Irish stew

Prep: 30 mins Cook: 2 hrs


Serves 6
The trick with this classic one-pot is to use a cheaper cut of meat, which means you’ll skimp on price but not quality

Nutrition and extra info

Nutrition: per serving

  • kcal627
  • fat30g
  • saturates14g
  • carbs44g
  • sugars11g
  • fibre0g
  • protein49g
  • salt2.13g
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  • 1 tbsp sunflower oil
    Sunflower oil

    Sunflower oil

    A variety of oils can be used for baking. Sunflower is the one we use most often at Good Food as…

  • 200g smoked streaky bacon, preferably in one piece, skinned and cut into chunks
  • 900g stewing lamb, cut into large chunks



    A lamb is a sheep that is under one year old, and is known for its delicate flavour and tender…

  • 5 medium onion, sliced



    Onions are endlessly versatile and an essential ingredient in countless recipes. Native to Asia…

  • 5 carrot, sliced into chunks



    The carrot, with its distinctive bright orange colour, is one of the most versatile root…

  • 3 bay leaf
  • small bunch thyme


    This popular herb grows in Europe, especially the Mediterranean, and is a member of the mint…

  • 100g pearl barley
  • 850ml lamb stock
  • 6 medium potato, cut into chunks



    The world's favourite root vegetable, the potato comes in innumerable varieties. A member of…

  • small knob of butter



    Butter is made when lactic-acid producing bacteria are added to cream and churned to make an…

  • 3 spring onion, finely sliced
    Spring onions

    Spring onion

    sp-ring un-yun

    Also known as scallions or green onions, spring onions are in fact very young onions, harvested…


  1. Heat oven to 160C/fan 140C/gas 3. Heat the oil in a flameproof casserole. Sizzle the bacon for 4 mins until crisp. Turn up the heat, then cook the lamb for 6 mins until brown. Remove the meats with a slotted spoon. Add the onions, carrots and herbs to the pan, then cook for about 5 mins until softened. Return the meat to the pan, stir in the pearl barley, pour over the stock, then bring to a simmer.

  2. Sit the chunks of potato on top of the stew, cover, then braise in the oven, undisturbed, for about 1½ hrs until the potatoes are soft and the meat is tender. The stew can now be chilled and kept in the fridge for 2 days, then reheated in a low oven or on top of the stove. Remove from the oven, dot the potatoes with butter, scatter with the spring onions and serve scooped straight from the dish.

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Comments, questions and tips

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Comments (59)

jencossy's picture

Lovely recipe. Just thought I'd add a quote from Wikipedia for all the naysayers and know-it-alls.
Irish stew is any variety of meat-and-root vegetables stew native to Ireland. As in all traditional folk dishes, the exact recipe is not consistent from time or place to place. Wikipedia

Aisling.255's picture

You should never put bacon in a Irish stew same goes for sausages, they belong in a coddle not a stew. Only meat you should be using it lamb and some nice pieces of beef diced. And a parsnip should be added to that list along with a few missing ingredients.

stelaholder's picture

Great easy recipe. I cooked mine in the oven for almost 4 hours.

gillbaillie's picture

True Irish stew or not, it's delicious! Left out the barley so it was gluten-free and didn't miss it. Served it with home-made (gluten-free) soda bread and the whole family loved it! Will definitely be a regular in our house.

Justme29's picture

Sorry I made this and it smelt and tasted awful to be honest the smell made me feel sick ! I don't get how people could like it! It's rank !!!

Loch's picture

yeah... I am pretty sure that's the pearl barleys fault... it can be a tricky ingredient to work with. ginamyatt also said there was a problem with theirs fermenting in the fridge ... I either leave it out or cook it separately and add at the last minute. Pearl barley can make a dish smell like out of date chick peas at times... not nice.

mrsboo87's picture

Nice looking recipe but definitely not Irish stew.

ShaniceGFR's picture

Are you unsure on making this dish? JUST MAKE IT!
I wasn't sure whether to make this dish after reading previous comments but I'm glad I did. I forgot the barley but it was delicious without it anyway. When putting the onions in I also used mixed herbs, all purpose seasoning and some Worcestershire Sauce (only a few drops). I used lamb oxo cubes for the stock, I didn't have a measuring jug so I had to estimate, I used 5 oxo cubes in total and served with tiger bread. I will definitely be making this meal (with my own little take) again.

Bigspecks's picture

Really impressed with this recipe. I had never used pearl barley or successfully cooked lamb tender enough before. I soaked the parley for a couple of hours before. Did panic when it still didn't thicken after 3 hours - but realised I hadnt added potatoes so par-boiled potatoes them and it thickened like a dream with no need for thickening agent. A couple of tips : Cook long and on low heat. After draining the par-boiled spuds put back in pan, cover with lid and shake a bit (to release a load of starch) before adding to stew. 10 out of 10.

cheshire dame's picture

Generally, I'm not a fan of stews or casseroles however it was lovely. As there only two of us I halved the ingredients and also tailored it slightly in that I par boiled the potatoes and carrots whilst the lamb and bacon were cooking. I then put everything in the slow cooker for 3 hours. I served it in large rimmed pasta/soup bowls with green vegetables to make it look more professional!

moc222's picture

Delicious. Wasn't sure if this was my kind of dish. Promised I'd make an Irish Stew for my husband for St Paddys Day. We both loved it. Used two thick slices of leg of lamb (cubed) as these were the same price as lamb cubes at the butchers. Will make again.

blucas's picture

Smoked bacon has no place in Irish stew. What ever this dish is, it is not Irish stew!

ginamyatt's picture

Be warned what a disaster I used this recipe to make a110 portions for an Irish night using £160.00 worth of lamb the following morning I took it out of the fridge and it was all fermenting so I had to throw it all away and remake it. What a waste of time and money.

bethanygrotto's picture

I hated this recipe, sorry but this is probably the worst thing I have cooked from this website, it was thin, watery and very disappointing. I can't cook very well so tend to follow the recipes to the letter, and I have read all of the other comments, tips etc...added a little marmite as mentioned for richness but it was horrible. Greasy, even after I chilled it and removed the solid fat off the top. This is not one that I would make again ever as lamb is expensive, even stewing cuts, I simply hated it I am sorry :-(

carenscookin's picture

I've made this a couple of times now but I cook the potatoes separately in salted water and add them at the end they taste much better that way. I also cook the stew the day before I need it and scrape any lamb fat off the top before I reheat it and I add extra stock.

eraket's picture

I made it with beef stew and added strips of lamb fat cutted from lamb chops (there is usually too much fat on it) for the taste. 1/4 can of Irish Stout beer (instead of barley) 3/2 carrots and parsnip, pepper and beef stock cubes (instead of lamb stock)

louisehm's picture

Add a little Worcestershire Sauce to spike it up a little.

sjwolfenden's picture

This was unbelievably good. Can't recommend it highly enough. I usually add a little beer and marmite to make it a little richer.

alicewrigley's picture


Eliza4's picture

Have made this recipe twice now and loved by all the family. Second time left out the bacon but still delicious and a lot cheaper than roasting a joint. Leftovers the next day were just as good.


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Tips (1)

Pee's picture

I have made this many times and love it. I use cubed lamb steaks, kind of defeats purpose of a 'cheap' dish but it cuts down on fat etc.