Traditional Irish Stew

Traditional Irish stew in a Dutch oven and a small bowl sprinkled with parsley

The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

Prep: 20 mins
Cook: 2 hrs 20 mins
Total: 2 hrs 40 mins
Servings: 4 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
663 Calories
27g Fat
78g Carbs
29g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4
Amount per serving
Calories 663
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 27g 35%
Saturated Fat 7g 36%
Cholesterol 72mg 24%
Sodium 1015mg 44%
Total Carbohydrate 78g 29%
Dietary Fiber 8g 30%
Total Sugars 9g
Protein 29g
Vitamin C 28mg 139%
Calcium 129mg 10%
Iron 6mg 33%
Potassium 1961mg 42%
*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.


Click Play to See This Traditional Irish Stew Recipe Come Together

Tips for Making Irish Stew

  • There are basically three types of potatoes: starchy, waxy, and all-purpose. Starchy potatoes (like russets) will break down, while waxy (like red-skinned potatoes) will remain intact and hold their shape; all-purpose (like Yukon Golds) 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 break down and help thicken the sauce.
  • Feel free to use boneless lamb stew meat for this recipe instead of cutlets. If lamb is hard to source where you live, substitute beef stew meat.
  • The consistency of this stew can be adjusted in a couple ways. If you find it too thick, add more beef stock. If too thin, simmer the stew, uncovered, at the end of cooking until thickened to your liking.
  • Cooking this stew in the oven rather than on the stovetop helps it cook more evenly, avoiding the risk of boiling, which can toughen the meat. However, you can cook this on the stovetop over very low heat. Just be sure to check in on it every once in a while to make sure it isn't simmering too briskly.

"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

Traditional Irish Stew Tester Image
A Note From Our Recipe Tester


  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided

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

  • 2 pounds waxy 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.

    Ingredients for traditional Irish stew recipe gathered

    The Spruce Eats / 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.

    Lamb chunks being browned in frying pan with ample space between them

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

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

    Browned lamb chunks placed in a Dutch oven

    The Spruce Eats / 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 added to lamb in Dutch oven

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

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

    Remaining browned lamb chunks added to Dutch oven with lamb and vegetables

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

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

    Remaining potatoes, carrots, leeks, and onions added to casserole

    The Spruce Eats / 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 added to lamb fat in the frying pan and being stirred with a wooden spoon

    The Spruce Eats / 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.

    Stock gradually added to frying pan and stirred with wooden spoon to a thick, smooth sauce

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

  9. Pour this sauce over the lamb and vegetables.

    Sauce poured over stew ingredients in Dutch oven

    The Spruce Eats / 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.

    Stock added to Irish stew in Dutch oven

    The Spruce Eats / 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.

    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 four days.

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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