Braised Lamb Shanks
These Braised Lamb Shanks make for the most tender and succulent shredded lamb. They’re braised in a red wine herb sauce until the meat falls off the bone.
Though I love a perfectly rare roasted Rack of Lamb, when it comes to a “shredded and saucy” kind of lamb experience, the glorious lamb shank is the superior cut.
Why Lamb Shanks Are So Incredible:
When prepared right, the lamb shank is both incredibly flavorful and so tender that it falls off the bone.
The shank is cut from the shin of the lamb, and needs to be cooked low and slow for it to become tender. It’s a tough cut otherwise, because it has a lot of connective tissue and collagen that needs to break down. But that’s part of what gives the lamb shank so much flavor.
Braising is definitely the way to go for cooking method, and we’ll cook it with red wine, beef stock, herbs, and vegetables, to give it extra flavor.
How to Make Braised Lamb Shanks:
As an overview, we will make this dish by browning lamb shanks, then braising them for several hours in a red wine, beef, tomato, vegetable herb sauce. You have the choice of braising the lamb on the stove or in the oven. Let’s look at the process!
Pat the Meat Dry
As with all my meat recipes where you start with searing, begin by patting the lamb shanks dry with a paper towel, absorbing as much of the exterior moisture as possible:
This will give us faster and better browning.
Season the Lamb Shanks
Sprinkle kosher salt all over the lamb, and black pepper if you’d like.
Brown the Lamb
Heat some ghee, or the cooking fat of your choosing, in a wide braiser pan and sear the lamb shanks on all sides to brown:
I’m using this 5-qt braiser (affiliate) that I’ve had for years and have used many times on this blog, for Beef Stew, Crispy Braised Chicken Thighs, Chicken with Forty Cloves of Garlic, and Chicken Cacciatore.
Any braiser with a lid works here!
Once the lamb is browned, remove it to a plate.
Cook the Vegetables
Add sliced carrots, chopped onion, and chunks of yellow potatoes to the pan, right to the leftover fat and drippings from browning the lamb:
Season with salt, then saute for about 10 minutes, until slightly softened. Then add some minced garlic:
Stir for a minute to wake up the flavors in the garlic.
Combine Everything Together
Add the lamb shanks back to the pan, then add red wine, beef stock, tomatoes, rosemary, thyme, and a bay leaf:
Bring the liquid to a boil, then reduce to a simmer, and cover with a lid. Cook for 2 hours, covered tightly.
Flip the lamb shanks over, then continue cooking for another hour, uncovered.
The lamb shanks should now be completely tender and shreddable, and the braising liquid should be more reduced.
Reduce the Sauce More If You Desire
If you are happy with the thickness of the braising liquid, the dish is ready to serve. But I like to remove the lamb shanks to a plate, then boil the braising liquid for an additional 10 minutes, to thicken it slightly.
You can also mash up the potatoes and vegetables a little bit, if you want a more evenly chunky texture.
Then, return the lamb shanks to the sauce and toss around to coat.
Plate the lamb shanks with a side of rice pilaf or whatever side dish you desire.
Slow Cooker Short Ribs is a similar recipe that I recommend trying, if you enjoy this dish. Happy cooking!
Braised Lamb Shanks FAQ and Tips:
How to Braise in the Oven Instead: You can skip the stove and do all the braising in the oven, if you prefer. You will still need to sear the meat and saute the vegetables on the stovetop. But once you add all the liquid and bring it to a boil, you can transfer to a 350F oven and cook covered for 2 hours, then 1 more hour uncovered.
Storing Leftovers: This dish keeps beautifully and reheats well too! Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.
Freezing: This dish freezes well. Store in an airtight container for up to 2 months.
Reheating: It’s perfectly fine to microwave this dish to reheat it, because it’s a very moist dish. You can also rewarm on the stove or in the oven, but keep it covered with a lid to prevent it from drying out. If the dish was frozen, I recommend thawing overnight before reheating.
Types of Wine to Use: Any dry red wine will work, but I usually use some kind of Pinot Noir. You can also use Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, or Bordeaux.
Braised Lamb Shanks
- 5 lbs lamb shanks (I had 5)
- 2 tbsp ghee or other desired cooking fat
- 1 medium yellow onion chopped (I had 2 cups)
- 4 small carrots chopped (I had 1.5 cups)
- 4 small yellow potatoes chopped (I had 2 cups)
- 2 large garlic cloves minced (I had 1.5tbsp)
- 14.5 ounce can petite diced tomatoes *
- 2 cups red wine (any dry red wine works. I used a pinot noir)
- 2 cups beef stock
- 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
- 10 sprigs fresh thyme
- 1 bay leaf
- kosher salt
- Pat the lamb shanks dry with a paper towel to remove excess moisture. This will give us better browning when we sear.
- Season the lamb shanks all over with kosher salt. I usually season by eye, but I recommend about two teaspoons if you are not sure what amount you need.
- Heat the ghee in a braiser over medium high heat, then add the lamb shanks and sear on all sides until brown, about 10 minutes total. Remove the lamb shanks to a plate.
- Add the chopped onion, carrots, and potatoes straight to the pan (with the fat and drippings still there). Season with 1/2 tsp salt. Saute for about 10 minutes, until slightly softened, then add the garlic. Cook for 1 minute until the garlic smells fragrant.
- Add the seared shanks back to the pan, then add the tomatoes, wine, beef stock, rosemary, thyme, and bay leaf (I tie the herbs together with twine for easy removal later, but this doesn't matter too much). Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce to a simmer over medium low.
- Cover the pan tightly with a lid, and simmer for 2 hours.
- Flip the lamb shanks over, then simmer for 1 hour longer, uncovered.
- The dish is now ready to eat, if you are pleased with the consistency of the sauce. Personally, I like to reduce it further. To do so, remove the lamb shanks to a plate, then boil the sauce for 10 minutes, until thickened. Return the lamb shanks to the pan, toss to coat in the sauce, then serve. I love serving it with Rice Pilaf. Enjoy!
Nutrition is estimated using a food database and is only intended to be used as a guideline for informational purposes.