A good lamb stew is a comforting pleasure no matter what the season.
But to really make this cozy dish shine, you’ll want to reach for just the right selection of herbs and spices.
Here, I’ve collected my must-have ingredients for crafting flavorful and fragrant lamb stews perfect for chilly days or any occasion when you want a special dinner treat.
Whether you’re preparing an unusual take on classic celebrity chef recipes or creating something entirely new, these 18 carefully chosen herbs and spices will become your go-to ingredients for the tastiest lamb stews around.
Cinnamon adds a warm, earthy taste and aroma to lamb stew when used judiciously.
Cinnamon is also said to help reduce some of the gamey aspects of lamb stew.
It pairs well with other herbs such as rosemary, thyme, and bay leaf that may be added along with the meat in the initial stage of cooking your stew.
Start out by adding 1/2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon at the beginning when you add the main ingredients for your lamb stew; then add additional amounts according to taste.
Cumin is a warm and earthy spice that pairs well with the heartier flavors of lamb stew.
It adds a robust flavor and aroma to any dish, so a little goes a long way.
For one pot of lamb stew, add ½ teaspoon cumin when browning the meat along with the other spices such as garlic powders and oregano.
Paprika is a perfect spice to add richness and a mild flavor to lamb stew.
Paprika’s sweet, smoky flavor pairs well with the delicate flavors of the lamb.
You can use both hot or sweet paprika in your stew, depending on how spicy you want it; usually, one teaspoon per pound of meat will do.
If you’re using smoked paprika, just half that amount should be sufficient.
Cardamom is an excellent choice for adding flavor to a stew.
Cardamom has a sweet, warm flavor with notes of lemongrass and citrus that melds beautifully with the flavors of slow-cooked lamb.
A little bit goes a long way in flavoring the dish, so start off with small amounts – about half a teaspoon to one teaspoon per three pounds (1-1.5kg) of meat.
It’s always possible to add more if needed once your stew is simmering away on the stovetop or in the oven.
Ginger adds a sweet, spicy flavor to lamb stews and is an excellent way to bring out the unique characteristics of the meat.
A pinch or two should be enough, as it can easily overpower other flavors if used in too large amounts.
Its sweetness helps balance out the savoriness of the stew, while its spiciness adds depth and complexity.
Ginger’s earthy warmth also helps bring out the subtle notes present in cooked lamb.
Allspice is an ideal addition to a lamb stew, adding sweetness and complexity to the savory flavors that typically accompany this dish.
Allspice adds a hint of both cinnamon and pepper which can help balance out other warm spices in the mix such as cumin or smoked paprika.
Allspice should be used in moderation – while its flavor can be strong, you don’t want it to overpower your stew.
Start with half a teaspoon for a 4-serving batch and adjust from there if needed.
7. Bay Leaves
Bay leaves are an ideal addition to your stew—their slight bitterness and deep, earthy flavor highlight the tender meat’s savory deliciousness.
Bay leaves not only add a delicious depth of flavor but also help bring out other flavors in the dish.
When using bay leaves in your lamb stew, use one or two dried leaves per four servings, and crumble them over the top once they’ve been added.
Take care when eating—they can be quite tough and have sharp edges so you’ll need to remove them before tucking them into your stew.
8. Black Pepper
Black pepper makes a great addition to lamb stew as it adds a punch of flavor without overpowering the other ingredients.
It also helps to bring out the natural sweetness of the lamb.
The amount used will depend on personal preference, but typically I recommend using around 1 teaspoon per 4 servings.
This should give you a subtle peppery note throughout the dish without being overly spicy.
Salt is the perfect seasoning for lamb stew, as it enhances the savory flavors of the dish.
The amount you should use depends on your personal taste preference, but typically you would add 1/2 teaspoon of salt per pound of cubed lamb.
Salt brings out the natural sweetness in the other ingredients and adds a welcome depth to milder herbs like thyme or rosemary.
Adding too much salt can be overpowering, so we recommend starting off with a small amount and then adding more to taste at the end.
10. Curry Powder
Curry powder is a flavorful blend of spices that adds savoriness to lamb stew.
It typically contains many different combinations of spices such as turmeric, coriander, cumin, fenugreek, black pepper, and ginger.
In the case of curry powder used for a lamb stew, one should use enough to season all ingredients in the dish so that it has a uniform flavor profile.
Generally, about 1-2 teaspoons per pound (about 450g) of meat should suffice.
Curry powder adds warmth and depth to a lamb stew, with both spicy and earthy alluring notes throughout its flavor palette.
11. Chili Flakes
Chili flakes can be used directly in the stew or made into an “infusion” by adding them to hot oil before adding it to the pot.
The amount you need depends on your desired level of spiciness, but usually, a teaspoon is enough for most recipes.
Chili flakes bring warmth and complexity without overpowering other flavors.
They will give your lamb stew a nose-tingling kick that will deepen and intensify all those lovely savory notes from the roasted vegetables, spices, herbs, and of course the slow-cooked juicy lamb.
Cloves can be added as either ground or whole, but for the best flavor it is recommended to use whole cloves which will give the stew an interesting texture while releasing their aroma into the dish.
To complement the flavors of a classic lamb stew, use 4-5 cloves in total when adding to your dish.
The addition of cloves will result in a sweet and aromatic depth of flavor that pairs perfectly with slow-cooked meat dishes like lamb stew.
13. Garlic Powder
Garlic powder has a strong, sweet aroma and adds a subtle warmth without overwhelming the other ingredients.
When using garlic powder in lamb stew, start with 1 teaspoon (or more depending on your preference) and adjust as needed to taste.
Garlic powder gives the stew an earthy depth of flavor that pairs perfectly with the richness of the lamb while still allowing other flavors to come forward.
14. Onion Powder
Onion powder is an effective way to add onion flavor to savory dishes such as lamb stew.
Onion powder has the same herbal characteristics as fresh onions without all the peeling and slicing.
The powdered form also eliminates any need for raw onion flavor, so it makes a great seasoning for slow-cooked stews or braises where tenderness is key.
When added to a lamb stew, onion powder will lend subtle onion sweetness and aroma that complements the gaminess of the dish’s primary ingredient – lamb –without overpowering it.
Aim to use 1 teaspoon of onion powder per pound of obviously, adjusting up or down according to taste.
Rosemary is a woody and herbal-scented herb.
It has a spicy, resinous flavor and packs an intense aroma when added at the beginning of cooking.
Rosemary adds complexity to the dish while calming some of the gamey intensity associated with lamb meat.
When using rosemary in your lamb stew, you should use about one teaspoon per pound of meat for subtle flavor or up to two teaspoons per pound for more assertive seasoning.
Rosemary can also be added to other dishes, such as roasted potatoes or root vegetables for balance and richness.
Thyme pairs wonderfully with the deep, rich flavor of lamb and add an earthy depth to your dish.
To get the best flavor out of thyme in a stew, it’s important to use dried or fresh thyme rather than ground thyme so that you can remove it before serving—the delicate leaves can be unpleasant if left in the finished product.
To get the most out of Thyme’s earthy note while avoiding its overwhelming aroma too much inclusion, you should use 1 teaspoon of crushed Thyme per pound of lean chops and 3 teaspoons per pound for boneless shoulder cuts.
For other types of Lamb dishes such as stews with vegetables or braised meat, using 1-3 tablespoons should suffice across two pounds plus some vegetable ingredients.
Oregano is a popular dry herb for stews.
It adds a distinctly Mediterranean flavor to the dish and pairs particularly well with garlic, onion, and tomatoes, making it an ideal seasoning component of traditional Greek or Italian-style stews.
In terms of quantity, oregano should be used sparingly if you prefer a subtle taste; use in moderation, roughly 1 teaspoon per 4 servings.
Uncooked oregano can add more vigorous flavor than cooked so it’s best added near the end of cooking time – just stir in during the last 15 minutes or so before serving.
Sage is an herb with a strong, aromatic flavor that adds a mild, subtly sweet, and slightly earthy flavor to the dish, and just a hint of warm, herbal spice.
To get the best flavor out of sage when making lamb stew, you should use about one tablespoon of finely chopped fresh sage or 1 teaspoon of dried sage for every pound of meat in your recipe.
When adding dried herbs to stew dishes like this, add them towards the end of cooking time so they don’t lose their flavor due to long-cooking times.
18 Must-Try Herbs and Spices for Lamb Stew
- Bay Leaves
- Black Pepper
- Curry Powder
- Chili Flakes
- Garlic Powder
- Onion Powder
- Pick your favorite herbs and spices from this collection to add to your lamb stew recipe.
- Prepare the rest of your meal.
- Enjoy in no time!