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Irish Lamb Pie (with Meatballs)

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This Irish Lamb Pie is encased in a buttery flaky crust and filled with tender lamb meatballs and saucy vegetables. Make it for a cozy night in or to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day!

Overhead view of a baked pie sprinkled with fresh herbs sitting on a tea towel and wooden board.

Ground Lamb for Easy Irish Lamb Pie

This meat pie is inspired by the Dingle Pie from the Dingle peninsula in County Kerry — a sheep growing region on Ireland’s southwest coast. Dingle Pies are traditionally filled with mutton and made as a large pie, but also as smaller handhelds. 

Nowadays, it’s not uncommon to find Dingle Pies made with lamb, usually with the meat of slow roasted shoulder. Delicious? Yes! Time consuming? Also, yes. 

So, what’s a shortcut way to get real lamb into a pie that won’t take all day? Use ground lamb! Not only is it easy to work with, it’s also more economical. 

{Enjoy this with an easy and simple Irish Buck cocktail!}

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Gather Your Ingredients

In addition to kosher salt + fresh ground black pepper, you’ll need…

  • Pie crust — made with all purpose flour, grated parm, unsalted butter (grass-fed Irish butter if you can get it), ice cold water and kosher salt. Or, you can use store bought pie dough for a double crust pie.
  • Lamb meatballs — fresh breadcrumbs, milk, beaten egg, fresh rosemary + thyme, and ground lamb.
  • Pie filling — olive oil, unsalted butter, onion, carrot, all purpose flour, and stock or broth (like chicken or beef broth, lamb stock, etc.).
Lamb meatballs crowded together on a stoneware plate.

How To Make Irish Lamb Pie

Begin with the Pastry

If you’d rather not tackle homemade pie crust, refrigerated pie dough is perfectly fine — you’ll need two crusts for this recipe. 

  1. Pulse the flour, grated parm, and salt in the bowl of your food processor to distribute.
  2. Add really cold small cubes of butter to the bowl and pulse a few times until it turns into pea-sized bits.
  3. Add 4 tablespoons of ice cold water and pulse a few more times just until it starts to come together. Test it by squeezing a healthy pinch of the mix between your fingers. It should stick together and not fall apart when you release. If the mix is still too crumbly, add more ice water, one tablespoon at a time, and pulse. Test again.
  4. Transfer the dough to a floured bench, or a large mixing bowl (my preferred method), and use clean hands to collect all the bits and press it into a mound of dough.
  5. Divide the dough in half and form into two disks. Wrap each in plastic wrap, and refrigerate while you prepare the filling.

Make Lamb Meatballs

  1. In a large bowl, mash fresh breadcrumbs with milk to create a paste. 
  2. Add the egg, herbs, 1/2 teaspoon salt + pepper, and stir together.
  3. Add the ground lamb and mix until just combined. 
  4. Use about 2 tablespoons of meat mixture to form each meatball.
  5. Brown the meatballs in a large skillet over medium-high heat, then transfer to a plate and set aside.

Finish the Filling

  1. Melt butter in the same skillet over medium heat, then sauté the onion and carrots until they’re tender. Be sure to scrape the bottom of the pan to loosen up all the brown bits from the meatballs.
  2. Sprinkle in the flour and stir constantly to cook off the raw flour taste.
  3. Slowly stir in the stock until it is all combined. 
  4. Return the meatballs to the skillet and cook the filling for another minute to thicken.
  5. Allow the filling to cool completely, about 45 to 60 minutes.

Assemble the Lamb Pie

  1. Allow the pie dough to rest on the counter for 20 minutes.
  2. Roll out both rounds on a lightly floured board.
  3. Place one crust in the bottom of a 9-inch pie plate and fill with the cooled lamb mixture to create an even layer.
  4. Place the top crust on, trim as needed. Tuck the top edge under the bottom edge. Crimp the edges of the pastry if you’d like or leave it for a more rustic feel. Cut a few slits in the top crust to allow steam to escape. Brush with an egg wash.
  5. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes in a 400°F preheated oven until the crust is golden brown and flaky.
A forking piercing the flaky crust of an Irish Lamb pie.

Helpful Recipe Tips

Adjust the burner heat as needed.

I love to cook meat in cast iron and that’s what I use for both the meatballs and veggies in this recipe. If you choose cast iron as well, you may need to turn the heat down part way through browning so the meatballs don’t burn.

Allow the pie to rest before serving.

When it first comes out of the oven, the filling will be very hot and on the soupier side. Let it cool for 10 to 15 minutes so it can set up. 

Storing leftovers.

This is a great recipe for leftovers! Allow any remaining pie to cool completely. Leave it in the pie dish and wrap tightly with foil or plastic wrap and refrigerate. Or, cut into individual wedges and store in smaller, air tight containers for an easy grab and go meal prep option. It will keep for 2 to 3 days.

Freezing Irish Lamb Pie.

Freeze a whole unbaked pie by placing it directly in the freezer (without the egg wash). Once it’s frozen through, remove it from the pie plate (or use a disposable aluminum pan), wrap it tightly in plastic wrap then place it in an air tight, freezer safe container. Bake it from frozen for 50 to 60 minutes.
To freeze a whole cooked pie. Cool completely, then follow the same instructions for an unbaked pie. Reheat it at 375°F for 40 to 50 minutes. In either case, wrap the edges with foil if they are browning too fast and use an instant read thermometer to test for doneness; the center should read 160-165°F. Good for 2 to 3 months.

A slice missing from an Irish Lamb pie revealing the meatball and vegetable filling.

Variations on Irish Lamb Pie

This recipe uses simple, comforting flavors, but you can send it in a slightly different direction by incorporating other ingredients.

  • Adding tomato paste and Worcestershire sauce gives a nod to traditional Irish shepherd’s pie.
  • Add a bay leaf to the filling during preparation for another herbal note (just remember to remove it before assembling the pie).
  • Use ground beef instead of lamb (in the spirit of cottage pie).
  • Add a splash of red wine or Guinness for a different flavor component.
  • Use leftover lamb stew or traditional Irish stew as the filling instead.
  • Omit the bottom crust of the pie and top it with puff pastry for a quick fix.
A slice of Irish lamb pie on a stoneware plate with meatballs spilling out.

There Are More Irish-Inspired Recipes to Check Out!

Overhead view of a baked pie sprinkled with fresh herbs sitting on a tea towel and wooden board.

Irish Lamb Pie (with Meatballs)

Linda Feller
This Irish Lamb Pie is encased in a buttery flaky crust and filled with tender lamb meatballs and saucy vegetables. Make it for a cozy night in or to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day!
Prep time.1 hour 15 minutes
Cook time.1 hour 5 minutes
Custom time.15 minutes
Total time.2 hours 35 minutes
Course.Main Course
Cuisine.Irish
Number of servings.8 6 to 8 wedges
Calories per serving.652 kcal

Ingredients

Pie Crust

  • 12 ounce all purpose flour, by weight
  • ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 8 ounce unsalted butter, (2 sticks) cut into small pieces, very cold
  • 4 tablespoon ice water, or more, as needed

Pie Filling

  • ½ cup fresh bread crumbs
  • 2 tablespoon milk
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, minced
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme, minced
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • fresh cracked black pepper
  • 1 pound ground lamb
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 onion, diced
  • ¾ cup carrot, diced (about 1 large carrot)
  • ¼ cup all purpose flour
  • 2 cups stock, chicken, beef, lamb (or broth)
  • 1 egg, beaten with a for (for egg wash)

Instructions

Pie Crust

  • In the bowl of your food processor, pulse the flour, grated parm, and salt to evenly distribute. Add the butter and pulse a few times until it turns into pea-size bits. Add 4 tablespoons of water, and pulse a few times to bring it together. (Pinch some of the dough between your fingers. If it sticks together, it's done. If it still crumbles apart, pulse in another tablespoon of water and test again.) Transfer it to a large bowl, or floured bench, and use clean hands to collect all the bits and create a mound of dough. Divide in half and shape into disks. Cover in plastic wrap and refrigerate while you prepare the filling.

Meatballs

  • Place the breadcrumbs in a large bowl and add the milk. Mash together with a fork until it becomes a paste. Stir in the egg, herbs, salt + several grinds of black pepper. Add the lamb and mix until just combined. Form into meatballs, roughly 2 tbsp each.
  • Heat the olive oil in a large nonstick or cast iron skillet over medium-high. Brown the meatballs on all sides (no need to cook them all the way through), then transfer to a plate. (If using cast iron, you may need to turn the heat down to medium.)

Filling

  • Return the skillet to medium heat and melt the butter. Add the onion and carrots. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper. Saute until the vegetables are soft, about 8 to 10 minutes. Sprinkle in the flour and stir constantly for one minute to cook off the raw flour taste. Slowly stir in the stock until it is all combined.
  • Return the lamb meatballs to the skillet. When the sauce just begins to bubble, reduce the heat to medium-low and cook for another minute thicken. Taste and season with additional salt and pepper if needed.
  • Turn off the heat and allow the mixture to cool completely, about 45 to 60 minutes. The sauce will continue to thicken as it cools and again as it bakes in the pie.

Assembly

  • Preheat the oven to 400°F.
  • Remove the pie dough to your counter and rest for 20 minutes. Roll out both rounds of pie dough. Place one in the bottom of a pie plate. Fill with the cooled filling. Place the top crust over and trim the excess. Tuck the top crust under the lip of the bottom crust and crimp the edges. Cut a few slits in the top for steam to escape. Brush the top with the beaten egg.
  • Bake for 30 to 40 minutes until the crust is golden and flaky.

Notes

  1. Use store-bought refrigerated pie dough instead of homemade; you’ll need two pie crusts.
  2. Refrigerate leftovers in the pie dish or as individual slices. Wrap well or place in air tight containers. Keep for 2 to 3 days.
  3. Freeze whole, unbaked pie: freeze completely in pie plate then remove (or use disposable pan), wrap tightly and place in air tight container to freeze for 2 to 3 months. Bake from frozen for 50 to 60 minutes or until center is 160-165°F.
  4. Cool the pie for 10 to 15 minutes after baking to allow filling to set up before slicing.

Nutrition

Calories: 652kcal | Carbohydrates: 42g | Protein: 17g | Fat: 46g | Saturated Fat: 25g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 15g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 144mg | Sodium: 890mg | Potassium: 278mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 3090IU | Vitamin C: 3mg | Calcium: 77mg | Iron: 3mg
Keywords.freezer-friendly, holidays, make ahead, oven
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