This warming slow cooker lamb ragu is incredibly delicious, yet simple to make. The tender, pull-apart lamb shoulder is cooked in a flavorful tomato-based sauce to create a flavorful dish that's perfect to serve over pasta or potatoes.
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Why you'll love it
- Delicious and comforting meal
- Feels fancy, but is actually really easy to make
- Perfect slow cooker meal for busy days
- Make a big batch and freeze the leftovers for a future dinner
- Great for anyone who loves bolognese sauce and lamb
Lamb shoulder: This is the ideal cut of lamb for slow cooking. The meat becomes so tender it almost pulls itself apart! I tend to use a half lamb shoulder and prefer to use the meatiest cut I can find.
Carrots, celery, onion, garlic: These are all finely diced or chopped and added for flavor. You can use whatever you have on hand, but I prefer to use brown onions and fresh vegetables in this dish.
Canned diced tomatoes: Also known as tinned chopped tomatoes, these make up the base of our sauce.
Red wine: A little wine adds a fantastic flavor to the ragu, but you can omit this to make a non-alcoholic version. I use any cheap dry wine for this dish - save the fancy stuff for drinking!
Lamb stock: I like to add a stock pot for flavor. You can also use stock cubes, some bouillon powder, or a good splash of liquid lamb stock.
Tomato paste: Known as tomato puree, this adds some depth to your sauce, and keeps it thick and nice.
Seasoning: I use bay leaves, salt, pepper, dried rosemary, and mixed herbs or Italian seasoning. Together these made the ragu taste amazing! Remember to remove the bay leaves from your ragu before serving, as they are not suitable for eating.
You can find full instructions + ingredient measurements in the recipe card at the bottom of this page
Step 1 (optional): Dice the lamb roughly, and coat the meat with seasoning. Fry in a pan or skillet on medium high heat for a few minutes, until the meat is starting to turn brown.
Step 2: Finely dice and chop the onion, garlic, carrots and celery. Add these to a slow cooker, along with the browned lamb chunks, and the remaining ingredients.
Step 3: Slow cook on LOW heat for 6-10 hours. Use two forks or a pair of meat claws to shred the lamb in the crockpot. Add salt and pepper to taste, and serve.
- When you buy half a lamb shoulder, you can usually choose between a thicker cut of meat, or a thinner cut that has the shoulder blade. I like to use the thicker cut, as it's much easier to dice the meat to brown it.
- Browning the diced lamb is technically optional, but I highly recommend doing it as it enhances the flavor of the meat.
Lamb ragu is typically served with pasta like spaghetti, linguine, or tagliatelle, but I think it's a really versatile dish that you can serve with any side dish that you like.
Additionally, you will need a frying pan, a spatula or spoon, a cutting board and a sharp knife to prepare the ingredients.
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Store any leftover slow cooked lamb ragu in a sealed container in a fridge for up to 4 days, or freeze for up to 6 months. I love to make a big batch and freeze half for a quick and easy dinner in the future.
Thaw frozen ragu in a fridge overnight, and reheat the dish in a microwave, or in a pot on the stove. You can also reheat in a slow cooker on LOW for an hour or so. Serve the leftovers warm with your favorite side dishes.
Frequently asked questions
Absolutely. I prefer to brown the outside of the lamb, but you can also just add raw meat directly to the slow cooker.
Yes, you can simply omit the red wine from most lamb ragu recipes, or substitute with canned diced tomatoes and a splash of red wine vinegar.
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Slow Cooker Lamb Ragu
- 2 pound lamb shoulder
- 3 medium carrots
- 2 celery sticks
- 1 onion
- 3 garlic cloves
- 1 lamb stock pot (or 2 stock cubes)
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- ⅓ cup red wine
- 1 15 oz can of diced tomatoes (UK: tinned chopped tomatoes)
- 1 teaspoon rosemary
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning (UK: mixed herbs)
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- Dice the lamb roughly, and coat the meat with seasoning. Fry in a pan or skillet on medium high heat for a few minutes, until the meat is starting to turn brown.2 pound lamb shoulder, 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning, ¼ teaspoon black pepper, ¼ teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon rosemary
- Finely dice and chop the onion, garlic, carrots and celery.3 medium carrots, 2 celery sticks, 3 garlic cloves, 1 onion
- Add the vegetables and lamb to the crockpot, along with the remaining ingredients.1 lamb stock pot, 2 bay leaves, 1 tablespoon tomato paste, ⅓ cup red wine, 1 15 oz can of diced tomatoes
- Slow cook on LOW heat for 6-10 hours. Use two forks or a pair of meat claws to shred the lamb in the crockpot.
- Add salt and pepper to taste, remove the bay leaves, and serve.
- Store leftovers in a fridge for up to 4 days, or freeze for up to 6 months. Reheat in a microwave or in a pot on the stove, and serve warm.
- Serve your slow cooked lamb ragu over your favorite pasta, or pair it with potatoes and vegetables.
- Omit the red wine if you prefer a non-alcoholic version of the dish.
Food safety tips
- Cook to a minimum temperature of 165 °F (74 °C)
- Do not use the same utensils on cooked food, that previously touched raw meat
- Wash hands after touching raw meat
- Don't leave food sitting out at room temperature for extended periods