Lamb Ragu is an incredibly flavorful and comforting Italian sauce. Tender ground lamb is simmered low and slow in a well seasoned tomato sauce.
It’s made with simple ingredients, and is easy to make. It just requires a bit of patience, because these amazing flavors take time to develop.
Make your next pasta night a little more special, and cook this amazing ragu…
This lamb ragu does not fit into that category. Although the actual hands on time is similar, this one needs to simmer away for hours.
If you’re in a hurry, try our Spaghetti with Meat Sauce instead, and save this one for later.
Lamb ragu is a great weekend dish, like our Sunday Gravy. Just do your work in the afternoon, then enjoy your glass of wine while those flavors build.
Why We Love this Recipe
- It’s the ultimate comfort food. Kids and adults alike will swoon over this sauce.
- You can cook it ahead of time. Let it sit in fridge overnight and the flavors will develop even more.
- It’s an easy company meal. Your guests will be impressed by your culinary skills.
- The sauce is very versatile in its uses. Although it’s most commonly served with pappardelle, we’ll give you some other serving ideas later in the post.
- Ground lamb – We are using 2 pounds in this sauce. Ragu is primarily a meat sauce, so don’t skimp here.
- Olive oil
- Soffritto – Onion, carrot and celery, the “holy trinity” of Italian cooking.
- Garlic – Our favorite.
- Crushed tomatoes – Alternately, you can use diced, as they will break down during the long cook time.
- Tomato paste – For added flavor depth.
- Herbs – Thyme, rosemary, oregano and bay leaves.
- Beef stock – Even more layers of flavor.
- Red wine – We love to cook with wine. Sometimes, we even put it in our food.
- Salt, pepper and sugar – To taste.
How to Make Lamb Ragu
1. Cook your soffritto: Heat your olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the diced onion, celery and carrots, then reduce heat to low. Sauté till the vegetables become soft, without browning them.
For more detailed tips on this step, refer to our Italian Soffritto post.
2. Brown the meat: Add in the lamb, along with garlic, and break it up with a wooden spoon. Cook till it is no longer pink. Stir in the tomato paste and cook it for a few minutes.
3. Build the sauce: Add wine and deglaze the pan. Simmer for 4-5 minutes, to allow the wine to reduce a bit.
Now, add in your crushed tomatoes, beef stock and herbs. Stir until well combined.
4. Be patient… Bring the sauce to a low boil, then reduce heat to medium low. Allow to simmer for at least 2-3 hours.
If the sauce begins to get too thick, you can stir in more water. Taste and adjust for salt, pepper and sugar.
How to Serve Lamb Ragu
Ragu is most commonly served with pappardelle pasta, which we are using today. Cook the pasta to al dente, then stir into the sauce and cook for a few minutes. Serve and garnish with parsley and freshly grated parmesan cheese.
It can also go with short pastas such as rigatoni, ziti or farfalle.
Th is also great in lasagna. Try it out, and you may declare it the best lasagna you’ve ever had.
You can also serve it tossed with gnocchi, or atop a bed of polenta.
It makes a great base for our Cheesy Tortellini Bake.
How to Make Ragu in a Crock Pot
This is a great slow cooker sauce. First cook your soffritto in a pot or skillet, then brown up the meat. Add the mixture to your crock pot, along with the rest of the ingredients.
Cover and cook on high for 3-4 hours, or low for 6-7 hours.
Can You Use Different Meats?
Yes, you can use this same recipe with different ground meats. Our first choice for an alternative would be a 50/50 mix of ground beef and pork.
For a lighter dish, you can use ground chicken or poultry. Just keep in mind that the flavors will not be as deep.
Ragu pasta is a pretty complete meal in itself, with protein, veggies and carbs. However, we love a nice green salad and some crusty bread on the side.
If you want to make your own bread to serve with this lamb ragu, it doesn’t get much easier than our No Knead Bread!
Leftovers and Storage
You can refrigerate leftover lamb ragu in an airtight container for 3-4 days. If you have stored the sauce and pasta separately, reheat the sauce on stovetop and give the pasta a quick dunk in boiling water to reheat.
The ragu sauce can be frozen for 3 months in a freezer safe container. We prefer to cook fresh pasta, rather than freezing it.
- Maximize Flavor: Sear the lamb well before adding liquids; browning adds depth to your ragu.
- Herb Hack: If you don’t have fresh herbs, you can substitute with one third the amount of dried herbs, but fresh brings a vibrant undertone.
- Simmer Secrets: A low and slow simmer is crucial for melding flavors – don’t rush this step.
- Deglaze Diligently: Use a quality red wine for deglazing to infuse the ragu with a rich, complex flavor.
- Sauce Consistency: If your ragu thickens too much during simmering, add a splash of stock to reach the desired consistency.
- Taste as You Go: Adjust seasoning with salt and sugar gradually to build layers of flavor.
- Perfect Pairing: Choose a pasta that holds sauce well, like pappardelle, to make each bite satisfyingly saucy.
- Cheese Choice: Grate your own parmesan for the best melt and flavor. Pre-grated just doesn’t compare.
- Leftover Love: Ragu tastes even better the next day, so make enough for leftovers.
There you go friends, one more cracking pasta dish. This one requires a bit of love, but it is so worth it in the end.
Elevate your Italian culinary skills, and make this Lamb Ragu. It’s an incredible recipe, and one we highly recommend. Try it on a lazy weekend, and let us know how you like it.
Pin or bookmark this great recipe so you always know where to find it. And be sure to subscribe to GypsyPlate, we have plenty of delicious meals from around the world coming your way!
Lamb Ragu, on our Gypsy Plate… enjoy!
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 2 small carrots, peeled and diced
- 2 celery stalks, diced
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 5-6 garlic cloves
- 2 pounds ground lamb
- 2 Tbsp tomato paste
- 1 cup red wine
- 28oz crushed tomatoes
- 1 cup beef stock
- 1 sprig fresh rosemary
- 7-8 sprigs fresh thyme
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 2 bay leaves
- salt to taste
- pepper to taste
- sugar to taste
- Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the diced onion, celery and carrot, then reduce heat to low. Sauté till the vegetables become soft, without browning them.
- Add in the lamb, along with garlic, and break it up with a wooden spoon. Cook till it is no longer pink.
- Stir in the tomato paste and cook it for 2-3 minutes.
- Add wine and deglaze the pan. Simmer for 4-5 minutes, to allow the wine to reduce a bit.
- Add in your crushed tomatoes, beef stock and herbs. Stir until well combined.
- Bring the sauce to a low boil, then reduce heat to medium low. Allow to simmer uncovered for at least 2-3 hours. If the sauce begins to get too thick, stir in more water. Taste and adjust for salt, pepper and sugar.
- Toss with your favorite pasta, garnish with parsley and freshly grated parmesan cheese.
- For best flavors, start with whole canned San Marzano tomatoes and crush them by hand in a bowl.
- Refrigerate leftovers for up to 3-4 days in an airtight container. Reheat in a sauce pan on stovetop over medium heat.
Nutrition InformationYield 8 Serving Size 1
Amount Per Serving Calories 433Total Fat 26gSaturated Fat 10gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 14gCholesterol 110mgSodium 428mgCarbohydrates 13gFiber 3gSugar 7gProtein 31g
Nutrition information calculated by Nutritionix.
Welcome to GypsyPlate! I'm Alpana, former wordwide tour manager and professional caterer, now full time blogger. I love exploring cuisines from around the world, and my recipes have been featured on sites such as MSN, Parade, Brit + Co, CNET and AOL. You can explore my entire collection of sortable recipes in my Recipe Index or learn more about me here.
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