthwatering lamb tacos with your family for Sunday night dinner or surprise your friends during the next big game.
I am so excited to take a break from the nonstop soup, stew, and holiday recipe testing to bring you guys a newly discovered favorite- Slow Cooker Harissa Lamb Tacos.
Made with 100% American grown lamb, these delicious lamb tacos may not be your traditional chicken or beef tacos, but they are just as fun, easy and filled with adventurous flavor. Slowly cooked, this harissa-spiced lamb is so tender it practically melts-in-your-mouth. Pile on top of your favorite flour or corn tortillas, top with fresh seasonal salsa and avocado, and the result is a refreshing taste of summer with all the coziness of fall.
If you’re new to lamb or harissa, worry not. This post covers everything you need to know about these Harissa Lamb Tacos.
Ingredients in these Slow Cooker Harissa Lamb Tacos
- harissa (homemade or store-bought)
- yellow onion
- olive oil
- chicken broth
- red onion
- green onion
What cut of lamb should I purchase to make slow cooker lamb tacos?
Figuring out which cut of meat to use for which cooking method has always been the most confusing part about cooking any kind of meat. Lucky for me, the American Lamb website explains this with an easy-to-understand infographic.
For this specific recipe, and most slow cooker recipes, you’ll want to purchase:
- Lamb Shank
- Boneless Leg- this is what was available to me for this particular lamb taco recipe. The meat turned out juicy and practically shredded itself.
Depending on your market, or how much you plan to prepare, you may need to ask your local butcher to order a specific cut for you. This is super easy and most markets love to help their customers find exactly what they need.
Why American Lamb?
Well, for me, this is easy- I live in the United States. As such, it makes sense that I eat locally raised meat.
But, it’s not just that…by choosing American Lamb I am supporting local family farmers and ranchers throughout the United States who are dedicated to the health and welfare of their animals and the land. These farmers and ranchers are passionate, family-focused, and dedicated to bringing you the best quality meat in the most natural way.
Did you know there are more than 80,000 family farmers and ranchers caring for more than 6 million sheep in the United States? These farmers and ranchers are real people, not mass corporations.
Learn more about American Lamb on their website.
What is Harissa?
If you have never tried harissa, try it. Perhaps not straight from the jar- at first- but as a marinade, like in this Baked Harissa Chicken, you’ll immediately discover that harissa packs some seriously awesome flavor punch!
So what is Harissa and where does it come from? Harissa is a spicy chili paste widely used in North African and Middle Eastern cuisine. Most harissa recipes are made with a blend of hot chile peppers, garlic, olive oil, and spices, like cumin, coriander, and mint. Tomatoes, or tomato paste, and rose petals are also commonly found in harissa.
You can buy pre-made harissa or learn how to make your own Harissa!
How to make Slow Cooker Harissa Lamb Tacos
Before getting started, let me express how incredibly easy this recipe is to prepare and make. The instructions may appear long, but every step is super simple stuff. Ok, who’s ready to make some lamb tacos? Everyone!? Let’s do it.
- Homemade or store-bought harissa paste? Either option will result in mouthwatering lamb tacos, so it’s just up to you if you want to take the extra step and make your own harissa. You can read all about how to make harissa in this post.
- Cover the lamb with harissa. So, there’s no real clean way to do this. Sure, you could use a pastry brush, but I recommend getting your (clean) hands a little dirty and just rub the harissa paste all over. The layer doesn’t need to be super thick as the lamb will be covered again after browning.
- Brown the lamb. You don’t have to brown the lamb, but you should. Yes, you guys, this is one of those recipes where you should definitely take that extra step. The slightly caramelized exterior with the harissa will be so worth it. Once the lamb is nice and golden on all sides transfer to your slow cooker, leaving the leftover juices in the skillet. Use your hands (or pastry brush) again to rub another thin layer of harissa over the lamb (be careful, though, as the lamb will be hot).
- Sautè the onions. This is another one of those steps that you don’t necessarily have to do, but I highly recommend you do anyway. It will only take 3 minutes and the onions will cook and soften right in with all those super important juices and spices leftover in the skillet from the pan. Transfer to the slow cooker right on top of the lamb and add some chicken broth.
- Cook. High for 5 hours or low for 8 hours. You decide.
- Get the lamb taco-ready. Once the lamb has finished cooking it should be super juicy and tender. Use tongs to remove the cooked lamb from your slow cooker and set aside on a clean plate. You’ll notice a fragrant, delicious broth left behind in the slow cooker, along with the onions. Here’s what to do…Reserve approximately 1-2 cups of the broth to a bowl and mix with the two remaining tablespoons or harissa paste. If you are sensitive to spicy food, don’t add the extra harissa. Transfer the onions to a large serving bowl and shred the lamb using two forks. Mix the lamb with the onions and drizzle with the reserved broth to prevent the lamb from drying out.
You guys, that’s it. Really it’s super easy.
Why the sweet pomegranate salsa pairs so well with the harissa lamb
If you’ve ever had harissa before, then you’ll recall that this fabulous condiment is not all about making foods spicier. True, harissa makes a dish spicier, but it’s also smoky and complex and really wants to complement a dish rather than overwhelm it.
With that in mind, I wanted to add a simple and fresh winter salsa. Additional chiles were unnecessary, but the fresh citrus from the orange and surprise tartness from the pomegranate was absolutely perfect.
As for the other toppings, those came naturally.
The avocado is a must as it gives these little bites of heaven a bit of creaminess. The avocado also replaced the need for cheese or sour cream, which helped keep these tacos dairy-free.
And what about that jicama? A root vegetable native to Mexico, jicama is often overlooked but makes a huge impact on these tacos. Relatively flavorless, jicama is a fiber powerhouse and gives these harissa lamb tacos CRUNCH! Each taco only needs a few jicama matchsticks, just enough to keep them from falling flat.
If you try cooking this slow cooker harissa lamb taco recipe, please leave me a comment and let me know! I always love to hear your thoughts.
For more slow cooker recipes check out,
- Slow Cooker Jambalaya Stew
- Slow Cooker Creamy Chicken Pasta
- Chili Verde Pork Burrito Bowls (Slow Cooker)
- Lime Teriyaki Shredded Beef Tacos (Slow Cooker)
- Slow Cooker Beef Bourguignon
For more taco recipes check out,
- Instant Pot Shredded Salsa Chicken Tacos (+ Video)
- Salsa Verde Cauliflower and Lentil Tacos
- Spicy Shrimp Tacos with Mango Watermelon Salsa
- Vegetarian Kitchen Sink Tacos with Tempeh
- Baked Bang Bang Cauliflower Tacos
DON’T FORGET TO PIN AND SHARE THIS LAMB TACO RECIPE TO MAKE FOR A FAST, FUN, AND EASY DINNER THE WHOLE FAMILY WILL LOVE.
REMEMBER TO SUBSCRIBE TO THE FORKED SPOON NEWSLETTER FOR FREE AND RECEIVE WEEKLY RECIPE NOTIFICATIONS DELIVERED STRAIGHT TO YOUR INBOX!
Slow Cooker Harissa Lamb Tacos
For the Slow Cooker Harissa Lamb
For the Pomegranate Salsa
- 1 small red onion (minced)
- 1 cup green onion (chopped)
- 1 cup fresh cilantro (roughly chopped)
- 1.5 cups pomegranate arils
- 3 oranges (peeled and chopped)
- 1 lime (juiced)
For the Tacos
- 3 large avocados
- 1 large lime (plus more for serving)
- 1 large jicama (peeled and cut into matchsticks)
For the Slow Cooker Harissa Lamb
- Rub the entire surface of the lamb with 2 tablespoons Harissa paste.
- Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the lamb to the skillet and brown on all sides until golden brown, approximately 3-5 minutes on each side. Transfer the lamb to the slow cooker and brush with 2 more tablespoons harissa paste.
- Return the skillet to medium-high heat and add the sliced onion. Sauté the onions in the lamb grease until they just start to soften, approximately 3 minutes. Stir frequently.
- Add the sautéed onions and the chicken broth to the slow cooker and cook on high for 5 hours, or low for 8 hours.
- Once the lamb has finished cooking, transfer to a clean plate to cool. Scoop out the cooked onions into a large, clean bowl and set aside. Reserve half the cooking juices leftover in the slow cooker and mix with the final two tablespoons harissa paste. *
- Shred the lamb using two forks (or your hands) and transfer to the bowl with the cooked onions. Pour the broth and harissa mixture over the shredded lamb and gently stir to combine. Top with chopped cilantro and green onion, if desired. Set aside.
For the Pomegranate Salsa
- To a medium bowl combine the red onion, green onion, cilantro, pomegranate arils, orange, and fresh lime juice. Gently toss to combine.
For the Tacos
- Just before serving, add the peeled and pitted avocado to a bowl. Use a fork to smash the avocado until creamy, but not quite smooth. Stir in the juice from one lime and season with salt and pepper, if desired.
- Build each taco- start with your favorite tortilla (flour or corn) and a generous layer of avocado. Top each with a scoop of shredded harissa lamb, pomegranate salsa, and jicama sticks. Enjoy!
(Nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and specific brands of ingredients used.)