Braised lamb shanks in the Instant Pot? Yes! Cut out at least an hour of cook time with this recipe for Instant Pot lamb shanks. Instead of braising in the oven for two hours, cook the shanks in the Instant Pot for just 60 minutes. Not only do you save time, but the results are some of the most juicy, tender lamb shanks you’ve ever had!
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Lamb shanks can be one of the most decadent and comforting dishes to make. But it can also be quite time consuming. Not this recipe! By utilizing the Instant Pot we’re creating a recipe that’s both hands-off and relatively quick-cooking. Enjoy the deep flavors and incredible tenderness of slow-braised lamb shanks in just 35 minutes of hands-on time (let the Instant Pot do the rest).
Lamb shanks come from the area of meat and bone that sits above the knee joint and below the leg. They are best slow cooked, braised or pressure cooked to deliver flavor and pull-apart tenderness. It’s important to use shanks for this recipe—one, they won’t overcook, and two, the marrow from the bone fortifies the richly flavored sauce.
Depending on your grocery store or butcher options, it can be somewhat hard to find lamb shanks. We have good luck finding them at specialty grocery stores and Whole Foods. To save time, we recommend calling around to local grocery stores to see if they have any on hand. If not, ask your butcher or meat market to order some for you.
Red Wine & Red Wine Vinegar
Red wine adds a wonderful depth of flavor and a slight touch of acidic tang. That acid balances the fatty shanks beautifully. Likewise, it’s also why we finish the sauce with a splash of red wine vinegar—the thick sauce and fatty meat benefit greatly from a bit of fresh acid.
As Ina Garten would say, cook with wine you would drink. So for these lamb shanks, we usually opt to braise them in Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, or Côtes du Rhône. Use what you like—this recipe calls for 1 cup, so you’ll have leftovers to sip on!
Herbes de Provence
Herbes de Provence is an aromatic mixture of dried Provençal herbs and spices. This all-purpose seasoning traditionally blends dried herbs, including: tarragon, savory, marjoram, rosemary, basil, thyme, oregano and bay leaf. It is best paired with roasted and grilled dishes like chicken, lamb, fish and vegetables.
You’ll need a combination of onion, celery, carrot and garlic for this dish.
Tomato paste adds depth of flavor without making the sauce “tomato-y.” You just need a tablespoon.
How to Make Instant Pot Lamb Shanks
Lamb shanks are known for being a slow-cook cut of meat. They have a lot of connective tissue, which means they require a long cook time to soften and break down those tissues into juicy, tender meat. The challenge with lamb shanks lies in having enough time to cook them long enough—otherwise you end up with a tough piece of meat.
To cut down on the braising time while also achieving the textural characteristics of a long braise, we turned to the Instant Pot. This method really is the best of both worlds, praise pressure cooking!
Here are the steps for braising lamb shanks in an Instant Pot—you’ll save time and enjoy perfectly tender meat.
- Brown shanks in the Instant Pot.
- Sauté veggies in the Instant Pot until starting to soften.
- Add tomato paste, garlic and Herbs de Provence; cook 1 minute.
- Add wine, scraping up any browned bits.
- Nestle shanks in pot, lock lid, close pressure valve, and cook 60 minutes on high pressure.
- Naturally release pressure for 15 minutes then manually release any remaining pressure.
- Transfer shanks to a plate.
- Skim fat from braising liquid then transfer braising liquid and vegetables to a blender and blend until smooth.
- Serve shanks with sauce over polenta, mashed potatoes, lentils or pasta.
Why This Recipe Works
Lamb and red wine are a perfect pairing. Not only do we recommend serving them together, but for this recipe we’re cooking the shanks in red wine too.
Lamb shanks are really hard to overcook—nearly impossible. Which makes them the perfect cut of meat to either slow cook (braise) or pressure cook. They are an inexpensive tough cut of meat that, when slow cooked, breaks down into the most succulent, tender meat.
How to Braise Lamb Shanks in the Oven
If you don’t have an Instant Pot, or would rather braise the shanks in the oven, here is how to modify the recipe:
Ingredient change: Increase red wine to 1½ cups and add 1½ cups low-sodium chicken broth to the braising liquid.
- Heat oven to 350-degrees with rack set in middle position.
- Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat until smoking; brown shanks as directed in recipe. Transfer shanks to a plate.
- Add vegetables to Dutch oven and cook until starting to soften. Add tomato paste, garlic, herbs de Provence and salt; cook 1 minute. Add wine, scraping up any browned bits, then nestle shanks in pot. Pour broth over top.
- Bring to a simmer, cover pot, and transfer to the oven; cook 1½ hours. Uncover pot and cook until tops of the shanks start to brown, about 30 minutes. Flip shanks and continue to cook until all sides are browned, about 30 minutes more.
- Follow recipe instructions for making the sauce.
- Pair with a root vegetable puree as a delicious upgrade to classic mashed potatoes.
- Balance the juicy, tender shanks with a crunchy celery salad.
- Top your Creamy Mashed Celery Root & Potatoes with Chives with these lamb shanks for an elevated homemade dinner.
- Japanese milk bread rolls are a soft, tender and pillowy side dish option. Perfect for soaking p the luscious sauce!
- Add a simple white bean salad—it’s the perfect elegant side dish.
- Make a bright, flavorful fennel salad in just 10 minutes while the Instant Pot does the rest!
More Lamb Recipes to Try
- Looking for another use for your Instant Pot? Try this Instant Pot Moroccan Lamb Stew for a hearty hands-off weeknight dinner (which can also be made in a Dutch oven).
- Next Taco Tuesday, try out these spicy and savory Harissa Lamb Tacos.
- Enjoy a wholesome, hearty Lamb Kofta Platter—easy enough for weeknights yet unique enough for company!
- It doesn’t get any easier than this one pan Pan-Fried Lamb Chops with Fennel & Rosemary for dinner.
- Lamb Tikka Masala, served over rice with naan, makes a creamy and cozy meal any time of the year.
- Our Lamb Vindaloo is an absolute delight—the perfect Sunday night dinner.
Absolutely! Store the cooked shanks and sauce, separately, in airtight containers in the refrigerator. Reheat the shanks in a covered dish in a low oven (about 300-degrees) until warmed through. Slowly warm the sauce over low on the stovetop, thinning with a splash of water if needed.
We don’t recommend it—the red wine adds great depth of flavor. Most of the alcohol evaporates off during cooking, so you don’t need to worry about the alcohol content. If you must skip the red wine, we recommend using a non-alcoholic wine.
This recipe for braised lamb shanks can easily be done in the oven, but with the Instant Pot you can cut out at least an hour of the cook time. The basic method for cooking lamb shanks in the Instant Pot: 60 minutes on high pressure, 15 minutes natural release then quick release any remaining pressure. To cook lamb shanks in the oven, you’ll want to first brown the shanks then braise them covered in a 300-degree oven for 1½. Remove the lid and braise for another hour, rotating the shanks occasionally.
Instant Pot Lamb Shanks with Red Wine
- 4 (10- to 12-ounce) lamb shanks, trimmed
- ¾ teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 onion, chopped
- 2 carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
- 2 celery ribs, cut into 1 inch pieces
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 tablespoon herbes de Provence
- 1 cup dry red wine*
- 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- Black pepper
- Celery root mashed potatoes , for serving
- fresh parsley, chopped
- Pat lamb shanks dry with paper towels; sprinkle with ½ teaspoon salt.
- Set Instant Pot to high sauté function, add oil to pot and heat until smoking, about 5 minutes. Brown 2 shanks on all sides, 8–10 minutes. Transfer shanks to a plate; repeat with remaining shanks.
- Add onion, carrots, and celery to pot; cook until vegetables start to soften, about 5 minutes.
- Stir in garlic, tomato paste, herbs de Provence, and remaining ¼ teaspoon salt and cook 1 minute.
- Stir in wine, scraping up any browned bits.
- Nestle shanks into pot; adding any accumulated juices. Lock lid in place and close pressure release valve. Select high pressure cook functions and cook for 60 minutes.
- Turn off Instant Pot and let pressure release naturally for 15 minutes. Quick-release any remaining pressure, then carefully remove lid, allowing steam to escape away from you. Transfer shanks to a serving dish, tent with foil, and let rest while preparing the sauce.
- Skim fat off top of braising liquid in pot. Transfer de-fatted braising liquid and vegetables to blender, add vinegar and blend until smooth; season with salt and pepper taste.
- Serve lamb shanks over mashed potatoes and spoon puréed sauce over top.
This post was sponsored by the American Lamb Board, as always the thoughts, opinions, recipes, photos, and content are all my own.