Traditional Irish Stew

Traditional Irish Stew in a casserole and a small bowl

The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

Prep: 20 mins
Cook: 2 hrs 20 mins
Total: 2 hrs 40 mins
Servings: 4 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
765 Calories
34g Fat
83g Carbs
35g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4
Amount per serving
Calories 765
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 34g 44%
Saturated Fat 9g 47%
Cholesterol 96mg 32%
Sodium 1073mg 47%
Total Carbohydrate 83g 30%
Dietary Fiber 9g 30%
Total Sugars 9g
Protein 35g
Vitamin C 28mg 141%
Calcium 144mg 11%
Iron 7mg 37%
Potassium 2026mg 43%
*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.)

Nothing is more warming and filling than a delicious bowl of Irish stew, a popular dish from Ireland and loved the world over. It was traditionally made with mutton (sheep), but it is now often made with the easier-to-find lamb. Either meat will make a delicious, hearty stew.

Controversy reigns over whether adding vegetables other than potatoes makes the perfect Irish stew, but the choice is yours. Adding onions, leeks, carrots, and cabbage does add extra flavor and nutrition to the stew and means that little else is needed to make it a meal.

Though a hugely popular dish on St Patrick's Day, it's far too good to reserve for a few days a year—eat it when you want something comforting and warming. Serve with crusty bread to soak up all of the delicious sauce.

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"This Irish stew was excellent. Prep was easy and the stew came together quickly. I liked the fact that the stew was cooked in the oven (after the initial browning). I used red potatoes, which broke down a bit over the long cooking time, but they were small to begin with." —Diana Rattray

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Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided

  • 1 pound lamb cutlets or mutton (bones removed, cut into 2-inch/5-centimeter chunks), divided

  • 2 pounds potatoes (peeled and cut into quarters), divided

  • 1 cup roughly chopped carrots, divided

  • 1 cup roughly chopped onion, divided

  • 1 cup finely sliced leeks, cleaned and divided

  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

  • 3 cups dark beef stock (1 1/2 pints)

  • 2 or 3 cabbage leaves, thinly sliced, optional

  • Salt, to taste

  • Pepper, to taste

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients. Preheat the oven to 350 F/180 C/Gas Mark 4.

    Ingredients for traditional Irish stew

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  2. In a large frying pan, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil until hot but not smoking. Add half of the lamb pieces and brown all over by turning in the hot oil.

    Cooking lamb pieces in a frying pan

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  3. Remove the lamb pieces with tongs and place them in a Dutch oven or ovenproof stockpot.

    Lamb pieces in a casserole

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  4. Cover with half of the potatoes, half of the carrots, half of the onion, and half of the leeks.

    Carrots, onions, leeks, and potatoes over lamb in a casserole

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  5. Add the remaining oil to the frying pan and heat. Add the remaining lamb and brown all over as before and add to the Dutch oven.

    Lamb, potatoes, carrots, leeks, and onions in a casserole

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  6. Cover with the remaining potatoes, remaining onion, remaining leeks, and remaining carrots.

    Potatoes, carrots, leeks, onions, and lamb in a casserole

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  7. Add the flour to the still-hot frying pan and stir really well to soak up any fat and juices. Cook over low heat for 3 minutes.

    Flour and lamb fat in a frying pan

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  8. Add the stock a ladle at a time and mix until you have a thick, lump-free sauce. You will not add all of the stock.

    Sauce and flour mixture in pan

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  9. Pour this sauce over the lamb and vegetables.

    Sauce on top of the Irish stew ingredients in a casserole

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  10. Add the remaining stock to the Dutch oven, cover with a tight-fitting lid, and cook in the preheated oven for 1 hour.

    Cooking traditional Irish stew in a casserole

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  11. Add the cabbage (if using), replace the lid, and cook for another hour. Check from time to time to make sure the stock hasn't reduced too much. If it has, add a little boiling water. The meat and vegetables should always be covered in liquid. If the sauce is too runny at the end, you can always cook the stew a little longer with the lid removed.

  12. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve piping hot and enjoy.

    Traditional Irish stew in a casserole and a small bowl

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

How to Store

Like all stews and casseroles, this Irish stew tastes just as good, if not better, the next day. It will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to three days.

Tip

There are basically three types of potatoes: starchy, waxy, and all-purpose. Starchy potatoes will break down, while waxy will remain intact and hold their shape; all-purpose fall somewhere in the middle. The recommended type of potato for stew is waxy, but you can use a combination if you'd like some of the potatoes to help thicken the sauce. A russet potato is an example of starchy. Some examples of waxy potatoes are new potatoes, red bliss, and fingerlings. Yukon Gold are considered all-purpose.

What Is the Difference Between Beef Stew and Irish Stew?

Irish stew is traditionally made using mutton or lamb, while beef stew is made with beef.

How Do You Thicken Irish Stew?

If your Irish stew is not as thick as you'd like, try simmering it on the stovetop with the lid off for several minutes. If your stew contains potatoes, you can simply mash a few and stir. You can also thicken it with a cornstarch slurry made by combining a small amount of cornstarch with a little water to make a thin paste. Add to the stew and simmer until thickened.

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