These apple cider braised lamb shanks are fall off the bone tender with caramelized, crispy bits and sweet apple and onion slices. Stove top and oven methods included and no wine needed for braising!
*This post is in collaboration with the American Lamb Board. All content and opinions are my own.
Apple season is a big deal here in NY.
Every weekend, droves of people from the city invade our local orchards making a spectacle of picking apples off trees and getting in their yearly “farm experience”.
The amount of traffic and congestion they bring to the roads and local farms is so off-putting we don’t even bother with the whole ordeal any more or, at least make sure to go during the week instead.
Thankfully, I don’t really care about apple picking or apples in general for that matter (they’re just not my favorite fruit) but apple cider (and apple cider donuts!) are a whole other matter entirely.
Ulysses will happily guzzle apple cider straight from the container like he’s a small child but I prefer to find ways to cook with it instead.
Its sweet (but not overly so like apple juice) flavor along with that little bit of tang makes it an excellent choice for throwing in soups, stews and meat pairings this time of year.
And, it’s what immediately came to mind for these gorgeous family owned farm raised American lamb shanks.
Sub the apple juice for apple cider in these sticky maple apple ribs!
You know those weekend days where you just have the urge to cook something long and slow on the stovetop and fill the house with the aroma of something delicious to come for dinner?
This apple cider braised lamb is just the thing for those days.
This might sound weird to say but the smell that comes from lamb braising in apple cider with shallots and apple slices for 2+ hours is something you’ll want to bottle up into a candle.
Braised leg of lamb smells similarly but the apple cider in this recipe really makes it feel like fall in the house.
Brandy was over the day I made this and her reaction when she walked in was “it smells like a savory apple crisp in here!”. <– THAT.
What Does Braising Mean?
Even though this sounds like a fancy terms, it’s just the process of searing your meat first, then cooking it slowly in some type of liquid.
Braising is great for all cuts of meat, including chicken (and you can even braise veggies!). The result is a caramelized texture that is full of flavor. This method is perfect for tougher cuts of meat, because the final dish becomes melt in your mouth tender.
Braising is my absolute favorite way to cook meat in the fall and winter.
After 2 hours the meat on the lamb shank just literally melts off the bone, the cider reduces to a thick caramelized sauce with soft apple slices and crispy little bits of meat and shallot.
Make sure to watch the video to see how simple it is to make these apple cider braised lamb shanks!
Dutch Oven Braised Lamb Shank Ingredients
- American lamb shanks – with 4 large lamb shanks, I suggest a 5qt or larger cast iron braising pan
- olive oil
- salt and pepper
- freshly chopped rosemary
- fresh thyme leaves
- tomato paste
- bay leaf
- Granny smith apple
- large shallots or yellow onion
- apple cider
- broth of choice (beef, chicken, vegetable)
How to Make The Best Lamb Shank Recipe Without Wine (Stove Top and Oven)
Season the lamb shanks generously with salt and pepper.
Combine the spices, tomato paste, garlic, and herbs in a small bowl and stir until a paste forms.
Rub the paste over each lamb shank, covering completely.
Heat the oil in a Dutch oven or large pot over medium high heat.
Brown the shanks on all sides.
Add the apples, bay leaf, peppercorns, and shallots.
Pour in the apple cider and broth over top and stir gently.
Bring to a boil, cover, and reduce to low heat for 2.5 hours. Turn the shanks every 30 minutes.
To make braised lamb in the oven, cook at 325 degrees for 2.5 hours.
Tips for Making
I’ve actually braised the lamb both on the stove top and in the oven and have a slight preference for the oven method. The results include a slightly crispier exterior to the lamb and a more reduced/thickened sauce.
But both options are equally delicious so choose whichever you prefer!
Serve with your favorite hearty carb like mashed potatoes or mashed yuca, gnocchi (air fryer cauliflower gnocchi perhaps?) or, even roasted sunchokes. Then, devour and enjoy because this recipe definitely won’t leave anything leftover.
Love this recipe for apple cider braised lamb shanks?
Or, butterflied leg of lamb with cranberry goat cheese stuffing for a winter dish special enough for your holiday table!
Apple Cider Braised Lamb Shanks
- 4 American lamb shanks
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- salt and pepper
- 2 tablespoons freshly chopped rosemary
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon allspice
- 1 tablespoon peppercorns
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 large Granny smith apple, sliced
- 2 large shallots or 1 medium yellow onion, sliced
- 2 cups apple cider
- 1 cup broth of choice, beef, chicken, vegetable
- Season the lamb generously with salt and pepper.
- Combine rosemary, thyme, tomato paste, garlic, cinnamon and allspice in a small bowl. Stir together until a well combined paste forms.
- Rub the paste liberally all over each lamb shank.
- Place olive oil in a large pot or Dutch oven on the stove over medium-high heat.
- Place lamb shanks in the pot once hot and brown on all sides.
- Add the peppercorns, bay leaf, apple slices and shallots (or onions) to the pot.
- Pour the apple cider and broth over top and gently stir.
- Bring to a boil then cover the pot, reduce the heat to low and cook for 2.5 hours turning the shanks every 30 minutes or so while cooking. *Alternatively, you can cook in the oven at 325°F for the same time.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.
Gina Matsoukas is an AP syndicated writer. She is the founder, photographer and recipe developer of Running to the Kitchen — a food website focused on providing healthy, wholesome recipes using fresh and seasonal ingredients. Her work has been featured in numerous media outlets both digital and print, including MSN, Huffington post, Buzzfeed, Women’s Health and Food Network.