Moroccan Tagine of Lamb With Prunes

Moroccan Tagine of Lamb With Prunes is a dish of tender chunks of lamb that are braised with a blend of spices, along with dried prunes and orange peel, that create an aromatic stew that’s packed with both sweet and savory flavors. Traditionally, it is slowly braised in a heavy cone-shaped, earthenware vessel called a tagine in a bed of coals but my dish is gently simmered in an ordinary pot on the stove top until the meat is so tender that it falls apart with a touch of a fork.

Lamb Stew With Prunes, A Traditional Moroccan Tagine
Lamb Stew With Prunes, A Traditional Moroccan Tagine

Lamb Stew With Prunes, A Traditional Moroccan Tagine

Serves 4, adjust the recipe accordingly

  • 2 – 3 lb. of well trimmed boneless shoulder or leg of lamb cut into 1 1/2 inch chunks
  • 1 – 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 3 – 4 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • peel from 1 orange, cut into bite size pieces
  • about 5 sprigs of fresh cilantro (coriander), tied into a bundle with kitchen string
  • 3 tsp. ras el hanout*
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 4 c. beef broth
  • a pinch of saffron threads, crumbled
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp. ginger
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. coriander
  • 1 tsp. smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp. white pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper or to taste
  • 1 bay leaf
  • salt to taste
  • 12 soft dried pitted prunes, cut into halves

If you can’t find the spice ras el hanout and would like to make your own, my friend Victoria, at Flavors of the Sun has a recipe for her version which is a good one.

Place the lamb in a bowl along with the olive oil, garlic, orange peel, cilantro and the ras el hanout and mix well. Marinate the lamb in the refrigerator for several hours then bring to room temperature before proceeding with the recipe.

Place the lamb into a heavy bottomed pot (retain the garlic, orange peel and cilantro for later) and brown on all sides, do not overcrowd and cook in several batches, if necessary, then set aside. Add the onion to the pot and cook until translucent, stirring up all the brown bits. Add the lamb back to the pot along with the retained garlic, orange peel and cilantro and cook for a minute. Add broth to just cover the meat and stir well. Bring to a boil then immediately reduce the heat to maintain a simmer, cover and cook until the lamb is tender, about 2 to 3 hours. Check from time to time, adding a little more broth or water, if needed. Once the lamb is tender, remove the meat to a bowl, cover and keep warm. Discard the cilantro, taste the sauce and see if you need to adjust the seasoning. Add the prunes to the sauce, return the pot to the stove and cook until they are very soft and the sauce has thicken slightly. Return the lamb to the pot and heat until warm.

If you are lucky enough to own a tagine, you could cook your meal in it or transfer the stew into it for a lovely presentation. Serve toasted sliced almonds, chopped apricots, dates or raisins as condiments. If you prefer a spicy stew, you could also serve this dish with a small bowl of harissa (a spicy Moroccan hot sauce)  for added heat and flavor.


Tagines are traditionally served with couscous or pieces of warm flatbread used to scoop up the meat and juices. I served mine with a Vegetable Couscous.

Couscous, A Savory Side Dish

This slow simmered stew is loaded with flavors typical of North African cooking. Braised at a low temperature, the lamb cooks in a rich, flavorful sauce until it becomes tender and succulent. The wonderful spices are also soaked up by the prunes and they in turn add a delicious sweetness to the stew.

If you lived in Morocco, you could buy your spices in the morning at one of the colorful markets, then go home and prepare your favorite version of this stew in your tagine. While my recipe may not be considered traditional, as it is not prepared in that famous piece of cookware, it is nonetheless delicious and my kitchen was filled with wonderful aromas while it cooked. This is a great dish that is perfect for entertaining. When it was served to our dinner guests recently, there wasn’t a mouthful left over.



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158 thoughts on “Moroccan Tagine of Lamb With Prunes

    1. Hi Mandy, I’m happy that you like this meal and yes, it seems like a good time of the year for you to serve this dish. Thank you for your wish and nice compliment.

  1. It cannot get much better than this except for eating it while in Morocco 🙂 Have a great week Diane

    1. Hi Maureen, It sounds like we have the same tastes. I serve sliced almonds and diced apricots as condiments on the side. Thank you for you lovely compliment and I hope you enjoy the vegetable couscous.

  2. Your recipe has so many of the wonderful flavors that I too have been experimenting with. I have been using Paula Wolfert’s famous Moroccan cookbook. best…mae at

    1. Thank you Angie, for your compliment. You are right about the meal, it does have wonderful flavor from all the spices that I used.

  3. I’m so happy to see a lamb recipe and one in which I can use the tagine I bought some time ago. It’s a conversation piece sitting on top of one of my cupboards but I need to bring it down and use it! Great recipe Karen…

    1. Hi Judi, I’m happy to know that you like this lamb recipe and that it will give you the opportunity to use your tagine. Enjoy!

  4. Great recipe. I’ve been to Marrakesh a couple of times and love tagines. I have a traditional pot I carried back with me but actually prefer to use one of my usual pots to cook on my stove and then transfer to the tagine to serve as you suggest. In London ras el hanout is – luckily! – found in most supermarkets.

    1. Thank you Kay, for your lovely compliment. I’ve been lucky enough to find one market here in our area that carries ras el hanout…how nice to have it so available to you in London.

  5. Oh, my! I surely wish my Mr. Rosemary liked lamb. On the occasions I have made lamb dishes, he likes them, but if I tell hima ahead of time, he scrunches up his face! MY family, however, loves lamb — any way. I would love to make this, Karen, and so I shall, although I have no tangine 😦
    (BTW — my young cooking student and I made your mini-cheesecakes. He — and his schoolmates — loved them.)

    1. Hi Rosemary, Your comments about Mr. Rosemary always give me such a chuckle. I’m glad to know that you want to make the recipe and believe me you don’t need a tagine to prepare it. Enjoy!
      I’m so happy to know that your young cooking student and his schoolmates loved the mini cheesecakes. Thank you so much for letting me know. 😀

  6. I think it’s easier for most of us to cook tagine in a regular pot (a Dutch oven is perfect). Moroccan restaurants do that, actually, or at least many of them — prepare big batches of tagine. Then they’ll serve it at table in a small tagine for the looks. 🙂 Anyway, your version is so nice. Love the way they use fruit with eat in Morocco!

    1. I agree with you John, a tagine makes a lovely presentation when serving a tagine but it is certainly not needed to make this dish. Thank you for your nice compliment.

    1. Thank you Eva for your lovely compliment. Yes, I think chicken and prunes is delicious combination. The Silver Palate’s Chicken Marbella is a great example of that combination.

    1. I’m sure your trip to Marrakech had to be memorable, Gerlinde. You are right, the aromas coming from the tagine while cooking are wonderful.

  7. Lovely recipe. Thanks for sharing. I leave in less than two weeks to lead my 16th group to Morocco, where I will no doubt have some version of this. In fact, this is one of many what is called “sweet” tagines that are famous there. I am also partial to one with figs. Oh, let’s face it…I love them all.

    1. Hi Vicki, I know that the group you will lead around Morocco will have a wonderful time thanks to your expertise. Thank you for your nice compliment, it is much appreciated.

    1. Hi David, I think you will enjoy the combination and hope you give it a try. I too have cooked lamb with apricots and it is good as well. 🙂

  8. A scrumptious recipe for spring with local lamb is in season! I can smell the cinnamon and other warming spices as the savory tagine simmers away creating a longing for dinner to arrive!

  9. Looks divine! This is the kind of dish I look forward to ordering at a restaurant…would love to be able to bring this beauty out at home!

  10. I need to send this to my sister, the lamb lover. This recipe also made me think of Susan She is in Morocco now, I would have loved to be in the spice market for all the spices. Especially since I threw most of my spices away during my prep or tenting.

    Great dish.


    1. Hi Madonna, If your sister loves lamb, I’m sure she would enjoy this recipe. Hopefully she will bring spices back with her from her visit to Morocco.

    1. Hi Mad Dog, I’m sure your goat would work great in this tagine. I don’t have many options when it comes to food shopping in our small town and would you believe, no North African butchers. 😀

  11. I think prunes get a bad rap — they add so much flavor and they sound incredible in this dish with the lamb and spices!

    1. I totally agree with you Marcie…prunes need a good PR group. They were delicious in this lamb stew. BTW, I had a chocolate store years ago and dark chocolate covered prunes were terrific. 😀

  12. I am posting a lamb chump recipe tomorrow. I serve it with a fruity couscous. It was really delicious. Yours looks excellent. I love meat and fruit. I hope all goes well.

  13. A beautiful dish, Karen, one of my favourites. Isn’t the combination of flavours exquisite! x

    1. Hi Norma, Nice to have you back, you’ve been missed. Wish I could have sent you a dish of this but not a spoonful was left. 😀

  14. What an amazing way to prepare lamb, I have always wanted a tagine but I’m completely out of room in my kitchen, great meal Karen!

    1. Hi Cheri, I know what you mean about room in the kitchen for wonderful cooking utensils. The nice thing is you don’t need a tagine to cook a delicious tagine, a Dutch oven or other pot of similar size will do nicely. 😀 Thank you for your nice compliment.

    1. Hi Krista, I’m glad you like the recipe and yes, the prunes add so much flavor to this dish. Thank you for your nice compliment and visit, you have been missed.

    1. Hi Graziano, Easter really is a time of year when lots of people think about cooking lamb. I’m happy that you like this recipe, thank you.

    1. Thank you Maria for your nice compliment. Your comment gave me a chuckle. While you were having trouble with “wateringly” which auto correct didn’t like on my computer either, mine doesn’t like with word “tagine” it keeps changing it to tagging . 😀

      1. I know I have been away for a while but the new ways on wordpress is living me a little frustrated, so much to get used to. Its hard keeping up sometimes.

  15. This is a very similar recipe to Peter’s except that he uses aubergines and tomatoes, but no prunes or oranges peel. Roasted spices smell simply delicious and I like doing this myself: it does change and intensifying their flavour. Happy cooking, Karen.

  16. This sounds amazing, Karen…like the perfect comfort food! That lamb looks like it could just fall apart with a single touch. Yum! I’ve been wanting to try tagine cooking, but that would involve a tagine. For now, I like the stovetop option! 🙂

    1. Hi David, As you can see no tagine is needed to make a tagine if you know what I mean. Actually nowadays most restaurants cook it in pots on top of the stove and then serve it in a tagine. I’m glad you like my version and appreciate your nice compliment.

  17. I have never made stew with lamb, and I love the idea of adding some sweetness to it using prunes…thanks for the recipe Karen!
    Have a great week ahead 🙂

    1. Hi Juliana, I do believe you would enjoy using lamb for stews and this one certainly has lots of flavor. Thank you and happy to provide you with a recipe.

    1. I totally agree with you Marissa on both counts and I don’t know why. And in this combination, they are delicious. I’m glad you like the tagine, thank you.

    1. Love your comment Abbe, I know what you mean about having a tagine displayed in your kitchen and you are right, filled with this stew it would be extra good. It seems like we are both cooking with prunes, I liked your recipe for chicken with ancho chiles and prunes but for some reason I was unable to leave a comment on your blog.

  18. I’m not big on lamb personally, but the men in my life love it and I do try to prepare it from time to time. I typically stick to lamb shanks simple for the ease in handling. This recipe intrigues me with the prunes and such wonderful spices. I would go crazy for the vegetable couscous so this is a delightful combination!

    1. Hi Debra, Perhaps this lamb dish might be a good dish to prepare when you have your whole family together. You could add a simple chicken dish and with the couscous have a small Moroccan feast that everyone could enjoy. 🙂

  19. This is one of my favorite tagines – I had it first in 1990 in Fez, and have been making it ever since. So tasty!

  20. Spring doesn’t seem to be in the air for us – but lamb is! I’m loving all the lamb recipes and this looks like one I’ll do this weekend in the slow cooker.
    Our continued cold, muddy days is making me miss FL right now!

    1. Hi Wendy, If you got a chance to make the tagine, I hope you enjoyed it as much as we did. You certainly have had more than your share of rain, wish I could send you some of this Florida sunshine. 🙂

  21. Hi Karen! I love that you added prunes to this dish. They are so wonderful but sadly under-utilized for sure. I always enjoy lamb and need to make it more often. Thanks for the inspiration!

    1. Hi Tricia, I’m always happy to learn that I have inspired one of my readers with a recipe. You are right about the prunes, they really add so much to this dish. Thank you for your nice compliment.

    1. Hi MJ, We love lamb chops too but this is a terrific dish to make, especially if you are entertaining. Thank you for your lovely compliment.

    1. Hi Caroline, Apricots go great with lamb and I’ve used them in a lamb shank recipe. The prunes give a little sweeter taste and also help thicken the sauce, I think you will like them.

  22. Hi Karen – what a beautiful dish! I haven’t had lamb in a while and this is so unusual with all the Morrocan spices. I had never heard of ras el hanout – I will be looking for it now. I like the sweet of the prunes with the spices. This is spectacular!

    1. Thank you for your nice compliment Allie. I believe that I bought ras el hanout at Market Basket when we lived in New Hampshire. I don’t remember the brand but it might have just been called Moroccan Spice…hope that helps.

    1. Thank you for the compliment Julie, the spices do indeed make this dish special. I’m happy that I decided to include the orange, it complimented the flavors well.

    1. Hi Inger, It sounds like my timing was good on posting this recipe. I hope you will enjoy the lamb tagine. Thank you for your compliment.

  23. The Moroccan’s are quite strict on the fruit they pair with meat, Lamb for example, it is always prunes! This is a dish that JT and I made during our cooking class at Maison MK. Your post has made me crave some tasty Moroccan food.

  24. Tagines are so flavourful, and this version is a classic. I’ve never made one at home – I’d love to give your recipe a try!

    1. Hi Liz, This is a good meal for when the weather is cool although we enjoyed it here in Florida’s warm weather. I’m glad you like the tagine, thank you.

    1. Welcome back Kiran, you’ve been missed. Thank you for your nice compliment, this is a dish that I think you would enjoy because of all the delicious spices. 🙂

  25. We love lamb, but never tasted a Moroccan lamb recipe before, now we’ll have to give it a try!
    Thanks! Have a great week!

    1. Hi Anna and Liz, If you like lamb I believe you will really enjoy this recipe. Thank you for your nice compliment and wish, I hope you have had a nice week as well.

  26. I’ve just returned from Mexico where they make a similar “stew” known as Birria. The spice combo is different but all else is very similar. GREG

    1. Hi Karrie, Isn’t Moroccan food delicous? I know you’ve made lamb shanks recently and I’m sure you would like this lamb tagine as well. Thanks for your compliment.

    1. I appreciate your kind words Sue, I’m happy to know that you like the lamb with prunes. We thought the tagine was delicious.

    1. Hi Jessie, Thank you for stopping by for a visit and your nice compliment. This is indeed a very flavorful dish, I’m glad you like it.

  27. I absolutely love this kind of stew, makes me think of Hunger Games, I think they have eaten something similar in the book. 🙂

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