Irish Stew: Unveiling Facts about a Beloved Dish of Ireland

Last updated on October 6th, 2023 at 02:36 pm

Irish stew, a hearty dish known for its simplicity and robust flavors, is the widely celebrated dish of Ireland. It’s a meal that is known for its comforting warmth, perfect for those chilly Irish evenings.

Our team at Remitly created this guide as part of our series that celebrates the cuisine of people around the world. It also includes a recipe!

The History of Irish Stew

Historically, the Irish stew was a practical dish made by boiling mutton with potatoes and onions. This was an affordable meal for many Irish families during times when resources were scarce.

Over time, this simple stew evolved into a symbol of Irish culinary tradition. It became appreciated not just in Ireland but around the world. Its popularity grew due to its comforting nature and easy preparation.

Bowl of Irish Stew

Key Ingredients in Traditional Irish Stew

The beauty of traditional Irish stew lies in its simplicity. The main ingredients are lamb or mutton, potatoes, onions, and water. Some variations include carrots or turnips for added flavor and nutrition.

Quality ingredients make all the difference in this dish. Tender cuts of meat provide richness while fresh vegetables add depth to the broth. Each ingredient contributes to creating a well-rounded flavor profile that is both satisfying and nourishing.

Recipe for Traditional Irish Stew


  • 2 lbs lamb or mutton, cut into chunks
  • 4 large potatoes, peeled and quartered
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 3 carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 4 cups water
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Fresh parsley for garnish (optional)


  1. In a large pot over medium heat, brown the meat on all sides. Remove from pot and set aside.
  2. In the same pot, add onions and cook until they become translucent.
  3. Return the meat to the pot along with carrots and potatoes.
  4. Add water until ingredients are just covered. Season with salt and pepper.
  5. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to low. Cover the pot and let it simmer for about two hours or until meat is tender.
  6. Check occasionally to ensure there’s enough liquid in the pot—if not, add more water.
  7. Once cooked, adjust seasoning if necessary then serve hot garnished with fresh parsley.

Variations of Irish Stew Across Ireland

While there’s a standard recipe for traditional Irish stew, regional variations exist across Ireland. In some areas, barley or Guinness stout is added to enrich the broth’s flavor.

In coastal regions where seafood is abundant, fish or shellfish may be used instead of lamb or mutton. These variations reflect local resources and preferences but maintain the essence of comfort food that defines an authentic Irish stew.

Serving Suggestions for Irish Stew

Irish stew is often served with soda bread—a traditional Irish bread made with baking soda instead of yeast. This dense, slightly tangy bread complements the rich flavors of the stew and is perfect for soaking up the broth.

For a complete meal, pair your stew with a pint of Guinness or an Irish whiskey. These beverages enhance the hearty flavors of the dish and provide a truly authentic Irish dining experience.

The Global Influence of Irish Stew

The influence of Irish stew extends far beyond Ireland’s borders. It has become well known globally as a representation of traditional Irish cuisine.

From North America to Australia, variations inspired by this classic dish can be found worldwide. Despite these adaptations, the essence remains—the combination of simple ingredients cooked slowly to create a comforting meal that feeds both body and soul.

The Broader Cuisine of Ireland

Irish cuisine is known for its simplicity yet robust flavors—much like this dish.

Farm-to-table Tradition

Ireland has a rich farming tradition which greatly influences its cuisine. Fresh produce like cabbage, kale, potatoes, carrots are staples in many dishes while dairy products such as butter and cheese are often used generously.

Meat also plays an important role in Irish cooking—with lamb being particularly favored due to Ireland’s abundant sheep farms.

Seafood Delights

Being an island nation surrounded by waters teeming with fish and shellfish means seafood is integral to Irish cuisine too—especially in coastal regions where dishes like seafood chowder or smoked salmon are popular.

Breads and Pastries

Bread is a staple in Irish meals. Soda bread, made with baking soda instead of yeast, is a traditional favorite. Pastries like scones and apple tart are also well-loved.


When it comes to beverages, Ireland is famous for its beer—particularly Guinness stout—and whiskey. Both are often enjoyed alongside meals or on their own.

In conclusion, Irish cuisine reflects the country’s rich agricultural heritage and natural resources. It’s hearty, comforting, and deeply rooted in tradition—much like their beloved Irish stew.

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