top of page


Slow Cooked Lamb Shanks with Red Wine Sauce

A classic way to prepare shanks, these are slow cooked in a deeply flavoured red wine sauce until they are meltingly tender. You can't taste the red wine at the end, it completely transforms into a rich sauce. The sauce is glossy and full of rich flavour, very high-end restaurant worthy!.

KristaSheep lamb fan contributor of this recipe: Shalisa W. "Here is an amazing Lamb Shanks recipe – it had Steve and I wishing lambs had more"


  • 4 lamb shanks , around 350 – 400g / 12 – 14oz each (Note 1)

  • 1/2 tsp cooking / kosher salt

  • 1 tsp black pepper

  • 3 tbsp olive oil , separated

  • 3 garlic cloves , finely minced

  • 2 tbsp tomato paste

  • 4 cups (1 litre) beef stock/broth, low sodium (or low-sodium chicken stock or water, Note 2)

  • 1 cup water

Red Wine Marinade

  • 1 small onion , finely diced (brown, yellow or white)

  • 1 small carrot , finely diced (Note 3)

  • 1 celery stem , finely diced (Note 3)

  • 3 cups (750 ml) pinot noir red wine , or other dry red wine (good value wine, not expensive! Note 4)

  • 5 sprigs of thyme (preferably tied together), or 2 tsp dried thyme

  • 2 bay leaves , fresh (sub dried)

Sauce Thickener

  • 6 tsp cornflour / cornstarch

  • ▢2 tbsp water

  • ▢30 g / 2 tbsp cold unsalted butter , cut into 1cm / 1/2" cubes

To Serve


  1. Marinate 24 hrs – Place the lamb shanks in a bowl or container with the Red Wine Marinade ingredients. Arrange the shanks as best you can so the meaty is submerged in the wine. Cover the bowl then marinate in the fridge for 24 hours.

  2. Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F (160°C fan).

  3. Reduce wine – Strain the red wine into a large saucepan (leave the shanks, veg & herbs in colander). Bring to a rapid simmer over medium-high then reduce simmer for 15 minutes until reduced by half. Scoop off and discard any scum that rises to the surface.

  4. Sear shanks – Pat shanks dry with paper towels. Then sprinkle with the salt and pepper. Heat 2 tablespoons oil over high heat in a large heavy based pot. Sear the shanks 2 at a time until browned all over – about 5 minutes. Remove onto a plate and repeat.

  5. Sauté aromatics – Drain and scared excess fat from the pot. Reduce stove to medium low. Heat remaining 1 tablespoon of oil. Add the wine-stained vegetables and herbs from the colander, plus the garlic. Cook for 5 minutes. Add tomato paste, then cook for 2 minutes.

  6. Braising liquid – Add the reduced red wine, stock and water then stir. Add lamb shanks into the liquid, arranging so the meaty ends are submerged as best you can. Don't worry if they're not fully submerged, they will shrink as they cook and end up under the liquid, plus exposed bits get steam-cooked anyway.

  7. Slow-cook – Turn stove up and bring the liquid to a simmer. Then cover and transfer to the oven for 2 Horus 20 minutes or until the meat is fork-tender and barely holding onto the bone. (See notes for other cook methods).

  8. Remove lamb shanks from the pot onto a plate. Loosely cover with foil to keep warm.

  9. Restaurant presentation (optional, Note 5, see demo in video) – Wrap the meat of the shanks tightly with cling wrap then push the meat tightly down the bone so it forms a neat shape. Then leave the shanks wrapped while you make the sauce – as the shanks cool slightly, they will hold their shape.

  10. Reduce sauce – Strain the sauce into a bowl but do not press the juices out of the vegetables (makes the sauce grainy). Pour the sauce back into the pot then simmer rapidly for 10 to 15 minutes over medium heat to reduce to 2 cups (500 ml) – keep an eye on it towards the end, it reduces fast!

  11. Thicken sauce – Mix the cornflour with the water then add to the sauce (if using homemade stock, start with half and add more as needed). Simmer for 2 minutes or until it becomes a thin syrupy consistency.

  12. Enrich with butter – Remove the pot from the stove. Add butter then whisk until it melts – the sauce will thicken more.

  13. Final season – Taste the sauce and add more salt if needed. If using store bought low-sodium stock, you shouldn't need anymore (remember, it's massively reduced down!). If using my homemade beef stock, you will need another 1/4 to 1/2 tsp salt.

  14. Serve – Place the lamb shanks on mashed potato or cauliflower puree then spoon over sauce! Garnish with parsley or thyme leaves if desired. (If shanks have cooled more than ideal, reheat covered in foil at 150°C/300°F (130°C fan)).

Recipe Notes :

  1. Lamb Shanks – sizes vary considerably so make sure you get ones that will fit in your cooking vessel! 4 x 400g/13oz lamb shanks fits snugly in a 26cm/11″ diameter Chasseur dutch oven which is what I use. They don’t need to be completely submerged, just as long as most of the meaty end is mostly submerged, that’s fine. If you don’t have a pot large enough, you can switch to a baking dish for the slow cooking part, and cover with a double layer of foil if you don’t have a lid for it. You can also ask your butcher to cut the shaft so it bends if you are concerned, or to trim it slightly. 

​​                Cook time – 350-400g shanks should cook to “fall apart tender” but still holding onto bone

                                in 2.5 hrs at 180°C/350°F. It can take up to 3 hrs, so to err on the side of caution

                               re: dinner timing, give yourself 3 hours oven time. Shanks are the sort of thing that can

                               sit around for ages and stay warm (keep covered in pot) and the flavour just gets even better.

                               In fact, if you are cooking to impress, cook it the day before then reheat to serve –

                               flavour will develop overnight, like with any stew!

  1. Stock – IMPORTANT: Make sure you use LOW SODIUM else your sauce will be too salty because it reduces down so much to make an intense flavoured jus.Beef broth/stock gives the sauce a richer, deeper flavour (ultimate is homemade). Chicken stock is a good substitute! Homemade here. 

  2. Onion, carrot and celery is the “holy trinity” of slow cooking, creating a beautiful flavour base for the sauce. It’s not a deal breaker to exclude the carrot and celery, but it does give the sauce an extra edge.

  3. Wine – Use a good value wine. Pinot noir is a classic choice for slow cooked red wine dishes like this, though any dry red wine will work really well (cabaret sauvignon, merlot, shiraz). No need to use expensive wine for slow cooked recipes like this (and the New York Times agrees). Use discount end of bin specials (I get mine from Dan Murphey’s). 99% of the alcohol in the red wine evaporates during cooking. The sauce does not taste winey at all, it completely transforms.Non alcoholic sub: Non alcoholic red wine. Don’t use more stock, the sauce will be far too salty!Most of the alcohol in the red wine will evaporate during this step but not completely – it will finish evaporating during the slow cooking. The sauce does not taste winey at all, it completely transforms.

  4. Restaurant presentation – Slow cooked shanks are supposed to be literally “falling off the bone”. Albeit delicious looking to me, fine-dining restaurants don’t agree. They like to make the meat look neater and more compact. To do this, they wrap the meat tightly with cling wrap then push it down the bone (more clean bone exposure = more desirable). As the lamb cools slightly it holds the neat shape. But the meat is just as tender!

  5. Sauce options: The other option is to blitz the sauce using a sick blender. The sauce will be thicker, and you’ll have more of it (leftovers great tossed through pasta). This is what I used to do, but nowadays I prefer to strain the sauce because I like how glossy and rich it is – this is how restaurants serve it. You could also skip straining or blitzing, it just means you get little veg lumps in the sauce. All are tasty options, it mainly comes down to visual.

  6. TIP: If you strain the sauce, keep the veggies etc in the strainer to make a terrific sauce, they are loaded with flavour even though all juice is squeezed out of them. What I do is make a basic tomato sauce with garlic, onion, canned tomato and water. Then I blitz that with the veggies. Use it to make a killer pasta or lasagna!!

  7.  OTHER COOK OPTIONS:Slow cooker – Follow recipe to step 7. Bring sauce to simmer, scrape bottom of pot to get all brown bits into the liquid. Place shanks in slow cooker, add the sauce. Cook on low for 8 hours. Remove shanks, strain and reduce sauce to desired thickness on stove (if you blitz per Note 5, you won’t need to reduce).Pressure Cooker – Follow Slow Cooker steps, cook for 40 minutes on high. Release pressure according to manufacturer directions. Stove  – to cook this on the stove, cook for about 2 hours on low, ensuring that you check it at 1 hour then every 30 minutes thereafter to ensure there is enough braising liquid (because liquid evaporates faster on the stove) and the bottom of the pot isn’t catching. Turn the lamb shanks twice. You won’t get the brown crust, but the flavour is the same!

  8. Make ahead – Great on the day, even better the next day as the flavour has time to develop and mature! Reheat shanks covered in foil in a pan in a 150°C/300°F oven (130°C fan) for 30 minutes until the meat is fully warmed through. Reheat sauce gently on a low stove, using water to thin as necessary. Then serve.

  9.  Nutrition per serving. This is conservative – it doesn’t take into account fat trimmed from shanks or discarded fat. Also assumes all sauce is consumed which it probably won’t be.

brad channing august 13 2016cropped_edit
What is YOUR favourite Nova Scotia Lamb Meat... nurtured naturally, with care recipe?

Want to help others discover just how delicious lamb meat can be?

Send your favourite recipe in the form below or

post the message on Facebook: lambmeatnurturednaturally

and it will be added to the website for others to try. 

Success! Message received.

bottom of page