Citrus-Braised Lamb Shanks

Cook, In Season, Mains, Recipes, Sunday Supper, Winter

Lamb shanks meet a bright trio of winter citrus — lemon, lime and orange — in this dish. The rich braising liquid that results from the slow cooking almost surpasses the lamb shanks themselves. If you want to stretch the recipe to serve six, shred the meat from the bones, divide among shallow bowls, and serve over rice, orzo or polenta, with the reduce juices drizzled over each serving.


Citrus-Braised Lamb Shanks


2 Tbs. olive oil

4 lamb shanks, about 1 lb. (500 g.) each

Salt and freshly ground pepper

1 carrot, finely chopped

1 yellow onion, finely chopped

2 celery ribs, finely chopped

3 small sprigs fresh thyme

1 bay leaf

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 1/2 Tbs. tomato paste

2 cups (16 fl. oz./500 ml.) dry white wine

1 cup (8 fl. oz./250 ml.) chicken broth

Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon

Grated zest and juice of 1 lime

Grated zest and juice of 1 orange


In a large, heavy pot, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil over medium-high heat. Season the shanks with salt and pepper. Working in batches, sear the shanks, turning as needed, until browned on all sides, 6-8 minutes. Transfer to a platter and pour off the fat from the pot.


Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F (120 degrees C). Add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil to the pot and place over medium-low heat. Add the carrot, onion and celery and saute until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the thyme, bay leaf, garlic and tomato paste. Stir in 1/2 teaspoon salt, season with pepper, and stir for 1 minute. Add the wine, broth and lemon and lime zests and juices.


Return the shanks to the pot and bring the liquid to a gentle simmer. Cover and cook in the oven, turning the shanks every  hour, until the meat is completely tender, about 2 1/2 hours. Transfer the shanks to a platter and keep warm in the oven.


Pour the juices from the pot into a large, heatproof measuring pitcher and let stand for 1 minute. The fat will rise to the top. Use a bulb baster to transfer the juices underneath the fat to a small saucepan. Simmer to reduce slightly. Stir in the orange zest and juice.


Drizzle the reduced juices over the lamb shanks and serve. Serves 4.

26 comments about “Citrus-Braised Lamb Shanks

  1. Pat

    My sister made this recently and it was beyond delicious! She made some smashed potatoes to go with it and they were perfect with the pan juices.

  2. Dave

    Wow these are great, made my whole house smell delicious. I will make them again soon

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  4. Lori

    These were outstanding!! My husband doesn’t care too much for lamb but after making these for dinner tonight, he asked if we could have these on New Years Day. Served over mashed potatoes with a glass of Pinot Noir. Excellent!

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  7. Irena

    Unfortunately I decided to make this last week for Easter. To say that this dish was unpalatable is an understatement. I followed the recipe exactly except that I doubled it to accommodate the 8 guests that would be eating lamb. I spent $70 on lamb from Fairway, that in the end, my two dogs got to enjoy. I expecting the recipe to be good considering its reputable source, but in the end, I wish I didn’t. I even had my guests try the sauce to give me some recommendation on how to fix it, but it was a lost cause. The flavors just didn’t work well with each other. Sore and expensive disappointment. Will stick with my beef tenderloin in the future.

    1. Rolf Erickson

      Over the Top! We made this, by the recipe, for our Easter dinner, 2015. It will be our Easter dinner for years to come. Absolutely sublime. We served on top of cheesy polenta with “Julia’s’ Spring peas. For wine, Chateau Lilian Ladouys, 2009. Oo la la!

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  13. Melissa Allman

    Is there any reason I couldn’t brown shanks in a heavy pan, pour off excess grease and finish cooking it all in a crock pot on low?

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  15. Diana

    Why am i adding zest and juice before cooking and again at the end in the sauce???
    Im cooking this now, hope i didnt kook it by adding citrus before baling

    1. Williams-Sonoma Editors Post author

      Adding zest during the cooking of a dish helps add depth of flavor, but the addition of orange zest and juice at the very end gives the dish a freshness and a brightness that it otherwise wouldn’t have. Hope your dish turned out wonderful!

  16. Tania

    Great recipe! The citrus was fabulous with the lamb. I used verjuice instead of wine as I had it to hand. Btw, the bulb baster tip is genius. Thanks!

  17. Sadia

    Seems like a great recipe, can’t wait to try it. Is there a non alcoholic substitute for white wine?

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  19. Sian

    I made this using a shoulder of lamb instead of shanks. It was delicious. I served it with a mixed root boulangere. The citrus flavours made this very special.


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