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Lamb Shanks Braised with Tomato

March 29, 2011

In all my years of cooking, I had never prepared lamb shanks. That’s kind of surprising to me because I do love lamb. I have now added lamb shanks to my repertoire; yesterday I made Cooking Light’s version of Lamb Shanks Braised with Tomato and it was fantastic!

I researched many recipes before deciding on this one. I liked its simplicity. I felt confident that a slow braise would marry the flavors together beautifully, and I was right! Although the ingredients are very simple, the sauce was incredibly flavorful after the long braise. Smashed Yukon gold potatoes made a great accompaniment, but polenta or pasta would be equally good.

Most recipes call for four 12-ounce lamb shanks. The ones I got at QFC were huge! They were 1½ pounds each, so I bought two for 4 servings. Smaller ones may have made a nicer presentation, but the large ones worked just fine.

The recipe called for 2 (14-ounce) cans of diced tomatoes with basil, garlic, and oregano. I’m not a big fan of seasoned canned tomatoes, so I substituted a large (28-ounce) can of Italian plum tomatoes. I cut them up and added my own garlic, salt (they were unsalted), basil, and oregano.

You could easily cut the recipe for Lamb Shanks Braised with Tomato in half if you just want 2 servings, but this is one of those recipes that tastes even better heated up later. You might as well cook the whole thing and savor the leftovers!



Lamb Shanks Braised with Tomato

(Adapted from a December 2009 recipe from Cooking Light)


(print the recipe)


Serves 4


4 (12-ounce) (or two 1½ pound) lamb shanks

½ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon black pepper

4 garlic cloves, minced

¾ cup dry red wine

2 (14.5-ounce) cans diced tomatoes with basil, garlic, and oregano*

¼ cup chopped fresh parsley


*Or substitute for the seasoned tomatoes:

1 (28-ounce) can Italian plum tomatoes and their juice (cut into small pieces)

½ teaspoon dried basil

2 cloves garlic, pressed

½ teaspoon dried oregano

1 teaspoon salt, if the canned tomatoes are unsalted


These two lamb shanks are 1½ pounds each! That is huge, but to be fair I have to point out that this is a small baking sheet. 😉


1. Heat a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add a small amount of olive oil, just to cover the bottom of the pan.

2. Season the lamb with the ½ teaspoon of salt and ¼ teaspoon of pepper.

3. Put the lamb in the hot pot and brown on the first side for about 4 minutes.

4. Turn the lamb over and brown the second side for about 4 minutes.

5. Remove the lamb from the pan and add the minced garlic. Stir and sauté for about 15 seconds.

6. Add the wine, stirring to bring up any browned bits. Cook for about 2 minutes.


7. Stir in the tomatoes (along with the seasonings if you are using unseasoned tomatoes) and cook for about 2 minutes.

8. Return the lamb to the pan. Spoon some of the sauce over it. Cover and reduce the heat so it is simmering. (I had to turn the burner down to the lowest setting and it was still simmering pretty vigorously.) Simmer for 1 hour.

9. Turn the lamb over and spoon some sauce over it. Simmer for  1 – 1½ hours more until the meat is very tender.

10. Remove the meat to a plate and cover with foil.

11. Skim some of the fat off of the sauce. Bring the sauce to a boil and boil for about 10 minutes, until it is reduced a bit and thickened.

12. Return the lamb to the sauce and cook for 3 or 4 minutes until it is heated.

13. Stir in the parsley and serve.


38 Comments leave one →
  1. Laura permalink
    March 29, 2011 2:59 pm

    Those must have been the biggest lambs in existence!!

  2. March 29, 2011 5:33 pm

    Lamb shanks are wonderful when prepared by braising and then slow cooked. I have a recipe I love, but will have to try this one.

    • March 29, 2011 7:10 pm

      I can’t believe it took me this long to make lamb shanks! I’d love to see how you prepare yours, Gwen!

  3. March 29, 2011 6:56 pm

    Wow! That looks sooo amazing! Those pieces of lamb are huge!

    • March 29, 2011 7:11 pm

      They were really big, Cindy! I was a little concerned that they might be tough, but they were wonderful.

  4. March 29, 2011 9:19 pm

    I love lamb too, but I do wish that the shanks weren’t quite so expensive. This looks so good that I may try and convert it to a lamb casserole instead.

    • March 30, 2011 8:46 am

      I know what you mean, Felice. They do go on sale now and then at my local markets, but they are more expensive than a lot of the meats I regularly buy. I think your idea to convert the recipe into a lamb casserole is terrific! I’d love to see what you come up with.

  5. March 29, 2011 11:33 pm

    Oh my gosh… DROOL. I want!

  6. March 30, 2011 3:32 am

    I cannot resist braised lamb shanks when I see them on the menu. I get the feeling you will be making this lovely recipe again and again.

    • March 30, 2011 8:49 am

      You are so right, Hester! I’ll definitely make lamb shanks again. And I’ll be on the lookout for other interesting braising recipes for them. Because, as great as this recipe is, I can never leave well enough alone….I’m always on the lookout for new things to try! 😉

  7. March 30, 2011 4:57 pm

    fabulous looking dish wonderful

  8. March 30, 2011 5:09 pm

    I love lamb! I’ve only ever cooked ground lamb but this looks absolutely divine. I can’t wait to try it!

    • April 2, 2011 12:44 pm

      I like using ground lamb, too. I think you’ll like lamb shanks, Jenny!

  9. March 30, 2011 6:56 pm

    What a delicious dinner! This looks awesome. Ive been eying up some lamb and trying to figure out what I would do with it. Thanks for the inspiration 🙂

    • April 2, 2011 12:46 pm

      This recipe is so easy, and the finished lamb shanks are wonderful. I think you’ll like it, Kita!

  10. March 31, 2011 9:15 pm

    I have never had lamb shanks before…but my older sister loves lamb. I should make some in her honor. Thank you for sharing this recipe, my dear. Visiting the blogs that I’ve come to love this year brings me such comfort. Thank you for being such a sweet and uplifting presence. Have a great Friday.

    • April 2, 2011 12:48 pm

      Monet, I think you would find this a very comforting meal in honor of your sister!

  11. April 5, 2011 8:40 am

    What a gorgeous looking meal. I love lamb and am always on the lookout for new ways to prepare it. This is a great recipe. I hope you have a wonderful day. Blessings…Mary

  12. April 5, 2011 10:11 am

    lamb shanks are transformed into “buttah” when cooked like this! GREG

  13. April 6, 2011 10:35 am

    Hi Kath,

    So glad you found me. I love lamb shanks, haven’t had them in so long. I get so impatient waiting for them, so tend to go for the chops. I think I need to put some shanks on the rotation. Hope you are having a great week.

    • April 8, 2011 2:16 pm

      Lamb shanks do need a long braise, but they are so worth the wait. Thanks for your comment, Gina!

  14. April 6, 2011 10:40 am

    Oh my, this looks amazing!! What a great meal to look forward to… great job…. those shanks look perfect!

  15. gingerbreadbagels permalink
    April 7, 2011 7:47 am

    Wow what an amazing meal! I don’t eat lamb but if I did, I’d want you to cook them for me! 🙂

  16. April 7, 2011 3:43 pm

    my mom loves lamb and with every visit I say I am going to make it for her..and I still have not..bookmarking this for her next visit!!


    • April 8, 2011 2:20 pm

      Your mom will love this recipe, if she likes lamb. It is melt-in-your-mouth good!

  17. April 9, 2011 8:43 pm

    I love lamb too and I’ve also never prepared shanks. Thank you for the inspiration. These look divine! xo

    • April 10, 2011 4:35 pm

      Thanks, Robin! I noticed that QFC is featuring lamb shanks right now. I may have to make this again sooner rather than later! 😉

  18. April 28, 2011 2:43 pm

    That looks unbelievably delicious! Thanks so much for sharing, will definitely try this recipe for a dinner party, I won’t be able to stop thinking about it tho, I can smell it already, yum! Now following your great blog =]

    • April 28, 2011 5:26 pm

      This is such a perfect dish for a dinner party, Ky! Thanks so much for your comment, and for following my blog! 🙂

  19. November 2, 2011 2:32 am

    Hi! I’m trying this recipe for 10 ppl this weekend. My question is do you think I could brown the lamb shanks, make the sauce and then put everything in a baking sheet and finish it all in the owen? Or maybe I should just borrow another pot? Kindest regards //Lisa

    • November 2, 2011 6:06 am

      Hi Lisa,

      You can definitely do it in the oven, but I think you want something deeper than a baking sheet. Ideally, the sides of the pan will be taller than the lamb shanks. If you have a roasting pan, you could use that. You want the oven set at a low enough temperature so the sauce isn’t boiling too vigorously – probably 275˚ – 325˚. Put the lamb shanks in the roasting pan and cover the pan tightly with foil. Put the pan on a rack in the lower third of the oven. Check after 30 minutes to make sure that the sauce is just at a simmer, and adjust the oven temperature, if necessary. The braising time will be the same, 2 – 2½ hours. Just as on the stove top, turn the lamb shanks over after the first hour and spoon the sauce over them.

      I’d love to hear how it turns out for you. It would be a wonderful dish to serve for a fall party!

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