Pressure Cooker Lamb Stew with Guinness and Barley

Pressure Cooker Lamb and Barley Stew

Pressure Cooker Lamb and Barley Stew

This year, for Saint Patrick’s day, I decided to get fancy. Instead of my usual corned beef and cabbage, I wanted to make a traditional Irish lamb stew.
Traditional may be pushing it a bit, since I did want to cook it in my pressure cooker.

Unfortunately…my headnote is going to be a lot quicker than usual. I cooked this recipe a week before St. Patrick’s day, so I would have pictures for the blog. It was fabulous – lamb shoulder chops have so much flavor that they carry this relatively simple stew. (Adding some Guinness helps as well. Brilliant!)

I wrote up the instructions, picked out the good pictures, and went to bed.  The next morning, I threw my back out. Ow ow owie ow. It’s three days later, and I can finally sit upright for a few minutes…thanks to all the interesting medicines the ER doctor gave me.
*In other words – If this doesn’t make any sense, I apologize. It’s the meds talking.

Looking for a quick stew for St. Patrick’s day? Grab some lamb shoulder chops and fire up the pressure cooker.
*Don’t have a pressure cooker? No problem. See the Notes section for instructions on cooking with a standard dutch oven.

Recipe: Pressure Cooker Lamb Stew with Guinness and Barley

Inspired By: Lorna Sass Cooking Under Pressure

Cook time: 60 minutes



  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 3 pounds lamb shoulder round bone chops, trimmed of fat and bone, cut into 1″ pieces (Buy the thickest chops available; 3/4 inch or thicker is best)
  • 3 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 2 large onions, peeled and sliced thin
  • 1/2 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 cup Guinness
  • 1/2 cup pearled barley
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 cups water (or homemade chicken broth, if you have it)
  • 1/2 pound carrots, peeled and cut into 3 inch lengths (thicker is better)
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 2 tsp minced parsley
Lamb chop, trimmed into 1 inch cubes
Onions and carrots ready for the cooker

1. Brown the lamb: Heat 1 tablespoon vegetable oil in the pressure cooker over medium-high heat. Sprinkle the lamb evenly with the salt and pepper. Once the oil is shimmering, add half the lamb and cook for 3 minutes, until browned. Flip the lamb and brown the second side for another 3 minutes. Remove the browned lamb to a bowl. Add the remaining lamb to the pot, brown for 3 minutes on one side, flip and brown for 3 minutes on the other side. Add to the bowl with the rest of the lamb.

Lamb browned, onions browning

2. Saute the aromatics: Add 1 tablespoon vegetable oil to the pressure cooker, reduce the heat to medium, and heat the oil for 1 minute (or until just shimmering). Add the onions and sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt. Cook, stirring and scraping the bottom of the pan, until the onions are browned, about 8 minutes. Sprinkle in the 1/4 cup flour and stir until the flour no longer looks dry, about 1 minute. Add the Guinness and carefully scrape all of the browned flour from the bottom of the pressure cooker.

Adding the flour
Adding the Guinness
Adding the barley and spices
Everything in the pot, ready to lock the lid

3. Pressure cook the stew: Stir the pearled barley, thyme, and bay leaf into the stew, then stir in the 3 cups of water. Add the lamb, including any juices in the bowl. Add the carrots and 1 tablespoon kosher salt, then stir until everything is well mixed. Carefully scrape the bottom of the cooker one last time, to make sure nothing burns. Lock the lid on the pressure cooker, increase the heat to high, and bring the cooker up to high pressure. (Read the fine pressure cooker manual for how this works with your particular cooker). Reduce the heat to maintain high pressure and cook for 12 minutes. Remove the pressure cooker from the heat, and let the pressure come down naturally, about 20 minutes.

Done! Fishing out the round bones and bay leaves.

4. Serve: Remove the lid from the pressure cooker and taste the stew to see if it needs any more salt and pepper. Serve, sprinkling with a little of the chopped parsley.

*Don’t have a pressure cooker? No problem. Use a heavy bottomed dutch oven with a lid, and increase the amount of water to 4 cups. Follow the instructions right up until “lock the lid”. Then, instead of pressure cooking, bring the pot to a boil, and cover with the lid. Move the pot to a preheated 350*F oven and bake for 2 to 2.5 hours, until the lamb is tender. Continue with the serving step.

*Add a packet of potatoes to the stew: Wrap a couple of pounds of diced, salted and peppered potatoes in aluminum foil, and float them on top of the stew right before you lock down the lid.

*Serve with mashed potatoes. To make this dish more traditional, stir sliced green onions into the mashed potatoes and call it Champ.

*I use lamb shoulder chops because, without special ordering, I can’t find lamb shoulder roasts in my area. Round bone shoulder chops are easier to trim into boneless cubes; seek them out if you can. Also, I like the round bones because they have the marrow in them.  I add the round bones to the pot with everything else, then fish them out at the end, and scrape the ; this lets the marrow in the bones melt and join the stew.

*The recipe calls for one cup of Guinness. I always buy pint cans with the carbonation capsule. Why? Because I can drink the rest.

One cup for the stew, one cup for the cook

What do you think? Questions? Other ideas? Leave them in the comments section below.

Related Posts:
Pressure Cooker Beef Short Ribs
Click here for my other pressure cooker recipes.

Inspired By:
Lorna Sass Cooking Under Pressure (20th Anniversary Edition)

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  1. Just curious what do your kids think of the Guinness stew? I love it, but I’m not sure mine will eat it. By the way love the site. As a dad and self taught cook who makes dinner every night for his own family it’s a great resource.

  2. @Josh:

    Thank you for the kind words.

    My kids had mixed responses. One tried it and loved it, another had a couple of bites of lamb after carefully scraping off the barley, and the third declared it “yucky” and wouldn’t touch it.

  3. Hi it looks great. I should have tried this this on paddy’s day instead of the guiness on its own. Im going to give this recipe a go later in the week. Thanks.

  4. @Pomegranate:

    Now, don’t be hasty – I’ll never turn down a guinness on its own. But this lamb stew is a great accompaniment.

  5. Anonymous /

    I made this fantastic dish for my family this evening.
    We Are in Switzerland so I didn’t have Guinness. But we did have a smooth dark and creamy beer I used instead.
    Also, since we had lamb for our Christmas dinner, I put the lamb shank into the pot as well as approx. A cup and one half of homemade chicken stock that my daughter made some months ago and froze. That went in also with yellow carrots and sweet potatoes cut in big chunks. I added extra water b/c I thought the potatoes might need it. I also used the leftover lamb (we had lots). So I guess you can say I adapted this recipe to suit my available ingredients.

    It was fantastic! And we are already vying for who gets the leftovers. My grandchildren are still stuck in chicken nugget mode so they didn’t have the stew/soup. But the adults thought it better than the lamb dinner!!

    Keep at it Mike V! And Happy New Year.

  6. @Jeanne:

    Thank you! And, adapting a recipe to the ingredients on hand is THE key skill in cooking – I’m glad you took my recipe and ran with it.

  7. Looks lovely! Do you think it would be just as divine with beef instead of lamb? My husband doesn’t care much for lamb. Thanks in advance!

  8. Yes, beef would work just fine.

  9. nightshift /

    Just made this with a whole can of Guinness. Lovely, rich taste. I changed the cooking method slightly by pressure cooking the meat, spices, flour and barley first. Brought it to a steam, then let it cool naturally. Then carrots, turnips, sweet potato, jalapeno and the carmelized onions. Brought to a steam and immediately removed from heat and again let cool naturally. The veggies were perfect! Not mushy.

  10. Frances /

    Hi Mike,
    This was a great recipe, and I believe the only issue was operator error. I had never used my pressure cooker before, so I think perhaps I had the heat on too high initially, and it took a long time for the regulator to start rocking gently. The result was that the food on the bottom of the pot burned so badly that it permeated the entire dish. I did add parsnips and potatoes to it (my parents are from Ireland, and this is how she’s always made it, and we add peas at the end as well). What seems to have burned is mainly the barley and some of the meat. I welcome any suggestions you might have, as I would definitely like to try this again!! Thanks.

  11. Try adding more water – my guess is your cooker needs at least 4 cups of water or stick if is is the rocker type of cooker.

  12. gail /

    How many servings?

  13. gail /

    How many servings does this make?

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