Greek Lamb stew with Orzo pasta recipe (Lamb Giouvetsi)

Greek Lamb stew with Orzo pasta recipe (Lamb Giouvetsi)

The perfect Greek lamb stew recipe with orzo pasta (Greek lamb giouvetsi)!! Juicy and tender, melt-in-the-mouth lamb stew with a delicious, intense tomato-based sauce and traditional orzo pasta…The ideal dish for a Sunday family dinner of course together with moussaka, pastitsio and a delicious Greek Salad

Greek Lamb stew with Orzo (Lamb Giouvetsi)

Greek Lamb Giouvetsi (Lamb stew with orzo pasta) – A traditional Greek dish

Lamb Giouvetsi (Greek Lamb stew with orzo pasta) is a centuries old dish that was traditionally served as a one-pot meal and in the old days it would have been baked in a home’s wood burning oven. The simplicity of its preparation reminds me of lamb kleftiko, this honey glazed lamb roast with lemon potatoes and of course these marinated lamb chops (paidakia)

There were also many instances where a home did not have an oven but each village had at least one bakery supplying bread for the guaranteed demand of the villagers. It was quite common for a family to lug the day’s dish over to the bakery and have dish cooked in the baker’s oven… (See also Beef stew with orzo pasta)

Greek Lamb Giouvetsi- How to make the perfect lamb stew with orzo

Have you ever wondered how some stews have this melt in the mouth texture while others taste like chewing rubber? It’s all about choosing the right cut and cooking it the right way.

For a Greek lamb giouvetsi (stew), you need to choose large cuts of good quality leg of lamb, which, when cooked for a long time, become fork tender.

Greek Lamb stew with Orzo recipe (Lamb Giouvetsi)

When cooking a Greek lamb stew (giouvetsi), the meat is first browned and sealed to keep it nice and juicy, then added to a tomato-based sauce along with onion, carrots and wine and cooked at a low temperature.

Then it is cooked for a while in the oven along with the orzo pasta to allow the flavors to mingle into something much much more. This is the secret to achieve the melt in the mouth texture, that will make your lamb giouvetsi just perfect!

Greek Lamb Stew Key Ingredients

Vegetables: I used red onions, finely chopped and carrots that are sliced to around 1cm thickness in the stew. There’s also a tin of chopped tomatoes as well as two tablespoons of tomato paste which help thicken the stew mixture. Don’t skip the teaspoon of sugar as this stops the tomatoes from being too acidic.

Red wine: You can use any red wine you like in the receipt so experiment with a favourite or use up what you have in the house.

Pasta: Traditionally orzo pasta is used for the recipe and it works perfectly. You could try other options such as risotto or other types of pasta, just adjust cooking time accordingly.

Feta cheese: Add some feta cheese or Kefalotyri (grated hard yellow cheese) to the top of the dish once it has been cooked.

Ingredients for Greek Lamb stew with Orzo pasta (Lamb Giouvetsi)

Why use boneless lamb?

There are two main cuts of lamb that come from the leg – boneless and bone-in. 

But for this Greek lamb stew recipe, boneless lamb is best because it is easier to cut up to add to the stew. With bone-in joints, you’ll have to cut around the bone so leave out the extra work and go for a boneless leg joint.

Key Preparation Tips for Greek Lamb Casserole 

To make this lamb giouvetsi, start by cutting the lamb into pieces.

Wipe off the lamb with paper towels. In a saucepan, heat half a cup of olive oil. Sauté the chopped onions and carrots in medium-low heat for 5 minutes.

Greek Lamb stew with Orzo pasta (Lamb Giouvetsi)

Increase the heat and add the lamb; brown it on all sides until crusty. Next, combine the red wine and tomato paste into the pan. Allow the wine to evaporate slowly.

Greek Lamb stew with Orzo pasta (Lamb youvetsi)

Add the canned tomatoes, one glass of water, bay leaf, sugar, and a good pinch of salt and pepper to the pan.
Turn the heat down and cook for at least 45 minutes with the lid on.

Greek Lamb stew with Orzo pasta preparation (Lamb youvetsi)

Meanwhile, in a separate pan, heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil and the orzo. Sauté until golden brown.

Greek Lamb stew with Orzo pasta (Lamb casserole)

Place the orzo in an oven tray (without the bay leaf), along with the meat and sauce, and mix using a spatula. Cover the tray with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes at 180 degrees Celsius.

Remove the foil, add a glass of water if required, and return to the oven for another 15 minutes. Sprinkle with grated hard yellow cheese (kefalotyri) while it’s still hot and serve!

Can you make this Greek lamb stew in the slow cooker or Instant Pot?

You can definitely use an Instant Pot or slow cooker to make this recipe if that’s what you have. Follow the first step to prepare the vegetables and brown the meat – you can do this in the Instant Pot with the saute setting if yours has this.

Once the meat is browned, add all the ingredients into the pot. For an Instant Pot, seal the vent and cook for 17 minutes on high pressure then manually release the stem. Add the orzo and stock and cook for 3 minutes on high pressure then release manually.

Turn off the Instant Pot and cover the lid, leaving it for 10-15 minutes so that some of the extra liquid is absorbed.

For the slow cooker, add all ingredients apart from the orzo, cook until the vegetables are tender then mix in the pasta and cook for a few minutes more. Again, leave the stew stand for a while to allow it to thicken if needed.

Greek Lamb stew with Orzo recipe (Lamb Youvetsi)

Making ahead of time and storing

This Greek lamb stew is best enjoyed right out of the pan, when the orzo is just cooked. Any leftovers can be kept in the refrigerator for up to three days.

As it sits and cools, the orzo absorbs any remaining liquid. When reheating, you may need to add some additional liquid to ensure that it does not dry out. For optimum results, I recommend heating on the stove.

Serving suggestions

Because lamb yiouvetsi is a true one-pan dish, you don’t need to add anything to it to serve. But if you do want to add something, fresh crusty bread would make a great side dish.

Of course if you love lamb, then my Spicy minced Lamb Kofta Kebab Recipe (Giaourtlou), lamb kleftiko, lamb meatballs, lamb souvlaki, lamb chops and honey glazed lamb roast with lemon potatoes will amaze you!

Follow our instructions and cook the perfect lamb giouvetsi (Lamb stew with orzo pasta)! Got any questions or comments? Feel free to add a comment in the section below and we’re more than happy to help! 

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Greek Lamb stew with Orzo pasta recipe (Lamb Giouvetsi)

Greek Lamb stew with Orzo pasta recipe (Lamb Giouvetsi)

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  • Author: Eli K. Giannopoulos
  • Prep Time: 20 min
  • Cook Time: 100 min
  • Total Time: 2 hours
  • Yield: 6 portions 1x
  • Category: Main
  • Method: Stew
  • Cuisine: Greek


The perfect Greek lamb stew recipe with orzo pasta (Greek lamb giouvetsi)! Juicy, melt-in-the-mouth lamb stew in a delicious tomato-based sauce and orzo.


  • 1 kg/35 ounces leg of lamb, boneless, cut into chunks
  • 2 medium red onions, finely chopped
  • 2 carrots, sliced (1 cm thick)
  • 1 tin of chopped (tinned) tomatoes (400g / 14oz)
  • 2 tbsps tomato paste
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 glass of red wine
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 cup of olive oil
  • 250g orzo pasta (9 ounces) ( kritharaki / manestra )
  • 100g grated kefalotyri or feta cheese (5 ounces)


  1. To prepare this lamb giouvetsi recipe, start by cutting the lamb into chunks. Wipe the lamb with paper towels. Heat 1/2 of a cup of olive oil into a pan, add the chopped onions and carrots and sauté for 5 minutes in medium-low heat. Turn up the heat and add the lamb; brown the meat on all sides until crusty.
  2. Stir in the tomato paste and pour in the red wine. Wait for the wine to evaporate. Add the tinned tomatoes, a glass of water, the nay leaf, sugar and a good pinch of salt and pepper.
  3. Turn the heat down and simmer with the lid on for at least 45 minutes.
  4. In the meantime into another pan heat 3 tbsps of olive oil and the orzo pasta. Sauté, until golden.
  5. Place the orzo pasta along with the meat and sauce in an oven tray (remove the bay leaf) and mix with a spatula. Cover the tray with some aluminum foil and bake in preheated oven at 180C for 30 minutes. Remove the aluminum foil, add a glass of water if needed, and put back in the oven for another 15 minutes. Sprinkle with some grated hard yellow cheese (kefalotyri) and enjoy!


  • Serving Size: 1 plate
  • Calories: 650kcal
  • Sugar: 8.2g
  • Sodium: 403.9mg
  • Fat: 31.9g
  • Saturated Fat: 8.5g
  • Unsaturated Fat: 20.9g
  • Trans Fat: 0g
  • Carbohydrates: 43.9g
  • Fiber: 3.9g
  • Protein: 43.1g
  • Cholesterol: 122.5mg

Recipe image gallery:

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  1. Kalyan Panja

    Greek Lamb Giouvetsi looks a charming dish to prepare. The photos and the tips are giving me real cooking goals to venture in my kitchen and try the recipe.

  2. Can anyone tell me whether a “tin” of tomatoes is 14 or 28 ounces?

  3. Ann-Marie

    I make a recipe my YiaYia gave me very similar to this. She added green beans and more tomato paste with water to cover all so it was a bit more loose. Delicious, I make it a lot!

  4. Can I cook in the oven in my le creuset with the cover on or would I need to use a higher temp?

  5. Nancy Siaconi

    I’ve made this many times before and always find it delicious however I’m wondering whether it could be prepared in advance, then just put in the oven when ready to be cooked! Thank you for your advice.

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