How to Cook Lamb Shanks in a Clay Pot: Delicious and Easy Recipes

Lamb shanks are a popular and flavorful cut of meat that can be cooked in a variety of ways. One of the best ways to cook lamb shanks is in a clay pot, which helps to infuse the meat with rich and savory flavors while keeping it moist and tender.

braised lamb shanks
Braised Lamb Shanks. Credit: canva

About Lamb Shanks

What are lamb shanks?

Lamb shanks are the meaty lower lamb leg. They are usually sold bone-in. And because they are a tough cut of meat, they require slow cooking to become tender.

The lamb shanks are cut into two pieces and then tied together at the joint. They’re usually served with gravy or sauce as part of a stew or casserole, but they can also be cooked independently.

Are lamb shanks cheap?

Yes! Lamb shanks are one of the most inexpensive lamb meat cuts available.

This cut of meat is one of the most budget-friendly cuts, and it’s pretty flexible – it can be baked, stuffed, or wrapped.

Lamb shanks have recently gained popularity, pushing the price up a bit. They are, however, still a great deal and suitable for slow roasting, stewing, or braising.

How long does it take to cook lamb shanks?

It depends on how big your shanks are. A medium-sized shank should take about 3 hours to cook. If you’ve got a large shank, you may need 4 hours or more.

How do you cook lamb shanks?

Cooking time will depend on how thick your shanks are. So, if yours are thicker than mine (about 1cm), expect them to take longer. You’ll need to start by browning them for around 10 minutes over high heat before covering them with water and bringing them up to a simmer.

Cover with a lid and leave to cook for 2 hours until tender. You don’t want to overcook the lamb shanks. It’s better to undercook them slightly than overdo it.

Once cooked, remove from the oven and cool slightly before removing the meat and shredding it.

You can serve this with mashed potato, rice, or pasta, or even make a creamy mash using leftover potatoes. It’s also great cold!

Cooking in a clay pot. Credit: canva

How to Cook Lamb Shanks in a Clay Pot?

The Benefits of Cooking Using a Clay Pot

Clay pots are made from fired earthenware, making them non-stick and easy to clean. You can use any size clay pot, but I like the ones with lids because they’re easier to handle.

They keep food warm without making it too hot. And when you’re ready to eat, pop the lid on, and the food stays piping hot inside. 

Clay pots are ideal for slow cooking. They also retain moisture well, so you can cook stews and soups for several hours without drying out the ingredients.

And there’s no risk of burning yourself either. Because they’re not metal, they won’t conduct heat, and you won’t get burnt fingers.

I love using my clay pot for cooking flavorful lamb shanks. They’re inexpensive and delicious.

Is Cooking With a Clay Pot the Same as Cooking in a Slow Cooker?

No. While both methods work well, clay pots are much smaller and lighter than slow cookers. So they’re perfect for small quantities of food.

Slow cookers are designed to hold larger amounts of food and cook for longer periods of time. They’re best suited to casseroles and other dishes where you want to cook something for a few hours at low temperatures.

But if you’re looking for a quick and easy meal, then a clay pot is perfect.

How Long Does It Take to Cook Lamb Shanks in a Clay Pot?

If you’ve got a medium-sized shank, you’ll probably be able to cook it in an hour or two. However, if you have a really big one, you might need to give it four hours or more.

Base the cooking time off of the largest lamb

Start by placing them into a large bowl filled with cold water. This helps to keep them moist while they’re cooking.

Put them into a covered pan and bring the liquid to a gentle simmer. Cover the pan and turn the heat down to a low simmer. Leave to cook for a couple of hours.

After 2 hours, check the meat. If it’s still firm, leave it for another 30 minutes or so. Otherwise, remove them from the oven and let them rest for 5 minutes before serving.

Simply lift the lid off when you’re ready to eat and enjoy.

Do You Need to Soak the Shanks First?

Yes, you do. The reason why is that the earthenware absorbs some of the dish’s flavors. So soaking removes some of the seasonings.

However, you don’t actually need to soak them. Instead, just put them in a bowl of water and cover them with cling film. That will keep them moist enough during the cooking process.

Can You Cook Lamb Shanks in Foil Instead?

Yes, you can. But we wouldn’t recommend it. Foil doesn’t absorb flavors as clay pots do, so your sauce will taste flat. It’s better to use a clay pot for cooking lamb shanks. 


Easy Slow-Cooked Clay Pot Lamb Shank Recipe

Braised slow-cooked lamb shank. Credit: canva


  • 2 lamb shanks
  • 1 cup broth
  • 1-2 bay leaf
  • 1-2 garlic cloves minced or crushed garlic
  • 1 Tbsp Italian herb mix
  • A few dashes of turmeric
  • salt & pepper, to taste


  1. Brown, the lamb, and shank in a hot cast-iron skillet for about 5 minutes, turning once or twice. Transfer lamb shanks from the pan to the clay pot.
  2. Add half of the broth to the pan and boil for 1-2 minutes to deglaze the tasty bits from the pan.
  3. Add the bay leaves, herbs, turmeric, garlic, a pinch of salt, and pepper to the clay pot before adding all broth.
  4. Stew for a couple of hours after you close, seal, and cook.
  5. With patience, the shanks will emerge delicious and delicate with excellent texture and thick sauce in the pan.
  6. Serve with rice, pilaf, pasta, mashed potatoes, baby potatoes, or anything else to your heart’s content!

Braised Lamb Shanks in Clay Pot Recipe

Braised lamb shank with green beans. Credit: canva


  • 2.5 lbs lamb shanks
  • 3 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoon oregano
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 shallots, thickly chopped
  • 5 Campari tomatoes, quartered
  • 2 large carrots, cut into large chunks
  • 1/2c white wine
  • 1 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 cup beef stock
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/4t allspice
  • 1/2t cinnamon
  • 1t balsamic vinegar
  • salt & black pepper


  • Preheat oven to 3’0′ F
  • Rinse and pat dry the lamb shanks and season the shanks with salt and pepper.
  • In a cast-iron skillet, heat 1 Tbsp olive oil over medium heat. Browned, approximately 3-4 minutes per side. Transfer the shanks to the clay pot while you make the sauce.
  • In a skillet, add 2 tablespoons extra olive oil. Add the shallots and garlic to the pan drippings with olive oil in the oven and brown for 1-2 minutes. Season with oregano. Stir in tomato paste and white wine, then mix well.
  • Reduce the sauce by boiling for 5 minutes after adding the stock. Combine allspice, cinnamon, and balsamic vinegar in a pan over medium-low heat. Add bay leaves.
  • Pour the wine sauce over the lamb shanks. Carrots should be placed around the meat in a circular pattern. Continue to bake for 30 minutes at 327’F, then reduce the oven heat to 325’F and cook for another 2.5 -3 hours. Check halfway to baste the cooking liquid.
  • Serve the cooked lamb on a bed of French green beans or a bed of onions.

Tips for Cooking Lamb Shanks

  • When buying lamb shanks, look for those not too big or too small. They should be firm but not tough. If they feel soft, they probably were frozen.
  • If you want more flavor from your lamb shanks, marinate them before cooking. You can also add spices like cumin, coriander, and fennel seeds.
  • The cooked lamb shanks will last for up to 4 months in the freezer and are great to pull out for a quick and easy comforting winter meal. 
  • If you don’t have a clay pot, you can still braise lamb shanks in a Dutch oven. Just use a little less liquid than what is called for in this recipe.
  • You can also use chicken thighs instead of lamb shanks.

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