Spicy Lamb Stew

This spicy lamb stew takes lamb shoulder and cooks it tagine-style, low and slow with onions, garlic, peppers, spices, 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 over couscous
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 to 3 pounds of lamb shoulder stew meat, cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

  • 2 yellow onions, chopped

  • 2 pepper pasilla chiles, chopped, stems and most seeds removed

  • 2 red bell peppers, chopped

  • 4 cloves garlic, minced

  • 8 to 10 sprigs fresh flat leaf parsley

  • 4 to 5 sprigs thyme

  • 1 bay leaf

  • 1 tablespoons hot Hungarian paprika

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin

  • Pinch ground cardamon

  • 14 ounce canned whole tomatoes, put through a food mill, or puréed

  • cups chicken stock (use gluten-free stock for gluten-free version)

  • 2/3 cup raisins

  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black 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 6to 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).

Nutrition Facts (per serving)
359 Calories
14g Fat
26g Carbs
34g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4 to 6
Amount per serving
Calories 359
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 14g 18%
Saturated Fat 4g 19%
Cholesterol 99mg 33%
Sodium 322mg 14%
Total Carbohydrate 26g 9%
Dietary Fiber 4g 14%
Total Sugars 15g
Protein 34g
Vitamin C 45mg 224%
Calcium 80mg 6%
Iron 5mg 26%
Potassium 931mg 20%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate. In cases where multiple ingredient alternatives are given, the first listed is calculated for nutrition. Garnishes and optional ingredients are not included.