Apricot Lamb Tagine is a traditional Moroccan dish that gets its vibrant flavor from warm spices, sweet apricots and tender fall apart braised lamb.
The word “tagine” refers to both a Moroccan conical cooking vessel and an aromatic stew. A tagine is a circular cooking pot with a dome shaped cover that sits on the base. Tagine recipes are slow cooked stew type meals that are typically made with meat and combine sweet and savory ingredients for flavor.
The basic recipe for Lamb Tagine with Apricots, that I’ve tweaked here and there from the first time I made it, originally comes from Williams and Sonoma, and is my favorite go-to lamb tagine recipe.
The recipe consists of lamb pieces braised with spices, olives, apricots, chickpeas and raisins.
The end result is a tagine recipe that’s incredible with flavor and most certainly entertainment worthy.
Serve the lamb tagine over a bed of pearl couscous and you’ve got an incredible meal.
Table of contents
What You’ll Need To Make Apricot Lamb Tagine
- Lamb Shoulder: What’s the best cut of lamb for tagine? The shoulder of a lamb gets lots of work, so it tends to be full of flavor but takes a while to become tender. That’s why it’s a great choice for stews or braising, where meat is slow simmered until tender.
- Chickpeas: Preferably dried chickpeas, which will give you better texture and more flavor.
- Apricots: Dried or fresh apricots.
- Raisins: Golden raisins have a sweeter, milder flavor than dark raisins.
- Onion: Yellow or sweet onion. Sauteed onions bring another level of sweetness to the finished tagine.
- Green Olives: I like to use Castelvetrano olives. They’re easy to find.
- Tomato Paste.
- Tagine Spices: Coriander, cinnamon, paprika, ginger and garlic.
About Colorado Lamb
Colorado has a strong ranching heritage and lamb plays a big part in our history. Colorado Lamb is highly sought after due to its quality, and consistency in flavor and tenderness. The majority of lamb are free range, grazing on grass, brush and sage in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. And even graze in Colorado Vineyards. Colorado lamb is hormone and antibiotic free.
Lamb raised and imported from New Zealand and Australia are smaller in size that American raised lamb, and bring with it a gamier flavor. Please support local. Ask your butcher for Colorado raised lamb.
Ingredient Substitutes and Swaps
- Lamb: Use leg of lamb in place of shoulder. The leg of lamb is a leaner cut, and more expensive which seems a bit like a waste of money when a cheaper cut like shoulder is a better choice for a long simmer. And if you’re simply opposed to cooking with lamb choose a beef chuck roast.
- Olives: Substitute any kind of green olives in place of the Castelvetrano olives. I’ve used Spanish olives and they work well.
- Chickpeas: If you don’t want to take the time to soak and cook dried chickpeas substitute one 14.5 ounce can, drained and rinsed.
- Apricots: If you can’t find dried apricots (which I couldn’t) for the making of this recipe use fresh. The benefit of using fresh is that the fruit will melt down and become a part of the gravy. Dried apricots will hold up to the long simmer and will present themselves as a part of the chunks of lamb and onion .
- Cinnamon: To get a more pure cinnamon flavor, substitute a cinnamon stock for the ground cinnamon. Just remove it before serving.
Step by Step Instructions
Once the gathering and chopping is done, this apricot lamb tagine comes together easily.
Step 1: Place cut up lamb shoulder into a large bowl, add olive oil and sprinkle with coriander, cinnamon, ginger, paprika and garlic. Using a spatula mix well to coat the lamb. Refrigerate for three hours, or overnight.
Step 2: Heat the bottom of the tagine over medium high heat. Once the pot is hot, add olive oil. When the olive oil is hot and shimmering, add the onions and lamb pieces.
Step 3: Cook until lamb is starting to brown and onions are becoming soft.
Step 4: In a small bowl, combine vegetable broth, cornstarch and tomato paste until smooth.
Step 5: Add the raisins, parsley, apricots, chickpeas, chopped parsley and olives on top of the lamb and onions. Gently stir the ingredients to combine. Pour in the vegetable broth mixture. Cover with the top of the tagine and simmer on stovetop on medium low until lamb is tender. About an hour and a half.
Apricot Lamb Tagine – Tips and FAQ’s
Not to worry, a Dutch oven will substitute beautifully for every part of this recipe.
Absolutely yes. That’s the beauty of a tagine. Just place a trivet on the table for heat protection and place the tagine on the trivet in the center of the table. It creates atmosphere and guests can serve themselves right out of the tagine.
Pro Tip: Cutting Lamb for Tagine Cooking: Be careful not to cut the lamb pieces too small, to avoid it drying out. Cut the lamb into approximately 2″ pieces.
Storage and Freezing
This stew will keep in the refrigerator in an airtight container for 4 – 5 days. It will also keep for up to three months in the freezer.
Couscous. Whether using traditional couscous or pearl couscous will be a perfect side dish for lamb tagine. A simple tossed salad is also a good addition.
What Tagine Should I Buy?
I own two tagine pots. One is a traditional clay pot. The draw back to the clay tagine is that it can only be used in the oven. It’s not suited for stove-top cooking unless you purchase a metal diffuser ring that protects the clay against direct heat.
I recently was given an enameled cast iron tagine pot from UnoCasa. I love this tagine because it can be used anywhere. Gas, electric, ceramic stove tops, as well as in the oven. It can even be used over open fire.
It’s heavy duty construction is great for keeping food warm. Which works well if you don’t serve dinner the minute guests arrive. And it’s beautiful enough to use as a centerpiece server on your table.
The UnoCasa Tagine is larger and holds more, which worked well for the 1 1/2 pounds of lamb called for in this apricot lamb tagine recipe. And the lid is a tighter fit, so I don’t need to worry about leaking and spillage while cooking. I do love this tagine pot.
Click on the links or the photo below to check it out.
This is a sponsored post. I’ve received the tagine at no charge, and if you purchase from this post, I’ll receive a small commission at no extra charge to you.
Recipe for Apricot Lamb Tagine
Tagines are fun to make and full of exotic flavors. I hope you give this much loved Moroccan stew recipe a try, and if you do, please come back and give the recipe a star rating located in the recipe card. And scroll down and leave a comment about your experience with the recipe.
And if you have a favorite traditional Moroccan lamb tagine recipe, let me know, I’d love to give it a try. And if you’re looking to find out more about tagine’s, I like this article about How to Cook The Perfect Lamb Tagine.
Apricot Lamb Tagine With Olives
- 1/2 cup dried chickpeas
- 2 cups water
- SPICES FOR THE LAMB
- 1 1/2 pounds lamb shoulder cut into 6 – 8 chunks, about 2 inches
- 2 Tablespoon olive oil divided
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1-2 cloves garlic chopped
- 1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
- INGREDIENTS FOR TAGINE
- 6 dried apricots or fresh apricots
- 1 medium onion cut into wedges
- 5 saffron threads
- 1 Tablespoon tomato paste
- 1/2 cup vegetable broth
- 1 teaspoons corn starch
- 4 cardamom pods wrapped in cheese cloth
- 1 Tablespoon fresh parsley chopped
- 1/2 cup golden raisins
- 1/2 cup green olives
- Soak the dried chickpeas overnight in just enough water to cover. The next morning, drain the chickpeas, add new water and in a saucepan, simmer them stovetop for 2 hours. Drain the chickpeas and store in refrigerator until ready to use.
- Mix together all of the Moroccon spices (cinnamon, coriander, ginger, paprika, garlic, salt and pepper) in a small bowl.
- Cut the lamb shoulder into 6 – 8 chunks about 2 inches.
- Put the lamb into a large mixing bowl and drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Using a large spoon, stir the olive oil and lamb together to coat the lamb.
- Sprinkle the spices over the lamb and stir again to combine well.
- Marinate the lamb in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours, or overnight.
- DIRECTIONS FOR THE LAMB TAGINE
- Heat the tagine pot over medium high heat until hot. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil to the tagine. When the oil starts to shimmer, add the onion wedges and lamb pieces to the hot oil. Salt and pepper the onions and lamb.
- Cook until lamb is starting to brown and onions are starting to soften. About 10 – 15 minutes. Stirring often so they don't stick to the bottom of the tagine.
- While onions and meat are cooking, whisk together the vegetable stock, tomato paste and cornstarch in a separate bowl.
- Pour the broth mixture into the tagine pot, and add in the saffron threads.
- Wrap cardamon pods in cheesecloth and add them to the pot.
- Add apricots (pitted and halved if using fresh apricots), olives, parsley, and raisins on top of the lamb and onions. Add the cooked chickpeas.
- Place the lid on the tagine pot and allow the ingredients to slowly simmer for about an hour and a half. Or until lamb is fall apart tender. Remove cardamon pods and serve.
- Serve the lamb over pearl couscous.
Lamb and Apricot Tagine … It’s Whats For Dinner
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Why Trust These Recipes? Lea Ann Brown has lived, worked and played in Colorado for 45 years. She has immersed herself in the Colorado Culinary space, is a Culinary School Graduate and publishes her Colorado food Blog, Cooking On The Ranch.