Braised Lamb Shanks

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These fall-off-the-bone tender braised lamb shanks cooked in a rich red wine sauce make for a deeply satisfying and comforting family meal.

Four cooked lamb shanks in a pan.


 

Lamb Shank Recipe

Certain combinations of sauces and marinades always resonate with me, particularly the blend of dry red wine, mushrooms, and fresh rosemary. This mix creates a braising liquid that is aromatic, flavorful, and the best way to unlock the richness of slow-cooked dishes—making it an ideal choice for preparing a lamb dish. Braising, especially suited for a tough cut of meat like these lamb shanks, typically involves cooking them low and slow in liquid, possibly for 3 hours at 250˚F. This technique ensures that the meat becomes incredibly tender and delicious, perfect for special occasions when you want to impress at the dinner table. However, my easy recipe offers a quicker braise for those short on time but still craving that deep, rich flavor. After some initial prep, like slicing and searing, you can let the oven take over and do the heavy lifting!

What Are Lamb Shanks?

The shank is the cut of meat taken from the lower section of the lamb’s legs. The meat of the lamb shank can be tough because it has lots of connective tissue – but this is what brings all that flavor. Lamb shanks are perfect for slow cooking and especially braising because the meat will just melt away from the bone and result in the most amazing meal.

Lamb cooking in wine sauce.

Ingredients You’ll Need

These ingredients work together to create a tasty braised lamb shank dish. The list may look extensive, but it’s most likely things you already have in the pantry.

  • Olive Oil: Substitute with avocado oil for a similar high-heat tolerance.
  • Lamb Shanks: Each one should be about 1 to 1-1/4 pounds.
  • Salt and Black Pepper: For seasoning the lamb to enhance its natural flavors. Use according to taste; kosher salt and freshly ground pepper are best for flavor.
  • Vegetables: Yellow onions, carrots, and celery ribs.
  • Button Mushrooms: Cremini mushrooms can be used for a deeper flavor.
  • Garlic Cloves: Minced garlic from a jar can work, but fresh is preferred for its brighter flavor.
  • Low Sodium Chicken Broth: Provides the liquid base for braising. Beef broth is a good substitute.
  • Dry Red Wine: For a non-alcoholic substitute, use additional broth with a splash of red wine vinegar or balsamic vinegar.
  • Fresh Rosemary & Fresh Thyme: If fresh is unavailable, dried herbs will also work.

What is the Best Wine to Use?

For this lamb recipe, use a dry red wine. Dry reds have a richness and depth of flavor that pairs nicely with the flavors of meat. Look for Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, or Pinot Noir. Don’t use a cooking wine. It doesn’t have to be an expensive wine, but my rule of thumb when choosing a wine for cooking is this: If you wouldn’t drink it, you shouldn’t cook with it.

Lamb cooking with carrots and mushrooms.

How to Cook Lamb Shanks

  1. Prep: Preheat the oven to 425˚F.
  2. Sear: Heat the olive oil in a large oven-safe pot, skillet, or Dutch oven skillet. Season the lamb shanks with salt and pepper, then add them to the hot oil and sear until browned on all sides. Remove and set aside.
  3. Saute: In the same skillet, add more oil and cook the onions, carrots, celery, mushrooms, and garlic for 4 minutes, stirring often.
  4. Deglaze: Stir in the chicken broth and wine, and scrape up all the brown bits from the bottom of the pot. Bring to a boil.
  5. Braise: Return the lamb shanks to the pot and pop it in the oven to cook for 1.5 to 2 hours, turning every 30-40 minutes, until the meat is tender and reaches 150˚F to 160˚F. Please use an instant-read thermometer to check for doneness.
  6. Remove: Take the pot out of the oven, set the shanks aside, and keep them covered.
  7. Make the Sauce: Boil the remaining liquid in the pot until thickened, about 6-10 minutes. Skim off any additional fat that rises to the surface. Taste the sauce for salt and pepper and adjust it accordingly.
  8. Serve: Return the shanks to the pot, garnish with parsley, and serve.

Slow Cooker Method

A slow cooker makes an excellent choice for preparing lamb! Follow these steps:

  1. First, season and brown the lamb shanks in a pan on the stove according to the recipe, ensuring they’re seared on all sides.
  2. Transfer the shanks to your slow cooker.
  3. Add in the vegetables, pour 2 cups of red wine and 2 cups of broth, and toss in the rest of the ingredients.
  4. Secure the lid and cook on Low for 8 hours or on High for 5 to 6 hours, until the lamb shanks are thoroughly tender.
A lamb shank served over mashed potatoes.

Recipe Tips

  • Braising or slow-cooking lamb shanks in the oven is ideal, turning them fork-tender as the marrow enriches the sauce. Time and low heat make them tender and the sauce is key to the dish’s taste.
  • Season the shanks thoroughly with salt and pepper before cooking to enhance their flavor. You could even add garlic powder and paprika to the seasoning mix.
  • Always sear the lamb shanks first. This crucial step adds flavor and creates a caramelized crust.
  • The magic of succulent lamb lies in the sauce. A simple red wine sauce, enriched with fresh herbs, complements the meat perfectly.
  • Lamb shanks are hard to overcook, needing long cooking times to become tender. If they are undercooked, the meat will be tough, so make sure they’re cooked until they easily fall off the bone. If they’re not tender after 2 hours, continue cooking, checking every 15-20 minutes and adding broth as needed to maintain sauce volume.

Serving Suggestions

Lamb shank is served on a dinner plate with mashed potatoes, and a fork is tearing through the tender meat.

How to Store and Reheat Leftovers

When you finish dinner, allow the leftovers to come to room temperature. Then, pop them in an airtight container—juices and all—and store them in your fridge for 3-4 days or in your freezer for 2 months. When you’re ready to reheat, simply place the (thawed) shanks and sauce in a baking dish in a 350˚F oven until they are warm.

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4.82 from 27 votes

Braised Lamb Shanks

Delicious and tender melt-off-the-bone braised lamb shanks cooked and served in a flavorful, velvety wine sauce.
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 2 hours
Total Time: 2 hours 30 minutes
Servings: 4

Ingredients 

  • 4 tablespoons olive oil,, divided
  • 4 lamb shanks,, each shank should be about 1 to 1-1/4 pound
  • salt and fresh ground black pepper,, to taste
  • 2 yellow onions,, each cut into 4 wedges
  • 3 carrots,, each cut into about 2-inch pieces
  • 3 celery ribs,, each rib cut into about 2-inch pieces
  • 8 button mushrooms,, each cut in half
  • 5 cloves garlic,, cut in half, lengthwise
  • 4 cups low sodium chicken broth,, or vegetable broth
  • 2 cups dry red wine,, like Merlot, Pinot Noir, or Cabernet
  • 3 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme
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Instructions 

  • Preheat the oven to 425˚F.
  • Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in a large dutch-oven skillet or a high-sided oven-proof skillet or pot.
  • Season the lamb shanks with salt and pepper and add them to the hot oil. Make sure the oil is hot because you want that immediate sear on the lamb shanks.
  • Sear the shanks on all sides until browned.
  • Remove the shanks from the skillet and set aside.
  • Set skillet back over medium-high heat and add in remaining oil.
  • Add onions, carrots, celery sticks, mushrooms, and garlic to the skillet; cook for 4 minutes, stirring frequently.
  • Slowly pour in chicken broth and stir in wine; stir to loosen all the browned bits on the bottom of the skillet. Bring to a boil.
  • Place lamb shanks back inside the pot. Add in the fresh herbs.
  • Put the pot in the preheated oven and cook for 1.5 to 2 hours, turning the shanks over every 30 to 40 minutes, until meat is tender and internal temperature registers between 150˚F and 160˚F.
  • Remove pot from oven.
  • Remove the shanks from the pot; set them aside and keep them covered.
  • Simmer remaining sauce that’s in the skillet over medium heat until thickened to a desired consistency, about 6 to 10 minutes.
  • Skim off any additional fat that rises to the surface.
  • Taste the sauce for seasonings and adjust accordingly.
  • Add lamb shanks back into the pot.
  • Garnish with fresh parsley and serve over mashed potatoes, mashed cauliflower, polenta, or rice.

Notes

  • Lamb Shanks are from the bottom section of the leg just below the lamb’s knee. The meat of the lamb shank can be tough because it has lots of connective tissue, but this is also why they are so flavorful and perfect for slow cooking and braising.
  • Cooking Time: If the shanks are bigger, they may need extra cooking time. Don’t worry; the longer they cook, the more tender (and delicious) they will be. A safe internal temperature for lamb shanks should register between 150˚F and 160˚F. 
  • Red Wine: You’ll want to look for Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, or Pinot Noir. Don’t use a cooking wine. 

Nutrition

Calories: 543kcal | Carbohydrates: 19g | Protein: 46g | Fat: 22g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 13g | Cholesterol: 127mg | Sodium: 277mg | Potassium: 1092mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 7817IU | Vitamin C: 11mg | Calcium: 77mg | Iron: 5mg

Nutritional info is an estimate and provided as courtesy. Values may vary according to the ingredients and tools used. Please use your preferred nutritional calculator for more detailed info.

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53 Comments

  1. Tahlia says:

    Do we put the lid on while it cooks in the oven?

    1. Katerina says:

      Hi!
      No, don’t cover the pot – just turn the shanks over every 30 minutes or so until they’re done.

  2. Tom Yanno says:

    Hi, Katerina. I had to go to your website for this recipe as the Pinterest link would not print and it was inundated with pop-up ads…just an fyi in case you weren’t aware. Anyway, two questions: 1) why do most braised lamb and osso bucco recipes call for chicken stock and not beef? I’d think strong tasting meat like lamb and beef would call for beef, veal or mushroom stock 2) I want to serve this over pasta…will I have to thicken the sauce with corn starch or Wondra or will it thicken while cooking? Tom

    1. Katerina says:

      Hi, Tom!
      The choice of chicken stock in recipes for braised lamb and osso bucco often comes down to its lighter flavor profile, which complements rather than competes with the strong taste of these meats. Chicken stock enhances the natural flavors of lamb and beef without overpowering them.
      I don’t think you’ll need to thicken the sauce because it thickens during the cooking process. However, if the sauce is too thin for your liking after the cooking is complete, you can certainly thicken it using a slurry made from cornstarch or Wondra flour.

  3. Tina T says:

    I made this for my mom and I today & it was delicious! The house smelled so good while it was cooking in the oven. Such a rich sauce that I served it over polenta. I did add a can of San Marzano diced tomatoes to it. The meat was falling off of the bone. Had so much sauce left that I’ll freeze it for another time. Thanks for this recipe that I will definitely make again!

    1. Katerina Petrovska says:

      That’s great! I’m very glad you enjoyed it! Thank YOU! 🙂

  4. Barbara says:

    I made this as directed. My husband and I loved it. Such a flavorful dish. I will definitely make it again.

    1. Katerina Petrovska says:

      That’s wonderful! I’m very glad you and your husband enjoyed it! Thank YOU! 🙂

  5. Viki says:

    I served this recipe with mashed potatoes and a simple homemade tabouli salad . Amazing

    1. Katerina Petrovska says:

      That’s great! I’m very glad you enjoyed it! Thank YOU! 🙂

  6. Viktoriya says:

    This was so simple to make with most items already on hand , and turned out so delicious. Thank you for this recipe.

    1. Katerina Petrovska says:

      That’s great! I’m very glad you enjoyed it! Thank YOU! 🙂

    2. Maureen says:

      Do you cook the lamb at 425 the whole time?

      1. Katerina says:

        Yes, at 425˚F. You can find detailed instructions in the recipe card down below the post and above the comments section, or you can just click on ‘Jump to Recipe’ at the top of the post, and it will take you right down to it.

  7. Rhonda says:

    can i use a leg of lamb for this? i cant find lamb shanks anywhere. thanks!

    1. Katerina Petrovska says:

      You can, but I would suggest to use my recipe for leg of lamb because of the difference in cooking time and temp. You can find that recipe here: https://diethood.com/roast-leg-of-lamb/
      I hope this helps.

      1. Rhonda Walker says:

        so I actually found 2 yesterday that were the last ones in the store! it is just my boyfriend and I, each is about 1-1.5 lb, it should be enough? thank you for your reply and i will save your leg of lamb recipe too!