Spicy Lamb Stew

Spicy lamb stew, lamb shoulder slow cooked in white wine with onions, garlic, bell peppers, pasilla chiles, paprika, cumin, tomatoes, raisins, and herbs.

Spicy Lamb Stew
Elise Bauer

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
Elise Bauer

Spicy Lamb Stew

Prep Time 25 mins
Cook Time 3 hrs 30 mins
Total Time 3 hrs 55 mins
Servings 4 to 6 servings

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.

* 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.


  • 2-3 lbs of lamb shoulder stew meat, cut into 1½-inch cubes
  • Extra virgin 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

Special Equipment

  • Cheesecloth
  • Kitchen twine


  1. Sear the lamb on all sides:

    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. Sauté onions, peppers, chiles, garlic:

    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 with parsley, thyme, bay leaf:

    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. Add spices, tomatoes, lamb, stock, raisins, herbs, simmer and cook:

    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).