Most people tend to go for lamb chops, a rack of lamb, or a leg of lamb. They overlook the lamb shanks, writing them off as too dry or tough.
However, the shanks are the best value cut! If cooked properly, they come out juicy and succulent, with the meat falling off the bone!
This recipe is a little different to use your usual braised lamb shanks. The lamb shanks are smoked for 2.5 hours before being placed in the braising liquid. This adds an extra layer of flavor, that will blow your taste buds apart!
You might think that lamb shanks are tough to cook. But once you know a few tricks, lamb shanks will soon become your go-to cut.
Table of contents
What Are Lamb Shanks?
Lamb shanks are the cut that comes from the lower section of the lamb leg, below the knee.
They can come from the front or hind leg.
The fore shanks are smaller than the hind.
What’s The Best Way to Cook Shanks?
Typically, they are slow-cooked to get them falling off the bone tender. This makes them perfect for cooking on a smoker or pellet grill which allows you to go low and slow!
Should I Use Marinades and Rubs?
Marinades and rubs are a great way of adding in some extra flavor while keeping moisture levels up. Marinades are best applied 24 hours before smoking. Flavors like rosemary and garlic are classic seasonings for lamb. But Mediterranean flavored rubs also have good results. You can also season with salt and pepper for a nice, simple rub.
What Wood Chips Should I Use for Lamb?
As we are cooking low and slow, the shanks are going to be on the grill for a while.
So they’ll be absorbing a lot of delicious smoke flavor.
So go for a milder fruitwood like apple, cherry, pecan, or oak.
Strong flavors like mesquite wood chips are much more suited to a shorter cooking time.
The flavor can be quite intense over a long period of smoke time.
How Do I Smoke Shanks?
The key to smoking is to cook on indirect heat, at a low temperature for an extended period.
The longer and lower the grill temperature, the more smoke will be able to permeate into the meat.
Rubs that contain high sugar content will also help to crisp up give the outside of the shanks a nice crunchy bark.
But you can also achieve a nice bark by reverse searing before serving.
Preparing the Shanks
Preparing the shanks is an easy process.
Remove any excess silver skin (the thick membrane) or extra fat using a sharp knife.
Then you only need to prepare the rub or marinade.
If marinating, prepare and soak the shanks for several hours, or overnight.
If using a rub, brush with olive oil or mustard and apply an even coating of dry rub.
Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
What’s the Best Temperature for Lamb Shanks?
When the internal temperature reaches 185-190°F, the shanks are ready to serve.
The target cooking temperature range is 210°F for the first two hours.
The secret to successful lamb shanks is to cook at low temperatures for several hours.
You want to weep away from high direct heat.
Low temperatures will break down the connective tissue, and the meat will fall off the bone.
Anything higher than 250°F will cause the meat to seize up and toughen during the cooking process.
Always use a reliable temperature probe to check the internal temperatures.
Make sure to probe the flesh, keeping it away from the bone.
Can’t Find Shanks? Here Are Some Alternatives
Can’t find lamb shanks at the butcher or supermarket?
Beef shanks are a good substitute. Or look for another bone-in cut.
How Long Should I Smoke Lamb Shanks?
The smoke the lamb shanks will take 2.5 hours with indirect heat on the pellet grill.
Then place them in the tray of braising liquid, and place that tray on the grill for 1.5 hours or until you reach an internal temperature of 185-190°F.
Again, it’s best to use the internal temperature rather than a specific time frame.
What You Need For Smoked Lamb Shanks
4-5 pounds of lamb shanks
The rub of your choice we used Three little Pigs rub (Cherry)
What Need for The Braising Liquid
Smoked Lamb Shanks Recipe
Step 1: Prepare the Shanks
Mix all the rub ingredients. Rub the lamb in oil and apply the rub to the lamb.
Wrap and refrigerate overnight.
Step 2: Smoke the Shanks
Preheat the smoker to 210°F, then once heated smoke on indirect heat for 2.5 hours.
Step 3: Prepare The Braising Liquid
While your shanks smoke, prepare the braising liquid.
Chop your carrots, tomatoes, onion, and garlic, place in a tray and add the tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, oregano, cumin, stock/ water.
Step 4: Place The Lamb in The Braising Liquid
After 2.5 hours place the lamb shanks in the tray and cover with foil and return to the smoker for 1.5 hours.
Step: 5 Rest, Make The Cous Cous and Serve
Remove the tray from the pellet grill and let rest for half an hour.
While resting makes your couscous. Place couscous on the plate then top with a lamb shank
What to Serve Lamb Shanks With?
You can try our recipe above with uses couscous or check out some of our other delicious ideas below.
Smoked Mac and Cheese
Serve in bao buns with kewpie mayo. See our pulled beef in bao buns here.
Smoked Lamb Shank With Mediterranean Cous Cous
- 4-5 Lamb shanks
- 2 ½ tbsp Three little Pigs rub (Cherry) Cherry
- 1 tbsp Olive oil
- Cous Cous
- 2 Carrots
- 2 Garlic cloves
- 1 large Onion
- 3 Tomatoes or 1 tin of tomatoes
- Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tbsp Tomato paste
- 2 cups Water/stock
- 1 pinch Oregano
- 1 tbsp Cumin
- 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
- Mix all the rub ingredients. Rub the lamb in oil and apply the rub to the lamb. Wrap and refrigerate overnight.
- Preheat the smoker to 210°F, then once heated smoke on indirect heat for 2.5 hours.
- While your shanks smoke, prepare the braising liquid. Chop your carrots, tomatoes, onion, and garlic, place in a tray and add the tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, oregano, cumin, stock/ water.
- After 2.5 hours place the lamb shanks in the tray and cover with foil and return to the smoker for 1.5 hours.
- Remove the tray from the pellet grill and let rest for half an hour.
- While resting makes your couscous.
- Place couscous on the plate then top with a lamb shank. Serve and enjoy!
Lamb shanks are a great way to feed a group of people without putting a dent in your wallet.
Next time you go shopping for lamb, why not bypass the rack of lamb and head for some meaty lamb shanks?
Author: Charlie Reeves
Hi, I’m Charlie, I am head taste tester at Simply Meat Smoking! I love it grilling, smoking, and getting out in the yard with the kids! The family also love to test all my recipes (especially my EXTRA CRISPY pulled pork, smoky pork loin, and ANY SEAFOOD I grill)
You will usually find me playing with the kids, perfecting my brisket bark, or sipping beers with boys around the fire. Can’t wait to share all my delicious smoking and grilling adventures with you!
You can read more on our About Us page.
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