Moroccan Lamb Stew with Couscous

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Moroccan lamb stew is a hearty Mediterranean dish packed with sweet and savory flavors. Each serving is loaded with fragrant braised vegetables and couscous for a complete meal!

Moroccan lamb stew is a hearty Mediterranean dish packed with sweet and savory flavors. Each serving is loaded with fragrant braised vegetables and couscous for a complete meal!

Moroccan lamb stew is a bold one-pot dish with fragrant and hearty ingredients. Sweet and pungent spices infuse into tender pieces of meat and vegetables as they slowly cook. Making a stew allows affordable and less tender cuts of meat to transform into a glorious and tender feast.

Using the technique of browning the lamb first to add new flavors and textures, then slowly simmering in a flavorful liquid makes the meltingly soft. The stew is topped with cinnamon-scented couscous to soak up all of the delicious juice. As the Fall weather starts to cool down this flavorful recipe provides a healthy and nourishing warm meal.

A big cast iron pot with chunks of lamb shoulder, vegetables and olives.

How to cook lamb stew

This Moroccan lamb stew recipe uses cubes of lamb shoulder that has been browned in oil first, then slowly simmered in a tomato and beef broth base. The stew gently infuses fragrant spices from whole cinnamon sticks, bay leaves, cumin, and lemon peel.

Selecting the meat

Use tougher cuts of meat like lamb shoulder or leg of lamb. These pieces naturally contain more connective tissue like collagen. The moist cooking process will help to break down the collagen.

Browning the surface

Using the dry heat cooking method, brown each side of the meat cubes in olive oil to create color pigments and add flavor. This only happens at high temperatures above 285°F.

Slow Cooking

Simmering the meat in the cooking liquid over low heat, for a longer time creates a tender and moist product. The connective tissues contain collagen that converts to gelatin when cooked in water, which adds flavor and richness to the stew. The tender pieces of lamb absorb all of the delicious spices from the seasonings.

Blue cast iron pan of lamb stew with spoon mixing

We can’t always enjoy an expensive center cut filet of beef every night, so why not use some simple cooking techniques to make tougher cuts of meat tender and tasty! If you are looking for more hearty and flavor-packed stews, try my Grandma’s Chinese ginger beef stew or my Guinness corned beef stew, yum!

The stewing liquid combines the warm cinnamon, ginger and cumin spices with savory garlic, onions, and olives. A hint of sweetness and acidity from orange juice, tomatoes, and dried chopped apricots complements the flavors.

White bowl of Moroccan lamb stew with olives and carrots

The carrots and butternut squash slowly simmer in the huge pot of lamb and spices. Your home will be filled with sweet and savory aromas, just like walking through a spice market in Morocco.

I serve this Moroccan lamb stew with couscous, which is a small rice-sized pasta made of semolina and wheat flour. The couscous cooks quickly and absorbs flavors very easily into each tender grain.

Close up view of half a bowl of lamb stew showing green olives and carrots

Hooray for leftovers! This delicious recipe provides plenty of extra servings for the next few days. I enjoy this lamb stew when taking a lunch break at work. The flavors have more time to soak into the meat, and the liquid becomes, even more flavorful.

Add preserved lemons for extra flavor

If you have access to or have a chance to make preserved lemons, it will take this lamb stew to the next level! A staple in Moroccan cuisine, whole cut lemons are brined with salt and allowed to ferment over time to create intense new citrus flavors and aromatics, adding a unique depth to any dish. Just rinse the preserved lemons before using and substitute the amount 1:1 for the freshly grated peel on this recipe.

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Moroccan Lamb Stew with Couscous

Moroccan lamb stew is a hearty Mediterranean dish packed with sweet and savory flavors.
4.81 from 42 votes
Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time2 hours
Total Time2 hours 15 minutes
Servings 4 servings
Course Entree
Cuisine Middle Eastern


Lamb Stew

  • 1 ½ pounds lamb shoulder, in 1-inch cubes
  • 1 teaspoon cumin, ground
  • 1 teaspoon ginger, ground
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon, ground
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 cup minced yellow onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup carrots, cut into ½-inch rounds
  • 1 ½ cups butternut squash, cut into ½-inch cubes
  • 28 ounces tomatoes, canned diced, with juice
  • ½ cup orange juice, and zest
  • ¼ cup dried apricots, cut into small cubes
  • 1 cup unsalted beef stock
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 cup green olives
  • zest of one lemon
  • kosher salt, as needed
  • black pepper, as needed
  • 1 tablespoon parsley, chopped for garnish
  • 2 tablespoons sliced mint leaves, for garnish


  • 2 cups unsalted beef stock
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 ½ cups couscous


Lamb Stew

  • In a medium-sized bowl combine lamb, cumin, ginger and ground cinnamon.
  • In large pot heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, brown lamb cubes on all sides, about 5 minutes, work in batches if needed. Remove the lamb with a slotted spoon and transfer to a clean plate.
  • Turn down the heat to medium, add 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add the onions and garlic, sauté until softened, stirring as needed, about 5 minutes.
  • Add carrots and squash to the pot, cook for 5 minutes or until the vegetables begin to soften.
  • Add the lamb, tomatoes, orange juice and zest, apricots, 1 cup of beef stock, cinnamon stick and dried bay leaf.
  • Bring the stew to a boil over high heat, stirring gently with a wooden spoon to get up all the brown bits from the bottom of the pot.
  • When the stew comes to a boil, cover and reduce to a simmer over low heat.
  • Cook until the lamb is tender, 1 to 1 ½ hours. Check and stir every 20 minutes.
  • Add olives and lemon zest to the pot. Cook covered about 10 minutes more.
  • Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  • Serve lamb hot with couscous and garnish with chopped parsley and sliced mint.


  • In a 2-quart saucepan, bring beef stock, olive oil, salt, and cinnamon stick to a boil. Add couscous, stir, cover and turn off the heat.
  • Let couscous sit for 10 minutes, then fluff with a fork to separate the grains.


  • Leg of lamb may be substituted for lamb shoulder. If bone in, make sure to factor in the weight of the bone (buy around 3 pounds of meat instead of 1 ½ pounds).

Nutrition Facts

Serves: 4 servings
Calories 695kcal (35%)Carbohydrates 67g (22%)Protein 43g (86%)Fat 29g (45%)Saturated Fat 7g (35%)Polyunsaturated Fat 3gMonounsaturated Fat 15gCholesterol 112mg (37%)Sodium 861mg (36%)Potassium 1154mg (33%)Fiber 7g (28%)Sugar 12g (13%)Vitamin A 7050IU (141%)Vitamin C 42.1mg (51%)Calcium 90mg (9%)Iron 4.9mg (27%)

Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000-calorie diet. All nutritional information is based on estimated third-party calculations. Each recipe and nutritional value will vary depending on the brands you use, measuring methods, and portion sizes per household.

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Jessica Gavin

I'm a culinary school graduate, cookbook author, and a mom who loves croissants! My passion is creating recipes and sharing the science behind cooking to help you gain confidence in the kitchen.

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28 Comments Leave a comment or review

  1. Kathleen says

    I made this the other night and it was delicious! I didn’t add the olives as I wasn’t sure if everyone liked them but it was a hit without them! Glad I have leftovers!

      • CAROL Wilson says

        The ingredient list is long but I had everything in my kitchen, including the preserved lemons I had made last year. I did not change a thing and the flavors were out of this world. I also didn’t saute anything and put everything in the slow cooker. Thank goodness there were leftovers. I definitely will make this again and again.

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Thanks Kelli! You could add some red peppers, black olives instead of green, and maybe serve it with some small pasta or rice instead of couscous.

  2. Johna Sepulveda says

    I think this is the best lamb dish I’ve ever tried! Fairly long list of ingredients, but so worth it. The orange juice and zest put this dish over the top. And the amount of collagen, so much it stuck to my lips, gave a wonderful rich flavor!
    Will be cooking this for my boyfriend soon. As my mother would say, ” the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach and this is question popping cooking”…lol, we’ll see.

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Wow, reading your comment made me hungry Johna! I’m so happy to hear that you enjoyed the recipe. You definitely know the secret to a man’s heart, mama’s always right!

  3. Catherine Komoroci says

    Omg that is a fantastic stew Wow!!! I made it exactly the way you did . Thank you for that recipe, I will make this one again and again

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Hi Bonnie- Yes, you can make this in a slow cooker. I would brown the meat and saute the garlic and onions. Then add everything to the slow cooker. Give these cooking times a try: “High” setting for 4 hours or “Low” setting for 8 hours. Or until the lamb and vegetables are tender, you may need to increase the time. Please let me know how it turns out!

  4. Anna says

    I was looking for a good Moroccan lamb and couscous recipe, so happy I stumbled across your page! This recipe seems like the top contender among several others. Looking forward to preparing the dish this weekend!

  5. Nina says

    Hello, great recipe and photos.

    One question, though. Does using a kosher salt as opposed to regular salt play a role in the ”science” behind this recipe? It is like suggesting the use of halal lamb instead of ”regular” lamb.

    Best regards

    • Jessica Gavin says

      I like to use kosher salt because the granules are larger and stick nicely the food to season the dish, and I like the taste better than iodized table salt. You do not need to use halal lamb.

  6. Norbaya says

    Love this recipe!! Definitely going to keep this in my recipe book. Just the right amount of sweet and sour.
    Served it with salad with fresh mint dressing as well as panini( couldn’t get pita bread) with homemade hummus.
    A perfect Moroccan meal.
    Thank you for the recipe!

  7. Stuck-at-home-cook says

    While I didn’t have all the ingredients (it is plague times, after all and no way am I dashing out to the store), this stew was delicious! (I used a pixie orange in place of orange juice; raisins in place of dried apricots; and stuffed citrus cocktail olives -no idea why I had them, but there they were in the back of the pantry – and quinoa in place of cous cous). I did add a good amount of extra cumin, cinnamon, and a couple of frozen T.J.’s ginger cubes for the last ten minutes. But other than that, stuck to the recipe — seriously good! And easy to make! A big hit at my house. Thank you for posting it!

  8. Hassan says

    Omg that is a fantastic stew Wow!!! I made it exactly the way you did . Thank you for that recipe, I will make this one again and again. Thank you for sharing with us

  9. MW says

    Hello! Can this be finished in the oven for a couple hours instead of simmering on the stove? I really love just putting my dutch oven in the oven instead of leaving the hot stove on. Thanks!

  10. Sister A says

    I made a mistake and added a bit less than 1/2 cup of lemon juice instead of orange juice. The stew turned out sour 😆😅 It still tastes pretty good but I will try again next time

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