Braised Venison Shanks with Garlic

4.87 from 38 votes
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venison shank recipe
Photo by Holly A. Heyser

Whenever I come home with a deer, one of the first things I eat are the shanks. Venison shanks are an eater’s cut: All that connective tissue is what is essentially the animal’s shin and calf melts into a slick, almost sticky gravy. Properly done, a braised shank feels like its loaded with fat, but isn’t. It’s alchemy.

The key to cooking any shank, wild or domestic, is to cook it slow, moist and low. Take your time, braise or stew the shanks over low heat. Once you figure that out, you’re golden.

Hunters out there, if you have never bothered with the shanks from your deer, you really ought to. Ever try to use one for sausage or burger? The same connective tissue that makes braised venison shanks so good will destroy your grinder — or make you homicidal as you try (unsuccessfully) to remove all of it beforehand. Better to go with what nature gives you.

To remove a shank from a deer or pig, you will often need a hacksaw, but if you cut all the tendons just right you can break the shank off by bending it backwards. Shanks from smaller deer, antelope or pigs should be cooked whole, like this recipe, while elk or moose shanks should be cut into cross sections like beef shanks.

Most braised shank recipes are heavy, loaded with dark, brooding ingredients like mushrooms, Port or beef stock. I like those flavors as much as the next guy, but it would not be right for this yearling antelope, whose meat is pale like lamb. So I went with a spring lamb feel for this dish.

I had a lot of garlic lying around the pantry, so I decided to go with a flavor reminiscent of Forty Clove Chicken.

Yes, there are something like 4 heads of garlic in this dish. Worry not: The garlic gets very mellow in the braising process, and if you follow this trick, peeling it all will take you less than a minute. Really.

venison shank recipe with garlic
Photos by Holly A. Heyser

The result is a smooth, silky, mellow (and yes, garlicky, but not offensively so) sauce poured over meat that’s so tender it falls off the bone. A little lemon zest and white wine provide some tartness, some rosemary for balance.

Serve this with mashed potatoes, polenta or something else to soak up the sauce, which is so good you will want to save any leftovers; it’s great as a pasta sauce the next day.

Try this recipe and you too may find yourself eating the shanks from your deer before you even think about the backstrap…

venison shank recipe
4.87 from 38 votes

Braised Venison Shanks with Garlic

As I designed this specifically for a young antelope, you will need something like it to really appreciate the dish. In the wild world, use this recipe for shanks from young animals, i.e., yearlings, young does or wild boar. If you make this with older animals, the flavors won't work as well -- use my recipe for Portuguese braised venison shanks instead. In the domesticated world, this recipe is absolutely ideal for lamb shanks.
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Servings: 4 people
Author: Hank Shaw
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 2 hours 30 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours 40 minutes


  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil or butter
  • 4 venison shanks (or lamb)
  • 4 heads of garlic, peeled
  • Salt
  • 3/4 cup white wine
  • 1/2 cup chicken or other light stock
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary, plus more for garnish
  • Zest of a lemon
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter


  • Take the shanks out of the fridge, coat them in a little oil and salt them well. Preheat the oven to 300°F.
  • Heat the vegetable oil or butter in a Dutch oven (or other ovenproof pan that will fit all the shanks) and brown the shanks on every side but the one with the "shin," where the bone shows clearly -- if you brown this part, the shank is more likely to fall apart before you want it to. Remove the shanks as they brown and set aside.
  • While the shanks are browning, peel the garlic. Think it's hard to peel 4 heads of garlic? Try this trick: Separate the cloves and put them in a metal bowl. Cover the bowl with one the same size and shake them vigorously for about 10 seconds. All the cloves will be peeled. Here is a video of the process.
  • Put the garlic in the pot and brown just a little. Pour in the white wine and scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pot with a wooden spoon. Bring this to a boil and add the chicken stock, thyme, rosemary and lemon zest. bring to a simmer and add salt to taste. Return the shanks to the pot and arrange "shin" side up with the garlic all around them. Cover the pot and cook in the oven until the meat wants to fall off the bone, anywhere from an hour to 2 hours.
  • Carefully remove the shanks and arrange on a baking sheet or small roasting pan. Turn the oven to 400°F. Remove about 12 of the nicest garlic cloves and set aside.
  • Puree the sauce in a blender, swirl in the unsalted butter and pour the sauce into a small pot to keep warm.
  • Paint the shanks with some of the sauce and put them in the oven. Paint every 5 minutes for 15 minutes, or until there is a nice glaze on the shanks. To serve, give everyone some mashed potatoes or polenta and a shank. Pour some sauce over everything and garnish with the roasted garlic cloves and rosemary.


I garnish this dish with my preserved garlic, but unless you've already made some, just remove some of the garlic cloves from the pot before you puree the sauce. 


Calories: 410kcal | Carbohydrates: 3g | Protein: 40g | Fat: 22g | Saturated Fat: 14g | Cholesterol: 142mg | Sodium: 158mg | Potassium: 507mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 190IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 31mg | Iron: 4mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Tried this recipe? Tag me today!Mention @huntgathercook or tag #hankshaw!

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About Hank Shaw

Hey there. Welcome to Hunter Angler Gardener Cook, the internet’s largest source of recipes and know-how for wild foods. I am a chef, author, and yes, hunter, angler, gardener, forager and cook. Follow me on Instagram and on Facebook.

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Recipe Rating


  1. Just LOVE this recipe, we’ve used it for fallow, red, and our own hoggets, and everyone we’ve made this for has enjoyed it. The recipe has been passed along many times. Foolproof, guaranteed delight.

  2. This is one of the BEST ways I have ever eaten deer! Usually after successful hunt and during processing shank meat goes in the burger pile to be ground. I saw this recipe one day and thought it would be impossible to make such tough silver skin filled meat tender. After I dispatched a small eight point two weeks ago the hind shanks were saved. Fast forward to tonight when this recipe was made and my mind is blown how tender, savory, creamy, and just all around good this is. I’m pretty sure you could take an old wore out leather shoe that was reeled up from the depths of a radioactive pond near Chernobyl. Use this recipe and it would be the better than your grandma’s cooking on Thanksgiving.

  3. This recipe is awesome!! No more grinding up the shanks. I’ve used it on venison and lamb multiple times and everyone who ate it, loved it.

  4. I see you have carrots or some of the sort on there so is it your porogative to just add veggies as you like to this recipe?

  5. I just made the lamb version of this (I’m not a hunter…yet? We’ll see!) for tomorrow and tried a small sample when it was done. This is quite possibly THE best lamb I’ve ever tasted and I’ve been a huge fan of lamb for years! So tender, flavorful, just delicious! I’ll try the venison version when I can lay my hands on some swer meat. Thank you for such a lovely, hands-down awesome recipe!

  6. Hunting deer in the CWD zone of Wisconsin, I avoid cutting through bones. Can a person use this with just the meat off the shank area?

  7. This recipe was wonderful! Fall apart tender, and the sauce is very good. We froze the extra sauce for pasta at another meal.

  8. This recipe has been on here for a while and we’ve made it several times with amazing success. I used to give the shanks to the dog… Never Again! I will rarely have a deer processed professionally. You should see the look on their face when I ask for the shanks since this is not a common request. I myself was delighted to learn that what makes the shank, otherwise an impossible cut, actually enriches the sauce in this recipe. It exites me to become more, “nose to tail”. It’s also more family friendly than heart tartare or tacos de lingua, (although both are awesome and delicious)!

  9. This is an incredible recipe. I save shanks all year to prepare this for our closest friends and family. Flawless every time. Have used venison, goat, lamb shanks – all work well. Perfect winter meal.

  10. I rarely leave comments on these sites, and I cook a lot. But this was wonderful! The sauce was absolutely perfect. I actually used a veggie peeler on the lemon and then strained some it off before blending.

    I served it with roasted asparagus and cauliflower mashed “potatoes” for a healthy dinner.

    Great recipe!

  11. I saved a full front shoulder from a button buck. I used this recipe on that shoulder. It was great. I served it over wide noodles and my family really liked it.

    It was super tender after about 2 1/2 hours.

  12. Made these last night for dinner. It was DELISH!. I’m going to reheat the leftovers tonight, adding a bit more chicken stock and some saute mushrooms to the sauce. I will never be adding it to burger/ sausage or give away another shank again

  13. Hank, I appreciate your work greatly. Made the mistake of sharing this with my hunting buddies and I won’t be getting their shanks this year. Outstanding.

  14. I cannot wait to try this recipe! My question is: The shanks were in the freezer, should they be thawed before the browning process?

  15. Do you cut the bottom brown nubby things off the garlic cloves before cooking with them? I get OCD about that sort of thing unless you say it doesnt matter and they can stay on…

  16. Is this recipe for cross cut shanks? I have 4 cross cut shanks about 3/4″ thick that is like to make tonight. Thanks!

    1. Josh: It isn’t originally, as you can see from the picture. But it should work with cross-cut shanks cut from a larger animal. Give it a go and let me know how it turns out!

  17. This was a fantastic recipe, I’m a slow and low extremist and did this over 7.5 hours, starting at 215 for 2.5 hours, 255 for 2.5 hours, and 305 for the remaining 2. I used a combo of veal stock and chicken stock because that’s what I had, and a whole head of elephant head garlic because it looked better than the other garlic options at the store for whatever reason.

    Turned out scrumptious, flavors didn’t overwhelm the venison, the braising liquid reduced into a light, bright sauce, and my two dining companions were beside themselves over how satisfying it was. Thanks!

  18. I made this tonight with the shanks from last seasons deer and I have to say it was one of the best meals I have ever had!

    Please do yourself, your family and your friends a favour and don’t discard or turn the shanks into ground meat. MAKE THIS!

  19. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!!! (My dog does not thank you – she always got the shanks before). I will never again waste another shank. We have made this recipe several times serving them over mashed potatoes with a bold red wine and they are amazing! The way that all the parts that prevent you from using them for burger actually break down and render a velvet texture to the sauce is so nice. Nose to tail Baby! You have yet to steer us wrong with any of your recipes.