In this easy recipe, flavorful, tender, fall-off-the-bone lamb shanks are cooked in the slow cooker with broth and aromatics until wonderfully tender.
I love serving them over buttery mashed cauliflower, and the leftovers are wonderful too!
I adore lamb. I realize that not everyone likes this bold-tasting meat, but I find it so intensely flavorful! The shanks are especially fun to eat. They're like huge drumsticks - I feel like a cavewoman when I eat them. 😀
So I make this recipe quite often. It's truly easy, and I always try to make extra, so that I have yummy leftovers. This is one of those dishes that keep very well in the fridge and also reheats well.
You'll only need a few simple ingredients to make slow-cooker lamb shanks. The exact measurements are included in the recipe card below. Here's an overview of what you'll need:
Beef broth: Store-bought is fine - just check the ingredients list to make sure it looks OK. Chicken stock is also fine.
Lamb shanks: About 3 lb. total weight. The ones I typically use are imported from Australia or New Zealand. Local lamb shanks are often bigger, and if yours are much bigger, you might need to increase the cooking time - try adding 30 minutes on HIGH or one hour on LOW.
To season: In addition to kosher salt and black pepper, I like to use garlic powder, cumin, and dried rosemary. You can experiment with other spices, such as smoked paprika or onion powder.
Lamb shanks should be cooked low and slow, or the meat will be tough. Scroll down to the recipe card for detailed instructions. Here are the basic steps:
First, you add a small amount of beef broth to your slow cooker.
Next, you season the shanks and place them in your slow cooker.
Cover and cook on HIGH for 4 hours. You can also cook on LOW for 7 hours.
When the shanks are done, strain the cooking liquids and simmer them, reducing them into a rich glaze.
It's time to eat! Transfer the shanks to plates, spoon the gravy on top, and serve.
This is a truly easy recipe. I would say that the only challenging part is making the gravy. It's important to skim the fat off the cooking liquids before attempting to reduce them. Otherwise, the oil can separate.
Cook the liquids patiently over medium heat just until thickened, then immediately turn the heat off. This can take as long as 15 minutes.
You can speed up the process by mixing a teaspoon of cornstarch with a tablespoon of cold water and stirring that into the cooking liquids.
Frequently asked questions
The shank is the cut of lamb taken from the lower part of its legs. As you can imagine, that part gets quite a bit of exercise, making it tough - unless it's slowly braised in a small amount of liquid.
Not necessarily. I've experimented with browning the shanks before putting them in the slow cooker, but I have found that the extra step is not worth the trouble. The dish is excellent with or without browning.
They should be cooked low and slow, and the ideal method for them is braising, not roasting. That's why the slow cooker is ideal. When cooked this way, their tough meat becomes wonderfully tender.
I love this recipe as is and almost always make it as written. But in case you'd like to vary the basic recipe, here are a few ideas for you:
- If you don't have beef broth, chicken broth is fine. You can also use water.
- Go ahead and experiment with the spices you use! Onion powder, smoked paprika, and oregano are all good candidates to use in this recipe.
I usually serve this dish on a bed of mashed cauliflower, as shown in the photo. The cauliflower mash works well to absorb the tasty gravy. Then I add a simple green vegetable. An easy one is microwave broccoli.
Leftovers keep well in the fridge, in an airtight container, for up to 4 days. Reheat them gently, covered, in the microwave on 50% power, turning midway through reheating.
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Slow Cooker Lamb Shanks
- ½ cup beef broth
- 4 small lamb shanks about 3 lb. total weight
- 1 teaspoon Diamond Crystal kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon ground cumin
- ½ teaspoon dried rosemary
- Add the broth to your slow cooker.
- Season the lamb shanks with salt, pepper, garlic powder, cumin, and rosemary. Place the shanks in your slow cooker.
- Cover and cook on HIGH for 4 hours or on LOW for 7 hours, until the lamb is very tender.
- When the lamb shanks finish cooking, set the slow cooker to WARM.
- Transfer the cooked lamb shanks to a plate. Strain the cooking liquids into a glass measuring cup, then return the lamb shanks to the slow cooker pan (carefully wipe it with warm moist paper towels if needed) and cover, to keep the meat warm while you thicken the gravy.
- Use a spoon to skim the fat layer off the top of the cooking juices. Pour them into a medium saucepan. Heat over medium-high heat until almost boiling but not quite, then turn the heat down to medium and simmer, whisking occasionally, until liquids are reduced into a rich gravy, 10-15 minutes.
- Transfer the lamb shanks to plates, spoon the gravy on top, and serve.