For taco Tuesday or any day, it’s prime time to spice up taco night with ground lamb tacos. My easy lamb tacos can be on your table in just 25 minutes; far quicker than delivery!
Table of contents
Why We Love These Ground Lamb Tacos
If you, too, grew up in a family that mixed a pound of ground beef with a packet of taco seasoning mix, your taste buds are in for quite the adventure with these ground lamb tacos. Not only is the lamb itself a level-up in the flavor department, but the warm seasonings and spicy harissa layer on just enough kick. Tame the heat with the refreshing yogurt sauce, and you have one totally unforgettable lamb taco night.
Ground lamb tacos are the ultimate pairing for my Charred Lime & Jalapeño Margaritas. Who’s ready to salsa?
- Ground lamb: Richer in flavor than beef, lamb is popular in many Middle Easter and South Asian recipes. Look for it at your local butcher; most supermarket meat counters also now carry ground lamb. You can also grind your own lamb at home using a piece of lamb leg. Simply cut it into chunks and run it through the meat grinder attachment on your stand mixer.
- Harissa: This fiery, garlicky, ruby-hue Tunisian spice paste is one of my favorite staple condiments. Classically, harissa is served with couscous recipes or as a topping for soups and stews. Here, it lends a punch to the ground lamb taco filling. Most supermarkets and international markets sell jars of harissa, as does Amazon. Or try your hand at making some homemade harissa!
- Nonfat plain Greek yogurt: To balance harissa’s heat beautifully, I call for topping these lamb tacos with a fresh, bright and cool yogurt-feta sauce with fresh mint and lemon.
- Feta cheese: I adore the salty quality this lends to the yogurt sauce. Crumbled fresh goat cheese is a solid substitute if you prefer.
- Persian cucumbers: With thinner skins and fewer seeds than traditional cucumbers (translation: a less watery, easier to eat as a taco topping), slice these into slim coins to toss on top of the ground lamb tacos. In combination with the yogurt-feta sauce, it makes for a tzatziki-like experience.
- Quick pickled onions: The vinegary punch from something pickled helps cut through the luscious cream sauce and overall rich lamb flavor. Again, you can buy these at many supermarkets and online, but it’s a breeze to make homemade pickled onions.
You can definitely make these tacos with whatever meat you prefer (or have on hand). Ground meat works best since this lamb taco recipe was developed using ground lamb, but you could easily swap in thinly sliced beef or chicken and cook it briefly with the spices. If you go that route, I would recommend adding a bit more oil to the pan before adding the sliced meat.
– Ground beef
– Ground turkey
– Ground chicken
– Ground pork
– Veggie crumbles (TVP)
– Firm tofu (drained, pressed and crumbled)
Stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator, the ground lamb tacos filling will last up to 4 days.
How to Make Lamb Tacos
These ground lamb tacos come together in less than half an hour. They’re just this easy:
- Sauté onion until soft.
- Add garlic, cumin, coriander and salt and sauté just until fragrant.
- Add lamb and cook, breaking up with a spoon, until cooked through.
- Drain off drippings (this is important, lamb is pretty fatty and skipping this step will create greasy tacos).
- Stir in harissa and cook until heated through.
- Mix together ingredients for yogurt sauce.
- Assemble and enjoy!
Test Kitchen Tips
- Drip it good. Don’t forget to drain the meat before adding in the harissa (you’ll drain off about ⅓ cup of grease)! Ground lamb can be quite fatty, draining the meat ensures your tacos won’t be greasy!
- Spice accordingly. 1½ tablespoons (1 tablespoon + 1½ teaspoons) of harissa was the perfect amount of spice for me. If you’re sensitive to heat, start with 1 tablespoon. If you love it, try using 2 tablespoons.
What to Serve with Lamb Tacos
These lamb tacos pack in loads of bold savory, spicy flavor. Serve these street-style tacos with something bright, fresh and maybe even a touch sweet. We like lemon or lime wedges, pickled jalapeños or onions, sour cream or Greek yogurt, and maybe even a fresh pico de gallo from time to time. Round out the taco menu with any or all of these side dishes and desserts:
- ZK’s Secret Ingredient Guacamole
- Simple Radish Salad with Fresh Herbs
- Winter Citrus Salad
- Herbed Salad with Grapefruit Cardamom Vinaigrette
- Sparkling Rhubarb-Lemon Ice
Spicy Harissa Lamb Tacos
For the filling:
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 cup diced onion
- 2 teaspoons ground coriander
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 2 teaspoons minced garlic
- kosher salt and black pepper
- 1 pound ground lamb
- 1½ tablespoons harissa (1 tablespoon + 1½ teaspoons)
For the yogurt sauce:
- 1 lemon, zested and cut into wedges
- 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
- ¼ cup crumbled feta
- 2 tablespoons minced fresh mint
- ¼ teaspoon minced fresh garlic
- 8 (6-inch) corn tortillas, warmed
- 3 Persian cucumbers, thinly sliced
- ⅔ cup fresh cilantro and/or parsley (I like a mix of the two)
- Quick pickled red onions
Ground Lamb Filling
- Heat oil in a large sauté pan over medium until shimmering. Add onion and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add coriander, cumin, garlic, and 1 teaspoon kosher salt and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
- Add lamb and cook, crushing with a wooden spoon, until cooked through, 5 minutes. Drain off drippings. Stir in harissa and cook 1 more minute.
- Juice 1 or two lemon wedges to get 1 teaspoon lemon juice (reserve the remaining wedges for serving). Mix together 1 teaspoon lemon juice, ½ teaspoon lemon zest, yogurt, feta, mint, and ¼ teaspoon garlic; season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Serve ground lamb in corn tortillas, top with yogurt sauce, cucumbers, cilantro, parsley and pickled onions. Serve with lemon wedges.