Mediterranean-spiced braised lamb shanks, cooked in a red wine and tomato sauce with vegetables, aromatics, and fresh herbs! Perfect for Easter or your next special dinner.
Being of Mediterranean origins, there are few meals I find as inviting and satisfying as lamb.
I’ve already shared several lamb recipes here, including my family’s Easter leg of lamb. Equally worth trying are today’s braised lamb shanks. In fact, I think of these lamb shanks as my aim to perfect. They are just that good!
I am using sustainably-raised American lamb, which is generally more meaty and sweeter in flavor than imported lamb. It’s also fresher, having traveled up to 10,000 fewer miles and about 30 days less than imported lamb!
Best way to cook lamb shanks
Lamb shanks come from the well-exercised part of the lamb–the animal’s leg, so they are tougher.
Braising or slow-cooking is the way to go with lamb shanks. Here, the lamb shanks don’t require a ton of work; they rely more on time to turn them into melt-in-your-mouth goodness!
Matching the flavor intensity of these American lamb shanks, I coated them with a few of my favorite spices. The flavor building begins with searing them in a little olive oil. From there, the lamb shanks, along with baby potatoes and carrots, undergo a leisurely braise in a sauce of dry red wine and tomatoes, infused with cinnamon, thyme and rosemary.
I used my large Dutch oven, but you can make these in a slow-cooker as well (see slow-cooker instructions in the recipe notes).
What to serve with braised lamb shanks
There is very little needed to complete the feast. I like to serve the lamb shanks in bowls with a little Lebanese rice or plain orzo. Ladle some of those baby potatoes and braising sauce on top. Heaven!
Watch how to make these braised Lamb shanks:
For Spice Mix
- 2 1/4 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp sweet Spanish paprika
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 3/4 tsp ground nutmeg
- 6 American Lamb Shanks
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 medium yellow onion, roughly chopped
- 2 celery ribs, chopped
- 3 large carrots, peeled and cut into large pieces
- 1 lb baby potatoes, scrubbed
- 2 cups dry red wine (don’t use expensive wine here)
- 3 cups low-sodium beef broth
- 28-oz can peeled tomatoes
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 4 springs fresh thyme
- 2 springs fresh rosemary
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- In a small bowl, add all the spice mix ingredients and mix to combine.
- Pat the lamb shanks dry and season with the spice mix on all sides.
- In a large Dutch oven pot like this one, heat 2 tbsp olive oil over medium-high heat. Working in batches, brown the lamb shanks on all sides (about 8 mins or so). Transfer the lamb shanks to a large tray or bowl for now. Carefully dispose of extra fat in a separate heat-safe bowl, and return the pot to heat.
- Now add the onions, celery, carrots and potatoes. Saute for 5-7 minutes on medium-high, or until the vegetables gain some color. Add red wine, scrape the pot of brown bits. Cook briefly so that the wine reduces a bit.
- Add the broth, tomatoes, cinnamon sticks, thyme, and rosemary. Sprinkle a little salt and pepper. Return lamb shanks back to the pot; press down to submerge. Boil for 10 minutes. Turn heat off.
- Cover the pot and transfer to the 350 degrees F-heated oven. Cook in the oven for 2 1/2 hours (It’s a good idea to check periodically through cooking just in case you need to add a little more liquid. When the shanks finish cooking, the liquid will have reduced to about 1/3 of what it was when you started.)
- While the lamb shanks are cooking, prepare rice according to this recipe, or prepare 2-3 cups of orzo pasta according to package instructions.
- Serve the lamb shanks hot with a little of the veggies and braising sauce on top of rice or orzo pasta. You might also like to prepare a side salad like this 3-ingredient Mediterranean salad or Fattoush. Enjoy!
Prepare Ahead Instructions
- These braised lamb shanks can be prepared 1 day ahead. Once cooked, let the lamb cool. Store the lamb shanks separate from the vegetables and braising liquid. Cover in a tight lid container and keep chilled in the fridge.
- Bring to room temperature before heating. Place the lamb shanks in an oven-safe dish with 1/2 cup broth or water. Cover and heat in a 350 degree F heated-oven. Meanwhile, place the vegetables and braising liquid in a pot, add a little broth or water. Cover and warm over medium heat.
- When ready to serve, you can transfer the lamb shanks to a platter and spoon the vegetables and liquid on top.
Slow Cooker Instructions
- If you prefer to employ your slow cooker for this lamb shank recipe, use 1 less cup of wine. Follow the recipe until you boil everything together stove-top. Instead of transferring the pot to the oven, carefully transfer everything to the insert of your largest slow cooker. Set the slow cooker on low for 8 hours.
- Calories: 0
- Sugar: 0 g
- Sodium: 0 mg
- Fat: 0 g
- Saturated Fat: 0 g
- Unsaturated Fat: 0 g
- Trans Fat: 0 g
- Carbohydrates: 0 g
- Fiber: 0 g
- Protein: 0 g
- Cholesterol: 0 mg
American Lamb is a flavorful, nutrient-rich food and an excellent source of Vitamin B12, niacin, zinc and selenium. See lamb nutrition facts. And here is more on how lamb is raised in the United States. Buy local and support local shepherds. Thank you!
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