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.

Photography Credit: 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.

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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

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
  • 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

* 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 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).

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

Elise Bauer

Elise Bauer is the founder of Simply Recipes. Elise launched Simply Recipes in 2003 as a way to keep track of her family's recipes, and along the way grew it into one of the most popular cooking websites in the world. Elise is dedicated to helping home cooks be successful in the kitchen. Elise is a graduate of Stanford University, and lives in Sacramento, California.

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21 Comments / Reviews

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Did you make it? Rate it!

  1. Kendra

    do you have suggestions for converting this to a pressure cooker /instant pot recipe? It sounds yummy!

    Show Replies (1)
  2. Mary

    I’ve never seen pasilla chiles around here, what can I substitute?

  3. GV

    Hi there! Can you advice as to other dishes I can accompany/complement this stew with? I organize community dinners so I have to provide enough options for all. Greatly appreciate it!

    Show Replies (1)
  4. graeme bethune

    is hot hungarian paprika the same as hot smoked hungarian paprika?

    Show Replies (1)
  5. Chandra

    I squeezed in half a lemon. Good stuff!


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