Incredibly tender lamb casserole in the slow cooker, this might be the most undemanding Easter meal you could possibly cook. More time left for baking cakes…
Melt-in-your-mouth lamb pieces smothered in a rich and delicious gravy with potatoes and carrots, this slow cooker lamb casserole is comfort food at its best. And so easy to make you will keep making it, again and again…
And if you don’t have a crock pot, try this Irish Lamb Stew with Potatoes, the recipe is similar, but it’s cooked on the stovetop.
Lamb Casserole in the Slow Cooker
We do love lamb, and I try to cook it as often as possible, which is not the easiest task because lamb is not the most popular kind of meat in Germany, hence it’s not always easy to get. At least not in the rural region where I live. But whenever I get it, I try to make the most of it.
Not only lamb casserole but also slow cooker shoulder, Romanian lamb stew, or roast leg. Not to forget the smaller dishes like lamb bone soup, salad, or leftover ragu.
- Boneless leg or shoulder of lamb, I’ve used both over the years to make the casserole and never noticed any difference.
- If you can only get a piece with the bone in (like I sometimes do), cut the meat off the bone and use the bone to make lamb stock.
- You will need about 1 kg/ 2.2 lbs. If the piece has bone-in, buy one weighing about 1.4 kg/ 3 lbs. A little more or less is perfectly ok.
- I had already cubed bacon.
- Bacon rashers are not very suitable; if you cannot get bacon cubes, buy a whole piece of bacon and cut it into cubes.
Vegetables: potatoes, carrots, onions, garlic.
- Thyme, rosemary, bay leaves, salt, pepper, Worcestershire sauce, vinegar.
- Regarding the Worcestershire sauce, I’ve noticed that I rarely place it in the ingredient photographs; the same this time. The reason is that I use it as an afterthought, just something to round up the taste at the end of the cooking process, it is rarely listed in my recipe notes, so I don’t think about it until the very end. But I do use it a lot.
- Dry red wine and lamb stock. If you don’t have lamb stock, chicken or beef stock is fine as well.
Other ingredients: oil, flour, tomato paste, corn starch.
How to make lamb stew in the slow cooker?
- Cut the meat into cubes about 3-4 cm/ 1.5 inch. Set aside.
- Chop onions and garlic and set aside in another bowl. Chop the bacon.
- Heat a Dutch oven or another heavy-bottomed pan. Add bacon. There is no need for oil, and the bacon will render its fat pretty quickly. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring. (1)
- Add the chopped onions and garlic, stir well and cook for another 3 minutes. (2)
- Add tomato paste, and stir well for 1 minute. (3)
- Pour in the wine and deglaze the pan, scraping the bottom as well for about 1 minute.
- Transfer the contents of the pan to the slow cooker.
- Wipe the pan clean with kitchen paper, be careful; it’s hot! Or use another large pan to fry the meat. Non-stick is perfect as well.
- Dry the meat pieces with kitchen paper. (1)
- Place the meat cubes in a bowl, add a little flour and toss well. Flour the meat in batches, just before each batch goes into the frying pan. (2)
- Heat 1 tablespoon oil in the Dutch oven.
- Fry the meat pieces in 2 or 3 batches until golden, about 3-4 minutes per batch, turning the meat a few times in between and adding more of the oil between the batches. Don’t overcrowd the pan, or the meat will stew instead of searing. (4 above)
- Transfer all the meat to the slow cooker.
- Peel the potatoes and the carrots. Cut them into larger chunks. I quartered my (rather medium) potatoes. Place in the crock pot.
- Add thyme, rosemary, 2-3 bay leaves, salt, pepper, and stock.
- The amount of salt you need depends very much on the stock. My homemade stock is not overly salted, so I use about 1 heaped teaspoon of fine sea salt.
- Bought stock is usually much saltier, so you will have to be careful there; add less at the beginning. Taste the sauce during the last hour of the cooking time and decide then if the gravy needs more salt.
- Turn on the machine and cook the lamb casserole for about 6 hours on high and about 8 hours on low. I prefer to cook it on high to save some time; the lamb pieces are still meltingly tender.
- Once everything is as tender as you want it to be, mix the cornstarch and the water to obtain a thick paste.
- Whisk the slurry into the gravy. If the cooker is on high, the sauce will thicken almost instantly. If not, cover the pot again and simmer for about 5-10 minutes more until the sauce thickens.
- Adjust the taste with salt, pepper, Worcestershire sauce, and vinegar.
Slow cooker cooking times
They can be different depending on the machine you have. To make sure, check the instructions of your pot.
Mine needs about 6 hours on high for this amazing lamb stew, but I’ve seen recipes recommending cooking the stew for half that time on high. After 3-4 hours, my stew was not even remotely cooked.
The cooking time might also depend on the meat itself; some cuts might be tougher than others, and they might need more time.
Make sure to check after 4 hours on high and 6 hours on low; if the meat and the potatoes are really tender, you are done. Just thicken the sauce and serve. But, as already said, my stew was only half cooked after 3-4 hours.
As mentioned above, the amount of salt you need depends very much on the stock you are using. It is preferable to use low-sodium or unsalted stock just to be sure that the gravy is not overly salted.
If you use regular-bought stock (which is usually much saltier than homemade), start with only ½ a teaspoon of fine sea salt. About one hour before the cooking time is over, check the gravy and decide if it needs more salt. You will also adjust the taste at the end of the cooking process.
The slow cooker lamb stew keeps well in the fridge for about 4-5 days. It gets better every time you reheat it.
You can also freeze the casserole for up to 3 months. Defrost in the fridge and reheat very well before serving.
You already have the potatoes in the dish, so you will not need any starchy side dishes. However, I love to eat any kind of stew (including those made with potatoes) with a slice of bread. Childhood memories, I suppose… And if I may suggest, another childhood thing: mash the potatoes with a fork on your plate so that they can take the sauce better. So good!
And when it comes to vegetable side dishes, you have a lot of choices there. I absolutely love to serve this with Buttered Peas, French-Style Green Beans, Brussels sprouts, a fresh Cucumber Salad with Dill, or a simple green salad.
More tender stews and casseroles
Lamb Casserole in the Slow Cooker
- 1 kg/ 2.2 lbs boneless lamb shoulder or leg Note 1
- about 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 125 g/ 4.4 oz bacon cubes Note 2
- 2 medium onions
- 3 garlic cloves
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 125 ml/ 4.2 fl. oz/ ½ cup dry red wine
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
- 2-3 bay leaves
- 250 g/ 8.8 oz carrots 2-3 depending on size
- 750 g/ 1.7 lb potatoes
- 750 ml/ 25 fl. oz/ 3 cups stock preferably low-sodium or unsalted (Note 3)
- 2 tablespoons corn starch
- 2-3 tablespoons cold water
- 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tablespoon cider or red wine vinegar more to taste
- fine sea salt and black pepper Note 4
- Cut the meat into large cubes, about 3-4 cm/ 1.5 inch. Dry very well with kitchen paper. Set aside.
- Chop onions and garlic and set them aside separately from the meat. Chop the bacon.
- Heat a Dutch oven or another heavy-bottomed pan. Add bacon. There is no need for oil, the bacon will render its fat. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring.
- Add onions and garlic, stir well and cook for another 3 minutes. Add tomato paste, stir well for 1 minute.
- Deglaze the pan with the red wine, scraping the bottom as well, for about 1 minute. Pour the contents of the pan into the slow cooker.
- Wipe the pan clean with kitchen paper, be careful, it’s hot!
- Place one batch of the meat cubes in a bowl, add a little of the flour, and toss well.
- Heat 1 tablespoon oil in the Dutch oven. Fry the meat pieces in 2 or 3 batches until golden, about 3-4 minutes per batch, turning the meat a few times in between. Only flour the next batch of meat just before it goes to the pan and add a little more of the oil between the batches. Don’t overcrowd the pan or the meat will stew instead of searing. Transfer all the meat to the slow cooker.
- Peel the potatoes and the carrots. Cut them into larger chunks. Place in the slow cooker.
- Add thyme, rosemary, 2-3 bay leaves, salt, pepper, and stock. The amount of salt you need depends on the stock (Note 4).
- Turn on the slow cooker and cook for about 6 hours on high and about 8 hours on low.
- Once the meat and the potatoes are as tender as you want them to be, mix the corn starch and the water to obtain a thick paste. Whisk the slurry into the gravy. If the slow cooker is on high, the sauce will thicken almost instantly. If not, cover the pot again and simmer for about 5-10 minutes more until the sauce thickens.
- Adjust the taste with salt, pepper, Worcestershire sauce, and vinegar.
- If the meat still has the bone in, look for a piece weighing about 1.3-1.4 kg/ 3 lbs, a little more or less is ok. Cut the meat off the bone and use the bone to make stock.
- It is preferable to use bacon cubes and not rashers. You can also buy a piece of bacon and chop it yourself.
- I had homemade lamb stock. Chicken or beef stock can be used instead.
- The amount of salt you need depends very much on the stock you are using. It is preferable to use low-sodium or unsalted stock, just to be sure that the gravy is not overly salted. My homemade stock is not overly salted, so I take about 1 teaspoon fine sea salt in the beginning and adjust the taste at the end. Bought stock is usually much saltier, so you will have to be careful there, add less at the beginning. Taste the sauce during the last hour of the cooking time and decide then if the gravy needs more salt.
Sunday 30th of January 2022
I made this last night and it was great (during a blizzard). I used turkey bacon and a mix of lamb and beef (market only had a small bit of lamb stew meat). The sauce is fantastic. We had it over orzo noodles. I also added mushrooms which made it liquidy. I double the cornstarch to thicken the sauce and it came out great. I'll make this again some time. Goes great with Murphys Stout.
Monday 31st of January 2022
Hi, that sounds great and it's the perfect food during a blizzard. Mushrooms sound delicious.
Friday 2nd of April 2021
The lamb does look quite tender and delicious. What a great recipe.