Instant Pot Lamb Butternut Squash Stew

Reminiscent of Mexican mole, Instant Pot Lamb Butternut Squash Stew combines a rich Mexican-style sauce including cinnamon, cumin, ancho, chocolate, and tahini (sesame paste) with cubed lamb and butternut squash, healthy garbanzos (chick peas), and sweet bell pepper in a flavorful, tender lamb stew made quickly and easily with an Instant Pot or pressure cooker!

A close view of Lamb Butternut Squash Stew in a black stoneware bowl with black spoon, and grey napkin.

👩🏻‍🍳 Tamara Talks – About Lamb and Latin Cooking

As I continue to “niche down” from global to Latin-inspired, I feel compelled to defend my recent emphasis on lamb. While lamb isn’t a typical protein in Latin cooking, it is definitely part of many countries’ cuisines.

You’ll find it in simmering in stews in Peru (seco de cordero), in Guatemalan seasoned ground lamb empanadas, roasting on a spit in Argentina. Of course chimichurri is a must! Cordero a la barbacoa en adobo is a traditional Mexican dish made with lamb or sheep.

So, what? One focus of my blog has always been to introduce my readers to new ingredients and new dishes. When thinking of ground lamb, do you think of an enchilada style ground lamb casserole? Probably not. How about a Moroccan-style couscous and ground lamb dish with warm spices, dried fruit, and nuts? You are probably more familiar with this type of dish.

Starting with a Quick Ground Lamb Casserole (Enchilada-Style) the first week of November, I’ll be introducing a new lamb recipe each week. I hope you’ll try (and enjoy) them as much as we do! Check out my Ground Lamb Recipes for even more inspiration!

As I’ve said before, I am not attempting to recreate abuelita’s generations old recipe. Rather, I want to use both familiar and new ingredients to bring you creative, healthyish recipes to make meal time both interesting and delicious.

Butternut squash isn’t common in Mexican or most Latin cooking. It is, however, synonymous with fall and winter cooking, and pairs beautifully with lamb. This hearty stew combines the two with some of the ingredients typically found in a Mexican mole – cinnamon, ancho, cocoa, and cumin.

Garbanzos (chick peas), onion, sweet bell pepper, and beer round out this Instant Pot stew. Served with warm corn tortillas, it’s a complete, balanced, one-dish meal.

  • coconut or vegetable oil
  • onion
  • garlic
  • lamb stew meat
  • instant masa
  • spices – cumin, ancho powder, cinnamon or Mexican mole spice blend
  • unsweetened cocoa powder
  • beer (optional, not gluten free)
  • 1 tablespoon tahini
  • broth/stock
  • butternut squash
  • red bell pepper
  • garbanzos (chick peas)
  • cilantro (or parsley if cilantro is an issue!)
Ingredients for Instant Pot Lamb Butternut Squash Stew: butternut squash, bell pepper, tahini, chopped red onion, spices, instant masa, garlic, cubed lamb, beer.
  1. Sauté aromatics – Sauté onion and garlic with oil in Instant Pot on the sauté setting about 2 minutes.
  2. Brown the lamb – Add lamb, spices, 2 tablespoons masa. Stir an additional 3-4 minutes until lamb begins to brown.
  3. Add the liquids – Add beer, tahini, broth/stock. Stir vigorously to remove browned bits from the bottom (see Tips). Bring to a boil. Lock lid in place. Cook 30 minutes on high pressure. Release pressure (be careful).
  4. Add the vegetables and garbanzos – Add squash, garbanzos, bell pepper. Lock lid in place and cook an additional 5 minutes on high pressure. Release pressure again. Stir to combine. (See Tips).
  5. Serve – Taste for seasoning. Ladle into bowls and garnish with chopped cilantro or parsley. Enjoy!
Cooking steps for Instant Pot Lamb Butternut Squash Stew: 
1. Sauté aromatics.
2. Add lamb, spices, masa.
3. Stir and brown lamb.
4. Add beer, tahini, broth. Pressurize Instant Pot.
5. Add garbanzos and vegetables.
6. Bring to a boil, then serve.

My secret ingredient is instant masa flour – maseca. This is the specific product I use, and if you can’t find it, order it from Amazon! Masa is naturally gluten free, but if sensitivity is an issue, be sure to confirm it is “safe.” NOTE: If gluten sensitivity is an issue, beer is not gluten free unless you use a “gluten free” beer!

I don’t really want a big bag of masa that I won’t use. Substitutions? I have not tried wheat flour, but if you’re not gluten sensitive, it’d probably be fine. Unfortunately, you’ll be missing the unique flavor of the masa. While flour will work fine as a thickener, I love the flavor provided by the masa… like a tortilla. I use it in my Gluten Free Corn Chowder with Green Chile.

I am gluten sensitive. Can I add beer? The beer does add depth to the stew. There are gluten free beers out there if you wish to include it. Otherwise, replace with an equal amount of broth/stock.

What beer works well? I keep Coronitas in my pantry for cooking as their light, clean flavor works really well in my Latin dishes. Coronitas are small. Choose a light lager that won’t mess with the flavor profile.

Do I have to use garbanzos? Nope! You can substitute your favorite beans (ie. pintos, kidney).

What kind of broth/stock? You probably don’t have lamb stock on hand. Lol. I have used both chicken and beef.

Can I make this on the stove? Yes indeed! Allow about 60 minutes before adding squash. Cook until squash is tender (20-30 minutes).

Can I make this lamb stew thicker? Yes. I specify 1/3 cup masa, but only add 2 tablespoons with the lamb at the beginning. I like to extract the flavor that comes with cooking it prior to adding liquid, but too much thickener of any kind can lead to a “burn” warning on the electric pressure cooker. Be sure to stir the liquids in with the lamb/masa mixture thoroughly scraping the bottom. I’ve not had problems with this recipe, but I have with my lamb stew Provençal. If you’d like a thicker stew, stir in more masa little by little, allowing it to come up to a boil in the “sauté” setting.

Bagged, cubed butternut squash is a HUGE time saver! It’s about the right amount for the stew…

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Signature in red and green with chiles and limes. Healthyish Latin cuisine.
Instant Pot Lamb Butternut Squash Stew with Mexican flavors in a black stoneware bowl, black spoon, grey napkin and tortilla warmer with tortillas.

A black stoneware bowl with spicy lamb butternut squash stew, a matte black spoon, grey napkin, grey background, cilantro sprig.

Instant Pot Spicy Lamb Butternut Squash Stew

Instant Pot Spicy Lamb Butternut Squash Stew combines a rich Mexican-style sauce including cinnamon, cumin, ancho, chocolate, and tahini (sesame paste) with cubed lamb and butternut squash, healthy garbanzos (chick peas), and sweet bell pepper in a tender, flavorful stew.
5 from 3 votes

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Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Additional Time 5 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Course Main Dishes
Cuisine Mexican
Servings 4 servings
Calories 525 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 1 tablespoon refined coconut or vegetable oil
  • 1 small onion - chopped
  • 1 teaspoon garlic - minced
  • 1 pound lamb - cubed (see notes)
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon ancho powder - see notes
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • cup instant masa flour - divided use; see Notes
  • 1 tablespoon tahini
  • 1 cup beer - replace with broth/stock if gluten free
  • 1 ½ cups chicken broth/stock
  • 1 red - orange, or yellow bell pepper, diced
  • 2 cups garbanzos/chick peas - about 2 cups
  • 1 small butternut squash - cubed (about 3 cups)
  • ½ teaspoon +/- sea salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  • Sauté onion and garlic with oil in Instant Pot on the sauté setting about 2 minutes.
  • Add lamb, spices, 2 tablespoons masa. Stir an additional 3-4 minutes until lamb begins to brown.
  • Add beer, tahini, broth/stock. Bring to a boil. Lock lid in place. Cook 30 minutes on high pressure. Release pressure (be careful).
  • Add squash, garbanzos, bell pepper. Lock lid in place and cook an additional 5 minutes on high pressure. Release pressure again. Stir to combine.
  • Taste for seasoning.
  • Ladle into bowls and garnish with chopped cilantro or parsley. Enjoy!

Notes

Lamb stew meat saves time, but you can cube any boneless lamb (leg of lamb).
Masa flour – 2 tablespoons gets browned with the lamb. The remainder is optional if you want a thicker stew. See Tips and FAQ in the body of the post for more information!
If you have made a batch of my Mexican mole spice blend, use about 1 1/2 tablespoons in place of the cumin, cocoa, ancho, and cinnamon.
I keep ancho, chipotle, and New Mexico red chile powder in my pantry. You can use any of them. I don’t think generic "chili powder" is a good substitute as it’s a spice mix and will throw off the proportions.
Beer is not "gluten free" unless it’s labeled as such. Substitute additional broth/stock if gluten sensitive. As I mention in the post, I have used both chicken and beef. If you’ve got turkey, I think that would be fine too!

Nutrition

Serving: 1g | Calories: 525kcal | Carbohydrates: 24g | Protein: 33g | Fat: 31g

NOTE: Macronutrients are an approximation only using unbranded ingredients and MyFitnessPal.com. Please do your own research with the products you’re using if you have a serious health issue or are following a specific diet.

Did you make this recipe? Please leave a comment and/or star rating! Email us with any questions: tamara@beyondmeresustenance.com

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11 Comments

  1. I can’t find where to add the second part of the masa? Also, at the beginning it says to finish with chopped cilantro, and in the step by step, parsley. Which do you think would be better?

    1. Sorry for the confusion Johanna! I did mention in the “Tips and FAQ” section that you use the 2 tablespoons during the pressure cycle, and the remaining amount can be used to thicken the stew as desired after the pressure is released. Instant Pots can generate a “burn” error if any flour is stuck to the bottom of the pot. For this reason, it is important to stir it in thoroughly, and add additional flour after pressure is released. Thanks for calling this to my attention. I will try to clarify! Also, I feel like thickening is subjective, and you may or may not use any of the remaining masa flour. I hope that helps! As to the herbs, the preference would be cilantro. Parsley is suggested as an alternative for people that have issues with cilantro. I will clarify this as well!

  2. We are in need of warming and nourishing dinners. Today Mother Nature has given us another batch of snow to celebrate the first day of spring! (smiling) Love the warming spices in your recipe.

  3. We were craving comfort food and this recipe really hit the spot. Warming, nourishing and comforting, just what we needed.

    1. Hello Karen! I am so sorry! Every once in awhile my husband and I both miss an ingredient. He proofreads for me. I have added the chick peas/garbanzos into the recipe. I’m surprised you’re the first to notice. Thanks for alerting me and I’m sorry for the inconvenience! Tamara.

      1. No worries, and thank you for the reply…really looking forward to making this, my family loves lamb and I have a squash I need to use up . Will let you know how it comes out – thanks again !

  4. So pleased I came across this recipe. As you say, the butternut squash may not be authenic but in my view, it really adds something to this tasty – and easy to put together- soup.