Slow Cooker Beef Shanks with Garlic and Herbs :: Gluten-Free, Grain-Free, Paleo / Primal

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Slow Cooker Beef Shanks with Garlic and Herbs // delicious Follow Me on Pinterest

There’s nothing quite like a savory slow cooked meal on a cold winter day like these slow cooker beef shanks with garlic and herbs.  Your house will smell amazing and the food will warm you from the inside!

I love my slow cooker for many reasons.

First, convenience.  Prep the food that morning or the night before, and set the slow cooker to low before heading out the door.  Dinner is ready to go when you get home!  Or throw some bones and veggies in and the next day you will have lots of homemade stock to use later in the week or freeze for another time.

Second, minimal clean up!  Even if you choose to sear the meat and sauté the veggies before adding them to your slow cooker, there is usually only one pan to wash.

Third, you can make tougher cuts of meat (which are usually cheaper), tender and delicious with low, slow cooking.  These cheaper cuts are typically larger too, allowing you to have several meals from one day of prep!

Cheaper cuts of meat including shanks, short ribs, briskets, and chuck roasts contain more connective tissue and saturated fats than their more expensive counterparts like steaks and tenderloins.

Slow cooking breaks down the connective tissue (which contains important nutrients like choline, glycine, glucosamine, and chondroitin – important for healthy skin, nails, joints, and your gut!) and renders some of the fat, which leaves you with tender, juicy meat and a delicious and nutritious sauce or stock.

Because you have saved money by purchasing the cheaper cuts, you may be able to budget for higher quality, grass-fed and pastured meats.

Slow Cooker Beef Shanks with Garlic and Herbs

Slow Cooker Beef Shanks with Garlic and Herbs // delicious Follow Me on Pinterest

I’m a huge fan of beef shanks! This recipe for slow cooker beef shanks is going to quickly become one of your home’s favorite meals.

I was first introduced to them by by mother-in-law.  She made us melt-in-your-mouth beef shanks for dinner one evening and I knew I had to start making them too.

One of my favorite preparations is my Osso Bucco with Sun Dried Tomatoes and Capers. Although that recipe was prepared in a Dutch Oven and slow cooked in the oven, I have made it in the slow cooker as well and it’s still a winner!

Slow Cooker Beef Shanks with Garlic and Herbs // delicious Follow Me on Pinterest

You will notice a couple of themes between the two recipes.

Homemade stock is used for the braising liquid.  If you haven’t jumped on the homemade stock bandwagon yet, do yourself a favor and do it!!  You can freeze it to have on hand for dishes like this one and by using bones from other meals, you will be saving money too.

Another favorite addition is anchovies. Don’t freak out, your meat will NOT taste fishy. Anchovies lend a beautiful, savory taste (umami) to your meal and no one will ever suspect it!

Finally, I like to brighten up slow cooked meals with some fresh herbs after plating – it gives a little extra flavor and a pretty green color!

I’d like to make two quick notes before we get to the recipe.  I leave the garlic cloves whole so that they become very soft and buttery when ready to serve.  I love to spread them over the shank like butter – so delicious!

Next, do not miss out on the bone marrow goodness from your slow cooker beef shanks!  My husband and I eat it with spoons, but you can also scoop it out and mix it in with the gravy.

Slow Cooker Beef Shanks with Garlic and Herbs
  • Ghee, butter, or coconut oil for frying
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 5 pounds of beef shanks (about 5-6 shanks)
  • 1 large sweet onion, diced
  • 8-10 large garlic cloves, skins removed but left whole
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 cups of homemade stock
  • 2 Tablespoons tomato paste
  • 4-5 anchovies, minced
  • 8 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 1 sprig of fresh rosemary
  • Minced chives and parsley for garnishing, optional
  1. In a large frying pan over medium heat, melt enough of the fat of your choice to cover the bottom of the pan.
  2. Season the shanks on both sides with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  3. Place two to three of the shanks in the pan and brown them on both sides, about 4-5 minutes per side. Repeat with the remaining shanks, adding more fat to the pan if needed.
  4. Place the browned shanks into the slow cooker.
  5. In the same frying pan, add a little more fat if needed to cover the bottom of the pan and add the diced onion, garlic and ½ teaspoon sea salt, sautéing until the onions are translucent and the garlic cloves are slightly browned, about 5 minutes.
  6. Place the onions and garlic over the shanks in the slow cooker.
  7. Return the frying pan to the heat and add the stock, tomato paste, and anchovies, stirring with a wooded spoon to loosen up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan.
  8. Turn off the heat and add the stock mixture to the slow cooker.
  9. Tie the thyme and rosemary into a bundle with some kitchen twine and tuck it into the slow cooker, nestled under the stock.
  10. Turn your slow cooker to low and let the shanks cook for about 8 hours.
  11. Before serving, remove the herb bundle. The leaves will have fallen off the stems and will flavor the sauce.
  12. If serving right away, try to skim off some of the fat and season with additional salt and pepper if needed.
  13. Plate with the side of your choice. We love this dish with cauliflower puree and minced chives and parsley for garnishing.
  14. I like to prepare the shanks over the weekend and then place my slow cooker insert into the refrigerator. The fat will rise to the surface and harden, making it easier to remove. I then let the insert sit out for an hour or two before placing it in the slow cooker on warm for several hours before serving.

What is your favorite slow cooker meal? Leave a comment below!

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About Marjorie Saveski

Marjorie is a blogger and a home cook with a passion for real food, health, and fitness. She is a graduate of Wayne State University and works as an Orthopedic Physical Therapist. Marjorie currently resides in Southeast Michigan with her husband, Alex. Her hobbies include skiing, crafting, and playing around in the kitchen and she hopes to share what she has learned through her real life experience and research with her readers.



  1. These sound amazing! I am curious though – can someone with a seafood allergy omit the anchovies? Will the recipe be affected all that much? Thanks!!


    Esther Renée
    Posted 01/19/15

    • Hi Esther – I don’t see any reason why you couldn’t leave the anchovies out. They do lend some of the subtle richness to the stew, as well as some salt, but you could just adjust your salt as needed. I still think it would taste amazing! 🙂


      Jessica Espinoza
      Posted 01/20/15

  2. LOVE this recipe, sweet friend! So I included it in my contributor post – “50 Fabulous Grain-Free Slow Cooker Meals” – over at Keeper of the Home. I hope it sends lots of new friends your way! 🙂

  3. Its on my stove now cooking very slow.. I am serving this dish for my guest tonight. Thank you for this recipe. I made it exactly as the recipe says.


    Posted 05/16/15

  4. Thanks so much for this recipe! I make slow cooker beef shanks all the time, but this is one of my favorite recipes because it is simple and all the prep takes place in one pan. This is also the only one I’ve come across that uses anchovies. I love anchovies straight anyway, so, YAY! I tweaked it a bit and subbed/added some red wine as liquid, and also threw in some roughly chopped carrots and celery for the mirepoix. There wasn’t much talking at my dinner table for a while last night because we were all stuffing our faces with this stew.


    Ms. Loathsome
    Posted 06/09/15

    • Oh yum! I love the addition of red wine! Delish! So glad you guys enjoyed! 🙂


      Jessica Espinoza
      Posted 06/12/15

  5. This is the perfect dish for a fall evening. I’ve never made beef shanks before, but this recipe made it approachable. Thanks!


    Posted 10/26/15

    • Oh, so glad the recipe looks good and easy! Thank you for stopping by and I hope you enjoy! 🙂


      Jessica Espinoza
      Posted 10/26/15

  6. I made this recipe in my Instant Pot which allowed me to sautee and slow cook in one pot. I had to make in 3 batches because all of the Alderspring Ranch shanks didn’t fit otherwise.

    I made a few changes based on what I had: I used a red onion I used my roasted tomatoes for the paste, 1 tbl Red Boat fish sauce for anchovies, and 1 tsp ea dried thyme and dried rosemary. I used my own beef bone broth.

    I cooked on low for about 5 hours.

    This came out delicious in the sauce but the meat hadn’t picked up much of the herb flavor.

    Changes I’d make:

    1. I’d use tomato paste that I allowed to cook for a few seconds in the oil before adding liquid ingreds.

    2. I’d try w/fresh herbs. If using dried herbs I’d use more. Maybe even rub the herbs into the meat and chill for a half hour or so to infuse it w/more flavor.

    3. Add a little butter to the final sauce to thicken it a bit. Or else add a little cornstarch.

    I froze the leftovers and reheated them in my Breville oven. Yummers! Definitely a winner of a recipe.


    Posted 10/31/15

  7. Can I completely replace the 2 cups of stock with red wine red wine without changing anything else?
    And is there any advantage to using boneless shanks (which have a lot more meat on them?)


    Posted 02/07/16

    • Hi Carol – We would not recommend using all wine in place of the stock, as the flavor would likely not be that great. You could definitely use boneless shanks, though the broth flavor will not be quite as rich as those cooked with the bones. Should still be delicious though! Hope that helps!


      Jessica Espinoza
      Posted 02/08/16

  8. Hi!! I have some beef shanks that were included in a meat variety pack I purchased from a local farmer and have been trying to figure out what to do with them. This recipe sounds perfect but I have a couple of questions: I can’t have tomatoes, so am wondering about a substitute for the tomato paste. Tamarind? Any suggestions? Secondly, I only have about 2 lbs of shanks and not much experience with my slow cooker. I assume I should cook it for less time? How much would you suggest? Or could I use a pressure cooker? Thank you!


    Posted 03/07/16

    • Hi Susan! Thanks for stopping by! Let me see if Marjorie can give us some suggestions! 🙂


      Jessica Espinoza
      Posted 03/11/16

    • Hi Susan,
      Thanks for checking out the recipe! I think that you could just eliminate the tomato paste. I don’t know if tamarind would be a good substitute, I’ve never tried it 🙂 I think you could half the recipe and still use the slow cooker. I don’t think you would need to cut the time by too much, but I would watch that you have enough liquid during the cooking time. Some slow cookers let more liquid evaporate than others. I haven’t yet used my pressure cooker for shanks, but I’m sure this would be fantastic in there too! I hope you enjoy the shanks!


      Posted 03/11/16

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