Braised Lamb Ragu
This is the ultimate ragu recipe. This hearty and delicious Braised Lamb Ragu is packed with tender shredded lamb in a rich sauce that really elevates it from an everyday pasta sauce, to something special.
When it comes to pasta sauces, I consider myself quite the connoisseur, so you have to trust me when I say this lamb ragu is the absolute best pasta sauce. While I love beef ragu or pork ragu, lamb ragu really is a step above. The depth of flavor from both the rich lamb and blend of spices really elevates this to the ultimate ragu sauce that is the perfect dish to serve for a special occasion. This is the first time I have ever felt proud to serve pasta to even the fanciest of guests, as the flavours really do resemble something found in a trattoria in Tuscany or top Italian restaurant.
Why You Will Love This Lamb Ragu Recipe
- The flavor! This isn’t your typical italian meat sauce, it tastes so much fancier thanks to the rich sauce and fall apart tender shreds of meat.
- It’s a great recipe to make a big batch of and store in the freezer to pull out on those cold winter nights when you are craving the ultimate comfort food, a big bowl of pasta.
- This lamb ragù recipe is great to make for guests, it’s a rich and decadent meal and best of all you can make it a few days in advance and simply reheat it while the pasta cooks.
- It’s a versatile recipe, you can cook it on the stove top and oven, or in a slow cooker or instant pot.
- This Lamb Ragu is Whole30, Grain Free, Gluten Free, Dairy Free, and Specific Carbohydrate Diet Legal.
Ingredients You Need To Make This Lamb Ragu
- Lamb: I recommend using lamb shoulder or a boneless leg of lamb.
- Carrots, Celery & Onion: cut the carrots, celery and onion into very small diced pieces so that they melt into the sauce as they cook.
- Mushrooms: I like using brown mushrooms but feel free to use white mushrooms, portobello or oyster. I like to dice them into very small pieces but feel free to cut them into larger slices if you want them to stand out more in the sauce.
- Spices & Herbs: Unlike beef or pork ragu which usually only contain a few fresh herbs, this lamb ragu recipe also uses coriander and cumin which give the sauce a warm depth of flavor.
- Red Wine: I would recommend using a full bodied red such as a Chianti, Merlot, Syrah or Cabernet Sauvignon.
- Canned Tomatoes & Tomato Paste: I like buying cans of whole plum tomatoes rather than chopped tomatoes which are often made with worse quality tomatoes.
- Beef Stock: Beef stock or lamb stock (which can be much harder to find) both work for this ragu recipe. I do not recommend using chicken stock as it does not have a rich enough flavor to match the lamb.
What Is The Best Cut Of Lamb To Use?
I have been making this recipe for 10+ years and usually prefer to use lamb shoulder because of its rich flavor and marbling, which adds depth to the sauce during the long cooking time. The shoulder contains connective tissue and fat that break down during cooking, resulting in tender, succulent meat that readily absorbs the flavors of the sauce. Two other cuts of lamb that would also work include a boneless leg of lamb, or lamb neck which is the most affordable of the three cuts.
How To Make This Lamb Ragu
- Start by searing the cubed lamb in olive oil in a heavy-bottomed pot (such as a large dutch oven) on medium-high heat. Transfer the browned lamb to a plate and set aside.
- Add the celery, onion, carrot, mushrooms and garlic, plus the kosher salt, black pepper, cumin, coriander and fresh herbs to the pot and cook until the vegetables have softened.
- Add in the wine, beef stock and tomato paste and canned tomatoes and use the back of a wooden spoon to scrape up any of the brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Return the lamb to the pot and transfer to the oven to cook for 3 hours.
- Use a slotted spoon to remove the tender lamb pieces from the sauce and use two forks to shred them into pieces. I like to then use a potato masher to mash the vegetables, this helps to really thicken the sauce. Return the shredded lamb to the pot and serve over your favourite pasta (or vegetable pasta)
You can find step-by-step instructions in the recipe card below.
Can I Make This Lamb Ragu In An Instant Pot?
Turn the instant pot to sear and sear the lamb. Next remove the lamb and add in the veggies and cook for a few more minutes before returning the lamb to the instant pot and pouring in the wine, tomato paste, canned tomatoes, herbs and beef stock. Turn the instant pot to high pressure and cook for 60 minutes followed by natural release. Remove the lamb pieces, shred and return them to the sauce.
Can I Make This Lamb Ragu In A Slow Cooker?
You can easily make this Braised Lamb Ragu in the slow cooker. If you have a slow cooker with a sear function that’s ideal, otherwise I would recommend searing the lamb in a pot on the stove before transferring the browned meat to the slow cooker. Searing the meat adds a lot of flavour and a caramelized texture to the outside which greatly benefits the final dish so don’t skip this step! Next add the onion, celery, carrots and garlic to the pot and cook them for a few minutes to develop some flavour. Transfer the vegetables and lamb to the slow cooker along with all of the remaining ingredients and leave it to cook for 8 hours on low or 4 hours on high until the meat is very tender.
Can I Make This Lamb Ragu Without Wine?
Absolutely! If you prefer to make this lamb ragu without alcohol it will still be delicious. Use 1/3 cup of balsamic vinegar in place of the red wine and increase the quantity of beef stock to 2 1/2 cups. The balsamic vinegar will give the sauce a similar acidic flavor that would otherwise come from the red wine.
What To Serve With This Lamb Ragu?
This lamb ragu is such a show stopper that what you serve it on doesn’t make a huge difference. If you are doing a Whole30 or are on a grain free diet or low carb diet you might prefer using a vegetable pasta such as spaghetti squash or zucchini noodles. Alternatively if you prefer using pasta, feel free to use any kind of pasta that you prefer. My favorite pasta shape to serve with this lamb ragu is pappardelle pasta but rigatoni or penne also work well. I like to serve the ragu sauce with a sprinkle of freshly grated parmesan cheese overtop and red pepper flakes for a tiny kick of spice.
What About Leftovers? Can I Freeze This Ragu?
Leftover lamb ragu can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-4 days and reheated in the microwave, or on a pot on the stove on medium heat. I always like to double the recipe and freeze half in ziploc bags to enjoy throughout the winter.
Here are a few more lamb recipes that you might enjoy!
If you make this recipe let me know in the comment section below, I would love to hear what you think or take a photo and tag me (@everylastbite_) on Instagram, I love seeing your photos!
Braised Lamb Ragu
- 2 lbs (1kg) lamb shoulder or boneless leg (cut into 1 1/2 inch cubes)
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 2 carrots finely diced
- 2 sticks celery finely diced
- 1 onion diced
- 2 cups diced mushrooms
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp pepper
- 1 tsp ground coriander
- 1/2 tbsp ground cumin
- 2 tbsp fresh thyme chopped
- 2 tbsp fresh rosemary chopped
- 1 cup red wine
- 2 cans diced tomatoes
- 3 tbsp tomato paste
- 2 cups beef stock
- Preheat oven to 175 degrees Celsius (350 degrees Fahrenheit)
- Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add in the cubed lamb and cook for 2 to 3 minutes per side until all sides are lightly browned. Transfer the lamb to a plate and set aside
- Lower the heat to medium and add the carrot, celery, onion, mushrooms, crushed garlic, salt, pepper, cumin, coriander, thyme and rosemary. Allow to cook for 8-10 minutes until the vegetables have softened and the onions are translucent
- Add the wine, canned tomatoes, tomato paste and stock. Cook for 5 minutes.
- Place the lamb and sauce in an ovenproof pot, cover with a lid and cook in the oven for 3 hours.
- After 3 hours, take the pot out of the oven. Using a slotted spoon remove all of the pieces of lamb from the pot and place on a cutting board.
- Using a potato masher, mash the vegetables in the sauce so they break down into smaller pieces, thickening the sauce.
- Using two forks, shred the lamb into small thin pieces. Place the shredded lamb back into the sauce.
- The sauce can be stored in the fridge for 5 days or in the freezer for 5 months.