Lamb Shanks with Butternut Squash

DinnerFavorite WinterGluten-FreeLamb Shank

Rich and hearty lamb shank and butternut squash stew, served with parsley, garlic, and lemon gremolata.

Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

For those of you snow-bound, this is a rich and hearty dish, perfect for a cold winter day. For me it conjures up images of ski lodges and cabernet, it’s so warm and comforting.

Flavorful lamb shanks are first browned and then braised in red wine, stock, and aromatics. Then they are combined with white beans and roasted butternut squash.

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Lamb Shanks with Butternut Squash Recipe

  • Prep time: 15 minutes
  • Cook time: 4 hours
  • Yield: Serves 4 to 6


  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 Lamb shanks (1 pound each)
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • Cloves separated from an entire head of garlic, unpeeled
  • 6 celery ribs, coarsely chopped
  • 4 carrots, coarsely chopped
  • 1 large onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup tomato paste
  • 3 cups dry red wine
  • 6 cups chicken stock (use gluten-free stock for gluten-free version)
  • Two 1x3-inch strips of orange zest
  • 3 pounds butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 1 1/3 cup cooked cannellini beans (about 1 15 ounce can, drained)


  • 4 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • 4 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
  • 4 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest


1 Brown the shanks on all sides: Heat 2 Tbsp of olive oil in a large thick-bottomed Dutch oven pot. Season the lamb shanks with salt and pepper, add them to the casserole and brown well on all sides, working in batches if necessary, about 8 minutes. Transfer the shanks to a plate.

2 Preheat the oven to 350°F and arrange two racks in the oven, one to hold the Dutch oven pot and one to hold a baking sheet with the squash.

3 Sauté celery, carrots, onion, unpeeled garlic, add tomato paste, add wine: Add the unpeeled garlic cloves, celery, carrots and onion to the pot. Cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, about 8 minutes.

Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring, until glossy, about 2 minutes. Add the wine; boil over high heat until the liquid is very syrupy, about 15 minutes.

4 Add shanks, stock, simmer until lamb is tender: Return the shanks to the pot and add the stock and orange zest. Bring to a simmer. Cover the pot and braise the shanks in the oven for about 2 to 3 hours, until the meat is very tender. Turn the shanks from time to time as they cook.

5 Roast butternut squash: While the shanks are cooking, roast the butternut squash. On a large rimmed baking sheet, toss the squash with the remaining 2 Tbsp of olive oil.

Season with salt and pepper and bake in the oven (along with the lamb) for about an hour, or until tender.

6 Make the gremolata: In a small bowl, mix the minced garlic with the parsley and lemon zest (the "gremolata"). Set aside.

7 Remove shanks from pot, strain vegetables from sauce: Remove the shanks from the oven and transfer to a plate. Pass the sauce through a coarse strainer, pressing hard on the vegetables. Discard the vegetable pulp. Skim the fat from the surface of the sauce.

8 Combine sauce, shanks, squash, and beans: Return the sauce to the pot, season with salt and pepper and bring to a boil over moderately high heat. Add the lamb shanks and squash; simmer just until warmed through. Add the cannellini beans, cover and remove from heat. Let stand for a few minutes to allow for the flavors to blend.

Spoon the vegetables and sauce into large shallow bowls and set the lamb shanks on top. Garnish with the gremolata and serve.

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Adapted by a recipe from Mel's Bar and Grill in Denver, written up in Food and Wine Magazine's 1999 Annual Cookbook.

Elise Bauer

Elise Bauer is the founder of Simply Recipes. Elise launched Simply Recipes in 2003 as a way to keep track of her family's recipes, and along the way grew it into one of the most popular cooking websites in the world. Elise is dedicated to helping home cooks be successful in the kitchen. Elise is a graduate of Stanford University, and lives in Sacramento, California.

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7 Comments / Reviews

No ImageLamb Shanks with Butternut Squash

Did you make it? Rate it!

  1. Jane

    This was yummy! I especially liked the gremolata. Thanks so much.


  2. Roland

    Excellent recipe. I made two changes: 1) I used lamb shank steaks because they were on special at my local market. These worked great and they were tender in about 80 minutes. 2) Because my oven is small, I couldn’t simultaneously cook the lamb shanks and the squash. My solution was to grill the squash. To do so I peeled the squash, then cut the squash in half lengthwise, maintaining the shape of the squash. Then I cut each half into quarters before putting the pieces on the grill. This worked great.

  3. Emily

    Elise, let me just say. I have had lamb shanks. And I have loved lamb shanks. And when I managed to sneak lamb shanks into the cart under my unsuspecting voice-of-reason boyfriend’s nose, I was thrilled to finally try out this recipe.

    The lamb was luscious, buttery delight on a bone. I halved the recipe since we’re only two and added a handful of cranberries and a sprig of rosemary; it was just DIVINE.

    But I have to be honest. The butternut squash just stole the show because (confession) I have never had it before. It was delicious!

    I am now on a butternut squash kick which will undoubtedly culminate in mashed butternut squash: what sweet potatoes always should have been and never were.

    Thank you so much for introducing me to this new, wonderful squash.

    You, Elise, are my culinary hero!


  4. Sue

    I love lamb yet as a younger woman I hated it & the smell, now I can’t get enough! This recipe was awesome, love butternut squash too. Was not as time consuming as it looks, I prepped all the veggies the night before, that was a big help. I could only get 3 shanks @ the store so also picked up a center cut lamb steak which I buy often to grill. Still could of used a little more, maybe 2 more shanks so as to have left overs. I think I would add 1 more can of beans & then thicken the gravy (broth) so as it would be thicker like a stew. The broth was absolutely delicious. I was also thinking of adding some potatoes cubed. This would be more like a stew. The broth alone is more like a soup but I like the added thickness & the taste of stew. Now, all you need is a nice fresh loaf of your favorite bakery bread, awesome. This gets a #5 in my book.

  5. Slarty

    Wow. Fantastic. Loved how the orange flavor meshed with the squash.


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