Lamb Shanks Explained
Cooking,  Lamb

Lamb Shanks – A Guide to This Delicious Cut of Meat

Lamb shanks have become a popular cut of meat, and are often seen on menus in even the fanciest of restaurants.

They are the perfect size for a hearty meal, and the depth of flavor of the meat, combined with some delicious ingredients, make this a very versatile meal option.

For those of you who may have seen them on a menu, or in a grocery store, but were not sure what they are or how to cook them, this article is for you as we explain all you need to know about lamb shanks.

What Are Lamb Shanks?

Lamb shanks are a cut of meat from the lower section of the lamb’s legs. They have a distinctive cone-like shape with a meaty center surrounded by a bone. Due to the tough muscle fibres within the meat, they are often braised, stewed or slow roasted until tender, thus providing a rich and hearty dish.

Lamb shanks are a delicious flavorful cut of meat that is often used in slow-cooking recipes. They are a popular cut of meat in many cuisines around the world, including Mediterranean, Middle Eastern and Indian cuisine.

Some meat producers will sell the forearm portion of the shoulder of lamb as a ‘lamb shank‘. These are much smaller than the shanks from the leg, however can be cooked the same way.

Are Lamb Shanks A Tough Cut of Meat?

The level of tenderness can also depend on several factors, such as the age of the lamb, the cooking method used, and the amount of connective tissue present in the shanks. If lamb shanks are not cooked long enough, they can be tough and chewy.

As mentioned earlier, the shank comes from the leg of the animal and is therefore a tough and well used muscle. This means the meat will have a lot of tough muscle fibres running through it that will need to be broken down during cooking.

When cooked properly, lamb shanks can become very tender and juicy due to the slow-cooking process which helps to break down the tough connective tissues in the meat.

Braising or slow-cooking lamb shanks in liquid is a popular method to make them tender and flavorful. When cooked this way, the meat becomes fall-off-the-bone tender, making it easy to eat and enjoy.

Are Lamb Shanks an Expensive Cut of Meat?

The cost of lamb shanks can vary depending on a number of factors, but they are generally considered to be a higher-priced cut of meat. Their popularity as a staple menu item in the restaurant trade has also increased their appeal and help to push up the price.

Generally speaking, lamb shanks are considered to be a premium cut of meat due to their tenderness and rich flavor, and as a result, they may be more expensive than other cuts of lamb or meat.

The cost of lamb shanks can also depend on the demand and supply in the market, but the price can vary depending on a number of factors, such as the region, season, and availability.

Rearing factors will also have an effect on the price of the meat, for instance, lamb shanks from grass-fed lambs that are free-range and raised in a sustainable manner will be more expensive than those from conventionally raised lambs.

How Many Lamb Shanks Per Adult Serving?

The average lamb shanks are typically around 1 to 1.5 pounds (450 to 680 grams) each, with the bone included. This means that 1 lamb shank would make a hearty serving for a main meal.

If the lamb shanks are being served as part of a larger meal, with several side dishes, then you may be able to get away with serving fewer lamb shanks per person, however you would need to remove the meat from the bone to be able to divide it out.

If you still wish to serve the lamb shank on the bone but know that you don’t require a full shank per serving, have you butcher cut through the bone for you so that you can easily divide them into 2 portions after cooking.

One Lamb Shank Makes A Hearty Generous Serving

Complimentary Side Dishes

Lamb shanks can be served with a variety of side dishes that complement their rich, savory flavor. Here are some ideas for side dishes that pair well with lamb shanks:

  • Roasted vegetables: Roasting vegetables like carrots, parsnips, and potatoes can add a sweet and earthy flavor that complements the richness of lamb shanks.
  • Grilled asparagus: Grilled asparagus can add a slightly smoky flavor to your meal, which pairs well with the rich flavor of lamb shanks.
  • Creamy polenta: Creamy polenta can provide a smooth and creamy texture that balances out the richness of the lamb shanks.
  • Couscous: Couscous is a light and fluffy grain that can help to soak up the rich juices of the lamb shanks.
  • Ratatouille: This French vegetable stew is a flavorful and hearty side dish that can add some freshness to your meal.
  • Roasted root vegetables: Roasted root vegetables like beets, turnips, and rutabagas can provide a slightly sweet and earthy flavor that complements the rich flavor of the lamb shanks.
  • Creamed spinach: Creamed spinach is a classic side dish that can add some creaminess and a slightly bitter flavor that balances out the richness of the lamb shanks.
  • Mashed potatoes: Mashed potatoes are a classic side dish that can add a comforting and familiar flavor to your meal.
  • Green salad: A simple green salad can provide some freshness and crunch to your meal.
  • Braised red cabbage: Braised red cabbage is a slightly sweet and tangy side dish that can add some acidity to your meal, which can balance out the richness of the lamb shanks.

Easy Lamb Shanks Recipe

Here is a simple and delicious recipe for braised lamb shanks:


  • 4 lamb shanks (1 to 1.5 pounds each)
  • Salt and black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 1 cup beef or chicken broth
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 bay leaves


  1. Preheat the oven to 325°F (160°C).
  2. Season the lamb shanks with salt and black pepper on all sides.
  3. Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy Dutch oven or oven-safe pot over medium-high heat.
  4. Add the lamb shanks and brown them on all sides, about 10 minutes total. Transfer the shanks to a plate and set aside.
  5. Add the onion, garlic, carrots, and celery to the pot and cook until they begin to soften, about 5 minutes.
  6. Add the broth, wine, diced tomatoes (with juice), rosemary, thyme, and bay leaves. Bring to a boil and stir to combine.
  7. Return the lamb shanks to the pot, submerging them in the liquid. Cover the pot with a lid and transfer to the oven.
  8. Cook for 2 to 2 1/2 hours, or until the lamb is tender and falling off the bone.
  9. Remove the pot from the oven and use a slotted spoon to transfer the lamb shanks to a plate. Discard the bay leaves, rosemary, and thyme sprigs.
  10. Use a stick blender or transfer the cooking liquid to a blender to puree it until smooth. If the sauce is too thin, return it to the pot and simmer it over medium heat until it has thickened to your desired consistency.
  11. Serve the lamb shanks with the sauce and your favorite sides, such as mashed potatoes or roasted vegetables.


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