Pressure cooker, Sunday dinner
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Instant Pot Lamb Youvetsi (Greek Lamb Stew with Orzo)

A yellow bowl of youvetsi - greek lamb stew with orzo
Instant Pot Lamb Youvetsi (Greek Lamb Stew with Orzo)

Long-time reader Aaron left this comment on my Pressure Cooker Greek Lamb Shanks recipe:

Have you ever tried Youvetsi? You braise the lamb shanks then throw in orzo near the end to soak up all the drippings. It’s really good.

Thanks, Aaron! This tip led me to youvetsi, the classic Greek lamb stew. Most of the recipes use cubed lamb shoulder instead of lamb shanks, so that’s where I went with this recipe.1 It’s my basic pressure cooker stew technique, so if you’ve made any of my stews, you’ll know the steps to the dance. The details are in the ingredients – lamb as the protein, with Greek flavors in the aromatics (onions, garlic, and tomatoes), and in the spices (oregano, allspice, and cinnamon).

And, of course, the orzo. Pressure cooked stews have thin sauces, because the sealed cooker doesn’t allow evaporation. The orzo takes care of that, soaking up some of the sauce, thickening the stew, and turning this into a great one-pot meal. Add a Greek salad and some pita bread, and you’ve got a fantastic Greek feast.

Recipe: Instant Pot Lamb Youvetsi

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A yellow bowl of youvetsi - greek lamb stew with orzo

Instant Pot Lamb Youvetsi (Greek Lamb Stew with Orzo)

  • Author: Mike Vrobel
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 45 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour
  • Yield: 8 cups of stew 1x


Instant Pot Lamb Youvetsi. The classic Greek lamb stew, thickened with orzo pasta.


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 pounds lamb shoulder, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 large onion, minced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • ½ teaspoon allspice
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ cup red wine
  • 2 cups homemade beef broth (or store-bought low sodium broth, or water)
  • 15-ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt (if not using store-bought broth)
  • ½ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 cup orzo (or other small pasta shape)
  • Minced parsley for garnish


  1. Sear the lamb in three batches: Heat the olive oil in the pot over medium heat (Sauté mode set to medium in an Instant Pot) until the oil shimmers. While the pot heats, sprinkle the lamb cubes with 1 teaspoon salt. Add 1/3 of the lamb in a loose single layer and sear until well browned on one side, about 3 minutes. (Don’t crowd the pot or the lamb will steam, not brown). Transfer the browned lamb to a bowl, add half of the remaining lamb to the pot, and sear until browned on one side, about 3 more minutes. Transfer the browned lamb to the bowl. Add the rest of the lamb to the pot and sear until browned on one side, about 3 more minutes. Transfer the browned lamb to the bowl.
  2. Sauté the aromatics, toast the spices, deglaze the pan with wine: Add the onion and garlic to the pot, and sprinkle with the ½ teaspoon of salt, dried oregano, allspice, and cinnamon. Sauté until the onions soften, about 5 minutes, scraping the bottom of the pot occasionally to loosen any browned bits of lamb. Pour the red wine into the pot, bring to a simmer, and simmer for 1 minute. Scrape the bottom of the pot again to release any browned bits stuck to the pot.
  3. Stir everything into the pot: Stir in the lamb and any juices in the bowl, then stir in the broth and diced tomatoes. Float the bay leaf on top of everything.
  4. Pressure cook the stew for 15 minutes with a quick pressure release: Lock the lid on the pressure cooker. Cook at high pressure for 15 minutes in an electric pressure cooker (“Manual” or “Pressure Cook” mode in an Instant Pot), or for 12 minutes in a stovetop PC. Quick release the pressure. Remove the lid, tilting it away from you to avoid the hot steam.
  5. Cook the orzo and serve: Leave the pot on “keep warm” mode. (Or put it over low heat for a stovetop PC). Remove the bay leaf and discard. Stir in 1 teaspoon of salt (if you didn’t use store-bought broth, which is plenty salty), and the ½ teaspoon pepper. Stir in the orzo, then cover the pot and let sit for 10 minutes to cook the orzo. Serve, sprinkling with a little parsley as garnish. Enjoy!


  • Lamb shoulder chops are my “cubed lamb” shortcut. I cut them crosswise into rough 1-inch squares, discarding the bones and fat as I go.
  • The orzo will continue to thicken the stew; if you can, let it sit in “keep warm” mode for an extra 15-20 minutes.


  • Category: Sunday dinner
  • Method: Pressure Cooker
  • Cuisine: Greek

Keywords: Instant Pot Lamb Youvetsi, Pressure Cooker Lamb Youvetsi, Instant Pot Greek Lamb Stew with Orzo


What do you think?

Questions? Other ideas? Leave them in the comments section below.

Related Posts

Pressure Cooker Greek Lamb Shanks with Tomatoes (Arnaki Kokkinisto)
Grilled Swordfish With Greek Salad
Pressure Cooker 7 Hour Leg of Lamb (in 90 minutes)
My other Instant Pot Pressure Cooker Recipes

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  1. Not that there’s anything wrong with lamb shank youvetsi – but that’s a recipe for another time.

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Filed under: Pressure cooker, Sunday dinner


Hi! I’m Mike Vrobel. I’m a dad and an enthusiastic home cook; an indie cookbook author and food blogger with a day job, a patient spouse, and three kids who would rather have hamburgers for dinner.


  1. clare says

    This sounds delicious. Just wondering if I could prepare it the day before? I’m guessing it would be better to leave the orzo step to just before serving? Would you bring the stew back up to pressure in the instant pot, and then press ‘Keep Warm’ and add the orzo? What is the optimal time for the orzo to be in the stew before serving?

    • You can just make it entirely the day before, refrigerate, and then reheat to serve. The orzo may be a little softer, but with everything going on you won’t notice (and the rest of the stew will be better with a day for the flavor to mingle.)

  2. Laura Wilner says

    We really love this recipe. Tonight I made it adding cooked fresh peas at the same time as the orzo. Big hit with Spanakopita and tzatziki on the side.

  3. Sounds amazing! I’m not much of a cook, so I have a question. Why do you only need to brown the lamb on one side?

    Thanks for the recipe!

  4. Sheila Ann says

    Hi, the aroma is intoxicating! Loved this dish and what little leftovers there were was even better the next day.

  5. Justim says

    Lurker for a long time, have tried many of your recipes. I can’t wait to try this one….

    Just as a quick note…. Have “don’t crowd or the BEEF will steam” both in the description and the recipe….


    • Thanks – fixed. Cut and paste will be the death of me; I thought I got all the “beef” references in the basic technique, but…no.

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