Lamb Shanks with Prunes


lamb shanks with prunes

Lamb Shanks with Prunes

Lamb shanks are one of my all time favourite cuts of meat. One of the things I really miss since my Dad sold the farm is having access to home grown grass-fed lamb and home grown lamb shanks in particular. We used to joke that it was a shame sheep only had 4 legs!

If lamb isn’t your thing, see below for alternatives. I like to keep things simple and just serve this on a bed of baby spinach leaves. But you could serve with mash, steamed rice or buttered pasta or add in a can of chickpeas if you prefer.

Enough for: 4
Takes: 5 hours
4 lamb shanks
4 red onions, quartered lengthwise
200g (7oz) pitted prunes
1 can tomatoes (400g / 14oz)
1 stick cinnamon, optional
1 bag baby spinach leaves, to serve

1. Preheat your oven to 150C (300F).

2. Place lamb, onions, prunes, tomatoes and cinnamon (if using) in a large casserole or cast iron pot. Cover with a can full of water (or 1 1/2 cups).

3. Cover with the lid or some foil and bake for 4-5 hours or until lamb is super tender.

4. Taste and season. Serve on a bed of baby spinach.


slow cooker – reduce water to 1/2 cup. Cook on auto for 10-11 hours or until lamb is tender.

short on time – simmer sauce ingredients together for 20-30 minutes and serve with pan fried or BBQ lamb chops or steak.

vegetarian / vegan – I love large mushrooms or eggplants slow cooked like this. Replace lamb with 4-8 large field or portabello mushrooms or eggplants. Halve the water and cooking time.

different meat – anything that works well slow cooked such as osso buco, chicken drumsticks or marylands, beef short ribs, pork neck, lamb neck chops, pork spare ribs, duck legs. You’ll need to adjust the cooking times.

different fruit – I love prunes here. They’re not exactly the most glamorous fruit but they cook down into the sauce to give a hint of sweet richness without overpowering. And then there’s all that fiber. But you could use dried apricots or dried apples instead if you prefer.

fruit-free – replace prunes with baby carrots or parsnips.

low carb – skip the prunes.

carb lovers / more substantial – serve with hot buttered toast, mashed potato or sweet potato.

more veg – add mushrooms or any root veg.

Waste Avoidance Strategy

lamb shanks – freeze them.

onions, prunes, tomatoes, cinnamon – pantry.

baby spinach leaves – use for another meal. Can be frozen but will wilt when defrosted. If you choose this option, I think it’s nicer to warm the wilted spinach before serving.

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  • Cooked this in the slow cooker today and loved coming home to a delicious smelling home after work! We had some organic cavelo nero in the fridge from the markets on the weekend so I cooked up ‘kale linguine’ to serve with this instead of the baby spinach. It was fabulous! Just what we wanted on this wintery night. I wasn’t sure on the prunes but they were great to bring some sweetness to the dish, we also added a few garlic cloves as we love them. Will definitely cook this again and we have leftovers for tomorrow, yum!

  • I made this in a crock pot with a boneless leg of lamb. I wasn’t sure what I was expecting, but the flavors have grown on me as I reheat this for lunch.

    At the end, I pulled the meat out of the crock and semi-pureed the liquid and other ingredients with an immersion blender to create a thick gravy. I then shredded the lamb and put it back into the crock, creating a thick lamb stew. It’s actually pretty good with a thick slice of rustic bread.

    • Thanks for sharing your experience Nicole!
      The problem with using boneless lamb is that you miss out on having the sauce flavoured by low cooking with the bones.
      Also be careful with slow cooking leg of lamb… it tends to be much leaner than the shank and can end up being dry. That’s why I love lamb shanks. Although sounds like you avoided the drynes. 🙂

  • These were amazing, particularly the prunes. The shanks my butcher sold me we enormous so this fed us for two meals and we still had leftovers. I ended up shredding the meat and chucking in some sautéed mushrooms on the second night then turning the whole lot into a pie. SO good. Oh and served with your addictive lemony kale (sans ricotta) because I’m addicted and it felt a little more wintery than baby spinach.

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