Greek Lamb Shanks are tender, juicy and succulent. These fall off the bone shanks are marinated then oven baked and grilled to perfection! This Greek lamb shanks recipe will deliver taste, texture and a bright zesty freshness. Serve with polenta, artichokes, olives and capers for a deliciously satisfying homemade dinner.
Recipes like the Lamb Osso Bucco, BBQ Lamb Ribs and Easy Lamb Bolognese let us using this protein in a variety of tasty ways.
The Greek Ribs is an alternative protein using pork and both it and the Greek Lamb Chops use the same zesty fresh flavour combination. Greek recipes offer something new and flavours that you may not have tried, so they are well worth your effort.
🤍 Recipe Highlights
I have summarised everything that you will come to know and love (LOVE ❤) about the recipe in the points below:
- Packed with flavour: with deliberate intent creating a marinade that will impart maximum flavour to the lamb, there is also a handling of each ingredient chosen to compliment and not over power the other (honey, lemon and yum!).
- Taste and texture: there is the soft wet tender lamb meat, the firm, hard shank bone and the sensation of chewing that off as you devour these, it makes for an all round great dish.
- Family friendly: as much as there is flavour to the moon and back in this dish, it is not hot or spicy. Created in a fuss free manner, everyone from little kids to big ones will love getting their chops around this great recipe. And hey, if they want to pick up the exposed bone and chow on down without their knife and fork, let's not stop them 😉. Etiquette not a requirement of the eating.
- Simple marinade: some recipes call for boiling ingredients together on the stove as a means to dissolve sugars and combine. My preference is not to do this for a recipe like this. I want you to grab the ingredients whip them together and the marinade is done, no extra work needed!! This also means no seared lamb shanks (fine for this recipe as the marinade is zesty and fresh).
- Weekend cooking: when you work Monday to Friday, one of the things you can look forward to is the weekends when you can get cooking. It can be a a super enjoyable way to spend time in your kitchen getting your cook on with more time than you are afforded during the week. This cooking method allows us to take our time 1st baking then grilling the shanks!
- Alternative protein: it can be really easy to roast a chicken (the Air Fryer Roast Chicken being a great example). But you get bored eating the same thing every night! Stepping out of the comfort zone of 'same, same', allows you to learn and enjoy other proteins that you might find insanely delicious!
The photo below is to show you everything you need to make the recipe. Please refer to the printable recipe card for specific ingredient measurements as well as detailed instructions.
As you can see the recipe calls for:
- Lamb shanks: you will be able to get these from your local supermarket in the meat section. They look a little deceptive in that you won't see any exposed bone until you cook them and the cooking process reveals the bone. Check the label if in doubt. You will also be able to purchase these from your local butcher.
- Lemons: for this recipe we do need actual lemons not bottled lemon juice. This is because we use both the skin (zested) and juice of the lemons. Using bottled lemon juice means we would miss out on the taste and texture of the zest which is a key (and delicious) component of the dish, so head to the fruit section, I insist 😉👍.
- Olive oil: the main liquid component of the marinade and a perfect pairing with the lemon juice. This also allows us to get a little char on our shanks towards the end of the cook process where we do a quick grill of them.
- Honey: sweet and sticky this fantastic ingredient adds a subtle sweetness to the marinade without going so far as to add an artificial sweetener.
- Garlic: chunky minced garlic from a bottle is great and convenient or use fresh cloves (2-3) and finely chop them after cutting off the end bit.
- Parsley, thyme and dried oregano: we use dried herbs for the recipe as they are pantry staples that save you running out and purchasing a whole ton of fresh herbs which you may not fully use. These deliver maximum flavour and a Greek or Mediterranean flavour base.
- Salt and black pepper: a little of each are used to season the lamb, we add these to the marinade.
Tasty Tip: I like to offer a number of substitutions and variations to give you options when making the recipe. If in doubt of any of the above ingredients, or wanting alternatives, read this section before jumping into the instructions on how to make the recipe below 👍😉.
Here are the step by step instructions to make the recipe. We start by zesting and juicing the lemons and then combining the marinade ingredients.
- Zest lemons (Photo 1)
- Juice lemons (Photo 2)
- Gather marinade ingredients (Photo 3)
- Combine marinade (Photo 4)
👩🍳 How to Make Greek Lamb Shanks
Start by using a microplane zester to zest the lemons, transfer the zest into a small bowl and once done juice the lemons.
Next gather the remaining ingredients to make the marinade. Add the olive oil, lemon juice, honey, lemon zest, dried parsley, oregano, thyme, salt and pepper to a large jug and use a mini whisk to stir and combine.
Remove the packaging from the shanks, pat them dry with paper towel and place them into a large bowl. Pour the marinade over the shanks, then use kitchen tongs to rotate and coat the shanks in the marinade. Place cling film over the top of the bowl and place into the fridge for a minimum of 30 minutes to overnight.
- Combine shanks and marinade (Photo 5)
- Transfer to baking dish (Photo 6)
- Cover and bake (Photo 7)
- Remove, rotate and bake (Photo 8)
🍖 Greek Lamb Shanks Recipe Steps
Once the lamb shanks have marinated, remove them from the fridge, discard the cling film and transfer them (and the marinade) to a large oiled baking dish (or large Dutch oven).
Cover the baking dish with foil and put them into the preheated oven on the middle shelf. Allow them to cook for 1 hour at medium-high heat, then use oven mits to remove, place on a heatproof surface and pull the foil off.
Use kitchen tongs to rotate each shank to the other side and use a basting brush to scoop the marinade from the base of the baking dish and coat the flipped side. Then place the foil back onto the dish and use the oven mits to transfer the dish back into the oven. After a further hour repeat this process and then place the dish back into the oven for the final hour. (The total oven bake time is 3 hours for the recipe, there is also grill time you will see further below).
- Garnish and serving suggestions (Photo 9)
- Stir to combine (Photo 10)
- Bake 1 hour, rotate, bake 1 hour, rotate, bake 1 hour (Photo 11)
- Baste, grill for 10 mins, repeat (Photo 12)
As the shanks are cooking, you can use this time to prepare the garnishes if choosing these as your serving pairings.
The polenta can easily be cooked on the stove according to packet instructions. It will cook very quickly in less than 10 minutes. I add a couple of knobs of butter to it just before it is ready for flavour and creaminess. It doesn't get added to the garnish ingredients, just in case you think I am saying that in the photo above.
Then I take a combination of chopped marinated artichoke hearts, sliced kalamata olives and drained by not rinsed capers and stir these together in a mixing bowl. I use these as substitute for roasting vegetables or making a salad. We are so hands on too get the shanks to the point of deliciousness that this simple combination saves a little time and energy. Plus the flavours work fantastically well with the Greek style theme and flavour combination.
Once the oven baking is done, you can again remove the shanks from the oven. This time transfer lamb shanks onto a lined (I recommend a silicon baking mat) baking tray.
Use a pastry brush to scoop the remaining marinade in the pan and baste one side of each shank, then grill them for 10 minutes.
After 10 minutes, remove the baking tray, use kitchen tongs to rotate each shank to the other side and then baste this side before grilling for another 10 minutes.
Once done, remove and get ready to pull together with the polenta, olive mixture and some finely chopped parsley which can be sprinkled over the top of the dish.
🍽 Serving Suggestions
My serving suggestions to pair with the shanks are polenta and the combined olives, artichokes and capers you see in the photos throughout the post. The combination makes for a delicious meal! I also drizzle a little Worcestershire sauce over the top. Another easy option is to serve with orzo pasta.
Some additional sauce suggestions are the Herbed Yogurt Sauce, Parsley Yogurt Sauce or Lemon Yogurt Sauce.
If you are looking for a bread pairing for the dish the Turkish Garlic Bread, Ciabatta Garlic Bread and Garlic Pizza Bread are all tasty combos.
For a light and bright salad either the Healthy Panzanella Salad or the Cherry Tomato Caprese Salad will work well as side dishes.
If you want to see more recipes paired with polenta, I use it for each the Lamb Osso Bucco, Pork Osso Bucco and Beef Osso Bucco.
For the artichoke, olive and caper combination, you can see this used in the Pasta Alla Gorgonzola, Spaghetti Gorgonzola or the Rigatoni Gorgonzola.
👍 How to Guide
How to Store
Store leftovers on a plate with cling wrap or in a sealed airtight container in the fridge for that day and the next. Reheat before serving.
How to Reheat
Reheat the shanks in the microwave for 2 to 3 mins. Or on a baking tray in the oven for about 5 mins. Test before consuming to ensure that they are heated through.
You can freeze the purchased raw shanks until a time when you are ready to cook them. Thaw fully in the fridge overnight prior and cook from defrosted not frozen. I don't recommend freezing leftovers as you loose the essence of how good these are fresh out of the oven and in your dinner bowl. You can also chop up any leftover meat and repurpose it into a salad or pizza topping for an alternative idea if you don't want to have the same thing for dinner 2 nights in a row.
😉 Substitutions and Variations
Here are my sub ins and outs that you might be thinking about as you read the post and I will tell you if I think they will work or why they won't:
- You can rinse the shanks under clean room temperature water before patting dry if you like.
- You can use fresh herbs in place of the dried herbs if you prefer.
- Rosemary is an alternative herb that can be subbed in place or addition to the parsley, oregano and thyme.
- Mashed potatoes are an alternative way to serve the shanks to pairing with polenta. The Horseradish Mashed Potatoes or for crispy ones the Duck Fat Roast Potatoes will both work.
- Orzo is another serving suggestion which will provide a carby balance to the lamb protein (Greek lamb shanks with orzo if you please).
- Add additional lemon slices for serving if you please.
- Or grate some zest into strips and sprinkle this over the top for an extra fresh zing on top!
- Fresh rosemary and crumbled feta are a great garnish idea also and an alternative to try if olives and artichokes are not up your alley.
💡 Tasty Tips
Here are my top tips and tricks that I want to share with you so that you master the recipe from the get go:
- The shanks will appear quite differently in the shops (you won't see the bone) to how they look when cooked.
- Kitchen tongs are super handy to handle the shanks when rotating or transferring. You might find 2 pairs (one in each hand) works better than 1 pair.
- Don't discard the marinade until you have grilled the shanks, we get a lot of bang for our buck with the flavours.
- Ensure that the oven is preheated before putting the shanks in to allow you to follow the specified cooking time and have no doubt that the shanks will be cooked after this time period.
- Once the shanks are cooked, let them rest (sit) whilst you prepare the serving pairings as this allows the juices to be absorbed back into the meat.
🤓 Frequently Asked Questions
Why aren't my lamb shanks tender?
Lamb shanks need to be cooked for a long time to allow them to become juicy and tender. If your shanks are tough or chewy, the likely cause is that they were not cooked for long enough.
Should lamb be covered or uncovered when roasting?
Covering the lamb when it is roasting is a great way to ensure that the heat and moisture stays in the pan.
Should I season lamb the night before?
You can marinade or season lamb the day before you plan to cook it as a means to allow the flavour to sit with the lamb longer for more tasty results.
😍 More Easy Dinner Recipes
Dinner can be fuss free and easy if you have an array of recipes that offer alternative ways of delivering maximum taste and texture. Here are some recipes along these lines that I know you will love:
- Gnocchi Gorgonzola
- Baked Meatball Subs
- Spaghetti Al Pesto
- Meatball Bolognese
- Sweet and Sour Ribs
- Tagliatelle Alla Bolognese
- Linguine Al Pesto
- Pesto Fettuccine (Fettuccine Al Pesto)
- Fettuccine Bolognese
- Spaghetti Alla Bolognese
It is time to get our shank on my friend, using Greek style lamb! You can also find all of my dinner recipes in the one spot.
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Greek Lamb Shanks
- 1 Chopping board to zest and juice the lemons
- 1 Micro plane zester to zest the lemons
- 1 Juicer to juice the lemons
- 1 Medium sized jug to combine the marinade in
- 1 Large mixing bowl to marinate the lamb shanks in
- 1 Mini whisk to stir the marinade
- 1 Cling Wrap
- 1 Large baking dish or Large Dutch Oven
- 1 Kitchen Tongs
- 1 Aluminium foil
- 2 Oven Mits
- 1 Baking tray
- 1 Pastry Brush to baste the marinade onto the lamb during cooking and before grilling
- 1 Silicon Baking Mat
- 4 lamb shanks
- 1 cup lemon zest Note 1
- ¾ cup lemon juice also Note 1
- ½ cup olive oil
- ¼ cup honey
- 2 teaspoon dried parsley
- 2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 2 teaspoon dried thyme
- ¼ kosher salt (cooking salt)
- ¼ cracked black pepper
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic chunky or used 2-3 finely chopped fresh cloves
- polenta cook according to packet instructions
- 1 cup marinated artichoke hearts chopped into 3 or 4 smaller pieces
- 1 cup kalamata olives pitted and sliced
- ½ cup capers drained, not rinsed
- Worcestershire sauce to get the drizzle you see in the photos, Note 3
- Marinade: make the marinade by combining the olive oil, lemon juice, lemon zest, honey, dried herbs, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Use a mini whisk to stir and combine. Then set aside.
- Lamb shanks: remove the packaging from the ribs and pat them dry with paper towel. Place them into a large mixing bowl.
- Marinate: pour the combined lemon honey herb marinade over the top of the shanks. Use kitchen tongs to rotate and mix the shanks in with the marinade so they are completely covered. Then place cling film over the top and marinade for a minimum of 30 minutes to overnight.
- Preheat the oven: preheat the oven to 180°C / 350-375°F / Gas Mark 4-5.
- Baking tray: spray a large baking dish with olive oil spray then remove the marinated lamb shanks from the refrigerator and transfer them and the remaining liquid into the dish.
- Oven bake: cover the baking dish with aluminium foil and place the shanks into the oven on the middle shelf. Allow them to bake for 1 hour. Then remove using oven mits, rest the dish on a heat proof surface, pull the foil off and use kitchen tongs to rotate the shanks to the other side. Use a pastry brush to scoop the marinade from the bottom of the pan, coat each top side with the marinade, then recover with foil and place back into the oven for a further hour. Then remove and repeat the rotate and baste process before putting the shanks back into the oven for the final hour.
- Polenta (optional): read and follow the instructions on the packet to cook the polenta. Ensure it is seasoned with a generous sprinkle of cooking salt. Minutes before it is ready add a knob or 2 of butter and stir till melted into the polenta.
- Olive mixture (optional): add the chopped artichokes, sliced kalamata olives and capers to a mixing bowl. Use a spoon to stir and combine.
- Grill: use kitchen tongs to transfer the cooked lamb shanks to a lined (silicon mat) baking tray). Change the oven setting to grill at 200°C 392°F6. Place the baking rack into the oven on the top shelf. Grill the shanks for 10 mins (no need to flip). Then remove, repeat basting process followed by 10 mins grill time. Note 2.
- Serve: scoop spoonful's of the cooked polenta into bowls, top with the olive mixture and place a shank on top. Drizzle Worcestershire sauce over the top and season with cracked pepper before providing a generous sprinkle of finely chopped parsley.
- Note 1- Lemons: if you can, try and use fresh lemons as then you can use both the zest (grated skin) and juice. If using store bought bottle lemon juice (fine at times) you won't be able to add the zest to the marinade. Yes, you will need a little elbow grease to zest and juice them, but it is oh so worth it when you taste the lemony herby shanks!
- Note 2 - Grilling: each side of the shanks will get grilled for 1 10 minute period.
- Note 3 - Sauce: the Herbed Yogurt Sauce is the best for pairing with the lamb, however, I like to drizzle a little Worcestershire sauce over the meat as well for presentation and a little oomph.
- Serving portions: You will find 1 shank plus a portion of the polenta and olive mixture enough for 4 people. This is using 2 cups of dried polenta and cooking it with 2 cups of cold water, 2.5 cups of boiling water, a large pinch of salt and 2 knobs of butter.
Yes please hubby and I will be all over these we love lamb.
Thanks Belinda, I hope that you both enjoy the recipe!
Molly Brown says
Absolutely fantastic and the olives and polenta were the perfect additions, yum.
Great to hear, thanks Molly!
Emma Turnball says
Great recipe. The lamb has a lovely flavour and we will make it again.