Moroccan Lamb Shanks Recipe

Moroccan cuisine may not be as popular as Italian, Chinese, or Thai food, but anyone who's been fortunate enough to try it will be sure to enjoy this complex cuisine. While you might think that Moroccan food would be the kind of thing that would be too difficult to attempt at home, and/or require too many hard-to-source ingredients, that is not the case with recipe developer Ting Dalton's Moroccan lamb shanks. The only ingredient you might have to hunt for, depending on how well-stocked your supermarket's spices and condiments sections may be, is the harissa paste, or you could even make it yourself using a recipe such as this one from Bon Appetit. The other ingredients are readily available in most supermarkets, and the result will be what Dalton describes as "a wonderful warming and comforting dish with melt-in-your-mouth tender lamb alongside the tangy but sweet flavors of Morocco." If you love lamb or want to give a new food a try, this delicious recipe will definitely hit the spot!

Gather the ingredients to make Moroccan lamb shanks

To make this dish, you're going to need to raid the spice cabinet. In addition to that harissa paste, you will also need ground cumin, coriander, and paprika, plus a cinnamon stick. You'll also need to hit up the fresh produce aisle at the supermarket if you don't have any garlic and ginger on hand. Other veggies you'll be using are a red onion, a couple of carrots, canned tomatoes, and chickpeas.

You'll need some lamb shanks, of course, and for cooking you'll need olive oil and some lamb or chicken broth — the latter, of course, being much easier to come by. Add in a little bit of honey, the juice from a lemon, and that's it! Unless, of course, you'd like a hotter dish. "If you like it spicier," Dalton says, "add some cayenne pepper." Another possible addition, should you so choose, could be a small handful of dried apricots, something Dalton says is typical of Moroccan dishes. She says to add them along with the carrots and chickpeas, telling us, "This really does add another sweet element to the dish."

Make the spice paste and brown the lamb

As this dish will be cooked low and slow, you only need preheat the oven to 280 F. While it's heating, combine the onion, garlic, ginger, cumin, coriander, paprika and 1 teaspoon salt. Dalton used a mini food processor, but a mortar and pestle would work, too. If you don't have a food processor or mortar and pestle, don't worry about it, just fine chop/squish these ingredients together as best you can. As these ingredients just go into making the sauce and are not applied as a rub to the meat, it's not crucial that you achieve a true paste-like texture here.

After you're done prepping the spices, heat the oil in a Dutch oven or ovenproof skillet. Add the lamb shanks to the pan and brown them all over, then take them out of the pan (you're not done using it just yet), and set them aside.

Cook the lamb in the sauce

Turn the heat down to medium, then add the mixture of onions and spices to the pan and cook it for about five minutes. Mix in the harissa paste, then add the broth, canned tomatoes, and cinnamon stick. Stir it all up, then add the lamb shanks and make sure they are covered in the liquid.

Cover the pan, turn off the stove burner, and transfer the pan to the preheated oven. Bake the dish for one and ½ hours. At this point, add the honey, carrots, and chickpeas — plus those apricots, if you wish — and turn the lamb shanks over, too. Keep the lid off the pan, and bake the lamb for 40 more minutes.

Lemon juice adds a final touch

Once the meat starts falling off the bone, your Moroccan lamb shanks are almost done. Take the dish out of the oven. Juice the lemon, then pour the juice over the lamb. (Pulp is okay, but try to keep the seeds out.) If you'd like, you can also garnish the dish with some cilantro.

Dalton suggests that "you can serve this dish with couscous, rice or even warm flatbreads to dip in the sauce," adding that leftovers should be good in the fridge for three days. You can also freeze this dish to enjoy at a later time.

Moroccan Lamb Shanks Recipe
5 from 33 ratings
If you love tender, fall-off-the-bone lamb, then you'll want to try this Moroccan lamb shanks recipe.
Prep Time
Cook Time
lamb shanks in bowl
Total time: 3 hours
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 2 teaspoons fresh ginger, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 lamb shanks
  • 1 ½ tablespoon harissa paste
  • 1 cup lamb or chicken broth
  • 1 (14-ounce) can chopped tomatoes
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 2 carrots, peeled and chopped into large chunks
  • 1 (14-ounce) can chickpeas, drained
  • juice of 1 lemon
Optional Ingredients
  • cilantro for garnish
  1. Preheat the oven to 280 F.
  2. Combine the onion, garlic, ginger, cumin, coriander, paprika, and 1 teaspoon salt in a food processor (or use a mortar and pestle) to make a paste.
  3. Heat the oil in a Dutch oven or ovenproof skillet.
  4. Add the lamb shanks to the pan and brown them all over.
  5. Remove the lamb shanks from the pan and set them aside.
  6. Reduce the heat to medium, then add the onion/spice mixture to the pan and cook for about 5 minutes.
  7. Mix in the harissa paste.
  8. Add the broth and canned tomatoes to the pan and stir well.
  9. Add the cinnamon stick and lamb shanks to the pan, making sure the latter is submerged in the liquid.
  10. Cover the pan and bake in the oven for 1 ½ hours.
  11. Add the honey, carrots, and chickpeas to the pan, turning the lamb shanks as you do so.
  12. Cook the lamb, uncovered, for another 40 minutes, until the meat is falling off the bone.
  13. Squeeze the lemon and pour the juice over the top of the cooked lamb.
  14. Garnish with cilantro if desired.
Calories per Serving 1,203
Total Fat 72.3 g
Saturated Fat 30.4 g
Trans Fat 0.0 g
Cholesterol 300.8 mg
Total Carbohydrates 41.4 g
Dietary Fiber 11.3 g
Total Sugars 13.8 g
Sodium 1,392.7 mg
Protein 95.0 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
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