Big bold flavors all cooked together in one pot, this braised lamb shanks recipe is an easy to make, hard to forget comfort food classic!
If you're looking to take Sunday lunch to a whole new level, this recipe is for you!
The tenderness of the lamb is incredible. The subtle sweetness of the figs brings a flavor you won't believe. Meanwhile, the red wine infused sauce delivers a depth of flavor that is truly out of this world.
Best of all, it's an absolutely cinch, from start to finish!
Why you'll love this lamb shank recipe
- It's all cooked in one big casserole pot – simple to make, easy to clean up afterwards
- There are so many incredible flavours that come together in spectacular fashion
- Slow cooked lamb shanks taste buttery, rich, tender and delicious
- Leftovers are easy to store and taste even better the next day!
Equipment needed to make this recipe
There is a key item you'll need before you make this recipe:
- Oven-proof casserole dish – go for a high quality cast iron casserole dish or Dutch oven. Something that can withstand a high heat on the hob, as well as in the oven. For me, it doesn't get much better than a La Creuset casserole dish. It will last a lifetime and you'll get excellent results every time.
How to make this braised lamb shanks recipe
Brown the lamb shanks on all sides. Set aside.
Fry the baby onions until softened and golden.
Add the garlic and aubergine chunks. Cook until slightly softened.
Add the figs, red wine, nutmeg, cinnamon and honey.
Top with stock until the contents are covered. Bring to a simmer.
Cook for 2 hours or until the meat is tender. Sprinkle with feta cheese and chopped parsley. Serve on a bed of couscous. Enjoy!
Give the lamb shanks plenty of room when browning them. If you crowd the pan when cooking lamb shanks on a high heat, you won't get the desired flavor that comes from browning meat.
What to serve with your braised lamb shanks recipe
What better to serve with a hearty slow cooked lamb stew than a side of delicious creamy mashed potatoes? Try my extra special roasted garlic mashed potatoes or, if you prefer something extra decadent and creamy, make my French-style Mousseline potatoes.
Another grain that goes great with lamb shanks, couscous is really easy to make. Add your favorite vegetables for wonderfully hearty Sunday lunch.
A delicious creamy side dish that is originally from Italy, polenta is an excellent alternative to the likes of mash potatoes, rice and couscous.
Rich lamb stew recipes pair very well with dry red wines with a good amount of acidity. This kind of wine helps to balance out the richness of the meat, as well as the subtle spices in the dish.
I recommend an Italian Chianti, which should be widely available in most supermarkets. Other fantastic red wines are Burlesque, which has plummy tones and hints of black pepper, and Petit Saó, which has floral, honey notes as well as fig undertones.
Other great wines to pair with lamb shanks include Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Malbec.
Popular substitutions for this recipe
Variations to this recipe
Omit the wine
I highly recommend using wine with this braised lamb shanks recipe – a red wine sauce adds a wonderful richness and depth of flavour. However, if you've rather leave the wine out, no problem! Just replace with stock (lamb or vegetable stock will do) or simply add extra water.
Make it thicker
If you prefer your sauce thicker, you can make a cornstarch slurry by taking 125ml (½ cup) of the cooking liquid and stirring 14g (2 tbsp) cornstarch into it. Place the pot over a low heat and stir while drizzling the slurry back into the sauce. It should thicken after a few minutes.
Leave out the spice
If you prefer your braised lamb stew without spice, simply leave out the nutmeg and cinnamon.
Add a secret flavour-maker
This lamb shank stew has got some incredible flavor. However, you can make it even richer by adding a secret ingredient or two.
When you return lamb shanks to the pot, add a dash of Worcestershire Sauce . If you kind find this classic British sauce, use a suitable alternative – I've got a list of best Worcestershire Sauce substitutes.
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. It might sound bizarre, but trust me. It just works!
Make it tomatoey
Add a tablespoon of tomato paste when you return the lamb shanks to the pot.
Make more or less
One of the beauties of this dish is that you can adapt the amount. Use two or three shanks instead of four, add extra shanks if you wish, or bulk out the stew with vegetables of your choice.
- After brasing 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 strong spatula – deglaze the pan with a little water or balsamic vinegar if you have to. Then use this incredible cooking liquid to add flavor as you fry the onions.
What are lamb shanks?
Shanks come from the bottom section of the upper leg bone and are one of the best cuts of meat when it comes to slow cooking.
When cooked low and slow, lamb shanks are sensational. The meat literally falls off the bone, while the gelatinous sinews of the shank help to create an incredible rich sauce.
What's the best way to cook lamb shanks?
Slow cooking lamb shanks in liquid delivers fantastic results. However, cooking them fast and hot on a high heat helps to develop and lock in that incredible flavor that comes from the Maillard reaction.
So, the answer? Combine the best of both worlds.
Braising lamb means to brown it first on a high heat, before returning it to the pot and slow cooking it, along with other ingredients. This way, you lock in the flavor, before cooking it delicately over a period of time, ensuring it stays moist and tender.
How do you thicken sauce in a casserole?
If you find your sauce is too thin, you can thicken it with a cornstarch slurry. Spoon out 125ml (½ cup) of the cooking liquid into a small bowl and stir in 14g (2 tbsp) of cornstarch until a paste is formed.
Place the pot over a low heat and stir in the cornstarch paste. After a few minutes, you should have a perfectly silky sauce.
What meat goes with figs?
Naturally sweet figs add a new dimension to gamey meats like quail, dark meat such as duck and salty, cured meats such as prosciutto and rich lamb cutlets.
How do you store leftovers?
Allow the braised lamb shanks to cool completely. Then transfer them to a suitable airtight container and put the container in the fridge.
Leftovers should last 3-4 days. In fact, on the second day, this dish will probably taste even better!
How do you freeze braised lamb shanks?
If you want to keep your lamb shanks leftovers for longer than four days, freezing is the way to go. You will lose some taste and texture though, so only freeze this recipe as a last resort.
Allow the dish to fully cool, before placing the leftovers in a freezer-safe airtight container. Freeze for up to 3 months. When defrosting, place the container in the fridge overnight.
How do you reheat braised lamb shanks?
The best way to reheat braised lamb shanks is in the same pot your cooked it in. Reheat on a medium heat while stirring occasionally until piping hot.
Can you make lamb shanks ahead of time?
Yes you can. Make it a day in advance, storing it in the fridge until you're ready to serve it. Then, heat by following the instructions above.
More luscious lamb recipes
Lamb is such an underrated meat! Get creative and cook up some of the following sensational lamb recipes:
- 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 whole 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 – for those who doubt you can have a healthy kebab, here’s your proof. The perfect demonstration of healthy fast food with big flavors. Best of all, it’s really quick 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 for you!
- 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, incredibly tasty kebabs
- Lamb massaman curry – Have you ever made a massaman curry? If not, this succulent Thai curry is soon to become a firm favourite of yours!
- Lamb Tacos – These amazing Mexican lamb tacos are off-the-charts tasty! Tender, smoky and spicy slow-cooked lamb that melts in your mouth, served up in a warm tortilla and finished with your favorite toppings.