Lamb Giouvetsi

Updated 26th March 2024

Cozy up with a bowl of orzo lamb stew—each spoonful promises tender lamb, orzo pasta, and a rich tomato sauce infused with warm aromatic herbs and spices, and pure comfort. The sauce from the stew is full of so much flavour and the orzo cooks in that sauce and soaks all the juices from it and the meat. This is a classic Sunday lunch kind of dish. It’s a low and slow cooked kind of food that gets me salivating just thinking about it. Perfect for family dinner! Stews always bring the comfort factor. They bring warm thoughts and feels to your mind, heart and belly cause the meat is usually so tender and mouthwatering and anything cooked in its juices is so flavourful and tastes a million times better in a stew than on their own – veggies, pasta, potatoes or whatever else thats added to that slow cooked meat.

Lamb Giouvetsi

What is Giouvetsi/Youvetsi?

It’s a delicious Greek dish often made with chicken, lamb or stewed beef and pasta, either with kritharaki or hilopites, and tomato sauce. Kritharaki or orzo also often called risoni, is basically pasta shaped like large grains of rice. It’s really good at soaking up liquid, just like rice does when you make risotto. So it’s perfect for making a one pot creamy pasta dish. It’s also made with the addition of onions or shallots, garlic, stock, and red wine. I like to amp up the dish by adding some veggies or a simple mirepoix blend of onions, garlic, celery and carrots. It adds extra flavour to the base of this delicious dish. That is optional though so feel free to leave the carrots and celery out if you chose.

Lamb Giouvetsi

Lamb Giouvetsi Recipe Ingredients

  • LAMB: You will need lamb cut into medium- large cubes/chunks. I prefer to use boneless for this recipe. This is the main protein and flavor base of your stew. It’s rich in flavor and becomes fork-tender when cooked slowly over low heat. Lamb shoulder is a good cut of lamb for stew. If you don’t have lamb you could use stewing beef chunks as well.
  • GARLIC & ONION : Use as little or as much as you like of the garlic and for the onion feel free to use red onion or yellow or even shallots
  • CARROT & CELERY: These are optional but I love the flavor they add to the base of the dish
  • WINE: Red wine for extra flavour and richness in the stew - replace with broth if you prefer to not use alcohol
  • TOMATO PASTE: Adds rich flavor to the stew and also helps thicken it too. You will need 3 tbsps
  • CANNED TOMATOES: You will need one 14 oz can chopped tomatoes (or 1 ¾ cup passata) which creates the rich sauce for the stew
  • BROTH: Provides the liquid base for the stew, contributing to its richness and depth of flavor. Feel free to use beef broth or for a lighter flavour you can use vegetable broth or chicken broth
  • ORZO: Use a good quality one for best flavor or you can also use any other small pasta instead, such as ditalini or even small macaroni. I wouldn’t replace it with rice in this dish - for a gluten free version use gluten free pasta.
  • SEASONING/FLAVORINGS: I keep things simple with this classic blend thyme, oregano, paprika, chili flakes, cinnamon, allspice and a pinch of nutmeg, bay leaf and salt and pepper but feel free to add more spices or herbs according to taste

Lamb Giouvetsi

How to make Giouvetsi/Youvetsi with Lamb

There are a few steps to making this delicious dish but it’s all done in one pan which makes things a lot easier. All you need to do is:

  1. Brown the lamb and set aside
  2. Soften the onion and garlic, carrots and celery if adding
  3. Stir in the tomato paste
  4. Deglaze the pan with wine or broth
  5. Stir in the tomato passata, stock/broth and seasonings
  6. Return lamb back into the pan, cover & simmer till tender
  7. Add orzo and more broth place into the oven uncovered and bake for 25-30 mins until orzo and chicken is cooked through.
  8. Serve hot out the oven with a decent amount of freshly grated cheese (kefalotyri cheese, pecorino, parmesan cheese or feta cheese)

Lamb Giouvetsi

Helpful Tips:

  • Use a good quality orzo pasta
  • Make sure to sear lamb well which will add extra flavour to the overall dish
  • Keep an eye on your dish while it’s cooking in the oven, (I usually check mine once halfway through cooking) giving it a brisk stir a couple of times so that the orzo doesn’t stick too much.
  • The sauce will thicken as it cools as pasta absorbs most of the sauce - stir in a little more broth when reheating

Lamb Giouvetsi

Lamb Giouvetsi/Youvetsi Make Ahead, Storage & Reheating

  • MAKE AHEAD: The Lamb stew portion of the recipe can be made up to 3 days ahead of time (once cooked allow to come to room temperature then cover and seal tightly and store in the fridge) and reheated gently on the stovetop before adding the orzo and broth. Bring to a simmer then bake as directed in recipe.
  • STORAGE: Allow your stew or leftovers to come to room temperature and store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 4-5 days. Unfortunately, the process of freezing, thawing, and reheating this soup doesn’t really work well, given the tenderness of the veggies, and pasta.
  • RE-HEATING: Simply place the stew in a pot over medium heat. You will need to add a bit more broth, or water, as the pasta tends to soak it up after it’s sat for a bit. Feel free to reheat it in the microwave as well if desired.

Lamb Giouvetsi

There you have it folks. A gorgeous stew to add to your stew repertoire! Right after shooting these pictures I was all spoons into the casserole dish – no plating required because I was dying to dig into it the moment it came out of the oven. I think you definitely will feel the same way about it too. Make sure to share and do have it will some crumbly feta or grated kefalotyri cheese and chopped fresh herbs and an extra drizzle of olive oil before serving!


Servings: 4-6
Prep Time: 20 mins
Cook Time: 1 hr 25 mins
Total Time: 1 hr 45 mins


  • 2 lbs of lamb cut up into cubes – bone in or boneless
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil plus more if needed
  • 1 large onion chopped
  • 1 carrots peeled and chopped
  • 1 celery rib, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • ½ cup of red wine (optional)
  • ½ teaspoon dried thyme
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • ¼ teaspoon chili flakes
  • ¼-½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • Pinch of ground all spice or nutmeg
  • one 14 oz can chopped tomatoes (or 1¾ cup passata)
  • 4 cups chicken broth divided, plus more if needed
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1½ cups of orzo pasta
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Pat the meat dry with paper towels. Season generously with salt, pepper,
  2. Heat oil over high to medium-high heat in a 10-12 inch shallow Dutch oven/ heavy bottom pot or skillet and brown the meat on all sides to sear it, working in batches as to not overcrowd the pan, removing to a plate as they are done.
  3. In the same pan, add the onions, celery, carrot and garlic. Cook until translucent and softened but not brown, around 3-5 minutes.
  4. Stir in the tomato paste and cook 1 min
  5. Deglaze the pan with the wine - allow the alcohol to evaporate, scraping the bottom of the pot
  6. Add 2 cups of the broth, tomatoes, spices and return the lamb back to the pot with any juices. Stir to combine and bring to a simmer then cook on low for around 60-90 min or until mostly tender. Stirring occasionally.
  7. Preheat oven to 350°F/175°C the last 15 minutes of the meat cooking.
  8. Remove lid from pot and stir through the orzo and remaining 2 cups broth, stir really well adding a little extra broth if needed.
  9. Bring to a simmer then transfer pot to preheated oven and cook uncovered for 20-25 minutes until orzo is tender and cooked through (or keep stovetop and simmer covered stirring I add occasionally for 20 min) Check pan halfway through - giving the orzo a bit of a stir to make sure it’s not sticking to the bottom of the pan. Add a touch of broth if needed.
  10. Once done remove and serve hot out of the oven sprinkled with grated kefalotyri cheese, parmesan cheese or feta cheese and chopped fresh herbs

Recipe Notes

  • Larger cuts of meat will require longer cooking times while browning. The time in the oven should stay the same (25-30min). Longer cooking times while in the oven will overcook and possibly burn the orzo.
  • There’s a step in the original recipe that calls for pan frying or toasting the orzo before putting it in the pot. This is optional and here is why some chose to add this step: It not only adds a little colour to it but adds a nice nutty flavour as well and I personally find it becomes less sticky and the end result of it texturally is much better. It cooks without becoming mushy or clumping together as it can when it’s over cooked. It’s worth the extra step and the use of an extra pant totally optional.
  • I cooked and baked my giouvesti in the same pan I cooked the meat mixture in but if you prefer to bake it in a casserole dish/baking dish simply transfer the filling mixture to a baking dish, and spread it out in an even layer and bake as noted in the recipe

Lamb Giouvetsi