There are very few foods more comforting than a hot bowl of savory stew. This recipe for traditional Irish Stew is no exception. Simply prepared, this stew recipe is hearty and filling, with chunks of tender meat, potatoes, carrots, and parsnips. Seasoned with fresh herbs and Irish stout, this one pot recipe is my new favorite winter meal. Read our post to get the step-by-step on how to make this home-cooked meal for your family.
I’ve been on a major ancestry kick lately. Yep. I have fallen down the rabbit hole of researching blood lines, family trees, and have even sent in my DNA to learn more about my ancestral roots.
While I’ve always known I’m primarily of European descent, I didn’t know the exact make up. Turns out I’m over 13% Irish. Woohoo! So I’ve been digging into more about the food culture of Ireland and studying classic Irish recipes.
No collection of Irish food is complete without a real-deal recipe for Irish Stew.
There are so many variations of Irish stew, and I can only imagine that is based on the area of Ireland, the food available at the time, and the particular recipe of each family. What I did find is that they all had three common ingredients: meat, potatoes, and carrots. This simple combination of ingredients strikes a chord with my American self.
Hope you love our twist on this classic stew recipe.
What You’ll Need to Make Irish Stew:
- Lamb meat or chuck beef – We used a combination of half lamb and half beef for this stew recipe. You can also use venison. For rustic hearty preparation, cut the meat into large bites.
- Butter / Oil / Bacon drippings – Use a flavorful cooking oil to brown the meat and soften the vegetables. For our recipe, we used a 50/50 combination of butter and bacon drippings.
- All purpose flour – This helps to brown the meat and to thicken the stew.
- Onion – A large yellow or white onion is what you’ll need.
- Potatoes – Use whatever you have on hand, red, russet, or Yukon. Note that the consistency of the potato will vary. If you like softer potatoes, use russet. If you want the potatoes to stay waxy and semi-firm, use Yukon. Cut the potatoes in large chunks.
- Carrots – The more the better. Slow-simmered carrots are one of my favorite ingredients in Irish stew. Don’t cut them too small.
- Parsnips – Similar to a carrot but with a stronger flavor, parsnips are a great addition to this traditional recipe.
- Irish stout – Pick a quality beer to give this Irish stew depth of flavor. Don’t skip this step. We used Guinness.
- Beef stock + water – This recipe requires a lot of liquid. We used a ratio of 4 cups beef stock to 2 cups water.
- Herbs – Earthy + aromatic thyme and bay leaves are the perfect herbs for this stew. Simple but savory.
- Seasonings – A combination of Worcestershire sauce, salt, and black pepper are all you’ll need.
We wanted this recipe to be as truly authentic as possible. See the full recipe at the bottom of this post for specific ingredients and amounts.
The first step in preparing this recipe for Irish stew is seasoning and cooking the lamb or beef. First sprinkle three pounds of meat with a teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Toss the seasoned meat in the flour to coat well.
In a dutch oven, heat half of the butter and bacon drippings (or oil) over medium high heat. Working in small batches, brown the meat on all sides. This is VERY important to the flavor of this recipe. Do not over crowd the pan, or the meat will “steam” and sweat.
If you work in small batches as shown, the meat will brown nicely and leave little brown bits in the bottom of the pan. You want this. This is FLAVOR.
As you brown each batch, transfer the meat to a bowl and set aside for later. Don’t worry about cooking the meat all the way through. It will finish cooking when it stews.
Our next layer of flavor is golden, caramelized onions. Sure, you could toss them in there and start adding everything else, but then you don’t capture the onion flavor. In the same pot, adding a little more butter and oil, sautee the onions on low heat for about 10 to 15 minutes until they are soft and golden. Stir them occasionally.
Irish Stew is not a recipe to be rushed. Take the time and caramelize the onions for rich flavor.
This is the part when your entire kitchen will start to smell amazing. The smell of butter and onions will have everyone running to see what you’re cooking.
Once the onions are ready, time to add in the prepared chopped vegetables. Add a little butter and oil as needed. Layer in a pinch more of salt and pepper and stir. You want the veggies to soak up all of the butter that is left in the bottom of the pan. Cook for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently.
Stir in the beef broth, water, and add a whole bottle of Guinness beer or your favorite Irish stout. We used a 12 ounce bottle of Guinness Extra Stout. The darker the better. The alcohol will cook out, leaving behind a slight bitter-sweet flavor that blends with the vegetables and beef to create magic.
Yes, I said MAGIC. Any time you use Guinness in a recipe, it automatically graduates to magical.
Stir in Worcestershire sauce, bay leaves and sprigs of fresh thyme. You can remove the leaves and chop them if you want, but I like to use whole sprigs, too. You can use 3 or 4 sprigs of thyme, or more to your preference. I love thyme, so I’m very generous with it.
Next, combine everything well and bring to a low boil. Cover the dutch oven with a lid and pop it in a pre-heated oven.
And walk away.
Yep. Take about a 3 hour walk. Read a book. Enjoy the Guinness. Or join me in the rabbit hole and let’s do some ancestry work.
Love this Recipe? How About These?
That’s the beauty of preparing this Irish Stew in a dutch oven. From stove top straight into the oven, we let the pot do all of the work. The lamb and beef becomes tender. The hearty slow-simmered vegetables blend with the stout and broth and seasonings.
The flavors of the thyme and bay leaves meld into the sauce. The mixture thickens from the flour breading and starchy potatoes.
And THIS happens.
Taking the lid off of the dutch oven is so rewarding. The savory steam rises from the stew and your mouth is watering and you stand there with empty bowl in hand, spoon ready, waiting to dig in.
Ultimate foodie moment.
You can also prepare this recipe on the stovetop. Just reduce the heat to a simmer, cover and cook low and slow until the meat is tender, stirring occasionally. You can also transfer it all to a slow cooker and let it simmer on low until done. No matter which way you prepare it, watch the liquid level. If it is too thick, add more broth, beer, or water. If it is too thin, cook with the lid off to evaporate extra liquid.
The meat is so tender, the stew savory and perfect. Just the right amount of flavor from the vegetables and stout, this Irish Stew is the ultimate in comfort food.
If you’d like, you can also prepare this Irish stew with celery and mushrooms. It is hard to go wrong here.
Serve Irish Stew in large bowls with your favorite crusty bread. This stew tastes even better the next day. If it makes it that long.
The ultimate comfort food, this traditional recipe for Irish Stew is made with a combination of lamb and beef. Slow simmered in a dutch oven with potatoes, carrots, parsnips and perfectly seasoned with Irish stout beer and fresh thyme.
- 1 1/2 pounds lamb cubed
- 1 1/2 pounds beef cubed
- 1/4 cup all purpose flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt divided, more or less to taste
- 1 1/2 teaspoons black pepper divided, more or less to taste
- 4 tablespoons butter divided
- 4 tablespoons bacon drippings or olive oil divided
- 1 onion large, peeled, large chopped
- 4 - 6 potatoes peeled, large chopped, about 4 cups
- 6 carrots washed, large chopped
- 3 parsnips washed, large chopped
- 4 cups beef stock reduced sodium
- 2 cups water more or less as needed
- 12 ounces Guinness Extra Stout Beer
- 4 sprigs thyme
- 3 bay leaves
- 3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
If preparing in oven, place oven rack in low position and preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a bowl, sprinkle the cubed lamb and beef with one teaspoon of salt and one teaspoon of black pepper. Toss with the flour until evenly coated.
Add half of the butter and oil to the bottom of a 7 quart dutch oven. Heat to medium high. Working in batches, cook the floured meat until brown on all sides. Do not crowd the pan. Transfer browned meat to a holding dish.
Lower the heat to low. Add another tablespoon of butter and another tablespoon of oil to the same pot. Add the chopped onions and stir. Cook and stir for 10 minutes until the onions are golden and translucent.
Stir in the potatoes, carrots, and parsnips. Sprinkle with the remaining salt and pepper. Cook and stir for 10 minutes. Add more butter and vegetable oil if needed.
Increase heat to medium high. Stir in the beef broth, water, and Guinness. Add the Worcestershire sauce, thyme, and bay leaves. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently to prevent sticking.
Remove from heat, cover the dutch oven with a lid, and transfer the pot to the heated oven. Bake and stew for 2 - 3 hours. Check cooking halfway through, add more liquid as needed.
Serve hot with crusty bread.
For stove top preparation, once you bring the stew to a low boil, cover with lid and reduce to simmer. Cook on low for 2 hours, stirring occasionally, until the meat is tender and to desired consistency.