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How to cook lamb shanks

Learn how to slow cook lamb shanks with these simple tips! Find out how to get tender lamb shanks, if you can overcook them and find lots of easy recipes.

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How to cook lamb shanks

Lamb shanks are a fantastic, affordable cut that can be turned into a luxurious meal. The shank is from the leg of the lamb, so a long, low cook transforms the meat from tough and chewy to meltingly tender. This is great in cold weather, because you can warm the house and prepare a meal at the same time. Discover recipes with lamb shanks, and get answers to lots of frequently asked questions about cooking lamb shanks below.

Do you need to trim lamb shanks?

Shanks will usually be ready to cook right away, but you can trim off excess fat and the silverskin (a thin, shiny membrane) for nicer presentation. You can also 'French' your shanks by slicing away the tendons and sinew at the smaller end of the shank, exposing the bone. This also makes for a nice looking dish, but isn't necessary.

Should lamb shanks be covered in liquid while slow cooking?

No, lamb shanks don’t have to be completely covered in liquid, but they also can't be dry roasted. In a slow cooker, the steam trapped inside from any added liquids will be enough to cook the shanks. If you’re cooking them in the oven, use a tight fitting lid or tightly wrap the cooking dish in foil to capture the steam and ensure they don't dry out.

Do you need to brown lamb shanks before cooking them?

No, this step isn't completely necessary, but it will add a richer colour and flavour to your finished dish.

What temperature should lamb shanks be cooked to?

Lamb should reach temperatures of at least 60°C, which is easy to achieve when slow cooking. A slow cooker set on low reaches about 95°C, so you can be sure it's cooked through.

Why are my lamb shanks tough?

If your shanks are tough, they may need to be cooked for longer. In a slow cooker, they need to be cooked for 6-8 hours on low and 4 hours on high. If you’re slow cooking them in an oven, the cooking time should be at least 2 hours but can take much longer depending on the size of your shanks.

Do lamb shanks get more tender the longer you cook them?

As long as they don't get dried out, lamb shanks will become more tender if cooked for longer. The most popular way to cook them is up to when the meat is falling apart, but still holding onto the bone. However, you can cook shanks until the meat completely falls off the bone. Check your lamb shanks every half hour after the recommended cooking time until it reaches your desired tenderness.

Can you overcook lamb shanks in a slow cooker?

It’s difficult to overcook shanks, especially in a slow cooker. However, if you leave them in the cooker for many more hours than the recipe suggests, they may completely fall apart, and the meat can eventually turn stringy and dry. It can still be eaten, however it won't be as succulent and delicious.

Lamb shank recipes

Ready to get slow-cooking? Check out the lamb shank recipe ideas below for all the inspo you need! If you're interested in more slow cooked recipes, check out these Slow-cooked recipes for beginners, or get more Slow Cooker Tips!

Get the recipe: Sri Lankan Lamb Shank Curry

This slow-cooked lamb shank recipe can be made in the slow cooker or in the oven. Click to get the recipe and both methods.

Slow-roasted Lamb Shanks with Tomatoes

Greek Style Lamb Shanks

Mushroom and Lamb Shank Pot Pies

One Pot Lamb Shanks with Button Mushrooms

Lamb Shanks, Pomegranate, Dukkah

Sri Lankan Lamb Shank Curry