This slow cooked lamb shanks braised in red wine recipe is comfort food at its finest!
A genuine one-pot wonder, this recipe makes for the perfect Sunday lunch. So, follow the recipe below, take my tips on board, whip up mash and some greens, and enjoy one of the most satisfying slow-cooked meals you’ll ever have!
Why you’ll love this braised lamb shanks recipe
- The flavours of the lamb meat and rich red wine sauce are delicious.
- Slow-cooking shanks give you melt-in-the-mouth fall-off-the-bone lamb.
- Sauce lovers will be in heaven! This sauce is out of this world.
- Everything is cooked in one pot, making everything so much easier.
- This recipe is perfectly suited to leftovers. It tastes even better the next day!
How to make lamb shank braised in red wine sauce
The key to browning lamb shanks, or meat in general, is to give them plenty of space in the pan. Crowding the pan when cooking lamb shanks on a high heat means there’s nowhere for the vapour to evaporate, which means you won’t achieve the Maillard reaction – the excellent browning process that brings a lot of flavour.
What to serve with this lamb shank recipe
Serve lamb shanks with delicious creamy mashed potatoes for the perfect pairing. Try my extra special roasted garlic mashed potatoes or make my French-style Mousseline potatoes if you prefer something decadent and creamy.
You can go right with simple steamed rice. Add a healthy twist with my sweet potato rice recipe.
Polenta is an excellent alternative to the likes of mash potatoes and rice.
Rich lamb stew needs a dry red wine with enough acidity to cut through the meat’s richness. Something like an Italian Chianti would be perfect.
Other great wines with lamb shanks include Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, and Malbec.
Variations to this recipe
Add the secret flavour maker
Another way to bring a little magic to any lamb stew is to add a single anchovy into the pot after you’ve fried the onions and garlic and added the wine. It might sound strange, but trust me. It’s amazing!
Change the method
This recipe calls for cooking in the oven at a low temperature. However, you can also use a slow cooker. If you decide to use a slow cooker, don’t overfill it. Fill the slow cooker halfway to 2/3 full.
Popular substitutions for this recipe
- Replace the fresh thyme with fresh rosemary if you prefer. Or you could use both or even other fresh herbs like fresh parsley.
- You can replace vegetable oil with olive oil
- You can swap tomato paste for the tomato puree. Use three tablespoons of tomato paste for the 125ml (1/2 cup) of tomato puree.
- For those who enjoy onions, you can substitute the onion with 8 whole, peeled shallots. After cooking, remove them along with the lamb, skip the sauce blending step (step 9), and proceed directly to thicken the sauce with the cornflour (step 11).
- You can use a blend of beef and vegetable broth (stock) for this recipe or even chicken broth.
- After braising the lamb shanks, you might find that the lamb shanks will leave a crispiness on the bottom of the saucepan. This is flavor heaven… don’t waste it!
- Scrape down the sides with a firm spatula – deglaze the pan with a bit of water or balsamic vinegar if you have to. Then, use this incredible cooking liquid to add flavor as you fry the onions.
- Pat lamb shanks dry before adding them to the pan.
- Season lamb shanks before adding them to the pan.
What is braising?
Braising combines two cooking methods – cooking high and hot, and cooking low and slow, to get the best-tasting, perfectly tender meat.
The idea of braising lamb is to cook it high to get the browned ‘Maillard reaction‘. This ensures you get those luscious roasty, barbecued flavours. Once you sear the lamb, you then slow cook it in liquid to maintain its succulence.
What cut of lamb is a shank?
Lamb shanks come from the bottom section of the upper leg bone. I’ve tried cooking them in various ways, but for me, they’re most definitely at their best when they’re slow-cooked.
That’s because when shanks are cooked low and slow, they are simply sensational. The meat literally falls off the bone!
The bones themselves have a big part to play in the flavour and texture of the sauce. The shank helps to create a vibrant sauce with a silky smoothness.
What wine is good for braised lamb shanks?
A full-bodied, dry red wine is the best wine to use when braising lamb shanks. A Merlot, Pinot Noir or Cabernet Sauvignon would be perfect.
You don’t need to break the bank! Great wine is for drinking, not for cooking. On the other hand, it should be good enough. Only cook with it if it’s decent enough to drink.
How do you thicken braised lamb sauce?
This recipe calls for using cornstarch to thicken the sauce. Mix a bit of cornstarch with braising liquid until a paste is formed, then stir the paste into the dish to make a thickened red wine sauce.
What’s the best vessel for braising lamb shanks?
I recommend using a Dutch oven. They are expensive but think of them as an investment.
A good Dutch oven is heavy-duty and hard-wearing – treat it well, and will last decades! You’ll use it a lot, too – it’s perfect for everything from stews to curries.
You can use them for intense high-heat cooking on the hob and even pop them in the oven without any bother. Honestly, I don’t know what I’d do without mine!
How do you store braised lamb shanks leftovers?
Allow any leftovers to cool completely. Then, transfer everything into an airtight container and place the container in the fridge.
Lamb shank leftovers should last 3-4 days. On the second day, it’ll taste even better!
Can you freeze braised lamb shanks?
Yes, you can. Freezing braised lamb shanks will mean you’ll lose some taste and texture, so only freeze this recipe as a last resort.
Allow the dish to cool thoroughly, then place the leftovers in a freezer-safe airtight container. Freeze lamb shanks for up to 3 months.
When defrosting, place the container in the fridge overnight.
How do you reheat lamb shanks?
The best way to reheat braised lamb shanks is in your Dutch oven. Reheat on a medium heat on the hob, while stirring occasionally until piping hot.
More luscious lamb recipes
Can’t get enough delicious lamb? Not to worry… I have a long list of incredible lamb recipes for you:
- BBQ pulled lamb – another slow-cooked lamb recipe, this time in the form of a burger. Pulled pork might be all the rage, but this recipe takes things to a new level!
- Lamb leg steak – fast cooking doesn’t get better than this! Cook up these sensational steaks in less than 20 minutes for a quick and easy Sunday lunch.
- Indian leg of lamb – if you’ve never had Indian leg of lamb, you’re in for a treat. It’s a spicy, slow-cooked masterpiece!
- Lamb massaman curry – a heavenly Thai curry that’s hearty and intensely flavored yet mildly spiced with cumin, bay leaves, star anise, and nutmeg.
- Lamb shish kebab – Here’s your proof for those who doubt you can have a healthy kebab. The perfect demonstration of healthy fast food with big flavors. Best of all, it’s swift to prepare.
- Slow cooker lamb shanks – this lamb steaks recipe is the ultimate Sunday lunch comfort food!
- Smoked leg of lamb – just one mouthful of this amazing recipe will be enough to have you hooked. When it comes to taste, smoked meat is in a different league, and this is the perfect smoked lamb recipe for smoking newbies and experts alike.
- Lamb noisettes with rosemary sauce – when it comes to flavor pairings, few things go together like lamb and rosemary. Lamb noisettes are similar to lamb steaks, and this simple recipe is beautiful, elegant, full of flavor, and very easy to make.
- Lamb sandwich with avocado and jam – if you have lamb leftovers, this is the recipe!
- Lamb jalfrezi – traditional curry recipes like lamb jalfrezi are the perfect way to use up leftover lamb
- Lamb pasanda – creamy and delicious, this curry can be made with leftover lamb
- 7 hour slow-roast shoulder of lamb – a slow-cooked masterpiece that’ll linger long in the memory
- Lamb dopiaza – a hearty stew-like curry that’s super comforting, the lamb is simmered in until tender
- Honey glazed rack of lamb – you’ll be surprised how something so simple can taste so good!
- Lamb shish kebab – can you believe that you can make a healthy kebab? Here’s the proof. The whole family will love these quick and easy, delicious kebabs
- Lamb Massaman Curry – Have you ever made a Massaman Curry? If not, this succulent Thai curry will soon become your firm favourite!
- Lamb tacos – These amazing Mexican lamb tacos are off-the-charts tasty! Tender, smoky, spicy, slow-cooked lamb that melts in your mouth, served in a warm tortilla and finished with your favorite toppings.