Slow-cooked lamb with onions & thyme

Slow-cooked lamb with onions & thyme

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(123 ratings)

Ready in 3.5 hours


Serves 4
Five ingredients, one pot, no effort. This meltingly tender lamb dish is satisfyingly rich, and virtually cooks itself

Nutrition and extra info

  • Freezable

Nutrition: per serving

  • kcal731
  • fat39g
  • saturates19g
  • carbs21g
  • sugars0g
  • fibre4g
  • protein63g
  • salt0.87g
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  • half a leg of lamb (about 1¼kg/2lb 12oz)



    A lamb is a sheep that is under 1 year old; between 1 and 2 years old you will find it sold as…

  • 1kg onion (about 4 large ones)



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

  • handful of thyme sprigs


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

  • 300ml red wine
  • large handful parsley



    One of the most ubiquitous herbs in British cookery, parsley is also popular in European and…


  1. Firstly, prepare the lamb. Heat oven to 160C/fan140C/gas 3. Wipe the meat all over and season well. Heat 3 tbsp of olive oil in a large heavy flameproof casserole, add the meat and fry all over on a fairly high heat for about 8 mins, turning until it is evenly well browned. Remove to a plate.

  2. Thinly slice the onions. Add to the pan and fry for about 10 mins, until softened and tinged with brown. Add a few of the thyme sprigs and cook for a further minute or so. Season with salt and pepper.

  3. Sit the lamb on top of the onions, then add the wine. Cover tightly. Bake for 3 hrs. You can make to this stage up to 2 days in advance, then reheat for 45 mins.

  4. To finish off, strip the leaves from 2 thyme sprigs and chop them with the parsley. Scatter over before serving.

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Comments, questions and tips

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maggiebleksley's picture
14th Feb, 2020
I cook this in a cocotte on the hob instead of baking in the oven. This way, the lovely gravy reduces, but doesn't dry out and water or stock can easily be added while cooking if necessary. I'll be cooking it for some friends who are visiting. It's great for entertaining, as it can be left to cook or be made in advance, then reheated. The lamb was lovely and tender when I made it before, and the gravy really tasty. I use rosemary as well as thyme.
Thor Thirty Nine's picture
Thor Thirty Nine
10th Mar, 2020
Hi Maggie, Would you expand on your method, cooking lamb (or anything else) in a cocotte, please. My dear wife hooked me onto lamb so many years ago, it became our favourite joint. Recently, after her passing, my daughter and I attempted cooking a leg in the oven, it was not such a success. Reading your post, I am intrigued, could you give your recipe, its stages in a little more detail? Thanks.
maggiebleksley's picture
19th May, 2020
I'm so sorry I didn't reply before, Thor. I've only just found it. A cocotte is a large, heavy flameproof casserole, usually oval shaped, often used in France. You can start the recipe off the same way, browning the meat, then adding the onions and the wine, returning the meat to the pan, but leave it cooking on the hob on a low heat. You can keep an eye on it, making sure there's always enough gravy and adding more liquid if necessary. I find it turns out much better than cooking in the oven. I hope you enjoy it.
5th Jan, 2020
Beautiful. Hard to believe a recipe to simple can to so tasty. I substituted the red wine for lamb stock cube and added another 300 ml stock to the “ gravy” at the end. We like lots of gravy. Shall be making again.
Alvis Mengots's picture
Alvis Mengots
20th Jun, 2019
Looked like way too much onions. So i did around half a kilo. Wasn't sure about how much thyme sprigs to use, used a bunch. Will see how it turns out. After cooking the onions though i suspected that it was a mistake to reduce the amount. Will try the full amount next time. Edit: All the onions were burnt to a crisp :(. Meat tasted good though.
Martha van Bakel's picture
Martha van Bakel
1st Apr, 2018
An absolute treat! Made a 1.5kg shoulder (no legs left in the shop) therefore added a bit more wine, and did it on a low heat in a heavy casserole pot on the stove since our oven is broken. Also added some garlic cloves as our family loves them. Otherwise followed the recipe and it turned out wonderful after 3/4 hours. The wine flavour disappears into a lovely gravy and the meat just melted off the bone. Will be making again!
16th Apr, 2017
I had a larger lamb leg so cooked it for four hours. It was delicious. I used chicken stock, didn't brown the onions and added carrots. I used a stick blender on the pan juices, stock, onions and lamb juices for a really tasty gravy. I'll definitely be using this recipe again.
16th Apr, 2017
This was great. It took a lot longer to brown the meat properly. I followed the suggestion in the comments and did half wine, half stock, but ended up adding more wine halfway through cooking because so much had evaporated. Also added carrots and blended it all into gravy. Lamb is usually my last choice but cooked like this it's so tender and tasty and because it literally falls apart there was no hassle over carving and the meat was still moist and lovely to nibble on at tea time.
6th Mar, 2017
It was easy and absolutely delicious, I will definitely make this again. I added some carrots with the onions and then added some recurrent jelly to the gravy. Next time I will do half stock and half wine.
26th Feb, 2017
I prefer my lamb pink, but my husband (and our visiting family) don't. I therefore decided to give this a go, and was pleasantly surprised! However, I used rosemary rather than thyme, added a couple of chopped garlic cloves to the onions, and only used 500g of onions. I also increased the amount of liquid (25cl wine plus 75cl stock); even so, I needed to add water to the gravy after I'd blitzed the onions. Nonetheless, it was a hit all round (not least the gravy, which needed no additional thickening), and I will definitely make it again.


Rosie Stahl's picture
Rosie Stahl
25th Nov, 2018
can you cook this in a slow cooker?
goodfoodteam's picture
27th Nov, 2018
Thanks for your question. We haven't tested this so can't give exact instructions but would suggest putting it in from step 3, making sure there is enough liquid to come a third of the way up the lamb. Cook on Low for 8 - 10 hours or until tender.
22nd Jun, 2015
I'd like to try cooking this recipe for a crowd, but I'm not sure of what to serve it with. I've been using a lot of potatoes (in many ways), couscous or rice (as for carbs) with sautéed green veg (1 of 5 a day), so what would you suggest outside that box to go with this lamb? Also, do you think that a quinoa tabuleh salad beforehand (starter) is a good call? Many many thanks
24th Jul, 2014
I'm a but confused about the dishes required to make this lamb. What kind of dish do you fry it in? A large wok or do you need one of those really deep saucepans? Then for the oven cooking do you need a casserole dish with a fitted lid or will foil be ok? Any help gratefully received - dinner party on Saturday! :)
goodfoodteam's picture
4th Aug, 2014
Make the dish in a deep pan that is suitable for the oven too, then you can just use one pan, if the pan has a lid then cover with this if not cover tightly with foil, thanks.
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