Try this lamb shank shepherd's pie, then check out our easy shepherd's pie, vegetarian shepherd's pie, cottage pie and more mince recipes. Also try more lamb recipes such as our braised lamb shanks, lamb shank rogan josh and lamb shank tagine.

Browning the lamb

While it’s tempting to skip this step, taking the time to really brown the lamb shanks before slow-cooking them helps build deep, delicious flavour into the braise. Caramelising the meat at the start adds umami depth as well as an appealing deep, dark colour.

Perfect pulling lamb

Lamb shanks do take a while to cook as they’re in large pieces but the wait is worth it. The result is meltingly tender meat that pulls apart with ease. They’re a group of muscles that does a lot of work, so shanks need slow, gentle cooking to tenderise. They’re full of gelatin, fat and marrow from the bone, which enriches the stew and makes it unctuously delicious.

Lid on, then off

Keeping the lid on for the first half of cooking steams the meat, so it releases all of its flavour into the braise as it gently simmers. When the lid is removed for the second half, the flavours will concentrate while the surface lightly caramelises.

Slow cooking

Few things are as satisfying as slow cooking meat until meltingly tender, as it fills your home with irresistible aromas. By the time you’re shredding the meat and seasoning the sauce, you’ll know you’re in for a treat.

Stress relief

Let out any built up tension by thoroughly mashing the potatoes – there are few things as comforting as creamy, smooth mash.

Flavour swaps

If you want to mix things up with your shepherd’s pie, add a few finely chopped preserved lemons and 2 tbsp of harissa while frying the onion, carrots and celery. Or add a handful of curry leaves, 1 tbsp of cumin seeds, some grated ginger and a finely chopped green chilli at the frying stage, if you like.


  • 2 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 4 small lamb shanks, seasoned well
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 sticks celery, finely chopped
  • 2 carrots, finely chopped
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp plain flour
  • 400g tin chopped tomatoes
  • 750ml chicken stock
  • 2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 4 sprigs rosemary, needles picked and chopped
  • 850g potatoes, cut into chunks
  • 50g unsalted butter
  • steamed green vegetables, to serve


  • STEP 1

    Heat 1 tbsp of the oil in a large casserole over a medium-high heat and brown the lamb shanks, in batches, for 2-3 minutes on each side until well coloured. Remove to a plate and set aside.

  • STEP 2

    Add the remaining oil, the onion, celery, carrots, bay and a pinch of salt to the pan, cover with the lid and cook for 15 minutes until the vegetables have started to soften, stirring every now and again.

  • STEP 3

    Uncover, add the garlic and cook for a minute more, then tip in the flour and cook, stirring, for a further minute. Tip in the tomatoes, stock, worcestershire sauce and rosemary. Season well, bring to a simmer, then return the lamb shanks to the pan. Cover with the lid, reduce the heat to a gentle bubble and cook for 2 hours. Remove the lid and cook for another 1-2 hours or until the lamb shanks are meltingly tender. Remove the shanks to a board, shred the meat using two forks, then stir it back into the sauce. Season to taste. You can keep the lamb mixture frozen in an airtight container for up to three months once completely cooled.

  • STEP 4

    Heat the oven to 200C/fan 180C/gas 6. Tip the lamb mixture into a deep 20cm x 30cm baking dish. Cook the potatoes in a large pan of boiling salted water for 15-20 minutes until really soft. Drain well, then return to the same pan. Season, add the butter and mash until mostly smooth.

  • STEP 5

    Spoon the buttery mash over the lamb mixture in the baking dish, then gently smooth out with the back of the spoon so the filling is completely covered. Drag a fork over the mash to decorate, then bake for 25-30 minutes until the mash is golden and the filling is bubbling at the edges. Serve with buttered steamed green veg.

Find more hearty pie recipes

A golden pie with a serving taken out revealing a meaty centre


Adam Bush Chef Portrait
Adam BushDeputy food editor

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