Traditional Lamb Kawarma Recipe (or Goat)

This Kawarma recipe is a traditional dish made from tender chopped lamb, typically served with creamy hummus or with a lemon sauce, but the origins of the recipe are much deeper and rooted in tradition. In the days before refrigeration, fatty pieces of meat would be salted and seasoned with warm spices, cut into small pieces, and then slowly cooked until the fat renders.

A jar of lamb kawarma in its own fat.
The finished kawarma is shelf-stable in the refrigerator.

After the fat was rendered, the lamb mixture would be preserved in it. As long as the meat was completely covered with fat, no air, and with it, bacteria, could get in to spoil the meat. Similar processes, or preservation methods known as “air-exclusion” have been used around the world in various cultures.

Dicing pieces of lamb shoulder to make kawarma.
Cut the lamb or goat into small pieces. Shoulder or another fatty cut is good to use.

During the season when there was no fresh meat, and before the days of food processors and canning, the pieces of lamb could be ladled out, cooked over high heat, (which serves as an additional layer of sterilization) and served with a number of traditional dishes. Typically you’ll see references to dishes of the kawarma served with hummus, but another great version is shakshuka, or a type of spicy egg dish with tomatoes and hot chilis.

A jar of warm rendered lamb tallow.
Cook the kawarma slowly in rendered lamb tallow for the most traditional flavor. You can purchase our ready-made tallow here.

At home, you can easily make a small batch of kawarma with our grass fed lamb or goat, using some of our rendered tallow, or even substituting oil in a pinch. Tallow is preferable though, since it firms when cooled, allowing for the best air-tight seal after cooling and refrigerating. After slow-cooking in the oven, you can ladle out the pieces of slow-cooked, lamb, fry them a bit, and add to anything you like, but we recommend them with eggs, per chefs recipe, but doing a google search for kawarma can show you some additional ideas.

A dish of shakshuka made with lamb kawarma in a cast iron pan.
Shakshuka made with lamb kawarma.

Chef Alan Bergo
Chef Alan Bergo

This recipe is by James Beard Award-winning Chef Alan Bergo. He’s a chef from Minnesota and author of The Forager Chef’s Book of Flora. Learn more about Chef Alan at 

Shepherd Song Farm: Grass to table. We raise lambs & goats traditionally, humanely and sustainably. 100% Grass Fed, Pasture Raised, Never Confined, no Hormones, Grains or Animal Byproducts. Born, raised and processed in the U.S.A. Good for you and good for the environment.

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Lamb or goat kawarma
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Traditional Lamb Kawarma Recipe (or Goat)

A traditional preserve of lamb in its own fat for serving with hummus or in dishes like shakshuka.
Prep Time30 minutes
Cook Time2 hours
Total Time2 hours 30 minutes
Course: Side Dish, Snack
Cuisine: Arabic
Keyword: Goat, Lamb
Servings: 8 servings
Calories: 76kcal
Cost: 5


  • Mason jar or other tall container


  • 1 lb lamb or goat shoulder meat or stew meat cut into ½ inch pieces. Ground lamb can also be used.
  • 1 teaspoons (9 grams) kosher salt
  • 1 ¾ cups rendered lamb fat cooking oil can be used but is a poor substitute
  • ¼ teaspoon Baharat seasoning optional


  • Combine the diced lamb or goat meat with the salt and Baharat and allow to marinate overnight.
  • The next day, sweat the meat in the pan you’ll put in the oven, such as a 2-3 quart sauce pan, but do not brown it, just cook it gently and stir so the meat doesn’t stick together.
  • Add the fat to the pan, and bake for 2 hours @ 300F, then cool and store in a container like a mason jar.
  • For the best flavor, allow the karama to age in the refrigerator for at least a week before using.


  • Warm up the meat in its fat and spoon the warm kawarma over a bowl of hummus with warm pita bread, or use in dishes like shakshuka.


Hummus Kawarma (Hummus with Lamb)

This makes a great appetizer spooned on homemade hummus seasoned well with fresh lemon juice. Toast a few pine nuts and add leaves of torn mint and olive oil for a special dish.


Serving: 2oz | Calories: 76kcal | Protein: 11g | Fat: 3g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 37mg | Sodium: 37mg | Potassium: 161mg | Calcium: 5mg | Iron: 1mg