These Slow Cooker Lamb Shanks are braised in a rich red wine sauce until succulent and amazingly meltingly tender! This is such an easy lamb shank recipe that produces drool-worthy results.
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Lamb shanks are rarely cooked in a home setting, but can be found on most high-end restaurant menus.
Since going to restaurants is out of the question at the moment, why not make restaurant-worthy lamb shanks with rich red wine sauce at home?
I promise you it is super easy, almost a “dump it all in recipe”! Your slow cooker does most of the hard work and you step in right at the end to do the chefy bit of making the sauce 😉
The meat on the lamb shanks is so tender it falls off the bone. Serve over mashed potatoes and prepare to impress! This is a great Easter dish if you are serving fewer people this year.
What are lamb shanks?
Lamb shanks are cut from the lower end of the lamb’s legs. These bone-in cuts of lamb are rather tough so they must be cooked low and slow – basically they are tailor made for the slow cooker!
Foreshanks, also known as forequarter shanks, from the front legs are fairly small. One will shank will serve one person (generously) so allow one per serving. Check out my Spicy Braised Lamb Shank recipe.
Lamb hind shanks from the back legs of the animal are larger, meatier and can serve several people. My lamb shank was over a kilo (2 pounds) and served four with ease!
You can easily order good quality lamb online these days – I got my shank from Meatinthebox. Better yet support your local butcher if you are lucky enough to have one nearby.
Slow Cooker Lamb Shanks
Not so long ago, lamb shanks were a very overlooked cut of meat. Then restaurateurs and popular chefs such as James Martin, Gordon Ramsay and Jamie Oliver stepped in and suddenly lamb shanks became trendy!
Red wine sauce is a classic pairing for lamb and it does make for a super rich and delicious gravy. I used a decent full bodied red wine in this recipe (bonus – plenty left to have a glass or two). If you would rather not use alcohol you can replace the wine with beef or lamb stock.
Red Wine Sauce
After all that slow cooking, your lamb should be fall-off-the-bone tender. It won’t look particularly appetising though – brush the lamb with jam or olive oil then simply bung it under the broiler (grill) for a few minutes to crisp up the skin.
And now for the sauce… OMG it is so yummy! Remove the bay leaf from the crockpot and use tongs to pick out the carrots. Use a stick blender (like this Breville immersion blender) to blitz everything then strain the liquid into a saucepan.
Simmer until the sauce is slightly reduced – you can also add a little cornflour slurry to thicken it up if needed. Make sure to give the sauce a taste and adjust the seasoning before serving.
Should I brown the lamb and vegetables?
Browning meat always brings tons of flavour to stews and casseroles, no question about that. The onions, celery and carrots are also usually cooked until softened – they are the base for the flavour for the sauce.
As an experiment (just kidding, I run out of time) I just added everything in my slow cooker and cooked the lamb overnight. And you know what? It was DELICIOUS. So I will leave the browning up to you – check the recipe notes.
What to serve with lamb shanks
Mashed potatoes or cauliflower mash are both fantastic choices, all the better to soak up that rich sauce! You can serve the carrots that are cooked with lamb on the side and add some steamed veggies for good measure.
It’s unlikely you will have any leftovers, but IF you do then use them in a Ragu sauce or add them to your Shepherd’s pie.
Traditional Shepherd’s Pie
Slow Cooker Beef Ragu
Easy Slow Cooker Lamb Shanks
For the sauce
- 1 large onion , finely diced
- 3 celery ribs , finely diced
- 15 baby carrots , whole or 3 large ones, diced
- 3 garlic cloves
- Sprig fresh rosemary
- 1 beef stock cube crumbled (Oxo)
- 2 tbsp redcurrant jam (optional)
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
- 2 bay leaves
- 480 ml (2 cups) red wine
For the lamb
- 1 large hind shank , 1kg (2+ pounds) or 4 foreshanks
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1 tsp black pepper (freshly ground)
- Olive oil to brown lamb and vegetables (see notes)
- 2 tbsp redcurrant jam or olive oil
- 1 tbsp cornflour diluted in cold water , to thicken sauce if needed
- Add all the ingredients listed under sauce in your slow cooker and stir together.
- Place the lamb shank (s) on top and season. Push down into the liquid if possible.
- Cover and cook on the low setting for up to 8 hours for smaller shanks and up to 12 or longer for a large shank, such as the one I cooked.
- Use a slotted spoon to gently remove the lamb from the cooker. Brush with jam or olive oil and place under a hot broiler (grill) for a couple of minutes per side to brown the skin. Rest the lamb, loosely covered, while you prepare the sauce.
- Discard the bay leaves and use tongs to pick out the carrots to serve with the meat. Use a stick blender to blitz the contents of your slow cooker. Strain this into a saucepan (discarding any solids).
- Simmer for 10-15 minutes or until slightly reduced, adding the cornflour slurry if needed to thicken the sauce. Season to taste.
- Serve the lamb over mashed potatoes with the carrots on the side and plenty of the rich sauce. Yummy!
- Season the lamb and brown on all sides in olive oil on a hot skillet / casserole then set aside.
- Add a splash of water or wine to deglaze the pan, scraping any browned sticky bits with the back of a spoon.
- Add more oil, reduce the heat and cook the onion, celery and carrots for 5-10 minutes, stirring, until slightly softened.
- Transfer the vegetables to the slow cooker, add all remaining ingredients, top with the lamb and cook as above.