We love this Lamb Ragu recipe on days where we want to feel warm and cozy from the inside out. Rosemary, thyme, and oregano bring out the best flavors in everything from our savory sauce to the perfectly cooked lamb, to leave you feeling satiated and content.
The Best Lamb Ragu
There’s nothing better than a home cooked Italian-inspired meal, especially as we head into the cooler months. Whether you’re using a slow cooker, instant pot, or dutch oven, this recipe is as delicious as it is simple to throw together. Knowing that your time is precious, our step-by-step instructions below cater to all three cooking options.
No matter the cooking method, you will end up with tender lamb cooked perfectly in a savory and flavorful ragu sauce, which will have you leaving the table satisfied and warmed through and though. And if lamb isn’t convenient, feel free to try out our easy beef ragu or short rib ragu.
Looking for more cozy meals – don’t forget to try our Pappardelle Bolognese!
What You Will Need
- lamb shoulder or shank – Try finding a bone-in option for the best flavor.
- olive oil & butter – These two, small, but mighty ingredients add depth and richness to the sauce.
- garlic, celery, carrots, onion – Veggies will add texture, color, and savory flavors throughout.
- kosher salt & ground pepper – A little bit goes a long way.
- red wine – A key ingredient to add richness and flavor throughout. Substitute for pomegranate juice for a whole30 option.
- marinara sauce – Your favorite store bought version will do, or try out our homemade marinara sauce recipe.
- fresh rosemary, thyme, and oregano – These classic Italian herbs will bring your lamb ragu to the next level with the right touch of flavor.
- pasta of your choosing – Make this dish your own by choosing from gnocchi or pappardelle pasta.
- cheese topping – Choose your own adventure here. We love a good parmesan sprinkled on top or if you’re feeling adventurous, pair this lamb ragu with our whipped ricotta.
What Is Lamb Ragu
Translated from Italian, ragu simply means meat sauce, but it’s flavors are anything but simple. This Italian dish is lovingly made with a tomato sauce base, tender lamb, chopped veggies, wine, and fresh herbs. We chose to use lamb for its well balanced and robust flavors that lend themselves to the meat sauce.
The slower cooking method, or braising, allows all of these flavors to blend beautifully into a savory meat sauce that can be topped on your choice of noodles (we used pappardelle), gnocchi, or zoodles. If you’re looking for a slightly quicker lamb recipe, check out our braised lamb shoulder recipe or our beloved lamb meatballs.
How To Make Lamb Ragu
Chop and measure your carrots, celery, and onion and set aside.
Place the fully thawed lamb on a plate and pat dry with a clean paper towel and season with kosher salt and ground black pepper.
Bring your Dutch Oven to medium-high heat. Sear lamb on all sides, then remove and set aside on a plate.
Add butter to your now empty dutch oven and let it melt. Add minced garlic and move it around the pan for 30 seconds or until fragrant. Next, add celery, carrots, onion, and salt and pepper. Add an additional tablespoon of butter if the veggies seem dry. Move around the pan for 2-3 minutes or until the onion softens slightly.
Slow Cooker / Instant Pot Options
If you’re working with a slow cooker, add your sautéed veggies to your slow cooker along with red wine, marinara, herb bundle and seared lamb. Stir to combine. Cover and let cook on LOW 6-8 hours or on HIGH 3-4 hours. Following remaining instructions.
If you’re working with an Instant Pot, you are welcome to sauté your veggies and sear the meat using the sauté setting. Add sautéed veggies with red wine, marinara, herb bundle, seared lamb, and stir to combine. Cook on high for 50 minutes, naturally release pressure for 10 minutes, and follow remaining instructions.
If you’re using a Dutch Oven, add red wine and marinara sauce to the dutch oven and stir to combine. Add the lamb and any settled juices back into the pot, being sure to submerge the lamb as thoroughly as possible. Place the herb bundle in the dutch oven and cover.
Let your lamb ragu simmer for 3-4 hours, or you can place it in the oven for 325 degrees F for the same amount of time.
Remove the lamb and shred meat. Return meat to the pot and discard any bones.
Stir to combine all the ingredients.
Serve over your choice of gnocchi, pasta, zoodles, etc. Enjoy!
What To Serve With Lamb Ragu
The only thing that could make this dish even cozier are some tasty potatoes on the side. Check out our easy herbed potatoes or whip up some of our creamy whole30 mashed potatoes to compliment this hearty meal. And use our healthy spring salad or our garlic green beans to add a pop of color and a refreshing bite to round out your plate.
- make it creamy – Feel free to add in a 1/4-1/2 cup heavy cream OR a dairy-free equivalent (dairy-free heavy cream or full fat coconut milk).
- storage – Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
- freezing – Let cool completely then transfer to an airtight, freezer-safe container. Label and place in the freezer. Use within 6 months. Place in the refrigerator to thaw overnight before use.
- whole30 – To make this Whole30/Paleo simply use pomegranate juice instead of red wine and ghee instead of butter.
Made this recipe and loved it?! We would love it if you would take a minute and leave a star rating and review – it is also helpful if you made any substitutions or changes to the recipe to share that as well. THANK YOU!
Lamb Ragu – a delicious lamb ragu recipe that can be made on the stove top, oven or slow cooker! The perfect, cozy winter meal!
- 1.5 – 2 pounds lamb shoulder or shank (bone-in preferred)
- 1 tablespoons olive oil
- 1–2 tablespoons butter (sub olive oil if dairy-free)
- 2 teaspoons garlic, minced
- 2–3 stalks celery, sliced
- 2–3 medium carrots, peeled and sliced
- 1 medium sweet yellow onion, chopped
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt (more for seasoning and to taste)
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper (more for seasoning and to taste)
- 1/4 – 1/2 cup red wine
- 20–25oz marinara sauce (store-bought or homemade)
- herb bundle (fresh rosemary, thyme and oregano)
- gnocchi (cooked per package instructions)
- pappardelle pasta (cooked al dente per package instructions)
- whipped ricotta
- shaved or grated parmesan cheese
- Place lamb on a plate and pat dry with clean paper towel.
- Season all over with kosher salt and ground black pepper.
- Bring Dutch Oven to medium-high heat. Sear lamb on all sides. Remove and set aside on a plate.
- Add butter and let melt.
- Add garlic and move around pan until fragrant, approx. 30 seconds.
- Add celery, carrots and onion. Add 1 teaspoon kosher salt and 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper. Move around pan (add additional tablespoon of butter if pan seems dry) until the onions soften slightly, approx. 2-3 minutes.
- Add red wine and marinara sauce, stir to combine.
- Add lamb back into the pot along with any settled juices. Try to submerge the lamb as best as possible.
- Nestle your herb bundle inside the pot as well.
- Cover and let simmer on the stove top 3-4 hours (alternatively you can place it in a 325 degree oven).
- Remove lamb and shred meat. Return meat to the pot and discard any bones.
- Stir to combine.
- Serve over your choice of gnocchi, pasta, zoodles, etc.
- Make it creamy: feel free to add in a 1/4-1/2 cup heavy cream OR a dairy-free equivalent (dairy-free heavy cream or full fat coconut milk).
- Slow Cooker/Crock Pot: follow directions through Step 6. Add sautéed ingredients to slow cooker along with red wine, marinara, herb bundle and seared lamb. Stir to combine. Cover and let cook on LOW 6-8 hours or on HIGH 3-4 hours. Following remaining instructions.
- Pressure Cooker/Instant Pot: follow directions through Step 6. Add sautéed ingredients to pressure cooker along with red wine, marinara, herb bundle and seared lamb (Note you are definitely free to just do all the steps in the pressure cooker using the sauté function). Stir to combine. Cover and ensure pressure cooker is set to Seal. Cook on High for 50 minutes. Naturally release pressure for 10 minutes. Following remaining instructions.
- Storage: Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
- Freezing: let cool completely then transfer to an airtight, freezer-safe container. Label and place in the freezer. Use within 6 months. Place in the refrigerator to thaw overnight before use.
- Red Wine Sub: feel free to use pomegranate juice instead of red wine.
- Whole30: to make this Whole30/Paleo simply use pomegranate juice instead of red wine and ghee instead of butter.
Keywords: lamb ragu