Skip to Content

How to Cook Lamb Shanks

Meaty, delicious, restaurant quality dish with step by step instructions for how to cook Lamb Shanks served in its own luscious sauce!

Lamb Shanks over polenta made with gravy in bowl on plate with bread half, fork and wine

How to Make Lamb Shanks

Why This Recipe Works

  • A super rich sauce results that is PERFECT with anything you choose to eat it with! 
  • Much Easier than you think!
  • Not expensive either!

Here’s How It’s Done…

STEP 1.  

Here are what lamb shanks look like in the package: 

Two packages of lamb shanks as they come packaged from the store

Lamb Shanks in the packaging from the store

STEP 2.

Cut around the small end of the bone to release the tendon

Use a sharp knife to cut around the circumference of the bone near the small end to release the tendon on that end. (There is no photo of this process because I am unable to take a photo,  hold the lamb shank and cut around the circumference of the shank). Just use a sharp knife and cut all the way around the small end of the shank – cut directly down to the bone. If you look closely at the photos you be able to see where I have done this. 

Use your sharp knife to remove the extra fat from the shank. Most of the time I encourage you to leave the fat on what you are cooking, but in this case, your sauce will end up too fatty and that just doesn’t taste good. So, go ahead and remove it now

Two lamb shanks on cutting board with knife showing their silver skin

The lamb Shanks removed from the package and ready to remove the fat and silver skin

STEP 3.

Remove as much of the fat and the silver skin as possible

You will notice the silver skin on the shank as well. I like to remove this as well. Simply slip the tip of your sharp knife below the silver skin and make a cut, then pull to remove. You might have to repeat this several times.

Lamb shanks on cutting board with knife with the fat removed, cut around small end.

The fat removed from the lamb shanks. The tendon cut as well

STEP 4

Salt and Pepper and Cut your vegetables. 

The meat, onions, carrots and knife on a cutting board

The lamb shanks ready to go in the slow cooker or the dutch oven

STEP 5.

First you will brown the lamb shanks on all side in hot oil in the bottom of a frying pan or in your dutch oven. This photo shows a dutch oven.

Salted and peppered prepared lamb shanks in dutch oven

STEP 6.

Brown the other side. The shanks should be about this brown when you turn them.

The meat browned on one side in oil in dutch oven

STEP 7.

Then put the veggies in to brown as well. You’ll need to know how to quarter an onion

A photo of the onions and carrots browning in pan

STEP 8.

Then add the other ingredients…

Tomato paste being squeezed into the broth in a duth oven with wine and measuring cup in background

 

STEP 9.

Once it’s all in there,  put the lid on so that it is ready to go in the oven. If you are using a crock pot, pour everything into the crock pot and turn the crock pot on.

All of the ingredients added to the pot with pieces of onion and shank visible

STEP 10. 

When it’s all done, it will look like this! Beautiful! Something you will be so proud to serve! 

Blue dutch oven with towel in back ground and wooden spoon. Cooked Lamb Shank in the brown gravy

What Can I Serve These Lamb Shanks With? 

We love lamb shanks served over a creamy polenta or grits dish. How about some classic mashed potatoes the gravy is just delicious! Then try a green vegetable, you could do asparagus for something a little elegant or perfectly cooked collard greens!. Finish with some delicious iced tea

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s)

How Do I Thaw the Lamb Shanks?

Set the package in the refrigerator 1-3 days before you plan to cook the lamb shanks. 

If a faster thaw is needed, run a large bowl of room temperature water and place the lamb shanks into a zip top container and then place into the water. They will thaw in about an hour. 

Which Part of a Lamb is the Shank? 

The shank can be either the front or back leg and is taken from the part of the leg that is below the knee or shoulder. 

Infographic Drawing of a lamb on blue background with an arrow pointing to the shank which is circled

What Does Lamb Taste Like?

Lamb tastes similar to other red meat. This Lamb shanks recipe has a similar taste to a beef roast or slow cooked beef ribs in gravy. You will notice a slight “gamey” taste but it is very low key and you might not notice it if you aren’t looking for it.

Mr. Loaves and Dishes did not realize he was eating lamb when we ate this dish. He can be a pretty picky eater, so, I take that as a good sign for all of my picky eaters out there. 

What Is The Difference Between Lamb and Mutton? 

Lamb is a cut of meat from a young sheep and Mutton is a cut of meat from a full grown sheep. Mutton has a much stronger taste than lamb. Lamb, however, is much more mild.

HOW LONG DO YOU COOK A LAMB SHANK IN THE SLOW COOKER?

Because Lamb shanks are a leg portion, they can be tough – as leg muscles tend to be.

As a result, slow cooking takes care of tough meat.

As you are cooking, if you pull the lid off to test yours out and think it isn’t tender enough -most of all, it just needs to cook some more.

The lamb shanks I purchased probably cooked on high (at about 140-180 degrees, if done in the oven) for about 4 hours.

Therefore, a slow cooker set on low should be done in 8 hours.

HOW DO YOU COOK LAMB IN A SLOW COOKER?

Lamb is the perfect meat to cook in a slow cooker or a crock pot or in a dutch oven at a low temp in your home oven.

Simply clean the lamb shank according to the instructions I’ve included and then put everything in and turn it on! Consequently, it is ready in almost 4-6 hours!

overhead shot of the pan of meat and gravy ready to serve

Lamb Shanks in Wine Sauce

HOW DO YOU COOK A LAMB SHANK IN THE OVEN?

Most noteworthy, just exactly like you do in a slow cooker or crock pot!

Simply put everything in a dutch oven and set the oven on 160 – cook for 4 hours. See how that works?

HOW MUCH DO LAMB SHANKS COST?

The cost of the lamb shanks depends on the weight. I bought these at Publix and it was about $5 per shank.

You can see in the photo. Hence, $10 for this dish.

Can Lamb Shanks be Frozen? 

Yes, this can be frozen. Simple wrap in freezer safe packaging and freeze for up to 3 months.

How Do I Reheat My Lamb Shanks? 

If refrigerated:  Place on the stove top in a sauce pan with the pan juices, you may need to add as much as 1/2 cup of water. Heat over medium low to medium heat with the lid on until heated through. Stir often. 

A white bowl of polenta, lamb shanks with wine glass in background

Lamb Shanks in Wine Sauce

TIPS AND TRICKS FOR Lamb Shanks in Wine Sauce

  • Make sure the clean the lamb shanks as I described. They will be too fatty and greasy and have too many tendons and clingy silver skin if you don’t. Ewww.
  • I think it is best to cook them first and then allow them to sit overnight in the fridge if you possibly can. Not everyone can do that, but believe me, it’s best and you won’t be sorry. Hey! If you are making these for a dinner party – that part will be over and you’ll only have the sauce to worry with on party day!
  • For the BEST results, choose lamb shanks that are as close to the same size as possible. In this case, you can see that my lamb shanks were quite different in size. You can see from the photos that the small lamb shank did actually fall off of the bone. No worried about over cooking – its just better if they are the same size. That wasn’t possible for what I had to choose from.

The Taste of Lamb and preparation

  • Sometimes the meat DOES fall off the bone – don’t worry about it if this happens to you – just put it all on the grits/potatoes/ starch of your choice.
  • Just fyi – lamb has a different taste than beef or pork. If you haven’t ever eaten lamb before, this would be a good first dish – make sure to get that fat and silver skin off – I think that must be where some of the lamby taste comes from.
  • If you need MORE than 2 shanks – that is fine! Simply prepare more! This recipe will easily handle at least 6 shanks and there will still be sauce left over!

SERVING SUGGESTIONS

  • These are EXCELLENT over a parmesan polenta (which is just like fixing grits – if you are a southern gal like me), they are, coincidentally WONDERFUL over parmesan grits and PERFECT over some parmesan mashed potatoes. I haven’t tried them over noodles – but I bet – wow. I would try some garlic,buttery noodles. Rice? Same.
  • You will want to pair with a bitter green – my advice, anyway. Like an arugula salad – with parmesan curls, of course!
  • Wine – just choose a red wine that you would drink at the table too. Aldi makes some good low price options as does Trader Joes. At Trader Joes, go for the Charles Schwab (we lovingly call it 2 buck chuck). For these photos, I used Blackstone Merlot 2014 – about $10 per bottle at Sam’s Club. Very good in my opinion and fairly inexpensive. I’m a white wine drinker and I like this particular red.
  • If you DON’T WANT TO COOK WITH THE WINE, simply substitute with chicken broth in the same amounts. That’s fine.  

Other Stuff…

You might have a lot more questions about lamb and mutton, here is a REAL definitive guide and you can’t go wrong by following this.

IF YOU ENJOYED LAMB SHANKS IN WINE SAUCE, YOU MIGHT ALSO ENJOY….

Party Chili

Beef Stew

Lamburger GoudaMac

Chiliesque Bean Soup

A photo of the prepared dish in the dutch oven from overhead Lamb Shanks in Wine Sauce

How to Cook Lamb Shanks

This is a simple restaurant quality recipe for Lamb Shanks in Wine Sauce.
5 from 1 vote
Print Pin Rate
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: lamb shank recipe, lamb shanks
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 4 hours
Total Time: 4 hours 30 minutes
Servings: 4 people
Calories: 373kcal

Ingredients

For the shanks

  • 2 Lamb Shanks - prepared
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 2 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1 medium onion - quartered
  • 2 small carrots - cut in half
  • 4 cloves of garlic - crushed
  • 3 Tbsp flour
  • 32 oz chicken broth
  • 2 Cups red wine if not using wine, substitute 2 Cups more chicken broth
  • 1 tsp coriander
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika regular paprika is ok
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 4 Tbsp tomato paste
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

For the wine sauce

  • ½ cup water
  • 3 Tbsp cornstarch

Instructions

For the Lamb Shanks

  • In a large frying pan or in the bottom of the dutch oven, heat the olive oil until shimmering. When the oil is hot, add the prepared lamb shanks (tendon cut, silver skin removed and salt and pepper sprinkled over both) one at a time and brown on each side. Once browned, remove to a plate.
    A photo of lamb shanks browning in oil - first side. Lamb Shanks in Wine Sauce
  • Add the onion, carrot and garlic and brown until each has some browned color to it.
    A photo of the onions and carrots browning for Lamb Shanks in Wine Sauce
  • Add the flour and stir. Allow the flour to cook on the veggies for about a minute. Add the tomato paste.
    Tomato paste being squeezed into the broth for Lamb Shanks in Wine Sauce
  • Add the chicken broth all at once. Use a wooden spoon to scrape any stuck on bits from the bottom of the pan. (If using a crockpot, pour all of the ingredients into the crockpot at at this point).
  • Add the lamb shanks back to the liquid.
  • Add the wine, coriander, cumin, paprika, thyme and bay leaves. Cover. If using crockpot, then cook on high for 4 hours or on low for 8 hours. If using a dutch oven, place in the oven on 160 and cook for 4 hours. Lamb is ready when the meat is nearly falling off of the bone. (Pulls away from the bone easily with a fork).
    a photo of everything added back to the pot for Lamb Shanks in Wine Sauce

For the wine sauce.

  • When the lamb meat is done, remove the shanks and any loose meat from the cooking vessel. Strain the liquid that is in the cooking vessel through a fine mesh sieve and reserve the liquid. You can discard the solid vegetable pieces.
  • At this point, I put the lamb back in the liquid, allow it to cool and then place in the refrigerator overnight. The next day, I spoon the fat off of the top of the cooled liquid. Then reheat the contents. It is also fine to simply proceed with the directions. If you do so, the sauce will be more fatty and greasy.
  • Place the liquid back in the dutch oven and place on the stove top (if you have used a crockpot, put the liquid in a large skillet or saucepan). Set on medium.
  • Heat till bubbling. Allow to reduce until about ½ of the original amount.
  • Mix ½ cup of cool water with 3 tbsp of cornstarch and mix till no lumps are visible (it will look like milk if you have mixed it correctly). Add this to the bubbling liquid and mix well (but gently). Liquid should thicken over the next few minutes.
  • Reduce heat and replace the shanks back in the liquid. Serve when lamb is reheated and is warm throughout.
    A photo of the lamb shank all done and ready to serve.

Notes

This recipe contains directions for both crockpot/ slow cooker and dutch oven.  Either is fine for this recipe.  You will dirty more dishes if you use a crockpot/slow cooker.  
Please note that you should start this recipe the day BEFORE you plan to serve the dish. 

This works in your favor in TWO ways:

1.  You can serve this for a dinner party and all you will have left to do to the main course is to make the sauce and heat the meat through! 
2.  You will be able to spoon off the extra fat - this makes a much nicer sauce that is less "gamey" tasting - that lamb "gamey" taste that many people complain about is mostly in the fat.

Preparing the lamb

  • Make sure the clean the lamb shanks as I described.  They will be too fatty and greasy and have too many tendons and clingy silver skin if you don’t.  Ewww.
  • I think it is best to cook them first and then allow them to sit overnight in the fridge if you possibly can.  Not everyone can do that, but believe me, it’s best and you won’t be sorry.  Hey! If you are making these for a dinner party - that part will be over and you’ll only have the sauce to worry with on party day!
  • For the BEST results, choose lamb shanks that are as close to the same size as possible.  In this case, you can see that my lamb shanks were quite different in size.  You can see from the photos that the small lamb shank did actually fall off of the bone.  No worried about over cooking - its just better if they are the same size.  That wasn't possible for what I had to choose from.
  • Sometimes the meat DOES fall off the bone - don’t worry about it if this happens to you - just put it all on the grits/potatoes/ starch of your choice.  
  • Just fyi - lamb has a different taste than beef or pork.  If you haven’t ever eaten lamb before, this would be a good first dish - make sure to get that fat and silver skin off - I think that must be where some of the lamby taste comes from.
  • If you need MORE than 2 shanks - that is fine!  Simply prepare more!  This recipe will easily handle at least 6 shanks and there will still be sauce left over!

SERVING SUGGESTIONS

  • These are EXCELLENT over a parmesan polenta (which is just like fixing grits - if you are a southern gal like me), they are, coincidentally WONDERFUL over parmesan grits and PERFECT over some parmesan mashed potatoes.  I haven’t tried them over noodles - but I bet - wow.  I would try some garlic,buttery noodles.  Rice?  Same.  
  • You will want to pair with a bitter green - my advice, anyway.  Like an arugula salad - with parmesan curls, of course!
  • Wine - just choose a red wine that you would drink at the table too.  Aldi makes some good low price options as does Trader Joes.  At Trader Joes, go for the Charles Schwab (we lovingly call it 2 buck chuck).  For these photos, I used Blackstone Merlot 2014 - about $10 per bottle at Sam’s Club.  Very good in my opinion and fairly inexpensive.  I’m a white wine drinker and I like this particular red.

If you DON’T WANT TO COOK WITH THE WINE, simply substitute with chicken broth in the same amounts.  That’s fine.  

If you are serving MORE than 2 people - just prepare more shanks.  There is WAY more than enough sauce to go around! This recipe will easily handle 6 shanks.  

Nutrition

Nutrition Facts
How to Cook Lamb Shanks
Amount Per Serving
Calories 373 Calories from Fat 99
% Daily Value*
Fat 11g17%
Saturated Fat 2g10%
Cholesterol 64mg21%
Sodium 1057mg44%
Potassium 867mg25%
Carbohydrates 24g8%
Fiber 2g8%
Sugar 5g6%
Protein 23g46%
Vitamin A 4667IU93%
Vitamin C 25mg30%
Calcium 67mg7%
Iron 4mg22%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Tried this recipe?Mention @loavesanddishes or tag #loavesanddishes!

***This post last appeared on Loaves and Dishes on February 28, 2018 and has been updated with “why this recipe works”, “Here’s how its done”, Updated FAQ’s, Updated tips and tricks, video, updated nutrition information, equipment used and more tips in the recipe card***

A VERSE TO SHARE

Have you ever waited in line at the drive through and when you pulled up, the drive through person said, “the person ahead of you paid for you – yours is free” or maybe been at a restaurant and asked for the bill when the waitress says, “Someone else paid your bill”.

I have.

Wow. It’s a nice feeling.

That is called, “Paying it forward”. 

There is ONE who is the original of “pay it forward”. Do you know who paid your eternal debt? Do you know who MADE SURE that your soul is forgiven? Jesus did. He paid it forward BIG TIME.

Your crown has been bought and paid for – so – put it on! You are an amazing child of God. Your head is anointed and every precious hair is counted and known.

Isn’t that wonderful news?

John 1: 29

The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!

 

Clear glass of southern lemon iced tea with lemons floating in it.
Previous
Southern Lemon Iced Tea
Jerk chicken, grilled and resting on a white plate
Next
There's no Jerk Here Jerk Chicken!
Recipe Rating




Moxie

Friday 9th of February 2018

I sincerely can't wait to try these lamb shanks. I know they will be awesome! I've made something similar but never considered doing with lamb. Thanks for a great recipe!

Mary

Friday 9th of February 2018

OMGosh! This looks so darn good. Wish my family would eat lamb.....not gonna happen. I think I'll substitute short ribs of beef or pork chops....keep the gravy recipe. Pinned. Have a great weekend.

Wendi Spraker

Friday 9th of February 2018

Hey Mary! So good to "see" you! Will probably be equally as good with short ribs. :)

15585

Want My 9 Secrets to Immediate Kitchen Confidence?