Love lamb but never sure how to cook it? These melt in the mouth braised Lamb Shanks with Balsamic Vinegar are the perfect dish to try. So simple to make yet so delicious, the best thing about this slow cooked recipe is that the oven does all the hard work.
These fork tender braised Lamb Shanks are seared and then cooked low and slow with veggies, wine and balsamic vinegar. You'll find the end result has a yummy sweet and sour vibe.
They're so impressive to serve - yet definitely easy enough for a relaxing Sunday afternoon. If you'd like spicy lamb shanks, simply add some chili at the end for heat.
Lovely served with mashed potato, rice or polenta, this is slow cooked lamb at its best.
Why You Should Try Slow Cooked Lamb Shanks
- The tart sweet sour umami flavoring of this sauce is addictive.
- Braising might sound intimidating but it’s a super simple way of cooking which gets your oven doing all the work on a low setting.
- Slow cooking is a great way to tenderize lamb shank so it becomes fork tender.
- This dish fills your house with an absolutely unbeatable smell of comfort food.
I’ve tried a lot of braised lamb shank recipes over the years but for some reason I find I’m often disappointed with them. The sauce is too acidic (canned tomatoes anyone?) Or thin. And I end up feeling like I’ve wasted a fantastic cut of meat with a humdrum sauce.
Not so with these balsamic braised lamb shanks. The vinegary sauce flavored with veggies and garlic reduces down beautifully and provides a perfect foil to the rich lamb.
This is also the perfect recipe if you're looking for a lamb shank recipe without tomatoes.
What is a Lamb Shank?
Lamb shank or shank of lamb is the lower part of the leg of lamb. It is traditionally a tough and therefore economical, but very flavourful, part of the animal. It becomes beautifully tender if cooked low and slow.
What Does it Mean to "Braise Meat"?
Braising is cooking less tender and usually cheaper cuts of meat for a long time on a low heat in the oven in a liquid sauce to tenderize and flavor them.
What is the Difference Between Braising and Roasting?
Roasting is done at a higher heat in the oven, more quickly and usually for less time, with no liquid.
Can You Overcook Lamb Shanks?
It is very hard to overcook a lamb shank in a low oven but you should avoid a high temperature since this will make the meat go tough.
What you will need to make Balsamic Lamb Shanks
Chopped Onions, Carrots and Celery
Otherwise known in the proper French Chef’s language as mirepoix - these vegetables form the base flavor of the sauce.
Lots of us keep balsamic vinegar in the house for drizzling on salads but it’s also great to use in cooking. It adds a nice acidity and sweet and sour kick to vegetables and helps balance out the richness of meats.
Flour helps the sauce to thicken as it cooks. It’s fine to use gluten free flour in savory sauces - I usually do.
White Wine and Stock
These provide the liquid which tenderize and flavor the meat.
Tips for Making the Best Easy Braised Lamb
- Be sure to season and sear the meat well over a medium high heat as a first step! This gives the lamb a good flavor from the start.
It’s easiest if you use tongs and make sure you turn the meat so all the surfaces are browned. Don't over crowd the pan when searing. Do it in batches if you need to, otherwise the meat will steam rather than sear.
- This is a great dish to make in advance if you are entertaining. It actually tastes better the day after it’s cooked as the flavors have more time to come together.
- If the sauce looks too thick add some more stock.
If it is too thin at the end of cooking, remove the lamb shanks and keep them warm. Place the pan back on the stove and reduce the sauce down a little by boiling and stirring it until you have the consistency you like. Then add the meat back to the pot.
How To Serve Lamb Shank Stew
- Anything rich and comforting is a great match. We love mashed potatoes, buttery pureed cauliflower or creamy polenta.
- For something a bit lighter, steamed brown rice also works well. I also like a nice green salad with a simple lemon and olive oil dressing.
Can You Reheat Braised Lamb Shanks?
Yes, and as with many slow cooked recipes, the flavor will actually be better the next day. Transfer to a clean lidded container and be mindful of when you first cooked the meat. It will keep for up to 3 days in the fridge.
To re-heat, place back on the stove and slowly bring to a simmer, stirring. Cover and simmer until the lamb is completely heated through. Made sure you don’t boil the lamb too hard as this could make it tough.
Can you Freeze Easy Braised Lamb?
Yes - and again they will taste better when the flavors have been given a longer chance to come together.
Make sure you defrost the lamb thoroughly overnight in the fridge before re-heating thoroughly.
To re-heat, place back on the stove and slowly bring to a simmer, stirring. Cover and simmer until the lamb is completely heated through.
Can you Braise Lamb Shanks in the Crock Pot?
Absolutely, use the auto setting if you have one otherwise you can transfer everything into the crockpot after searing on the stove.
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More Easy Recipe Ideas
Braised Lamb Shanks with Balsamic
- 4 Lamb Shanks
- 1 tbsp Olive Oil
- Sea Salt and Black Pepper - to taste
- 2 tbsp All-Purpose Flour (Plain Flour) - gluten free if required
- 1 Onion - chopped
- 2 Carrots - peeled and chopped
- 2 ribs Celery - chopped
- 2 cloves Garlic - peeled and crushed
- ½ cup Balsamic Vinegar
- 1 cup White Wine
- 2 cups Chicken Stock - gluten free if required
- 1 tablespoon Chopped Parsley - Optional - for garnish
- 1 Red Chili, thinly sliced - Optional - for garnish
- Preheat oven to 300ºF/150ºC
- Season the lamb well with salt and pepper.
- In a Dutch Oven or heavy bottomed saucepan with a lid, brown the lamb shanks in one tablespoon olive oil on a medium high heat. Turn occasionally until they're golden, for around 10-15 minutes.
- Remove the shanks to a plate and sprinkle them with the flour.
- In the same heavy based pan, cook the onions, carrots, celery and garlic over a low heat until soft - around 10 minutes.
- Stir in the garlic.
- Add the balsamic vinegar and wine to the pan, bring to the boil and reduce down until the liquid thickens somewhat, around 5 minutes.
- Add the chicken stock, bring to the boil and carefully lay the lamb shanks back into the sauce.
- Cover with a lid, transfer to the oven and cook for 2 to 2½ hours or until the lamb easily pulls apart with a fork.
- Serve with a garnish of scattered parsley and/or sliced chili, if desired.
I cooked the Lamb Shanks and I have to say Jo’s recipe works a treat. Tender & incredibly tasty lamb dinner. A joy to find recipes that really work. Thank you Jo