Satisfy Your Cravings with Delicious Irish Stew Recipe

Hear me, good folk of the culinary world! A recipe for a hearty and wholesome Irish stew with pearl barley is what I bring to thy table today! Gather round and lend me thy ears, for this is not just any ordinary stew recipe. Nay, but it is a traditional Irish stew that will warm the cockles of thy heart and nourish thy soul.

This stew is the epitome of Irish comfort food, passed down through generations of families and celebrated by all. It’s said that no two stews are alike in Ireland, but there are a few key ingredients that must be present: succulent lamb, sweet carrots, earthy potatoes, and warming thyme. Yet, in this recipe, we add the hearty grain of pearl barley to create a dish that’s as filling as it is flavorful.

As the wind howls outside and frost sets in on the windowsill, I invite you to make this traditional Irish stew with pearl barley, brewed to perfection in your own kitchen. It’s not only scrumptious and savory – it’s simple to make with ingredients found at your local market or butcher shop. So let us venture forth into the kitchen together that we may begin crafting this delightful Irish cuisine!

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

Traditional Irish Stew With Pearl Barley
Traditional Irish Stew With Pearl Barley

Do you crave a warm and hearty meal that will leave you feeling satisfied? Look no further than this traditional Irish stew with pearl barley recipe! Satisfy your hunger with juicy lamb chops and filling pearl barley, all cooked to perfection in a delicious lamb stock. Don’t underestimate the power and comforting charm of a classic stew.

Not only is this recipe filling and flavorful, but it’s also incredibly easy to prepare. Use pearl barley instead of potato or dumplings for a healthy twist on a classic dish. The combination of vegetables, spices, and tender lamb blends beautifully for a warm, comforting flavor that will have you coming back for more.

There are few things as cozy and inviting as curling up with a bowl of hot Irish stew on a chilly evening. Whether you prefer to prepare it on the stovetop or in the slow cooker, the aroma will permeate your home, making it feel like a cozy cottage on the Emerald Isle. With so many variations on this beloved dish, it’s no surprise that traditional Irish stew holds a special place in the hearts (and bellies) of so many people.

The flavors may be simple, but they’re certainly not boring. This dish has been enjoyed by generations of families across Ireland because it is satisfying, warming and delicious. Try it for yourself and see why so many people love this traditional Irish stew with pearl barley recipe!

Ingredient List

 A steamy bowl of comfort: Irish stew with pearl barley.
A steamy bowl of comfort: Irish stew with pearl barley.

Here are the ingredients you’ll need to make this traditional Irish stew with pearl barley recipe:

Ingredients 1:

  • 2 pounds (900g) stewing lamb, cut into large chunks
  • 4 carrots, peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 tablespoons plain flour
  • 2 tablespoons rapeseed oil (or olive oil)
  • Salt and pepper

Ingredients 2:

  • 2 carrots, sliced
  • 2 potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 1 cup pearl barley, rinsed
  • 4 cups (1 liter) lamb stock
  • ½ teaspoon dried thyme (or a few sprigs of fresh thyme)
  • A handful of fresh parsley leaves
  • 2 bay leaves

Make sure to use the best pearl barley you can find for a hearty and flavorful stew. Also, using lean lamb like lamb shoulder or leg will give you a better flavor. Don’t forget to season your stew generously with salt and pepper.

The Recipe How-To

 Creamy potatoes, tender meat, and chewy pearl barley make the perfect blend in this traditional Irish stew.
Creamy potatoes, tender meat, and chewy pearl barley make the perfect blend in this traditional Irish stew.

Preparing the Ingredients

To start off, I highly recommend using 900g stewing lamb, preferably from the shoulder or leg, which should be cut into large chunks. If you can’t find stewing lamb, you can also use boneless lamb chops cut into 2-inch pieces. Be sure to trim off any excess fat before cooking.

Add 2 tbsp of olive oil to a large pot or Dutch oven and heat it over medium-high heat. Add the lamb in batches, making sure not to overcrowd the pot. Sear each batch of meat until it has developed a deep brown color on all sides before removing it from the pot and setting it aside.

Next, add 1 diced onion, 4 peeled and cut carrots, and 2 chopped celery stalks to the pot. Lower the heat and sauté for about 10 minutes until the vegetables have softened.

Cooking the Stew with Pearl Barley

Sift in 1 tablespoon of plain flour to absorb any leftover oil in the pot and stir well. Pour in 1 liter or 4 cups of lamb stock and stir everything together. Add the reserved lamb back into the pot along with any juices that have accumulated on the plate.

Throw in 4 tablespoons of pearl barley and let everything simmer for at least 40 minutes. You can also add an optional bouquet garni made up of 3 dried bay leaves, a small bunch of fresh thyme, and some fresh parsley tied together with kitchen twine.

Adding Potatoes and Carrots

After 40 minutes, add in 500g peeled and cut potatoes and 2 sliced carrots. Sprinkle in some salt and pepper to taste. At this point, you will want to keep an eye on the stew to ensure that there is enough liquid so that it does not dry out.

If the liquid level is low, you could add more stock or water. Continue cooking for another 30 minutes on medium-low heat or until the potatoes and carrots are tender.

Adjusting the Flavors

Adjust the seasoning according to your preferences. If you feel that the stew needs more flavor, add some dried thyme to taste.

Serving the Traditional Irish Stew with Pearl Barley

Ladle a portion of Irish lamb stew with pearl barley into bowls and sprinkle some fresh parsley over each bowl. Serve hot with crusty bread or a green salad on the side.

This recipe can also be made using a slow cooker. Simply follow the instructions above but cook on low heat for up to 8 hours instead.

Substitutions and Variations

 Savor the warmth of this hearty stew on a cold day.
Savor the warmth of this hearty stew on a cold day.

Verily, there are several ways to tweak this traditional Irish stew recipe to suit your taste buds or dietary preferences. Fear not, for here are some substitutions and variations that you can make to this beloved dish:

– Meat: As with any stew, you can use any cut of lamb or beef that you prefer. For a leaner option, go for boneless lamb or lamb leg. You could also swap the meat for poultry like chicken or turkey, or even omit it altogether for a vegetarian version (use veggie stock instead of lamb stock).

– Grains: If pearl barley is hard to come by in your neck of the woods, try using other grains instead. Pot barley, quinoa, brown rice, or even pasta can work as a substitute. Each grain will bring its unique texture and flavor to the stew.

– Vegetables: The beauty of a stew is you can throw in any veggies you have lying around. Swede (rutabaga), turnip, parsnip, leek, celery, or even mushrooms would all be delicious additions to this Irish stew.

– Herbs: While thyme and bay leaves are classic herbs for stews, you could experiment with other herbs as well. Rosemary, sage, parsley, or even mint could add a new dimension of taste.

– Dumplings: If you’re feeling adventurous (and carb-hungry), try adding dumplings to the stew about 45 minutes before it finishes cooking. Jamie Oliver has a great recipe for cheddar and chive dumplings that would pair perfectly with this Irish-inspired dish.

– Slow cooker: Donal Skehan has a slow-cooked lamb and barley stew recipe that uses a crockpot to do all the work for you. It’s perfect for those hectic weeknights when you want to come home to a hot meal waiting for you.

Remember friends, don’t be afraid to experiment and make this Irish stew your own. The possibilities are endless!

Serving and Pairing

 My secret ingredient? Pearl barley adds texture and an earthy flavor to this classic stew.
My secret ingredient? Pearl barley adds texture and an earthy flavor to this classic stew.

Hark! Verily, the traditional Irish stew with pearl barley doth require rightful accompaniments to achieve a flavorsome meal. This stew has a hearty and filling nature that can be enjoyed on its own or shared with others. Thus, serving and pairing it with some well-chosen dishes can enhance the dining experience altogether.

Firstly, I recommend you serve this steaming pot of stew in wide and shallow bowls, garnished with fresh parsley for added fragrance and flavor. Moreover, a piece of Irish soda bread would complement the stew perfectly as it can soak up any leftover sauce. The doughy texture of the bread contrasts with the meaty and thick broth harmonically. Additionally, this dish pairs exceptionally well with a pint of Guinness or other rich stouts that have coffee and chocolate notes.

For those who prefer a side dish to accompany their bowl of Irish stew, potatoes are always a sturdy contender. Boiled or mashed potatoes not only add more texture to the meal but also give us some carbs to fuel through the day. Carrots roasted with honey also supply a subtle sweetness that balances out the savory taste of the lamb stew pearl barley. In addition, braised red cabbage with some apple cider vinegar makes for an excellent acidic side dish that cuts through the richness of the stew.

Finally, if you are feeling adventurous like me, you could add your twist to this traditional irish lamb stew recipe by serving it over mashed sweet potatoes or parsnips instead of regular potatoes. The natural sweetness in these root vegetables pairs wonderfully with savory foods.

In conclusion, serving and pairing traditional Irish stew with pearl barley may seem like a precarious task initially. Nevertheless, by picking the right dishes to pair it with or adding your spin to it, one can elevate this humble dish into something magnificent. So indulge yourself in this delicious lamb stew pearl barley recipe stuffed with comforting warmth and earthy flavors accompanied by perfectly chosen sides!

Make-Ahead, Storing and Reheating

 Simmered slowly with a medley of root vegetables, this stew is packed with cozy flavors.
Simmered slowly with a medley of root vegetables, this stew is packed with cozy flavors.

Thou must prepare this traditional Irish Stew with Pearl Barley recipe ahead of time to make it more flavorful. Its flavors tend to blend well together over time, making it perfect for meal prepping. Here are some tips on how to make-ahead, store and reheat this delectable stew:


If thou hast plans to entertain guests or simply desire to save some time, I recommend making this stew in advance. It may be stored in the fridge for up to 3 days, and in the freezer for up to 3 months. Thou may follow the same recipe instructions but stop before adding any fresh parsley. When reheating, complete the dish by heating it through, then add the fresh parsley and serve.

If thou prefer to make it all from scratch on the day of serving, prepare all ingredients beforehand by cutting them into chunks or sizing them based on one’s preferences. This will aid in making your cooking process easier and faster.


Storing this Irish stew correctly is important to prevent spoilage and contamination. Once done cooking, store them in a clean airtight container or a ziplock bag. Let it cool down before storing it in the refrigerator or freezer. In the fridge, it may be stored for up to 3 days, while in the freezer, it can last for up to 3 months.


To maintain its texture, flavor, and nutrients when reheating pre-made stew, do so gently over low heat until heated altogether. Avoid overheating – this will prevent turning tender pieces of meat into rubbery those thy hand cannot sink into.

A great serving suggestion is with a side dish of fluffy mashed potatoes or crusty bread which picks up any leftover gravy best served hot or warm due to the pearl barley that thickens it if cooled properly.

By following these tips, thou are assured of an exceptional meal on your plate every time you prepare this delicious Traditional Irish Stew with Pearl Barley recipe.

Tips for Perfect Results

 Break out the bread and butter! This stew is perfect for sopping up every last drop.
Break out the bread and butter! This stew is perfect for sopping up every last drop.

As a chef specializing in British cuisine, I have gathered useful tips that can help you achieve the best results when making Traditional Irish Stew With Pearl Barley. Here are some important tips to take note of:

First and foremost, using the best-quality lamb is key to creating an excellent stew. Opt for boneless lamb shoulder or lean lamb leg cut into large chunks. This will give the stew a rich and tender flavor.

Another tip I suggest is to brown the meat before cooking it with other ingredients. Browing the lamb chops before simmering them in the stew will deepen their savory taste and also enhance the soup’s flavor.

When preparing your vegetables like potatoes, carrots, and onions, try to keep their size uniform as much as possible to ensure even cooking. Cutting large chunks of vegetables will prevent them from turning mushy while they cook.

To thicken the stew base without altering its taste, mix a tablespoon of plain flour with cold water before adding it to the stew. The flour will help create a thick consistency, which is essential for an authentic Irish Stew.

Incorporating fresh herbs like parsley, bay leaves, thyme, or basil can enhance the overall flavor of your stew. However, be sure to use these in moderation so they don’t overpower your dish.

For those who prefer gluten-free grain alternatives, quinoa can be an excellent substitute for pearl barley in the stew recipe. It has a similar texture and provides added protein.

Lastly, when storing leftover stew or making it ahead of time, allow enough time for it to cool before placing it in an airtight container. This way, condensation is eliminated and the moisture doesn’t build up inside the container.

Remembering these points would guarantee you that great taste that you were aiming for, producing an authentic Irish Stew every single time!


Hark, thou curious cooking enthusiasts will surely have questions lingering in thy mind about this traditional Irish stew with pearl barley recipe. Perchance thou art wondering about substitutions, ideal cuts of lamb or thy queries are related to the stew’s taste and texture. Worry not, for in this FAQ section, I will be providing thorough answers to quell all of thy thoughts and uncertainties. So gather round and hearken unto my words.

Can you put pearl barley straight into a stew?

There are multiple ways to cook barley, but the most prevalent technique entails adding the grains directly to a broth or stew, simmering them gently for around 30 minutes. Alternatively, pearl barley can be used to replace rice in a risotto, as it has a comparable ability to soak up liquid, and the cooking duration is roughly equivalent.

Does Irish stew contain barley?

This recipe is bursting with delicious flavors and the addition of barley makes it a filling and comforting meal suitable for any season. As a chef specializing in cuisine from all around the world, I offer a variety of recipes such as the delectable Italian Lamb Stew. Why not try it out and expand your culinary horizons?

What gave the Irish stew its fresh flavor passage?

A hearty British dish typically consists of root vegetables and, on occasion, Pearl Barley, all of which are simmered in water to create a flavorful stew.

What is traditional Irish stew made from?

When preparing a traditional Irish stew, one typically uses mutton, which comes from sheep that are over a year old and tends to be fattier, stronger in flavor, and more commonly used in less prosperous periods. Along with the lamb, potatoes, onions, and parsley are usually added, and occasionally carrots may also make an appearance. Additionally, kid is sometimes used in the recipe.

Bottom Line

So there you have it, my dear readers. A recipe for a Traditional Irish Stew with Pearl Barley that will knock your socks off! Trust me, I’m a chef specializing in British cuisine.

By using the best pearl barley and lamb stew ingredients available, you can make a delicious and hearty Irish stew that will warm your belly and soul. You won’t find a better pearl barley stew or Irish lamb stew recipe anywhere else.

And if you feel like adding some dumplings to it, go ahead and do so! Like Jamie Oliver and Donal Skehan say, it’s an excellent addition to this dish.

But most importantly, don’t forget to enjoy this Irish stew with loved ones. Serve it with a side of fresh parsley and pair it with a glass of red wine or pint of beer for the ultimate experience. The combination is something that can’t be missed.

So, gather your ingredients, follow the steps in this recipe carefully, and cook up this Traditional Irish Stew with Pearl Barley. Trust me; you won’t be disappointed.

Traditional Irish Stew With Pearl Barley

Traditional Irish Stew With Pearl Barley Recipe

I got this recipe off from my friend's mum when we were in Ireland last year for our summer holidays. It is different from the other recipes I have found here with the addition of pearl barley. The original recipe states to add in the meat and the vegetables all in at once but I find that the veggies get a bit mushy with the long cooking time, so I add in the vegetables during the last hour. So, you could do it either way! I usually serve it with Irish Soda Bread. Here is Ms Happy Farmer's Recipe #228509 which we truly enjoyed!
Course Main Course
Cuisine Irish
Keyword < 4 Hours, Easy, St. Patrick's Day, Stew
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 2 hours
Calories 1377.8kcal


  • 2 1/2 lbs lamb chops, cut into 2 . 5cm thick pieces (bone in)
  • 2 -3 tablespoons plain flour
  • 4 -5 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 medium onions, roughly chopped
  • 3 carrots, peeled and cut in chunks
  • 4 large potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 2 tablespoons pearl barley
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme or 1 tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped
  • 2 pints good beef stock or 2 pints lamb stock
  • 3 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped


  • Start off by trimming and cutting away excess fat off the meat.
  • Pat the pieces dry and in a bowl toss them with flour.
  • In a heavy-based saucepan, over high heat, heat 2 tbsp olive oil and brown the meat pieces in small batches and then remove and set aside in a bowl.
  • In the same saucepan, over medium heat add in the rest of the olive oil and add in the chopped onions, garlic and bay leaves and saute till translucent, takes about 10 minutes.
  • Return the browned meat pieces to the pot and add in the dried thyme and give it all a good stir.
  • Sprinkle pearl barley on top and pour in all of the stock and season with salt and pepper.
  • Increase the heat and bring it to a simmering point.
  • Spoon off any scum that rises to the surface, then cover the pan with a well-fitting lid and leave to simmer over a low heat for an hour, stirring occasionally.
  • After the hour is up, spoon off scum if any and then add in the potatoes and carrots and give all a good stir and leave it cook for another hour.
  • Carefully stir in 2 tbsp of chopped parsley and take it off heat.
  • Garnish with the remaining 1 tbsp of chopped parsley and serve!


Serving: 680g | Calories: 1377.8kcal | Carbohydrates: 82.5g | Protein: 58.5g | Fat: 90.2g | Saturated Fat: 35.6g | Cholesterol: 209.8mg | Sodium: 999.2mg | Fiber: 11.4g | Sugar: 7.4g

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