There is nothing more extravagant than Roast Lamb Shanks for a special dinner. Lamb doesn’t come cheap and if you are making them, you’ve probably invited some very special people over for the dinner. To be honest, this easy Roast Lamb Shank Recipe makes a great dinner for two on a night such as Valentines or a Wedding Anniversary.
This easy Roasted Lamb Shanks recipe features lamb shanks rubbed with garlic, herbs and roasted in a dry white wine. And, it’s so easy to make.
A word of warning that this meal isn’t something you can rush. You will need to allow 120 to 180 minutes for the lamb to cook until it is fork tender. So leave enough time – don’t rush this! Perfection can’t be rushed.
The lamb isn’t the only star of this recipe. The potatoes are just as good after they have been roasting in the lamb juices.
The best time of the year to make roast lamb is in the winter, especially if you are turning on your oven to make it.
For the perfect Sunday dinner, try this Easy Pot Roast recipe that your whole family will enjoy.
Where do You Find Lamb Shanks?
Lamb Shanks aren’t an every day grocery item. That's because not everyone eats lamb. It’s not likely that you would find it at the corner grocery store. You most likely will need to go to your butcher or a large grocery store to find Lamb Shanks. The most common Lamb is New Zealand Spring Lamb. That’s what I buy. But any kind of lamb will do for this recipe.
Lamb Shanks vs. Leg of Lamb
So what’s the difference between a lamb shank and a leg of lamb? The obvious answer is that lamb shank is part of the whole leg of lamb. A leg of lamb is used to make a roast that serves many people. While a lamb shank is a more personable cut that serves one person. The lamb shank is the lower part of the leg. They would either come from the front of the legs or the rear legs. Anyhow, enough said about this cut of meat. At the end of the day lamb made right makes a luxurious meal.
- Lamb Shanks
- Red Onion
- White Wine or Apple Cider Vinegar
- Olive Oil
- Salt and Pepper
First and foremost – Be patient and don’t rush this recipe. In fact, if the roasted lamb shanks are ready before your guests arrive, that’s OK. Just let the lamb rest in the roasting pan covered.
Start by cutting the onions and place them in a roasting pan
Seasoning Your Lamb Shanks
Lamb pairs very well with herbs such as Rosemary, Thyme, Garlic, Oregano, Cumin, Curry and the list goes on and on. For this recipe, I use primarily Thyme, Rosemary and Garlic.
Mix the olive oil, salt and pepper together. Mince your garlic. Pour the wine or apple cider vinegar on the legs.
Treat the lamb with respect. After all, it didn’t come cheap! After adding the wine, rub the oil and seasonings all over the leg, massage it in. Don't be afraid to use your hands.
Cover and roast for about an hour. (Do not add the potatoes yet)
How Large of a Roasting Pan do I Need?
You are going to need a roasting pan that is able to fit all of the lamb pieces, plus space to add in potatoes. After the lamb has been cooking for about an hour add in the potatoes. Place potatoes to the side of the legs (not on top of them). The lamb pieces and potatoes will all need pan surface space. Make sure that the potatoes are touching the bottom of the pan so that they can absorb some of the juices from the lamb, onion and the white wine. This also allows the potatoes to caramelize and obtain beautiful roasting marks.
Cut your potatoes and dress them with olive oil. About 30 minutes before the lamb is done, add the potatoes and continue roasting the lamb uncovered.
You will also want to turn the lamb shanks over half way through cooking so that they also get nice roasting marks and caramelization.
If your lamb shanks are big, they may require more time. Roasting can take 90 to 120 minutes.
What Kind of Wine to use and When to Add It
Select a dry white wine to use as part of the braising liquid. The wine doesn’t need to be expensive. Pour the wine over the lamb shanks before you season them. If you don’t have white wine, you can also substitute apple cider vinegar for it.
How to Know When the Roasted Lamb Shanks are Cooked
The lamb is going to need at least 90 minutes to cook until tender.
I use a trick my momma taught me to tell when it’s done. I put a fork into the meat and if it comes apart easily from the bone then it's ready. Usually the lamb has been in the oven for some time and I don’t expect that there would be any blood.
However, if you prefer you can follow these guidelines to eat your lamb differently:
- Medium-Rare: 145°F
- Medium: 160°F
- Well-Done: 170°F
These guidelines are taken from the Government of Canada, Safe Cooking Temperatures located here.
Obviously if you see blood and the temperature doesn’t fall in the “well-done” zone, then the meat isn’t “well” done. If you prefer to eat it rare or medium, that’s a risk you are going to need to take on whether it will be safe to eat or safe to store leftovers. I make my lamb well done.
Jimmy Watts has an extensive article on cooking temperatures on the site Own the Grill. If you would like to read more on safe cooking temperatures, visit the following article on "The Ultimate All- Meat Doneness Guide".
Enough said, let’s get to the recipe details.
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More Main Dishes
Roasted Lamb Shanks
- 2 New Zealand Lamb Shanks
- 1 medium red onion
- 3 medium potatoes
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 clove of garlic
- 1 tbsp salt
- ½ tsp pepper
- 1 tbsp thyme
- 2 sprigs rosemary
- ½ cups dry white wine or apple cider vinegar if on Whole30
- Heat oven to 350°F. Cover the bottom of a large dutch oven with the sliced red onion.
- Place the lamb shanks in the dutch oven (roasting pan) and pour the white wine (substitute apple cider vinegar if on Whole30) over the lamb. Rub the olive oil, garlic, salt and herbs over them. Massage them into the lamb shanks.
- Place in the oven, covered, for about one hour. Cut the potatoes in about 2 x 2" cubes, set aside.
- Add the potatoes once a fork inserted into the meat comes out fairly easily. About 60 to 90 minutes. Ensure that the potatoes are laying flat on the bottom of the pan and not on the lamb.
- Continue to cook, uncovered for about another 45 to 60 minutes until the meat is tender and easily comes apart from the bone using a fork. If the surface of the meat is getting dark, cover lightly with foil. Once done, remove from the oven and let rest for about 10 minutes before serving.