Lamb Ragu with Papardelle

Lamb Ragu with Papardelle | The View From Great Island 1

Lamb Ragu with Papardelle is a lush, comforting pasta with meat sauce recipe fit for a special occasion, but easy enough for an everyday meal.

Lamb Ragu with Papardelle | The View From Great Island 1

Pasta with a hearty, robust meat sauce is one of my very favorite things. It’s luxurious comfort food that spans the seasons, and every once in a while it just hits the spot. This classic lamb ragu is made with a good dose of Cabernet in the sauce, and lots of fresh thyme. It can simmer away on the stove as long as you want, but it doesn’t have to. I cooked mine for 90 minutes. It makes a perfect romantic meal, and the leftovers are even better.

Lamb Ragu with Papardelle | The View From Great Island 3

Part of their appeal is that ragus are a little thicker and more stew-like than a typical meat sauce. Traditionally they begin with a slow saute of chopped onions and vegetables, which practically melt into the sauce by the end of cooking. The pasta itself  is another part of the appeal, ragus are often served with Papardelle,  a kind of broad flat pasta that is wider than fettuccine. It can be hard to find, and when I do spot it, I stock up. A good papardelle is wide but not thick, so it has a lovely tender, light quality. It just goes perfectly with rich meat sauces like ragu or Bolognese.

Lamb Ragu with Papardelle | The View From Great Island 3

There are a few keys to success with this meal  — buy good quality lamb, use fresh thyme, and don’t skip the long sauteing of the veggies at the beginning. Buying good quality Italian tomato products also helps. And be liberal with the thyme, especially just before serving. If you have the budget, I recommend doubling or tripling this recipe and freezing it for later.

Lamb Ragu with Papardelle | The View From Great Island 2

More comforting pasta recipes on the blog ~

Lamb Ragu
3.90 from 10 votes

Lamb Ragu with Papardelle

Course dinner
Cuisine Italian
Author Sue Moran


  • 3-4 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 white onion
  • 2 large shallots
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 stalk celery
  • 1 lb ground lamb
  • 1/2 cup good red wine
  • 1 8 oz can tomato sauce
  • 3-4 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 bay leaves
  • small bundle of fresh thyme sprigs plus more for serving
  • 1 -2 tsp balsamic vinegar
  • salt and black pepper
  • Parmigiano Reggiano cheese for grating
  • 1 lb papardelle pasta


  • Finely chop the onion, shallots, carrot and celery. Mince the garlic.
  • Heat 3 tablespoons of oil in a heavy bottomed pan and saute the vegetables for about 20 minutes, until they are softened. Stir often. If they dry out during cooking, add a little more oil. Don't brown them.
  • Add the lamb to the pot and cook until browned. Break up the meat with the back of your spoon until it is finely crumbled. When the meat is browned, add the wine, tomato sauce, and paste, and stir to combine everything well.
  • Add the bay leaves and thyme and bring up to a simmer. Cover and cook, over low heat, for 90 minutes. Stir every once in a while, and make sure your pot is gently simmering...not too furiously. Add a little water along the way if the sauce seems too thick.
  • Season the sauce at this point. Add salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste. Then add the vinegar, also to taste. Remove the bay leaves and the stalks of the thyme, the leaves will have fallen off.
  • When you are ready to serve, reheat the sauce, if necessary, and add at least 2 tablespoons worth of fresh thyme leaves.
  • Cook the papardelle according to the package directions.
  • Serve the sauce over the pasta, with Parmesan cheese and a few extra thyme leaves.
The nutritional information for recipes on this site is provided as a courtesy and although tries to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures are only estimates.

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    Leave a Reply

    Please rate this recipe!

  • Reply
    October 20, 2021 at 8:14 pm

    5 stars
    This is fabulous! It’s okay to add more carrots and celery and even a little more tomato sauce. I cooked it for at least 90 minutes…such a deep rich flavor. A keeper!

    • Reply
      Sue Moran
      October 21, 2021 at 9:04 am

      So glad you loved it, thanks Marie.

  • Reply
    March 14, 2015 at 7:44 pm

    I tried this recipe tonight for dinner for four , and all agreed it was absolutely sublime. The flavors commingle in a fabulous way. I added fresh rosemary just because I love it with lamb and I think it enhanced the dish. This was a pleasure to prepare as well. Thank you for sharing this recipe.

    • Reply
      March 14, 2015 at 9:31 pm

      You’re welcome Sara!

  • Reply
    June 4, 2014 at 8:42 pm

    So, when I move next door to you, this would be the perfect Welcome Wagon dinner. This is right up my alley. (Pssssssssst, you can pressure cook this is 20 minutes!)

  • Reply
    Helen @ Scrummy Lane
    May 23, 2014 at 11:36 pm

    One of my first posts was a sausage-based ragu with pappardelle, and I think I remember that ‘pappardelle’ means ‘to gobble up’ in Italian. Cute, huh?
    Love the look and sound of this slow-cooked lamb ragu. I can just imagine sitting down to a dish of that with a lovely glass of red wine!

  • Reply
    May 23, 2014 at 7:08 pm

    I don’t eat lamb. What kind of ground beef would you recommend substituting for ground lamb?

  • Reply
    [email protected]'s Recipes
    May 23, 2014 at 11:40 am

    This looks so comforting and full of flavours!

  • Reply
    May 23, 2014 at 6:28 am

    I always, always think pappardelle when I think ragu, too. It is a match made in heaven. This looks incredible!

  • Reply
    May 22, 2014 at 12:34 pm

    Oh man, yes please! I am having a hard time not drooling all over my laptop screen, because this looks SO good. Hearty lamb and pasta sounds like the best idea ever.

  • Reply
    Laura (Tutti Dolci)
    May 22, 2014 at 10:55 am

    Pappardelle is always my pasta of choice with ragu, this looks so mouth watering!

  • Reply
    May 22, 2014 at 8:43 am

    Oi! Divine!

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