What Are Lamb Shanks?

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Lamb shanks, a delicacy in many countries around the word, are an expensive and delicious treat. They may be braised, roasted or even eat raw in some countries. One of the best and most desired cuts of a lamb, the lamb shank has been a crucial part of Middle Eastern and European cuisines for many years.

Parts of the Lamb

Lamb shank comes from lambs in their first two or three years of development. Usually appearing to be a thick cut of brown meat that is served on tubular bone, the lamb shank is cut from the arm, shoulder, leg and shoulder bone. The shank is usually served with a thin layer of fat. It may be wrapped in a material called fell, which is a thin, paper-like covering.

How Lamb Shanks Are Prepared

Lamb shanks are typically braised or roasted. Braising involves pan-frying the meat and then allowing it to soak in a stew for a period of time in a closed container. Roasting simply refers to toasting the lamb over a mild heat. Because lamb shanks are a bit dry and require cooking for a long period of time, they are often braised or roasted in a deep pot. They may be cooked with vegetables or wine, and they often soak in sauce for a long period of time before cooking.

Types of Lamb Shank Dishes

Because lamb shanks are a bit dry, they are usually contained in juicier dishes to offset the dryness. Lamb shanks may be found in dishes with potatoes, caramelized onions or shallots. Armenian lamb shank recipes often call for a lot of nutmeg or allspice. Many Italian lamb shank dishes include a lot of oregano, basil and cloves. These dishes are often accompanied with mashed potatoes or tomatoes.


Lamb shanks are typically served with pickled fruits or vegetables that are extremely soft. This is because lamb shanks are generally very chewy pieces of meat. The meat has a lot connective tissue, which contains iron and other minerals, so the meat tastes a lot like liver or other iron-heavy meats. Many times, lamb shank is cooked in a red wine sauce, making it taste very rich.