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How to Make Cawl

Welsh Cawl Dish

How to Make Cawl

No dish better sums up the beautiful cuisine in Wales than cawl. The hearty broth is often considered the national dish of Wales and is packed with flavour, nutritious vegetables and traditional Welsh meat such as lamb or beef. Read on as we explore the origins of the dish, and how to make cawl.

What is cawl?

Cawl is believed to have originated in the 14th century in – you guessed it – Wales. It was traditionally prepared in a pot on an open fire and was usually served during festivities and special occasions.

Traditional methods see it served in a wooden bowl and eaten with a wooden spoon. It’s best served with Welsh cheese and hearty homemade bread. And, like many winter dishes, cawl is just as good the following day, so many opt to make it in advance and save any leftovers for reheating.

Recipes are often handed down through the family and vary from town to town depending on what ingredients are available. Still, you can get the experience at home by following this simple and delicious recipe.

When learning how to make Welsh cawl, remember that it needs to be cooked for hours until the ingredients and the flavours are entirely fused and developed. So, give it plenty of time before you intend on eating it so you can get the best taste.


  • 1kg/2lb 3oz neck of lamb/beef (on the bone). The meat doesn’t have to be Welsh, but it will make for a more authentic result.
  • 2 litres/3 pints 10½fl oz lamb or vegetable stock
  • 225g/8oz potatoes, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 225g/8oz onions, roughly chopped
  • 225g/8oz leeks, trimmed and sliced
  • 225g/8oz carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 225g/8oz swede, peeled and roughly chopped

How to make Welsh cawl

  1. Pour two litres of water into a large saucepan with two teaspoons of sea salt, then bring to the boil over a high heat.
  2. Season your meat and place it into the large saucepan. Let it simmer over low heat for two to three hours or until the meat is falling apart and tender. Leave overnight if you are looking to get the fullest flavour.
  3. Now, get started on the veg. Peel the swede, carrots and onions, chop into 1cm thick chunks and drop them into the pan. Move on to the potatoes and peel them before cutting into 4cm pieces.
  4. Take the meat out of the pan and strip all of the meat from the bone. Return the meat to the pan with the cut-up pieces of potato, carrot and root vegetable.
  5. Add the lamb/vegetable stock if required.
  6. Bring back to the boil, then simmer everything for 15 to 20 minutes, or until it’s almost tender, while you wash the leeks and cut them into 1cm-thick slices. Add them to the mix and ensure they are well stirred into the mixture.
  7. Then, taste and season with salt and pepper. If you prefer a thicker cawl, you can add a paste. To make this, mix flour and water, or use fine oatmeal.
  8. To finish, spoon your cawl into bowls alongside crusty bread for dipping and mature Caerphilly or cheddar cheese. Enjoy!