Slowly Braised Lamb Ragu

Rich and meaty Slowly Braised Lamb Ragu, the ultimate Italian comfort food! Succulent lamb shoulder is slowly braised with onions, carrots, celery, tomatoes, & hardy herbs, yielding an intensely flavorful lamb ragu sauce perfectly paired with pappardelle, gnocchi, polenta, or any pasta you love! Stovetop, oven, slow cooker & Instant Pot directions provided.

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Braised Lamb Ragu Pappardelle shown in pasta bowls, topped with grated parmesan & fresh parsley. The bowls sit atop a light blue surface next to fresh herbs, 2 glasses of red wine & a grey striped linen napkin.

Boy oh boy…there’s some major coziness in store for us today & it’s called Slowly Braised Lamb Ragu. If you’re anything like me, the cold weather season has you craving cozy & comforting meals…the kind of dish that feels like a hug-in-a-bowl!

I’m pretty sure that slowly braised lamb ragu, tossed into a pile of twirly pappardelle pasta or pillowy-tender gnocchi with tons of grated parm & a little cream is the very definition of huggable…ya know?

A heavenly, comforting taste of Italy – Slowly Braised Lamb Ragu

This braised lamb ragu, a recipe I’ve been tweaking & perfecting for years, is my take on the authentic agnello (braised lamb) ragu served at the Northern Italian restaurant where I worked as a server during my gap year after college.

Beautifully marbled lamb shoulder slowly simmers with fresh herbs, plenty of garlic, tomatoes, & red wine, until it’s succulently melt-in-your-mouth tender. Toss the lamb ragu into a twirly pile of pasta or serve it with pillowy-soft gnocchi for the coziest, restaurant-quality Italian meal at home.

& the very best part? It’s the kind of meal that is FANCY with a capital F but it’s so easy to throw together that it’s borderline lazy. Braised Lamb Ragu is perfect for the most special occasions, like Christmas or Easter dinner, but it’s also easy enough to make on even the laziest Sunday afternoons when you don’t have much planned beyond yoga pants & a Netflix marathon. (Trust me…I’ve done it!)

Ragu is one of my specialties, & this Slowly Braised Lamb Ragu has been enjoyed by thousands of PWWB readers over the years. We originally published this recipe back in 2017 & we’re revisiting it today with some freshened up photography & improved directions, including slow cooker & Instant Pot guidance. I can’t wait for you to try it! ♡ Read on to learn more about this Braised Lamb Ragu, or jump straight to the recipe & get cookin’!

First thing’s first – What is Lamb Ragu?!

Before jumping into the nitty-gritty of this lamb ragu recipe, let’s chat ragu for a second. What is ragu?! Is it a tomato sauce – is it like marinara? Or, is it a cream sauce? These were some of the most frequently asked questions from restaurant guests in my serving days…so if you’re curious, you’re definitely not alone!

Ragu is blanket term used to describe a rich, slowly cooked Italian meat sauce. Ragu is hearty, intensely flavorful (borderline stew-like!), & is typically served with pasta, gnocchi, or polenta. Perhaps, without even knowing it, you’ve enjoyed arguably the most famous ragu – bolognese!

Braised lamb ragu in a large Dutch oven atop a light blue surface. There is a wooden spoon nestled in the ragu sauce & there are fresh herbs next to the pot.

So, while it usually does involve slowly simmered tomatoes (similar to a marinara sauce), & it’s almost always finished with milk or heavy cream (like creamy pasta dishes), ragu is in its own category altogether. The common element of any ragu is the fact that meat (or a meaty element, like mushrooms or eggplant) is totally the star of the show.

The beauty of ragu is you can really make it whatever you want it to be! I first was introduced to ragu at the Italian restaurant I worked at for several years out of college. One of our specialties was a rotating house ragu, which would change every week based on what the chefs were in the mood to cook & serve. We served pork ragu, wild boar ragu, shredded duck ragu, vegetarian mushroom ragu, agnello…the slowly braised lamb ragu we’re making today!

Key Ingredients for Lamb Ragu

Aside from the fact that it’s insanely rich and meaty, one of the reasons I love ragu so much is because it calls for pretty simple ingredients, many of which are fridge & pantry staples. This lamb ragu recipe is no exception!

Lamb ragu ingredients arranged on a light blue surface: dried pappardelle nests, onion, beef stock, garlic, bay leaves, tomato paste, crushed tomatoes, celery, carrots, wine, herbs & lamb shoulder.

Note: full ingredients list & measurements provided in the Recipe Card, below.

The key ingredients in this lamb ragu recipe include…

  • Lamb shoulder – A tougher cut of lamb, beautiful for a slow braise. Its marbling adds lots of rich flavor to the ragu sauce and ensures that the lamb shoulder is juicy & tender despite cooking for a few hours.
  • Soffritto – The Italian holy trinity of onion, carrot, & celery. I like chopping my soffritto by hand for bigger, chunkier pieces of veggies in my ragu sauce, but you can also grate the veggies in a food processor to cut down on active prep time.
  • Aromatics – Of course! This lamb ragu recipe calls for tons of garlic & plenty of fresh herbs to help build a sauce that stands up to the rich flavor of lamb shoulder.
  • Wine – It’s not ragu without a little bit of wine! A bold red wine is perfect here. Similar to the aromatics, it helps build a sauce that stands up to the rich flavor of lamb shoulder. I always like cooking with Italian wine when I make ragu. Chianti is a great pairing with lamb shoulder!
  • TomatoesThe perfect combination of tomato paste for its concentrated flavor & crushed tomatoes, which add a velvety body to the lamb ragu sauce. If you can find fire-roasted crushed tomatoes, snag them & use them in all of your homemade ragu & pasta sauces! Fire roasting adds an extra depth of flavor.
  • & a little heavy cream & parmesan to help bring the ragu together.

Other cuts of lamb for lamb ragu:

Because of the long cooking time involved, avoid really lean cuts like lamb chops. You can also make this lamb ragu recipe with lamb shank (yum!). If you prefer to use ground lamb, I suggest modeling your ragu after my Best-Ever Bolognese recipe.

Meal Prep Tip:

Nearly all of the hands-on prep for this braised lamb ragu is chopping up the soffritto. Chop the carrot, celery & onion ahead of time so you can jump right into cooking! A bit of stove time is still involved, but cutting out the active prep time makes this lamb ragu the kind of thing you could do any afternoon.

How to make Lamb Ragu Sauce:

Cooking any braised ragu, including this lamb ragu sauce, is a pretty straightforward process. It is time-intensive since the goal is to pull BIG flavors out of relatively humble ingredients, but it isn’t difficult! A standard braise consists of 3 main steps: browning, deglazing, & simmering.

Braised lamb ragu in a large Dutch oven atop a light blue surface.

Note: full Recipe Directions with step-by-step photos provided in the Recipe Card, below.

First, brown the lamb shoulder.

Browning the lamb shoulder serves 2 major purposes. First, it creates a beautiful crust, which locks the juices inside the meat, preventing them from seeping out as the lamb slowly cooks. This means the lamb stays nice & juicy, & doesn’t dry out as it braises. Second, as the meat browns, it leaves browned bits on the bottom of the pan (fond being the technical French term), which is what creates the base flavor of the braising liquid.

To brown, simply add the lamb to a heavy-bottomed pot & cook for a few minutes per side, until deeply golden brown. Pretty straight forward!

A couple of quick tips for nailing the perfect sear:

  • The lamb needs to be completely dry. Moisture is the natural enemy of a good, hard sear, so use paper towels to pat the lamb shoulder as dry as you can.
  • You need a good, heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven, which retains its heat well & distributes it evenly. I’m a lifelong superfan of Staub dutch ovens, which are beautiful & retain heat incredibly well.

Next, brown the soffritto:

When I say brown, I mean brown. Many of the ragu & bolognese recipes I’ve read over the years call for simply softening the aromatics…and I couldn’t disagree with them more! The soffritto is the base of the entire sauce. Taking an extra 10 minutes to ensure they brown deeply adds so much flavor to the ragu. Now’s not the time for shortcuts!

Then, deglaze & build:

Deglaze” is fancy-speak for adding a little bit of liquid, in this case, wine & beef stock, to the pot. The steam created when the wine hits the bottom of the hot pan helps release the flavorful browned bits (fond) that formed on the bottom of the pot throughout the browning process.

Build the lamb ragu sauce, adding in the remaining ingredients: fresh herbs, bay leaves, tomatoes, & a parmesan rind if you want to take the flavor to the next level! Rather than taking the time to chop all the herbs, I prefer to leave them whole, tying them together with kitchen twine, which makes them easy to remove from the lamb ragu before serving.

& finally – braising!

Add the browned lamb back into the Dutch oven & bring everything to a boil. Once boiling, cover the pot & pop it in the oven to braise until the lamb is fall-apart tender. You can also simmer the ragu on the stovetop. I slightly prefer using my oven for braised dishes; it’s nice not to have to worry about an open, unattended flame for such a long period of time!

How long to cook lamb ragu?

This lamb ragu braises for 2 – 2 1/2 hours until the lamb shoulder is very tender & falls apart easily. Your house will smell like Italian heaven!

Alternative cooking methods:

Based on the amount of time you have or how hands-on you’d like the cooking process to be, you can easily adapt this braised lamb ragu for a couple of commonly loved appliances:

  • Can I make lamb ragu in a slow cooker? Yes, absolutely! I suggest browning the lamb shoulder & soffritto on the stovetop to develop those rich flavors, then you can braise the sauce slowly in a Crockpot or slow cooker. Full slow cooker directions are in the Recipe Notes, below.
  • Can I make lamb ragu in an Instant Pot? Another yes! Of all the methods, the Instant Pot or an electric pressure cooker is admittedly my least favorite because the lamb ragu sauce doesn’t achieve the same depth of rich flavor since the cooking time is so much faster…but it will work! Full Instant Pot directions are also in the Recipe Notes, below.

& finally, the best part – serving Braised Lamb Ragu with pappardelle (or gnocchi!):

One of the secrets to creating a restaurant-quality pasta dish at home is finishing the pasta & sauce together just before serving. Pasta should always cook with the sauce for a couple of minutes, which helps the two components come together as a single dish. This is exactly how it’s done in restaurants – if you’ve ever wondered why your pasta doesn’t turn out as amazing as it does at a nice Italian restaurant, it’s probably because you’re skipping this step!

Lamb ragu pappardelle in a small skillet atop a light blue surface. A wooden spoon is nestled into the pasta. Next to the skillet are some fresh herbs.

To properly finish your braised lamb ragu, add al dente pasta or prepared gnocchi right into the pot with the ragu sauce, tossing to combine. Use a little bit of heavy cream & parmesan to bind everything together, then let it simmer for a couple of minutes. The starch in the pasta or gnocchi will absorb some of the ragu sauce, melding it all together as one cohesive dish.

If your lamb pasta feels a little thick, loosen it up with some starchy pasta water. Similarly, it feels too loose, thicken it up with extra grated parm.

What’s the best pasta to serve with lamb ragu?

Generally speaking, heavier sauces are best served with wider noodles. This is why you’ll commonly see lamb ragu served with pappardelle. Pappardelle is my top pick for ragu, but bucatini (tubular spaghetti) is awesome, too.

If you prefer to serve with a short noodle, try rigatoni; its tubular shape captures bits & pieces of the lamb ragu for even more delicious bites of pasta. Want to double down on the coziness? Serve your lamb ragu with gnocchi or spoon it over a bed of creamy polenta.

You honestly can’t really go wrong here…rich & hearty braised lamb ragu for the win!

Side angle of Braised Lamb Ragu Pappardelle shown in pasta bowls, topped with grated parmesan & fresh parsley. The bowls sit atop a light blue surface next to fresh herbs, 2 glasses of red wine & a grey striped linen napkin.

I can’t wait for you to try this Braised Lamb Ragu recipe. It’s pure Italian comfort food, & I know you’ll love it just as much as we do.

If you do give it a try, be sure to let me know!: Leave a comment with a star rating below. You can also snap a photo & tag @playswellwithbutter on Instagram. I LOVE hearing about & seeing your PWWB creations! Happy cooking! ♡

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Braised Lamb Ragu Pappardelle shown in pasta bowls, topped with grated parmesan & fresh parsley. The bowls sit atop a light blue surface next to fresh herbs, 2 glasses of red wine & a grey striped linen napkin.

Slowly Braised Lamb Ragu

  • Author: Jess Larson
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 3 hours
  • Total Time: 3 hours 15 minutes (includes inactive time)
  • Yield: serves 4-6 1x
  • Category: Pasta Recipes, Main Dishes
  • Method: Braise, Stovetop, Oven
  • Cuisine: Italian


Succulent lamb shoulder is slowly braised with onions, carrots, celery, tomatoes, & hardy herbs, yielding an intensely flavorful Braised Lamb Ragu Sauce, perfectly paired with pappardelle, gnocchi, polenta, or any pasta you love! Slow cooker & Instant Pot directions provided in the Recipe Notes!


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 ½ pounds lamb shoulder, excess fat trimmed and diced into 1-inch cubes (see Recipe Notes)
  • 2 medium carrots, finely diced
  • 1 stalk celery, finely diced
  • 1 medium yellow onion, finely diced
  • 6 cloves garlic, finely chopped or grated
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 cup dry red wine (such as Chianti)
  • 1 cup low-sodium beef stock
  • 1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 sprig fresh rosemary
  • 810 sprigs fresh thyme
  • kosher salt and ground black pepper, to season

for Braised Lamb Ragu Pasta:

  • 1624 ounces pasta (pappardelle, bucatini, rigatoni, etc.) or gnocchi
  • 1/41/3 cup grated parmesan (roughly 1 tablespoon per serving)
  • ¼1/3 cup heavy cream (roughly 1 tablespoon per serving)
  • for serving, as desired: additional grated parmesan, finely chopped fresh herbs, etc.


Lamb ragu ingredients arranged on a light blue surface: dried pappardelle nests, onion, beef stock, garlic, bay leaves, tomato paste, crushed tomatoes, celery, carrots, wine, herbs & lamb shoulder.

  1. Brown the lamb shoulder: Add 1 tablespoon of the olive oil to a heavy-bottomed pot with a lid over medium-high heat (I use a 4-qt Dutch oven). Use paper towel to pat the lamb as dry as possible, then season generously with 1 teaspoon each kosher salt & ground black pepper. Add the seasoned lamb to the Dutch oven and cook until deeply browned on all sides, about 2-3 minutes per side. Work in batches as needed to avoid overcrowding the pot, which prevents browning. Transfer the lamb to a plate and set aside. At this point, preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Browned lamb shoulder in a large Dutch oven atop a light blue surface.
  2. Cook the aromatics: Add the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil to the pot & reduce the heat to medium. Once the oil is hot & shimmers, add in the onion, carrots, and celery, seasoning with 1 teaspoon kosher salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the veggies are softened & deeply browned, 15-20 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook until fragrant, 1-2 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste, stirring to coat the veggies, and cook for 1-2 minutes more, caramelizing the tomato paste. Tomato paste & aromatics mixed into browned soffritto in a large Dutch oven atop a light blue surface.
  3. Deglaze: Slowly pour the red wine into the Dutch oven, using a wooden spoon to scrape up the browned bits that have formed at the bottom of the pot – that’s where all the flavor is! Let the red wine reduce by about half (this goes by quickly!), then pour in the beef stock, crushed tomatoes, and the herbs. I like to use kitchen twine to tie them into a little bundle for easy removal. Return the lamb to the Dutch oven. Lamb ragu sauce prior to braising - browned lamb shoulder, & fresh herbs sitting in crushed tomato mixture in large Dutch oven atop a light blue surface.
  4. Braise: Cover the Dutch oven and place it in the oven to braise for 2 – 2 ½ hours. When it’s ready, the lamb should shred very easily – it’ll be tender enough that you should be able to shred it right in the ragu by using the back of a wooden spoon. Remove the Dutch oven from the oven. Remove & discard the spent bay leaves & herbs. Shred the lamb & stir to combine. At this point, you can cool & store for later use (see Recipe Notes for storage & freezing instructions), or proceed with prepping lamb ragu pappardelle or gnocchi (below).Braised lamb ragu in a large Dutch oven atop a light blue surface.

Braised Lamb Ragu Pasta:

  1. Boil the pasta: Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the gnocchi or pasta to al dente according to package directions. Before draining, carefully dip a liquid measuring cup into the pot, reserving about 1 cup of the starchy pasta water & set aside. Carefully drain the pasta (or gnocchi) & set aside – do NOT rinse hot pasta/gnocchi!
  2. Finish the Braised Lamb Ragu sauce: Meanwhile, as the pasta boils, bring the braised lamb ragu to a simmer. Stir in the heavy cream & grated parmesan. Reduce heat to low & continue to simmer, stirring occasionally as needed. Reheating lamb ragu with heavy cream in a small skillet. The skillet sits atop a light blue surface.
  3. Lamb ragu pasta: Add the al dente pasta or gnocchi to the simmering ragu sauce, tossing to coat such that the pasta is evenly coated in sauce. If the ragu is thick & needs to loosen up some, drizzle in some of the reserved starchy pasta water. If the pasta is loose & needs to thicken up some, sprinkle in some extra grated parm. Cook over medium heat for 1-2 minutes, until the pasta or gnocchi absorbs some of the ragu & the ragu clings to the pasta or gnocchi beautifully. Prepping lamb ragu pappardelle: pappardelle pasta tossed into lamb ragu sauce in a small skillet atop a light blue surface.
  4. Serve: Portion the lamb ragu pasta into individual pasta bowls. Finish with some grated parm or finely chopped herbs as desired. Serve immediately. Enjoy!Lamb ragu pappardelle in a small skillet atop a light blue surface.


  • Lamb: My preferred cut of lamb for this braised lamb ragu is lamb shoulder, though lamb shanks will work very well, too. Because of the long cooking time involved, avoid lean cuts like lamb chops. If you prefer to use ground lamb, I suggest modeling your ragu after my Best-Ever Bolognese recipe
  • Make-ahead, storage, & freezing:
    • Storage: Lamb ragu sauce stores incredibly well – it gets better & better as the flavors meld together over time! To store, prep the lamb ragu sauce through Step 4 of Recipe Directions, above. Cool completely & transfer to an airtight container. Store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Finish your ragu according to Steps 1-4 of “Braised Lamb Ragu Pasta” directions, above. Easy!
    • Freezing lamb ragu: Lamb ragu is also very freezer-friendly. You can make a double batch of this recipe, or freeze any leftovers for an easy dinner down the road. To freeze, transfer cooled lamb ragu sauce to a freezer bag or container. Freeze for up to 3 months. To thaw, place the frozen ragu in the refrigerator overnight or submerge the freezer container in cool water for an even quicker thaw. Finish your ragu according to Steps 1-4 of “Braised Lamb Ragu Pasta” directions, above. Previously frozen lamb ragu will be a little watery at first, which is totally fine & expected – simply let excess water simmer out before adding in the heavy cream & parmesan. 
  • Alternative cooking methods:
    • Slow cooker or Crockpot: Prepare the recipe according to Steps 1-3, above. Transfer the browned lamb shoulder, deglazed soffritto, & all remaining sauce ingredients as directed in Step 3 to a slow cooker. Slow cook on high for 3-4 hours or on low for 6-7 hours until the lamb shoulder is fall-apart tender. If your slow cooker has a searing/browning feature, you can use it to cook this entire lamb ragu recipe (Steps 1-4) in the slow cooker. Finish as directed in “Braised Lamb Ragu Pasta” Steps 1-4. Enjoy!
    • Instant Pot or electric pressure cooker: Use the Instant Pot’s “Sauté” setting to cook the recipe according to Steps 1-3, above. Cover & seal the pressure cooker. Cook on manual high pressure for 45 minutes. Allow the pressure cooker to naturally release pressure for 15 minutes before carefully flicking the valve to its “venting” position to vent out any residual pressure. Finish as directed in “Braised Lamb Ragu Pasta” Steps 1-4. Enjoy!

Keywords: braised lamb ragu sauce, ragu sauce recipe, lamb shoulder, winter, pasta dish recipe, slow cooker, Instant Pot, Christmas, Easter

Recipe by Jess Larson, Plays Well With Butter | Photography by Eat Love Eat

More classic Italian recipes to try…

Braised Lamb Ragu Pappardelle shown in pasta bowls, topped with grated parmesan & fresh parsley. The bowls sit atop a light blue surface next to fresh herbs, 2 glasses of red wine & a grey striped linen napkin.

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Don’t forget to pin this slowly braised lamb ragu recipe for later!!!slowly braised lamb ragu sauce. lamb shoulder gets slowly braised with onions, carrots, celery, tomatoes, and plenty of hardy herbs to make the perfect rich & comforting slowly braised lamb ragu sauce. it’s perfect to serve with gnocchi, polenta, or any pasta of your choice for the coziest winter dinner! #playswellwithbutter #lambrecipe #braisedlamb #lambragu #ragusauce #comfortfood

Hi there, I'm Jess!

If there’s 1 thing to know about me, it’s this: I am head-over-heels in love with food. I’m on a mission to make weeknight cooking flavorful, fast, & fun for other foodies, & PWWB is where I share foolproof recipes that deliver major flavor with minimal effort. Other true loves: pretty shoes, puppies, Grey’s Anatomy, & my cozy kitchen in Minneapolis, MN.


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  1. 6.1.23
    Jayden said:

    First successful Ragu! Added 250gm of pancetta prior to the veggies and was delicious

    • 6.1.23
      Emma @ Plays Well With Butter said:

      Yum, pancetta would be an excellent addition! So glad to hear you loved the ragu, Jayden! 🙂

  2. 4.29.23
    Carolyn said:

    Delicious! My 16 year old son went back for more…. four times.

    • 5.1.23
      Emma @ Plays Well With Butter said:

      Going back for more is the best sign!! Thanks so much, Carolyn!

  3. 4.9.23
    Chris said:

    Hi! Recipe looks amazing. One question I had is it one stalk of celery or a rib of celery?

    • 4.10.23
      Emma @ Plays Well With Butter said:

      Hi Chris, it’s a stalk of celery!! Hope you have a chance to try it out soon!

  4. 1.15.23
    John said:

    This was amazing. Cooked it for my kids using a whole shoulder, bone in and just let it sit in a 100 degree oven in a cast iron dutch oven for about 6 hrs. I added a little streaky bacon to the soffritto and must agree taking the time to brown fully makes a huge difference. I added a little balsamic glaze as well, not sure what difference it made but overall this is a winner. Clean plates, lots of leftovers that magically disappeared the next day.
    When the kids say it’s as good as any ragu they’ve had, I know I’m onto a winner.
    Thanks for the recipe!

    • 1.16.23
      Erin @ Plays Well With Butter said:

      Thanks so much John! We couldn’t agree more, the browning makes all the difference & we’re so glad you enjoyed & that it was a hit for all!

  5. 1.15.23
    John said:

    This was amazing. Cooked it for my kids using a whole shoulder, bone in and just let it sit in a 100 degree oven in a cast iron dutch oven for about 6 hrs. I added a little streaky bacon to the soffritto and must agree taking the time to brown fully makes a huge difference. I added a little balsamic glaze as well, not sure what difference it made but overall this is a winner. Clean plates, lots of leftovers that magically disappeared the next day.
    When the kids say it’s as good as any ragu they’ve had, I know I’m onto a winner.

  6. 1.6.23
    Carla said:

    I bought leg of lamb instead of shoulder, can I use this cut or is it too lean?

    • 1.6.23
      Erin @ Plays Well With Butter said:

      Hi Carla! Yes you should be able to use leg of lamb – many other reader’s have successfully used this cut with the recipe for their own ragu. The only thing you may want to keep in mind is that leg of lamb (as you mentioned) typically has less fat & connective tissue as lamb shoulder so it tends to cook a bit faster & you may need to adjust the liquid amount the lamb is braised in by adding more beef stock to ensure there is enough liquid so that the leg of lamb doesn’t become dry while slowly braising. Hope that helps & let us know how it goes!!

  7. 12.5.22
    Andrew said:

    Amazing recipe. I used a lamb shank and some neck bones, but cut as many chunks of meat off of the bone before browning as possible. Did everything else verbatim.

    • 12.6.22
      Erin @ Plays Well With Butter said:

      Hi Andrew! So glad you enjoyed the ragu & thank you so much for leaving a comment, we really appreciate it!

  8. 10.29.22
    Elizabeth said:

    This sounds amazing and I just took a shoulder roast out of the freezer to try it out. I’m wondering if you think it would work ok if I cooked the roast whole instead of cutting into chunks? I don’t need it to be an actual sauce as I’m planning on eating it by itself — so flavorful meat with flavorful sauce will be perfect for me. Do you think slow cooking the roast whole (with all the rest of the ingredients) will still be flavorful?

    • 10.29.22

      Hi Elizabeth! Yes, leaving your roast whole will work beautifully. You may need to account for some extra cook time since you’re working with a larger piece of meat – maybe 30 minutes to 1 hour longer – but as long as you sear it off, it’ll be just as flavorful as the recipe as written. Hope this helps!

      • 10.31.22
        Elizabeth said:

        It worked beautifully! This is indeed a very delicious recipe, and I had no problem using a whole roast instead of cutting it up. Since I wasn’t making it as a pasta sauce, I would have preferred less strong tomato flavor — it drowned out the lamb flavor more than I wanted. Nonetheless, it is delicious, and hey, this IS a pasta sauce recipe. So that’s on me. 🙂

  9. 8.11.22
    E said:

    Easily the longest time taken and best pasta I’ve ever made. Definitely worth taking the time to brown everything properly at least the first time

    • 8.11.22
      Erin @ Plays Well With Butter said:

      We couldn’t agree more – the extra time & effort put into browning is well worth it! Thanks so much & thrilled to hear you enjoyed!

  10. 8.7.22
    Lynn Neame said:


    • 8.8.22
      Erin @ Plays Well With Butter said:

      Thank you, Lynn! So glad you loved it!

  11. 6.2.22
    Kevin said:

    If using lamb shanks, do you brown and cook on the bone, removing them after? Thanks so much!

    • 6.2.22
      Erin @ Plays Well With Butter said:

      Hi Kevin! Yes, that should work just fine! 🙂

  12. 3.6.22
    Eliza said:

    Beautiful! The cream adds so much flavour at the end. Highly recommend!

    • 3.7.22
      Erin @ Plays Well With Butter said:

      So glad you enjoyed Eliza! It definitely brings it all together – thanks so much for leaving a comment & be sure to check out our other ragu sauces too!

  13. 11.17.21
    Adria said:

    Hi Jess, I am having this lamb ragu for a small family gathering Saturday and have made it today (Wednesday) to the point of refrigerating it and will simmer it and finish it with the cream and parmesan on Saturday. I used a 3 lb. boneless leg of lamb (double what is called for) and doubled everything else as well which I’m hoping is the correct thing to do (made sense to me). I’m wondering why wait to put the cream and parmesan in before storing it for a few days? It looks wonderful and I’m hoping it all tastes delicious. I will definitely give a star rating once we’ve had it for dinner. Thanks for the recipe!

  14. 11.7.21
    Jess said:

    Hello Jess!

    I really want to make this recipe at home. I have a pot that can go in the oven but no lid – do you think I can make this with a foil cover as a makeshift lid or can I make this on the stove?

    Thanks so much! x

    • 11.8.21

      Hey Jess! The foil will definitely work as a make-shift lid – just make sure its pressed around the pot nice & tight to keep all the steam in the pot so the lamb braises well. Can’t wait for you to try!

  15. 10.31.21
    Terri said:

    This recipe is soooooo yummy!! Lots of flavour. I did it with a leg of lamb but it took 4.5 hours.

    • 10.31.21
      Erin @ Plays Well With Butter said:

      Terri, we are so glad you enjoyed this ragu & that it worked out with the leg of lamb – thank you for sharing! 🙂

  16. 10.30.21
    LC said:

    What can I substitute with the beef stock? Chicken, vegetable, pork?

  17. 9.18.21
    Derek Rhoades said:

    So I have made this twice now. I make my own pasta. 100% semolina works wonders with this type of sauce. Second time it felt off, I was missing something..first time I had put Parmigiana Rind in it…..that is game changer. Get that rind and put it in there! But this was a great Saab experience, family of 4 ate every late drop of it! Thank you for the recipe, incredible flavor!

    • 12.27.21
      Erin @ Plays Well With Butter said:

      Thanks for leaving a comment, Derek! We agree parmesan rind will take just about any sauce (or soup!) to a whole new level. So glad you & your family enjoyed!

  18. 4.27.21
    Emily said:

    Most delicious recipe!! Full of flavour and so easy to make! You just brown the meat and then chuck everything in a pot. Will definitely make again

    • 5.2.21

      Awesome, I’m so glad you enjoyed, Emily! Thank you for sharing!! xx

  19. 4.16.21
    Pete said:

    Hi Jess.

    Thanks for the recipe.
    I am looking forward to cooking this tonight for a brunch tomorrow.

    One correction – searing meat does not lock in the juices. In fact seared meat has been proven to weight less after cooking than non-seared meat. It is the fat that keeps lamb shoulder joints juicy. That’s why lean meat isn’t juicy unless cooked rare.

    What searing does do is improve the appearance of flavour of food by a phenomenon known as the Maillard reaction.

  20. 3.28.21
    AMANDA said:

    I had to use lamb shank (no shoulder at any local grocer). I ended up using a total 3lb lamb shank bone on to strenuously cut off/ debone/ defat the 1.5 lb estimated dark meat.

    Everything else per recipe. Let it cook 2.5 hours in the oven without touching it.

    Tastes like Chef Boyardi with melted cane sugar. Guys, it’s absolutely fabulous. So rich, so flavorful, so “omg get me seconds”. Had to use big rigatoni also, worth it!!

    It’s a lot of work, Passover weekend legend. I’ll save it for next year, absolutely 💯

    • 6.12.21
      Erin @ Plays Well With Butter said:

      Amanda, we are so so glad to hear that this recipe was a hit & that you made it for your Passover weekend! 🙌 We couldn’t agree more – this recipe is worth the work & wait!

  21. 2.19.21
    Joanne said:

    this looks so good, I’ll make it this weekend! I have a question: one of my housemates can’t have alcohol. What can I use as a substitute for the red wine?

    • 12.27.21
      Erin @ Plays Well With Butter said:

      Hi Joanne! We haven’t tested it but would likely recommend subbing the wine for more beef stock! You should be able to deglaze with the beef stock instead & the sauce should still be very flavorful.

  22. 1.24.21
    Gina said:

    This is a great recipe! It was perfect for this rainy winter night and there are enough leftovers for at least another night. My kitchen smells just like my grandmother’s used to, so you get a sixth star for nostalgia.

    • 1.25.21
      Erin @ Plays Well With Butter said:

      Hi Gina! We love that the recipe reminded you of your Grandmother’s kitchen, certain recipes can definitely have a way of taking you back to a favorite memory! So glad you enjoyed!

  23. 1.23.21
    Mike said:

    I made this a few hours ago and it was fantastic! It transported me back to my trip to Siena where I had wild boar ragu with their traditional pici pasta. I used rigatoni and you were right, flavour in every single bite! Thank you for this.
    Just wanted to ask for your advice; through no fault of your recipe, I found it was just a tad bit sour. I believe it was mainly due to the fact that I couldn’t find crushed tomatoes in the store, and ended up using 400g of whole peeled tomatoes and 350g of passata. I’m not sure which of those added to the concentration so I would love any suggestions on how I should tweak those proportions in the future?

    • 12.29.21
      Erin @ Plays Well With Butter said:

      Thanks Mike! So glad this recipe could help transport you back to a fun memory! As for the sour flavor, it is hard to say how you may be able to adjust if you were to use the 400g of whole peeled tomatoes and 350g of passata as substitutes again as we’ve never tested it this way. All types of canned tomatoes tend to be more acidic & the degree of acidity can vary depending on when they were harvested & canned so it’s possible that the whole peeled tomatoes or passata used contributed to this taste.

  24. 1.10.21
    Helen said:

    Made this last night and it was soooo delicious! Fabulous flavours and my kitchen smelled heavenly. I really appreciated the detailed instruction (deep browning of the veggies was a revelation!). Thanks so much for this fantastic recipe. It will be on repeat in our home.

    • 1.27.21
      Erin @ Plays Well With Butter said:

      Hi Helen! Thanks so much & yes we agree, the browning is key & makes such a difference! We are SO glad you enjoyed!

  25. 12.30.20
    Carly said:

    Made this for dinner tonight. It is delicious! And my house smells amazing from having it in the oven this afternoon!

    • 1.27.21
      Erin @ Plays Well With Butter said:

      Thanks Carly! This one is sure to make your kitchen smell like heaven! =)

  26. 9.1.20
    Judy Phillpott said:

    Made this in the slow cooker, then served it with pumpkin gnocchi. The smell while cooking was great and it tastes even better. Will make this again.

  27. 6.10.20
    Eden said:

    I made a mistake thinking I’d have leftovers…

    • 6.24.20
      jess said:

      Hahaha!!! So glad you loved it…double batch next time! =)

  28. 4.27.20
    Ashleigh Rothel said:

    AMAZING! Deffs recommend it. Easy and mouth watering.

    • 4.28.20
      jess said:

      I’m so glad you loved it, Ashleigh!! Thanks for dropping in to leave a comment!

  29. 4.13.20
    Kay Thomas said:

    Can you make this with a boneless leg of lamb?

    • 4.28.20
      jess said:

      Hey Kay! Leg of lamb should work just fine!

  30. 11.12.19
    Betsy said:

    We made this lamb ragu for a special Sunday night family dinner and absolutely LOVED it. We paired it with homemade pasta, but we are excited to make again with the gnocchi. My girls (4 and 1.5) devoured it!

    • 1.10.20
      jess said:

      Serving on homemade pasta sounds like a DREAM! So glad you & your whole family enjoyed, Betsy! xx

  31. 10.27.19
    Roger said:

    Hi Jess, I just has a feeling reading your recipe that this dish wouldn’t disappoint. I made it for my parents and my father and I both thought it was the best pasta sauce we ever tasted! I used a full bodied Pinotage in the sauce and with the meal, and went with Parpadelle pasta. I think you’re absolutely right about extra caramélisation of the vegetables, and about braising in the pasta with a little cream. Fabulous. I used a whole lamb shoulder so have plenty of delicious leftovers. Thanks for sharing.

    • 12.14.20

      Roger, this comment totally makes my day! I’m so glad to hear that your parents enjoyed! Yes, the veggies need to brown really well to build depth in flavor – it makes all the difference in the world!

  32. 11.16.18
    Ariella said:

    I didn’t see an oven temp but I just popped mine in the oven at 325 (?!)

    • 11.16.18
      jess said:

      hey ariella! ah! so sorry! thanks for pointing this out. yes, 325 is perfect. i’ve updated the recipe to reflect this! i hope your kitchen smells like heaven about now! xo

      • 11.25.18
        Ariella said:

        It did! And it was amazinggggg. Froze the leftover ragu and had it for lunch with my very italian grandparents who were IN LOVE with the flavor and demaned the recipe. Thank you!

  33. 11.8.18
    Steph said:

    This looks amazing! If I’m trying to avoid dairy, could I use coconut milk instead of cream?

    • 11.8.18
      jess said:

      hey steph! i think that would work! i have never tried it myself, but i think the ragu has strong enough flavor to not let the little bit of coconuttiness come through. give it a try and report back!

  34. 11.8.18
    Christina said:

    Seriously perfect for this early winter weather we are having! I’m going to indulge in this for breakfast, lunch and dinner 🙂

    • 11.8.18
      jess said:

      haha! GIRL. same. we’re having it tonight! xo

      • 11.11.20
        Tayla said:

        If you dont have a crackpot or a Dutch oven will this work okay just slowly simmering on the stove top? Or do you think that might make the meat tough and potentially be too similar to boiling it?

        • 11.21.20

          Hi Tayla! As long as it’s a pot with a lid, you can definitely simmer it on the stovetop. Make sure the simmer is gentle, & cover the pot to keep the sauce from reducing too much as it simmers.