Give these easy BBQ lamb shanks a try this summer when you’re looking for a great shareable meal that will have you licking your fingers! Baked low and slow then finished on the grill, they’re perfect alongside your favorite summer salad.
*This post is sponsored by the American Lamb Board. All content and opinions are my own.
With the long, hot days of summer in full swing here (seriously, we went from rain almost every day for the entire month of April to basically drought and excessive heat now for over a month), I’m always looking for new recipes to throw on the grill.
Living in NY, our grill stays covered and unused for basically 7+ months of the year so while the weather cooperates, it’s my mission to find ways to use it as often as possible.
I’ve made lots of lamb recipes on the grill before like these Smoky Grilled Lamb Kebabs with Apricots, Grilled Halloumi Lamb Burgers and Peach Honey Grilled Lamb Chops but really wanted to throw things back to some simple BBQ with this recipe for BBQ lamb shanks.
Ribs are a classic summer staple. I even made these BBQ Lamb Ribs last summer as a great swap for the traditional pork ribs that tend to pop up at many summer gatherings.
But, this year I thought it’d be fun to try and mimic that approach with another cut of lamb: lamb shanks.
Usually, shanks are reserved for cooking methods like braising and yes, I’ve done that in many delicious ways including this amazing fall recipe for Apple Cider Braised Lamb Shanks or this more spring appropriate Citrus Braised Lamb Shanks with Green Harissa recipe.
But since many recipes for ribs tend to approach the cooking in a similar low and slow way in the oven before finishing quickly on the grill, I figured why not give that a try with lamb shanks?
They’re perfect for a low and slow oven bake just like ribs!
So, just like ribs, I seasoned the heck out of them with a simple dry BBQ rub including spices like brown sugar, paprika, garlic, onion, cumin and mustard then covered them on a heavy duty baking sheet and let them do their thing in the oven at a low temperature of 275°F for 3-4 hours.
When they come out of the oven, the meat is fork tender and easily coming off the bone. It’s not quite at that “fall apart” state which is perfect because then they have the structure to stay together on the grill.
Finishing the BBQ lamb shanks on the grill isn’t necessarily a “must” but I just love the smoky char grilling imparts especially after slathering with some BBQ sauce (just use your favorite store-bought brand).
The additional BBQ sauce is optional, you can definitely just leave them with the dry rub if that’s your preference as it has SO much flavor itself. But, I’m totally a sucker for a wet BBQ sauce finish that results in lots of finger licking when it comes to ribs so that’s what I went for with these BBQ rib inspired lamb shanks.
Plus, the sauce sort of caramelizes on the grill and the resulting sticky charred spots are some of my favorites.
I realize the dry vs. wet BBQ debate is a heated one though so just do what you like best!
I’d be remiss if I didn’t talk a little bit about meat selection when it comes to these BBQ lamb shanks because the quality of the meat makes all the difference in a simple recipe like this.
When it comes to lamb, there’s no other choice than American lamb for me. The flavor blows all other lamb out of the water.
It’s also important to me to select local options as much as possible when we eat animal products in our house so supporting farmers and sheep ranchers in the United States over other foreign options just makes sense.
There are more than 80,000 American farmers in the U.S. caring for over 6 million sheep. Lamb is produced in every state in the country year-round so if you don’t see local options in your local market, ask!
It truly does make a difference in taste.
Recipes like these BBQ lamb shanks that feed more than the typical family are usually the kind we enjoy on big occasions with lots of family and friends and while those gatherings may be a little smaller this year, I hope it’s one you give a try with those nearest and dearest.
I’m already planning to recreate it for a day spent with some close friends at the lake after a day on the boat. The lamb shanks can easily be baked ahead at home and then transported to be finished on the grill right before we eat.
This Creamy Cucumber Salad with Pickled Red Onions, Cucumber Melon Salad or this Tart Cherry Balsamic Grilled Summer Vegetable Orzo Salad all make great side dishes to the BBQ lamb.
It’s really a great make ahead/prep recipe so entertaining stays simple and you can enjoy less time cooking and more time enjoying the company of others, something I think we all now realize is much more important and coveted than we ever realized before.
There’s always a place at the table for amazing food no matter what the circumstances!
Love these BBQ lamb shanks? Try one of these recipes too:
- 4 American lamb shanks
- 3 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon paprika
- 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
- 1 1/2 tablespoons cumin
- 1 tablespoon ground mustard
- 1 tablespoon onion powder
- 1 tablespoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 cup BBQ sauce (*optional)
- Preheat oven to 275°F and line a heavy duty baking sheet with aluminum foil.
- Mix together spices in a bowl.
- Place the lamb shanks on the baking sheet and rub the spice mixture all over, coating the entire surface of each shank.
- Tightly cover the lamb shanks with another sheet of aluminum foil and bake in the oven for 3.5-4 hours until fork tender. Meat should easily pull away from the bone.
- Preheat outdoor grill on high.
- If desired, brush the lamb shanks with BBQ sauce (you can leave them dry if preferred) then place on the heated grill. Grill for 3-5 minutes per side brushing with additional BBQ sauce after flipping. (*see note)
- Remove from grill and let rest a few minutes before serving.
*Watch carefully to ensure shanks don't catch on fire while grilling as can happen when the fat from the shanks drips down the grill grates onto the flame.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 169Total Fat: 7gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 45mgSodium: 482mgCarbohydrates: 14gFiber: 1gSugar: 10gProtein: 13g
This website provides approximate nutrition information for convenience and as a courtesy only. Nutrition information can vary for a variety of reasons. For the most precise nutritional data use your preferred nutrition calculator based on the actual ingredients you used in the recipe.