Smoked Lamb Shanks

Smoked lamb shanks

The lamb shank has long been a classic cut for slow cooking and braising. During the process, the connective tissue breaks down and makes the meat melt in your mouth tender.

Smoking the lamb shanks on a pellet smoker is the best way to achieve this result. This method allows the shanks to slowly absorb smoke and infuse it with smoky flavor.

How Long Should I Smoke Lamb Shanks?

One of the key factors to cooking meaty lamb shanks is to slow cook them so that they become fall-apart tender. This requires lots of connective tissue to break down, so you need to smoke the meat slowly and allow it to braise in a braising liquid for a long period of time.

The simplest way to do this is to smoke the lamb shanks for two hours before transferring them to a braising pot. This will give you the smoky flavor in the smoker and then let the collagen in the meat to break down completely as it is braised for a long period of time in the braise.

Once the meat has reached a temperature of 185-190 degrees F, remove it from the smoker and place it on a cutting board to rest for about 20 minutes. This will allow the meat to absorb any remaining juices and flavors from the braising liquid so that it is deliciously tender when you serve it!

Benefits of Smoking Lamb Shanks

Like many of the more difficult cuts of meat that smoke well (brisket, pork butt, spareribs, beef short ribs), lamb shanks benefit from slow cooking and braising. This allows the connective tissue, collagen, and fat interwoven throughout to break down and melt over time.

When done properly, these tender and juicy lamb shanks practically fall off the bone. This makes them perfect for smoking and braising, which results in incredibly delicious and tender meat.

To start, season the lamb shanks with salt and pepper. Pat dry and place on a griddle over medium-high heat until lightly browned, about 8 minutes. Transfer to a plate and repeat with remaining shanks.

Smoking Lamb Shanks on the Grill

Smoking lamb shanks on the grill is a great way to get fall-off-the-bone tender meat. You can use a pellet smoker to add smoky flavor or you can smoke on a traditional charcoal or gas grill.

The first step is to prepare your grill for indirect cooking. This means preheat one side of the grill to 225 deg F and place the lamb shanks on the other side of the grill away from the direct heat.

Once the grill is up to temperature, add some wood chips and place the lamb shanks on the grill, evenly spaced. Depending on the size and thickness of your shanks, they will take about 4 hours to cook.

After the lamb has smoked, remove it from the grill and let it rest in foil for 20-30 minutes before serving. This will help it absorb the remaining juices and flavors.

Smoking Lamb Shanks on the Barbecue

If you want to add a little extra flavor to your lamb shanks, you can smoke them on the barbecue. This process can give your dish a beautiful mahogany color and a smoky, delicious flavor that you just can’t get indoors.

The shanks should be cooked until they are tender and fall-off-the-bone, and you can serve them in a variety of ways to suit your taste. The best way to achieve this is to cook them low and slow on your smoker for a long period of time.

The shanks should be seasoned with a rub made of garlic powder, smoked paprika, onion powder, salt, and pepper. Then they are braised in a beef broth and wine bath for a rich and tender meal.

How To Smoke Lamb Shanks Step By Step

Smoking lamb shanks is a fantastic way to infuse this cut of meat with smoky flavor and achieve tender, fall-off-the-bone results. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to prepare and smoke lamb shanks:


  • Lamb shanks
  • Olive oil
  • Dry rub or marinade of your choice
  • Wood chips or chunks for smoking (hickory, apple, or cherry wood work well)
  • Smoker (charcoal, electric, or pellet)
  • Meat thermometer
  • Aluminum foil
  • Basting brush


1. Prepare the Lamb Shanks:

  • Start by rinsing the lamb shanks and patting them dry with paper towels.

2. Season and Marinate:

  • Drizzle olive oil over the lamb shanks to help the dry rub or marinade adhere to the meat. Season the shanks generously with your choice of dry rub or marinade. You can use a pre-made rub or create your own with a combination of salt, pepper, garlic powder, paprika, brown sugar, and other spices.

3. Preheat the Smoker:

  • Preheat your smoker to a temperature of approximately 225-250°F (107-121°C). Make sure the smoker is stable at this temperature before adding the lamb shanks.

4. Add Smoke:

  • Add wood chips or chunks of your chosen wood to the smoker’s wood chip tray or smoker box. The type of wood you select will influence the flavor of the lamb. Soak the wood chips for about 30 minutes before use to produce more smoke.

5. Smoke the Lamb Shanks:

  • Place the seasoned lamb shanks on the smoker grates with plenty of space around them for even smoking.
  • Maintain a consistent temperature of 225-250°F (107-121°C) throughout the smoking process.
  • Smoke the lamb shanks for approximately 4-6 hours, or until they reach an internal temperature of around 195-203°F (90-95°C). Use a meat thermometer to monitor the temperature.

6. Baste and Wrap (Optional):

  • You can baste the lamb shanks with a mixture of apple juice or apple cider vinegar and olive oil every hour or so for added moisture and flavor.
  • About halfway through the cooking process, you can wrap the lamb shanks in aluminum foil to help retain moisture. This step, known as the “Texas Crutch,” can result in more tender meat.

7. Rest:

  • Once the lamb shanks reach the desired internal temperature and are tender, remove them from the smoker. Allow them to rest for about 15-20 minutes. Resting allows the juices to redistribute, resulting in more tender meat.

8. Serve:

  • Serve the smoked lamb shanks hot. They pair wonderfully with a variety of side dishes, such as mashed potatoes, roasted vegetables, or a fresh salad.

Smoking lamb shanks is a slow process, but the smoky, savory flavor and tender meat are well worth the effort. Enjoy your smoked lamb shanks as a delicious and memorable meal.

Read more great BBQ articles at Bob’s BBQ Tips