Braised Lamb With Red Wine and Prunes Recipe (2024)

By Mark Bittman

Braised Lamb With Red Wine and Prunes Recipe (1)

Total Time
2 hours 30 minutes
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Though far less glorified than rib chops or legs, lamb shoulder is explosively delicious and juicy – also, cheap. Like the shoulders of pigs and cows, it is a hardworking muscle rippled with intramuscular fat, which makes it ideal for stewing or braising. But the shoulder’s not that hardworking, which keeps it tender enough to be subjected to the shorter blasts of heat typically reserved for more elegant cuts. Here, it's braised in a flavorful mixture of prunes, red wine and spices until tender.

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Yield:4 to 6 servings

  • 2pounds lamb shoulder
  • 1cup pitted prunes
  • 1tablespoon minced garlic
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1chopped onion
  • 2teaspoons minced ginger
  • ¼teaspoon cinnamon
  • cup red wine
  • ½cup stock or water

Ingredient Substitution Guide

Nutritional analysis per serving (6 servings)

539 calories; 33 grams fat; 14 grams saturated fat; 0 grams trans fat; 13 grams monounsaturated fat; 3 grams polyunsaturated fat; 24 grams carbohydrates; 3 grams dietary fiber; 13 grams sugars; 27 grams protein; 658 milligrams sodium

Note: The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.

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Braised Lamb With Red Wine and Prunes Recipe (2)


  1. Step


    Cut lamb into 2-inch cubes. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, and brown in a large skillet over medium-high heat; remove.

  2. Add onion, garlic, prunes, ginger, cinnamon, salt and pepper; cook until fragrant. Add wine, stock or water and browned lamb. When the liquid boils, lower heat to a simmer, cover and cook until tender, 1½ to 2½ hours. Garnish: Parsley.



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Cooking Notes


Added carrot pieces at the last half hour for more color and to introduce veg aspect. Nice complement as it turned out. Also took advice from previous reviews and added more cinnamon and prunes. An unqualified dinner party hit.

Roni Jordan

Made in Dutch oven with 2lbs Australian leg meat, cut up but adding the bone for flavor. As others did, doubled the ginger & cinnamon. Also added cut carrots after 2 hours. Recipe did not state using oil to brown to meat - I used about 2 tbsp. When done, removed solids to reduce the liquid - a step I usually find essential in a stew or braise. Concentrated flavors were excellent - needed nothing else but a pilaf and steamed broccoli.


Made this over the weekend NYC blizzard ... super easy, delicious, and a great snowbound hit! Doubled the cinnamon and prunes, as others indicated -- I think I would only go 1.5x on the prunes next time, as I preferred the bites that got more savory meat than sweet prune -- and their sweetness leeches into the red wine sauce anyway, which is really lovely. Ate over some couscous tossed with spinach and golden raisins. Seriously satisfying.

tracy j

I tried this in my slow cooker this evening and it worked perfectly. I browned the meat, then did everything through adding the wine and stock/water. Then put everything in the slow cooker on high for 4 hours.

Only other changes were using bone-in lamb pieces, and adding sliced carrots for color/taste about an hour before it was done. Oh, and I didn't have prunes, so I used dried apricots. Served over couscous and with a crisp green salad, it was a delicious supper for a wintry evening.


A perfect tagine-like recipe for your Instant Pot. Follow these directions but halve the liquid. Pressure cookers need far less liquid than is usually called for in recipes. Cook at high pressure for 45 minutes, let pressure release naturally. I serve this with Israeli couscous.


Followed some of the suggestions and doubled the ginger, garlic and cinnamon, used 1.5 cups of prunes and added 1/4 tsp of cayenne. I prepared it a day ahead and warmed it on the stove. I boiled some chopped carrots and added them in at the last minute. I served it with Israeli couscous flavored with lemon zest, parsley. sauteed shallots and almonds and an arugula salad with oranges and avocado. Great recipe!

Margaux Laskey

I made this last night, and it was amazing and easy. I doubled up on the cinnamon. Definitely a repeat.

Sandi Kramer

Made this yesterday. As per suggestions I used 2 cups wine, double garlic and ginger. Added 1 tsp cumin, because I like it, and lots of carrots. Also added juice of 1/2 lemon at the end to balance sweetness. Would use extra stock or water next time for more sauce. Easy and very well received.Has anyone checked out "Tsimes" in a Jewish cookbook?

Roni Jordan

I often cook stews or a brisket with prunes and sometimes they do turn quite soft and mushy, but never totally disintegrate. They help add body to the sauce. Try using non-irradiated prunes next time - they're much firmer than the others, which can be very soft to begin with.

PK Sydney

I made this for Easter Sunday dinner. Very tasty. Couple of notes:
- Tossed the cubed lamb in seasoned flour before browning, which helps thicken the sauce
- Bought a boned lamb shoulder, but the waste from trimming off fat and sinew was considerable. Had to buy a few lamb shoulder chops to get extra meat, but then used the bones and unusable meat scraps to reinforce the stock
- Used 50% more prunes
- Added carrot at the end, but won't next time
- All up, the lamb for 4 cost $45

Margaux Laskey, Staff Editor

We've never tested it as such, although you could certainly give it a shot. The liquid might not reduce as much (actually, you might try reducing the wine and stock by 1/2 or 1/4), but the flavors would still be out of this world. You'll need to increase the cooking time to about 3 or 4 hours.

Roni Jordan

The figs would hold up just fine - I often use a combination of prunes and figs with lamb dishes.

Stan and Beth

Whole family enjoyed this. I did make one addition—zest of one lemon for the last half hour or so of cooking. Thought it added a bit of oomph that was otherwise missing


Wonderful dish. The prunes and cinnamon make the taste!

Next time I'll do a better job of trimming the lamb. I left too much fat on the lamb and it ended up making the dish too "rich."

Maria B.

I doubled the prunes and was really glad I did. They were so delicious!

Prunes and Spices

Add .5 more prunes and Double the spicesConsider Browning reducing wine then placing in the slow cooker


My partner loved this so much! I felt it was a bit on the sweet side and could have used a hit of acid somewhere along the line. He leans toward sweet tooth and I lean toward salty so that may be where the discrepancy lies!


Followed suggestions: added carrots, doubled prunes. Since I had no cinnamon on hand, I used ras el hanout which made it a bit morrocan. Decided to serve over couscous and top with some crumbeld feta and cilantro. Was delicious!


I've made this with chicken stock but wonder if beef stock would be better. Any opinions?


Made as written. Very good but a little sweet. Next time I may add a bit of sherry vinegar at the end to counterbalance the sugar.


I added green beans at the end. It was yummy with the sauce from the lamb.


Made this in a Dutch oven with 3.5 lbs of bone-in lamb shoulder that the butcher cut up. Cut off excess fat. Increased ginger, garlic, prunes and cinnamon. After reading that a few people ran out of liquid, I decided to pop my Dutch oven (covered) in the oven at 275º instead of simmering on the stove. After 3 hours, removed the lamb, reduced the liquid on the stove for 10 minutes, and poured it back over the lamb. Fork tender and tasty. Could maybe use a squeeze of lemon at the end.


Used large cast iron skillet. Stew meat (small pieces) from Butcher Boy. Used 1/2 tsp cinnamon and twice as much ginger, added 2 diced carrots for last 40 minutes. Cooked about 1 hour 20 minutes. Removed meat and added beef broth and more wine and reduced. Served with egg noodles. Excellent.


This was phenomenal. I Doubled ginger and garlic, let it simmer for 3 hours. Last hour, added a cup of water and some more brother along with cut carrots and PARSNIPS. Then sprinkled some flour and juice from a lemon, sprinkled with parsley - incredible and a huge hit

Mark, UK

No prunes or dates available on the day so used some fig jam (jelly). Worked very well.


Bumped up the spices and this was good but not great. I wonder if it would benefit from some tomato like Bittman's beef stew and prune recipe. The sauce for that recipe comes out jammy and is much more satisfying than the sauce on this one.


Not enough liquid for my Dutch oven. After an hour and a half nap, I woke up to a charred mess. A total disaster. I will try again another time, stirring and adding more wine and water as needed. No nap, unfortunately.


What about doubling the water or stock? After 1 1/2 hr.s, the meat had scorched and the water was no more! I guess we’re having scrambled eggs for dinner :(


Took everyone's suggestions to add carrots at the end with great pleasure. Added some olive oil to sauté the lamb. Subbed my garden shallots for onions (who wouldn't?), 1.5 prunes, tripled the garlic (I mean, why not?!), probably added much more ginger & cinnamon - again - why not? Very delicious over polenta, pasta or potatoes - I've had it over all 3 & my vote would go for polenta.


Made this, and loved it! Added more of the seasonings as per the suggestions; also threw in a handful of carrots and apricots. We have leftovers in the freezer and I can't wait!

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Braised Lamb With Red Wine and Prunes Recipe (2024)
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