Inside: Learn how to make this delicious and authentic barbacoa de borrego recipe which is a popular Mexican dish for holiday celebrations and more.
This post was sponsored by The Spice Hunter. All opinions are my own.
Growing up on my grandparents’ farm in Mexico meant that we had a lot of fresh meat all the time. We had pigs, cows, chickens, and of course lamb. This, combined with my grandma’s cooking skills, made for some amazing meals. One of those meals that was always a favorite of mine is barbacoa – made with lamb or with beef.
I previously shared my recipe for beef barbacoa, and it is very popular! Today, however, I am excited to share this recipe for lamb barbacoa, or barbacoa de borrego in Spanish.
What is Barbacoa de Borrego?
Barbacoa de Borrego is an authentic Mexican dish that is made from lamb meat, combined with delicious herbs and spices. It is traditionally cooked slowly until it is very tender and can be shredded easily.
In Mexico, my grandma and grandpa would cook barbacoa de borrego in an underground fire pit, wrapped in banana leaves and cooked over a period of many hours. This made for a delicious taste, although it was definitely a lot of work too! At that time, it was the best way to make it because there weren’t all of the great cooking tools that we enjoy today.
For my version today, I am going to show you how to make it using an electric pressure cooker. You can also make this over the stove using the same spices and ingredients, but using the pressure cooker makes it go faster and doesn’t sacrifice flavor.
How do you make Barbacoa de Borrego?
Aside from using lamb instead of beef, the method of preparation for lamb barbacoa is different from that of beef barbacoa. Beef barbacoa ends up with a delicious red sauce from the cooking process, while lamb barbacoa is “blanco” meaning that the broth isn’t red.
Barbacoa de borrego gets much of its great flavor from the herbs and spices that it is cooked with. Those herbs and spices include some of the following (see recipe for full ingredient list and instructions):
- Bay Leaves
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All of these seasonings are combined with the rest of the ingredients shown in the recipe below, and added to the pot with the lamb. Then you will cook it according to the electric pressure cooker’s instructions. I cooked it on high pressure for about one and a half hours and it turned out great.
I always use the natural pressure release method as I feel it gives better and more tender results.
Once it is finished, you remove it and shred it and then it can be served as tacos or as a standalone dish with the caldo.
When is Lamb Barbacoa served?
This recipe is most often made and served for celebrations such as birthdays, quinceneras, Christmas, and New Year, but honestly it can be made anytime you want to have a tasty meal to serve a lot of people.
If there are any leftovers, you can use the meat in sandwiches, burritos, tacos, and more. You can also freeze it and defrost it later when you are ready to serve it again.
Let me know in the comments below how this turned out for you.
Check out these others great authentic Mexican recipes
- Authentic Mexican Pozole Blanco Recipe
- Authentic Mexican Rice Recipe
- Authentic Mexican Carne Asada
- Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas Tacos
- Tacos Al Pastor Recipe
Authentic Lamb Barbacoa (Barbacoa de Borrego)
- 4 Lbs Lamb Meat
- 1/2 Onion
- 1 Clove Garlic
- 3 Sprigs Fresh Thyme
- 2 Tbsp The Spice Hunter Oregano
- 1 Tbsp The Spice Hunter Mexican Seasoning
- 1 Tbsp The Spice Hunter Rosemary
- 1/2 Tbsp The Spice Hunter Smoked Paprika
- 1 Can beer optional (replace with 1 cup of water or chicken stock if desired)
- 1/2 Tsp White Pepper
- 4 Bay Leaves
- 1 Tbsp Ground Cumin
- 1 Tbsp White Vinegar
- 1/4 Cup Orange Juice
- Salt to taste
- 1 1/2 Cup Water
- Combine all of the ingredients except the lamb and the 1 1/2 cup of water in a large bowl and mix well.
- Add the lamb and make sure it is completely covered in the marinade
- Cover and let marinate over night or for at least 2 - 4 hours.
- Add the meat with the marinade to your pressure cooker pot and add a cup and a half of water.
- Cook on high pressure for 1 and 1/2 hours and release the pressure (natural release is preferred).
- Shred the meat and then strain the liquid, which can be used as a broth to serve with the meat if desired.
- The meat can be served on tacos, empanadas, soup, or by itself.
Heather R Reynolds
Tuesday 16th of November 2021
I'm curious what cuts of lamb to use. Stew meat? Shoulder? Shanks? Neck bones? If you used shanks though, I'm not su3r that 4 lbs would yield enough meat. I'd love to hear what cuts anyone else has used, and the quantity.
Sunday 21st of March 2021
This recipe sounds absolutely wonderful, and it would be a great use of a lamb roast I got in the freezer. I don't have a pressure cooker, but I do have a slow cooker/crockpot. How long would you recommend in the crockpot if choosing to use it for this recipe?
Looking forward to making this, whatever the case.
Friday 30th of April 2021
@Mooma, Thank you, regardless.
The slow cooker I have is a pretty simple one, with a mere knob to switch between off, warm, low, and high. For when I cooked the meal, I had it on for at least 12 hours - possibly up to 14 or 15. Pretty sure that would make good work of it.
Turned out fairly nice. Not bad with tacos, saucier than what I am used to. Thanks for the recipe.
Saturday 3rd of April 2021
I make most ‘pressure cooker’ recipes in my multi cooker on the slow cooker setting it works out the same just takes longer. I use the same time setting as it would to do a similar amount of meat as a saucy casserole. I haven’t tried this recipe yet but have made pork carnitas and Japanese char siu using this method. Hope I helped