This post has been updated for recipe, content and photos since its original publication in 2015.
If you’re scratching your head looking for great lamb chunk recipes, this slow cooked lamb is one of the BEST. I know superlatives abound on the internet, but seriously, this Irish Lamb Stew is everything you want in a hearty, home-cooked meal. Braise the lamb chunks in consommé or broth and a healthy dose of Guinness stout beer. With fresh and frozen vegetables and a savory carbonnade style sauce, this Guinness Irish stew recipe is perfect for St. Patrick’s Day celebrating… with a pint, of course.
This is the Irish lamb stew you dream about. It’s loaded with meaty lamb chunks, tender vegetables and a umami-rich, tongue-coating sauce that you’ll want to sop up with a piece of soda bread or biscuit. This slow cooked lamb recipe is best made the day before you serve it. Plan accordingly.
Ingredients for guinness braised Irish lamb stew
- Lamb Chunks
- Bay Leaves
- Consommé or Beef Broth
- Guinness Stout or other Irish Stout Beer
- Frozen Pearl Onions
- Frozen Peas
- Fresh Parsley
- Browning Sauce (optional)
Tips on preparing the vegetables
- Prep the vegetables BEFORE you start cooking. It streamlines the process.
- Cut the onion in thin, slices (about 1/2″ wide) from root to tip.
- Leeks have many layers and as they grow in the soil, dirt oftentimes becomes trapped in between the layers. The most effect way to clean leeks is to cut them in half, vertically, then chop them into half-inch pieces, crosswise. Transfer the chopped leeks to a bowl filled with cool water and swish with your hands so that any dirt in between the layers falls to the bottom of the bowl. Scoop the leeks from the water with a spider or slotted spoon and transfer to a salad spinner to dry. (Trust me, you’ll see sand and grit at the bottom of that water bowl and you don’t want it in your Irish lamb stew.
What’s the best cooking vessel for Guiness Irish stew?
I recommend using a Dutch oven for this slow cooked lamb. It provides a constant, even heat and makes your house smell wonderful as it cooks (that’s one downfall of the Instant Pot — you can’t smell what you’re cooking). That said, you can use an Instant Pot or Slow Cooker (though you’d have to brown the lamb in a separate pan before braising it).
Layering the stew with rich smoky flavors
This slow cooked Guinness Irish stew gets its deep flavors from a multitude of ingredients, starting with bacon. Crisping the bacon in the dutch oven renders fat that you’ll use to brown the lamb in and create a delectable fond.
- Chop the bacon into chunks and cook in a dutch oven until the fat is rendered and the bacon bits are crispy and golden.
- Transfer the bacon to a dish lined with a paper towel to soak up the excess grease & reserve for garnish.
What kind of lamb chunks to use for this recipe?
Lamb Shank – Taken from the lower part of the back legs, lamb shanks have meat and collagen — perfect for slow braising — because the collagen will break down leaving a silky mouth feel to the sauce. The tougher shank also becomes meltingly tender. If you can’t find chunked lamb shank, you can certainly use 3 or 4 whole shanks for this recipe. When the lamb is done braising, simply pull the meat from the bones and cut the lamb into bite size pieces or chunks.
Leg of Lamb – This is the cut I used for this Guinness Irish stew. Of course the leg works hard too, and this cut has a good strong flavor that’s able to stand up to the malty stout. Have your butcher cut the lamb from the bone and chunk it for you. If you can hold onto the bone to braise with the stew, it will add even more flavor to the slow cooked lamb.
Lamb Shoulder – The shoulder tends to be a tougher cut, because it’s constantly being worked, however, when you’re braising, those tougher cuts transform into fork-tender lamb chunks and are perfect for this recipe.
Browning lamb chunks an a Dutch oven
- Season the lamb with salt and pepper.
- Working in batches, brown the lamb in the hot bacon fat in the Dutch oven, turning the meat with a pair of tongs until all sides have browned.
- Transfer the seared meat to a plate and continue browning the lamb chunks.
- When all the lamb is browned, return it to the dutch oven and add the onions, celery, carrots, parsnips and leeks.
Sweat the vegetables with the lamb
- After stirring the vegetables into the lamb, place the lid on and let them sweat and simmer for about 3-4 minutes, just until they start to wilt and the onions and leeks become slightly translucent.
- Add the bundle of thyme, fresh chopped rosemary, bay leaves and chunks of red potatoes to the Dutch oven.
- Stir to combine.
Braising liquid for the stew
The gaminess of lamb pairs perfectly with a good Irish stout like Guinness. For this Irish stew, I use a combination of consommé and Guinness stout to braise the lamb. As it cooks, the lamb becomes more tender and the braising liquid takes on the flavors of meat, vegetables and herbs to create a sauce that’s absolutely delectable.
The hard part…
About halfway through the braise, remove the Guiness lamb stew from the oven and add about half of the frozen pearl onions.
Stir them in well, so they’re mixed with the rest of the ingredients and return the stew to the oven for more braising time. During that last braise, the onions will cook down to a softer texture and further flavor the stock.
This is the hard part. Remove the lamb stew from the oven and don’t eat it. (I know. It SMELLS SO GOOD). Instead, let it cool to room temperature, then refrigerate it overnight.
Removing fat from the stew
The difference between a rich, flavorful sauce and a greasy sauce is how efficiently you can remove the fat from the pot. Sure, you can use a spoon and try to skim away as much as you can, however, I’ve found the refrigeration method to be the most effective.
When refrigerated, the fats harden into solids that can be lifted from the top of the stew and discarded. This leaves you with just the rich, meaty sauce and none of the excess grease. It’s noticeable in the finished product and you and your diners will appreciate that extra step.
The last steps for this Irish lamb stew recipe are adding more stout and consommé, so that there’s plenty of deeply concentrated, rich gravy and thickening the sauce.
Finishing the sauce for the Guinness lamb stew
- Place the dutch oven over medium heat and add the remaining consommé and Guinness stout.
- Heat the lamb stew just to the boiling point.
- While the stew is heating, mix together the butter and flour, by mashing it with the back of a fork until you have a thick paste and no dry bits of flour remain.
- When the stew boils, stir in the flour mixture until it’s dissolved in the lamb stew and the sauce thickens.
- Stir in the frozen peas and parsley (the residual heat from the stew will warm the peas).
- Serve with the reserved crispy bacon, if desired.
So, come on. Doesn’t this look amazing? I only wish you could be in the kitchen to appreciate the savory aromas that wafted through the house.
My friend, Nola, came over as the Irish lamb stew was cooling (on the first day) and her first words were, “Oh wow! Lisa, what SMELLS SO GOOD?” I can’t tell you how disappointed she was that it wouldn’t be ready until the next day, because she was actively searching my kitchen drawers for a fork. Make this for your St. Patrick’s Day celebrations and be sure to serve it with some extra Guinness to wash it all down.
More St. Patrick’s day dishes & meals:
- Amazing Corned Beef From Scratch
- Irish Stout Braised Chicken Thighs
- Extra Stout Beef Carbonnade
- Soused Irish Whisky Orange Bundt Cake
- Corned Beef Hash with Shaved Brussels
More delicious lamb recipes:
- Chard and White Bean Stuffed Leg of Lamb
- Grilled Herb Crusted Lamb Kebabs
- Braised Lamb Shanks
- Mint Chimichurri Lamb Chops
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Guinness Stout Irish Lamb Stew
- 1 leek
- 2 stalk celery diced
- 1 medium yellow onion thinly sliced
- 3 carrots peeled and cut into 1" pieces
- 4 slices bacon chopped
- 3 pounds lamb chunks from a leg of lamb, chunked into 1" pieces, excess fat and silver skin trimmed
- 2 parsnips peeled and cut into 1" pieces
- 1/2 pound red skinned potatoes cut into bite sized chunks
- 4 sprigs thyme tied with a string
- 1 teaspoon freshly chopped rosemary
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 cups beef broth or consomme divided
- 2 11 ounce bottles Guinness or other irish stout divided
- 10 ounces frozen pearl onions
- 1 cup frozen peas
- 1/4 cup chopped parsley
- 1 1/2 tablespoons butter
- 1 1/2 tablespoons flour
- 1 teaspoon browning sauce optional
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
- In a large dutch oven, brown the chopped bacon over medium high heat. Transfer crisped bacon to a paper towel lined dish. Set aside.
- In two or three batches, brown lamb in dutch oven, using bacon fat to sear the meat. Use tongs to turn the chunks of lamb over and brown all sides.
- Add all the lamb back to the pot and stir in the leeks, celery onion, parsnips and carrots. Cook over medium heat for 3-4 minutes until vegetables begin to soften. Stir in the potatoes.
- Tie the thyme bundle with a kitchen string and add to the pot. Add rosemary bay leaves, 1 cup of broth and 1 bottle of stout. Heat just to boiling, place the lid tightly on the pot and transfer to the oven. Braise for 1 1/2 hours. Add the pearl onions and braise for an additional hour.
- Remove the stew from the oven. Let the lamb stew cool to room temperature and refrigerate overnight.
- The next day, scoop any solid fats from the stew and discard.
- Place the stew over medium heat to warm through. Stir in the remaining beef broth and Guinness stout, heat just to boiling.
- While the lamb stew is reheating, combine the flour and butter in a small bowl. Mash together with the back of a fork to form a paste (aka beurre marnier). Once stew is simmering briskly, stir in the butter mixture until it dissolves in the stew and the stew thickens.
- Stir in the browning sauce, if using. Add frozen peas and parsley and stir to combine. The heat from the stew will thaw the peas. Serve.