Braised Venison Shanks with Garlic

4.87 from 38 votes
Jump to Recipe

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

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!

You May Also Like

Golumpki, Polish Cabbage Rolls

Polish cabbage rolls, also known as golumpki, are, like many “thing wrapped in other things,” comforting, easy, versatile and delicious.

Brisket Tacos

Brisket tacos are a Texas tradition that extends into Northern Mexico. Chopped, smoked brisket on a flour tortilla with all the fixins.

Deep Fried Ribeye Tacos

A recipe for chicharron de ribeye in tacos. I ate these ribeye tacos in Hermosillo, Sonora and just had to recreate them at home with venison.

British Game Pie

How to make hand-raised pies with game. This one is a huntsman’s pie, an English classic hand pie made with a hot water crust.

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.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating


  1. I braised this for 1 hour, then two, then 2.5. Never got tender but rather dried out. Two shanks but the same liquid and I basted it after a while in the pot. I’ve braised successfully before, this was a doe front shanks. Bummer but will try again. Flavors were amazing but meat was like dry jerky.

    1. Andrew: When you braise that long you need more liquid. It got dry because of that. Sometimes I’ve had to braise old deer shanks for 5 hours. It works.

  2. Thanks to this and other shank recipes, we have converted many friends to saving shanks rather than grinding them. This recipe has alllllll the garlic and amazing flavors, you will not be disappointed.

  3. I made this last winter for some friends. He ordered BBM before he went to bed that night. I couldn’t wait for this year’s deer. This was the first meal I made (other than the tenderloin) and like all your recipes, it turned out great again!

    Thanks Hank!

  4. Pretty good, I did it in the insta pot to save some time. The garlic was there but not over powering. I did add more stock

  5. This if my favorite shank recipe. I’ve used it with both deer and antelope shanks. Delicious! My kids love it too. It makes a lot of gravy, but I always wish there was more.

  6. I made this tonight with a doe I harvested last fall. It was amazing! Don’t let the amount of garlic scare you away!

  7. I can’t believe I haven’t reviewed this one yet, since I’ve been making it out of BBM for several years now. The sauce always blows me away, it’s so rich I almost couldn’t believe it the first time I ate it. Now I just need to work on doing Hank’s pressure canned garlic cloves so I can elevate it to the next level.

  8. I’d advise using at least enough liquid to cover the shanks 3/4 of the way during the braising process. In my Dutch oven, large enough to hold big mule deer shanks, 1 &1/4 cups of liquid just isn’t enough to braise the meat tender. Preferably add more stock, or water in a pinch, to cover. At the end take the excess garlic and about a cup of liquid to finish the sauce.

  9. I have used this recipe three times now. Whenever I harvest venison my mind goes to the shanks first– backstrap and tenderloins, still wonderful have fallen in my ranking. When my wild-food skeptical wife and daughter got in an argument about who should get the last shank, I knew I was right.

    Never leave a shank in the field! That might make a nice bumper sticker.

  10. Did this recipe with a different cut of meat but and in a pressure cooker but it still turned out awesome. All of my best food recipes come from Hank Shaw!

  11. Never used/cooked venison shanks, so here’s hoping, we love garlic, looking forward to tasting it altogether

  12. Haven’t made this yet, but I’m going to try them in the slow cooker.. low and slow. Because this sounds absolutely magical.

  13. Fantastic flavour. The sauce is mind blowing. I was a bit apprehensive about the sheer amount of garlic, but trusted the assurances and did not regret it at all. My wife, who is only a modest consumer of both garlic and game, loved this recipe.

    For me and my oven, cooking shanks from a young dry whitetail doe, 300 for two hours was a bit too hot and a bit too short. I used an enamelled cast iron Dutch oven. I will do it again at 275 and leave myself five hours to really melt that connective tissue.

    The other modification I will try will be to increase the water and wine volume slightly, or at last whisk some in to thin out the sauce a bit. The thick sauce was great for glazing actually, but when it came to plating it out I wanted it just slightly thinner to be able to drizzle it a bit. Hell, maybe a splash of cream would do the trick or certainly wouldn’t hurt anyone’s feelings.

    Served with an Argentinian Cab Sauv, but full disclosure, I’m no sommelier!

    Thanks for the recipe.