Spicy Lamb Stew

Updated, from the recipe archive. First posted 2006.

We love lamb around here, every which way—braised, roasted, grilled, and even made into meatballs. Here is a spicy lamb stew, that is almost beefy in taste. Think of it as a spicy lamb pot roast. The recipe is adapted from The Niman Ranch Cookbook, where it is billed as a tagine, a savory Moroccan stew. Lamb shoulder pieces are browned, and then slow cooked in stock and spices such as cumin, paprika, and cardamom. Slow cooking, at a low, even temperature is important for the lamb shoulder to become tender. We cooked this stew on the stove-top, but you could easily make it in a slow-cooker or even a traditional Moroccan tagine.

Spicy Lamb Stew Recipe

  • Prep time: 25 minutes
  • Cook time: 3 hours, 30 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4-6.

You will get more flavor if you use less expensive lamb pieces that come bone-in, in which case you'll likely want to remove the bones before serving. Pick lamb pieces that have some fat.



  • 2-3 lbs of lamb shoulder stew meat, cut into 1½-inch cubes
  • Olive oil
  • 2 yellow onions, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 red bell peppers, chopped
  • 2 dry pasilla chiles, chopped, stems and most seeds removed
  • 1 Tbsp hot Hungarian paprika*
  • 1½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • Pinch of ground cardamon
  • 1½ cups chicken stock (use gluten-free stock for gluten-free version)
  • 14 oz of canned whole tomatoes, put through a food mill, or puréed
  • 8-10 sprigs fresh flat leaf parsley
  • 4-5 sprigs of thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2/3 cup raisins
  • Salt and pepper

* Hot Hungarian paprika is not the regular Hungarian paprika which is sweet and mild. It is even hotter than cayenne. If you don't have access to hot paprika, I would substitute 1/2 with sweet paprika and 1/2 with chili powder.


1 Pat the lamb dry with a paper towel. Drying the lamb this way first will help the lamb pieces brown. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large, heavy, high-sided pot, such as a Dutch oven, over medium high heat. When the pot is hot, add the lamb pieces in batches, being careful not to crowd them. Cook, turning as needed so that the lamb pieces brown evenly on all sides, for 6-8 minutes. Transfer to a bowl.

2 Return the pot to medium-high heat. Add the onions, dried peppers and red bell peppers and stir to coat with the oil in the pot. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook 1 more minute.

3 Make a bouquet garni by placing the parsley, thyme and bay leaf in the center of a doubled over cheesecloth square. Gather the ends and secure with kitchen string.

4 Stir in the paprika, cumin, and cardamom and cook for a minute. Add the puréed (or cooked tomatoes put through a food mill) tomatoes, lamb, chicken stock, raisins and bouquet garni. Bring to a boil over high heat, decrease heat to low. Cook, partially covered, for about 3 hours, or until lamb is tender.

Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Serve over couscous or rice (gluten-free option).

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Recipe adapted from a Village Pub lamb tagine recipe in the Niman Ranch Cookbook.

Showing 4 of 15 Comments

  • mscocolove


    I made this recipe in a slow cooker on Saturday night for our Easter Sunday feast.

    I followed all of the directions up until I needed to cook it for 3hrs. I also used the 1/2 paprika, 1/2 chili powder mixture.

    Instead, I heated up the slow cooker first (by putting water in it, and turning it on), and then I heated up the chicken broth in a separate pot, and then when the slow cooker was nice and hot, I poured out the water, poured in the chicken broth and all of the other ingredients from the recipe that had been simmering in a large pot. Then I put my slow cooker on HIGH for 3.5 hours and BOY WAS IT TASTY! The meat was simply falling apart!!

    We served it with some Basmati Saffon Rice, some Tomatoes Stuffed with Tabouleh Salad, and some Dolmas.

    We will definitely make this again. It is truly delicious!

  • David Holtz

    I have made this recipe a number of times and it is one of my favorite things to make and eat. Mine always tends to look much darker than the picture above, but it is absolutely delicious.

  • Anna

    This is the 1st recipe I ever made from your website and when trying to impress my fiance. It was a big hit and I haven’t made it again yet but I am going to next week. You have too much stuff on here to make this often :)

  • Anna

    MMMMM so good. I am eating this right now! I finally made it again, this time I used a leg of lamb because that is what I had and I doubled the recipe. It is amazingly delicious. Also last time I had no pasilla chilies but I do this time. I love the multifaceted flavor of this dish, it is not as spicy as one would think, and the heat definatley comes down with cooking. It has this gentle heat with sweet undertones. It does not leave a burn in your mouth at all. Sooooo yummy. I served it with plain rice b/c hubby hates couscous …

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