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Restaurant quality lamb shanks have never been easier to cook for dinner!
All you need is a good old-fashioned dutch oven, a few simple ingredients, and a few hours (while you are doing other things) to create incredibly fragrant and succulent roasted and braised lamb shanks.
These shanks are deeply flavored with rosemary, garlic, olive oil, vinegar, a couple of veggies, and seasonings. It couldn’t be simpler!
And, remember that just because something isn’t quick to make, doesn’t mean it isn’t easy to make. Although this recipe doesn’t use a pressure cooker, instant pot, crockpot, or any other kind of time-reducing conventional device, the sacrifice of cooking time is more than worth it in the end!
What you will need to make roasted and braised lamb shanks: Ingredients & Tools
I think what I love most about this recipe is that the ingredients are as simple as the method of cooking these delicious shanks. Inspired by Mediterranean flavors, let’s take a look at the lineup:
- Lamb shanks [trim them yourself, or ask the butcher to do it for you to S.Y.L.! (simplify your life)]
- Garlic cloves
- Coarse sea salt
- Ground black pepper
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Red wine vinegar
- Fresh rosemary
- An onion
- Roma tomatoes or any super red and juicy kind
- Bouillon paste (I love using the Better Than Bouillon brand!)
- Cutting board
- Sharp knife
- Large bowl to marinate the shanks
- Dutch oven (I love using this one because it’s cast iron, enameled for easy cleanup, and lid seals very efficiently)
How to cook lamb shanks to be fall-of-the-bone tender: Step-by-step
1. Prep and marinate the lamb shanks
Well-trimmed lamb shanks will ensure that make the lamb is easy to eat, plus it will allow for an amazing jus minus the three (3) inches of melted fat on top of it (ew!).
Marinating the lamb for a few hours will deeply infuse it with flavors that counterbalance the barnyard-y taste that lamb is often famous for. Therefore, these are two important steps that you DO NOT want to skip.
Trim the shanks
Okay, so there are two ways to trim your lamb shanks:
1) Ask your local butcher to trim off the fat and fell to save you some extra time and effort, OR
2) Do it yourself! All you need to do use a sharp knife to cut off the excess fat. Then, use the tip of the knife to separate the fell (the papery white membrane around the meat) from the flesh. Pull the fell off of the shanks to remove it thoroughly (watch how to remove the fell.)
Once trimmed, gently make small incisions around each shank to allow the marinade to penetrate.
Marinate the shanks
Good job! Now, place the shanks into a large bowl and layer on the seasonings: Crushed garlic, fresh rosemary (pulled right off the stem), coarse sea salt, ground black pepper, half of the olive oil, and red wine vinegar.
Give those shanks a good rub down to work in the marinade. Then, cover the bowl with a lid, plate, or plastic wrap and allow the lamb to marinate in the fridge for at least 3-4 hours.
2. Place the marinated lamb shanks into a dutch oven with onion & tomato
The humble onion and tomato create a lovely backdrop to fatty lamb. As they cook, they release sweet, acidic, and savory flavors to the dish. And a little branch of rosemary creates an earthy perfume that balances out the grassy-funk that lamb can sometimes have.
Dump the shanks and marinade into the dutch oven. Arrange the onion and tomatoes around and between them so they will have room to brown a bit. Drizzle the remaining oil over the vegetables. You can add an extra branch of rosemary on top if you wish (makes it pretty).
3. Roast the lamb shanks to brown evenly, then braise until super succulent
What’s the difference between roasting and braising lamb shanks?
Great question, my friend! Roasting the shanks first allows for the lamb to caramelize and brown evenly on all sides. It is a dry cooking method that uses high heat (oven, grill, or open fire) to give food beautiful color and thorough cooking.
However, when cooking lamb shanks, a tougher cut that contains more fat and collagen, braising takes the baton to finish the race to succulence! Braising is the process of searing meat before adding liquid and cooking it in a covered pot at low heat for an extended amount of time.
Instead of sauteing or searing, I chose to roast the lamb for a more hands-off experience (because I had laundry to wash). And the braising method really breaks down the muscle fibers so the meat is able to relax and literally fall off the bone. It’s amazing how this works!
How to roast and braise lamb shanks
First, cover and roast the lamb shanks at 400 F for 1 hour while you find yourself something else to do…or NOT do (smiling). Just be sure to set your timer so you don’t end up with lamb jerky (that would be tragic).
When the hour is up, reduce the oven temperature to 350 F. Carefully uncover the dutch oven (watching the hot steam!) and pour in the water (or broth) around the shanks.
Next, add the bouillon (which can be skipped if watching your sodium intake or if using broth) by stirring it into the water with a spoon. Don’t worry if it does not completely dissolve. Just hold the dutch oven at both ends (using oven mitts, of course) and swirl the seasoned water around a bit to blend everything together.
Cover and return to the oven to braise for an additional 1.5-2 hours.
And, voila! You have just made Simple Succulent Roasted & Braised Lamb Shanks like a pro! I’m scared of you!
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What to eat with lamb shanks?
Mary had a little lamb and she also had some sides to go with it’s shanks (chuckling)! Here are some of my tried and true side dishes to make your lamb dinner complete.
- Crispy Fried Onion & Roasted Carrot Rice with Onion Oil Dressing
- Cilantro Pepper Green Beans
- Warm Roasted Veggie Salad with Basil Oil
- Rustic Green Olive Salsa Verde
Watch how to make roasted & braised lamb shanks
- 3-4 lamb shanks, well-trimmed
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed and peeled
- 2 TB fresh rosemary leaves (about 3 branches)
- 3/4 tsp coarse sea salt
- 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
- 2 TB extra virgin olive oil, divided
- 1 TB red wine vinegar
- 1 medium onion, peeled, cut into 6 pieces
- 2 Roma tomatoes, quartered
- 1.5 c water
- 1 tsp bouillon* (Optional; see Notes)
Preheat and prep. Preheat the oven to 400 F. Prepare the lamb shanks by trimming any excess fat and fell (papery white membrane around the meat) from them. Using the tip of a sharp knife, gently prick small incisions around each shank to allow the marinade to penetrate. Place the shanks into a large bowl.
Marinate the shanks. To the bowl, add the garlic, rosemary, salt, pepper, half of the olive oil, and red wine vinegar. Massage the seasoning into the meat. Then, cover the bowl with a lid or plastic wrap and allow it to marinate in the refrigerator for 3-4 hours.
Roast the shanks. Dump the shanks and marinade into the dutch oven. Arrange the onion and tomatoes around and between the shanks. Drizzle the remaining oil over the vegetables. You can add an extra branch of rosemary on top if desired. Cover and roast the shanks for 1 hour.
Braise the shanks. Reduce the oven temperature to 350 F. Carefully, uncover the dutch oven (watch the hot steam!) and add the water and bouillon. Gently mix the paste (or substitute ingredient) into the water with a spoon. Then, hold the dutch oven at both ends and swirl the seasoned water around. Cover and return to the oven to braise for an additional 1.5-2 hours.
*Better Than Bouillon Roasted Garlic or Roasted Beef Base is recommended for an added depth of flavor and saltiness when adding water to the shanks for the braising method. If you are watching your sodium, you may choose to skip this step and just add any additional salt to taste when ready to serve.
Boullion Substitutions for this recipe
Side Dish Ideas (as shown in images/video)
Farro & Red Quinoa
In a small pot, saute 1/3 cup of diced onion and 1/2 tsp dried minced garlic in some olive oil. Add 3/4 cups of farro and 1/4 cup of red quinoa to the pot and stir frequently, allowing the grains to lightly toast. Next, pour in 2 cups of water and 1 tsp of bouillon paste into the liquid. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a medium-low, cover, and cook for 15-20 minutes until the grains are tender.
Quick Garlicky Kale
In a medium-sized microwave-safe dish, add 3 cups of frozen chopped kale, 1 tsp of olive oil, 1 tsp dried minced garlic. Cover and microwave on high for 2 minutes. Add your seasonings of choice, then stir and cook an additional 1 minute, or as needed, until tender.
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 3 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 314Total Fat: 21gSaturated Fat: 6gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 13gCholesterol: 90mgSodium: 647mgCarbohydrates: 6gFiber: 1gSugar: 3gProtein: 25g
The nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and brands of ingredients used. I am not a doctor, nor a certified nutritionist and make no claims to the contrary. Each individual’s dietary needs and restrictions are unique to the individual. You are ultimately responsible for all decisions pertaining to your health. Please consult your personal physician with any questions you may have regarding your own health and diet.