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Irish Stew

Irish stew is the traditional stew of Ireland, whose typical ingredients include lamb or mutton apart from carrots, onions, potatoes and parsley. When the stew is prepared in a traditional manner, the stew bears a thick consistency.

History of Irish Stew

Irish stew is a filling dish which is prepared using some of the cheapest and readily-available ingredients. Earlier, the Irish people raised sheep and cultivated root crops for their survival. The sheep was a vital reason for their subsistence as it offered wool for protection against cold, milk for drinking and ultimately, food.

It happened several times earlier that merely lamb or mutton shanks, neckbones and remaining trimmings were brought into use to prepare Irish stew. Even when no other vegetables were used, just the meat was enough to add taste to a healthy bowl of stew.

The root vegetables that began to be added further, not only provided flavor and thickened it, but also, increased the nutritive value of the stew. If readily available, barley, turnips and carrots also used to be additionally added by the cook.

Modern Irish Stew

When people in Ireland experienced starvation as a result of the potato famine, many of them immigrated to the United States. They brought along with them their classic food traditions. It was then that the stew evolved and it became a part of the local offerings in the United States.

Sheep were not available in abundance in America, hence, other meats were substituted instead of sheep. Some of the modern variations of the Irish stew are considered to be a gourmet dish.

Irish Stew Recipe: Ingredients and Method

Irish stew ingredients inlude chopped mutton, carrot, potato, onion, parsley, stock cubes or homemade stock, water, salt and pepper. To make the stew, the boiled mutton is cooked with the chopped vegetables, salt, pepper and stock.

Popular Irish Stew Recipes

Here is a list of some Irish stew recipes that range from the basic versions to the fancy ones -

  • Ballymaloe Irish Stew - This is a traditional stew recipe which suggests the use of lamb, potatoes, carrots and onions.
  • Irish Whiskey Potato Green Chile Stew - As the name suggests, this stew gets a shot of flavor from whiskey.
  • Beef & Guinness Stew - The Guinness stout beer, as one of the ingredients of the soup, tends to tenderize the beef and offers the stew a malty flavor.
  • Lamb Stew With Chestnuts And Pomegranates - this stew made from Pomegranates, chestnuts, lamb, walnuts and spices is popularly served over saffron rice.
  • Crockpot Irish Stew - This stew made from lamb and vegetables is made in slow cooker.


  • Irish stew has a mention in the famous novel - “Three Men in a Boat”, where the narrator comically points out that "Irish stew" is made up from whatsoever leftovers one can get.

  • Russell McHugh, a popular former breakfast presenter on All FM, was able to successfully convince his listeners that his name was actually a slang for Irish Stew. This fake persuasion was revealed on the April Fool Day, after which the name of this dish was changed in two Manchester restaurants in his honour.

  • The popular Irish drinking song titled "Johnny McEldoo" has the mention of Irish stew too, as one of the top foods that Johhny eats while he is on his eating spree.

  • Irish stew is one of the menu items in Gourmet Ranch, a game on Facebook. There it is made up of Aberdeen Beef in place of lamb or mutton.