I bought several one-inch beef shank cross-sections from the local supermarket. It looks like concentric circles, with a inner circle of bone and an innermost circle of marrow. I put the shanks in a pot, covered it with water, and braised it for 12 hours at 200 F in the oven. At the end, the collagen had converted into gelatin, but the meat seemed quite tough and chewy.

Is it possible for beef shanks to be super tender? If so, how do you cook them that way?

  • The top two answers give conflicting information, which is a shame.
    – Burhan Ali
    Feb 12, 2014 at 13:08
  • It's called Osso Bucco, typically done with veal shanks but I've done it with beef shanks too. That traditional Italian recipe is the perfect example of how to braise shanks. Sep 3, 2015 at 6:59

13 Answers 13


If your beef shank is chewy, it's undercooked. Period. Whatever the amount of time is, even if it seems like a lot to you, it's not enough. Overcooking will cause meat cuts with a lot of connective tissue (like shank) to dry, and even fall apart because it is too tender. But it will not still be chewy.

  • 6
    Yep, a sure sign that braised meat is overcooked is not that it's chewy but that it becomes unpleasantly stringy and dry.
    – Stefano
    Feb 5, 2014 at 10:47

Meat, especially beef, can get chewy both if cooked too short and too long. So braising it for 12 hours has made it tough. To have beef tender, I recommend using a pressure-cooker. Season the beef, put it the cooker and distribute it evenly, add a little water/stock so that beef won't burn and cook for 2-4 hours. Cooking for less time will not make it tender enough, and cooking too long will make the meat tough.

You could also try leaving beef in seasoned vinegar or wine for some time before cooking. It will also make the meat more tender.

  • 1
    Thank you for your answer. Is there a reference to support the use of vinegar or wine to tenderize meat? Feb 3, 2014 at 21:58
  • No references, but I've tried it a few times and it works well. I learnt it from my Mom )))
    – superM
    Feb 4, 2014 at 6:26
  • Two hours, never mind four, in a pressure cooker is a long time. An hour for 1" thick beef shin slices should be more than enough.
    – Stefano
    Feb 5, 2014 at 10:45
  • 3
    If you overcook it, the individual fibers may indeed get tough eventually, but it will still fall off the bone and obviously be overcooked, not undercooked. If it's all still hanging on to the bone just like it started out, but isn't tender, it'd definitely undercooked, not overcooked.
    – Cascabel
    Jul 30, 2014 at 14:38
  • 1
    Also, the pressure cooker just makes things faster. It doesn't do anything you couldn't do in a normal pot in a bit more time.
    – Cascabel
    Jul 30, 2014 at 14:39

I would recommend flouring and browning the shanks then braising the meat in a stock and crushed tomato mix, with onions and mushrooms. Or you could google the recipe for Osso Bucco, which really rocks.


I bought a cross cut bone in approx 1" thick beef shank because it looked like a good piece of meat, I had never heard of it before. I read online about it tending to be very tough if not cooked properly. Sprinkled on onion and garlic powder and meat tenderizer with a little salt. I braised it on both sides, put onions in the bottom of a 2 qt crock pot then the shank then covered with package of Knorr brown gravy. (I stirred the gray mix with the recommended amount of water but only used 1/2 of it.) Cooked for about 5 hours on low. It was amazing! I have dentures so I can't eat tough or chewy meat. I will buy and cook this often.


Beef shank will get very tough if you don't cook it long enough. The best way to cook fall-off-the-bone beef shank is to boil and simmer them for at least 3 hours. I also baste them often when I use this method.

Bring the liquid up to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Add the shanks and continue to cook for about 3 hours, basting the shanks often, or until the sauce is stew-like and the meat starts to fall of the bone.

Sometimes I will season them first with salt and pepper and sear them in hot oil for about 3 minutes on each side before I simmer them. This will help them to retain the juices and tenderize the meat.

You can get creative if you want with your stock. Sometimes I may add a little wine, or just use a regular beef stock. Quite often I will cover them with water and slow cook them in the crock pot overnight on the lowest setting of course.

  • 4
    Generally correct, but searing does nothing to seal in juices. It does improve flavour via the Maillard Reaction however. Feb 3, 2014 at 15:48

Shank has great flavor, and is easy to cook well as long as you braise it. With braising the water and gentle heat breaks down the collagen, which produces flavor and good texture. First lightly coat the shanks in seasoned flour and fry until light brown. Then put in a glass of wine, a couple tablespoons of dark soy, then water until the shanks are 2/3 covered. Add a couple of bay leaves, then cover tightly and bake in the oven at about 150C(300F) for about 3-4 hours. Remove from the heat and allow to rest for 45 minutes to an hour.


1) Put it in a pressure cooker at 15 psi for 60-90 mins or 2) Cook it sous vide at 136F-140F for 24-30 hrs. I have tried doing a beef shank yet but my experiment with top round (140F for 15 hrs) was a success. While the result wasn't quite filet mignon, the meat was moist and tender with some chewiness. I expect the same with beef shank. And because the meat is covered by plastic, all its beefiness is retained within the meat. In braising, a lot of the beefy flavor goes into the liquid. In sous vide, the meat marinates it its own juices for days.


I cooked it yesterday for the first time in a pressure cooker. The slices were about 1 inch thick and through 4 inches across.

30 minutes on high and they were perfect!

The suggestion above to pressure cook meat for more than two hours I think is pretty ridiculous.

Brown the meat, throw in some onion ^ and celery, and beef broth red wine and tomato paste, and put the lid on.

This is one of the tastiest pieces of beef I've had in a long time, and it's quite inexpensive as well.

  • 1
    You say it was delicious (great), would you also characterize it as fall-off-the-bone tender?
    – Jolenealaska
    Jan 18, 2015 at 15:49

I cook beef shanks all the time--the best way is to season them with salt and pepper both sides then sear them in a deep pan that has a lid with a bit of oil. Remove to a plate. Then saute some onions and garlic, tomato paste and then add diced tomatoes, cook until the onions are soft and the garlic is just lightly browned, tomatoes are softening. note you can add diced chillies or chilli powder for some extra spice as well. Add back the shanks and top up with good stock so they are partially covered. Bring to a boil then reduce and simmer for 3 hours with the lid on, checking to make sure you have enough liquid--add more stock if you need. This is stovetop but you can of course place the pan in the oven if you like at 325 if you rather. Serve over Tagliatelle noodles/mash potatoes etc They will be very tender and fall off the bone. The marrow, if you love it like i do will be soft and perfect for spreading on bread :)



This is a very easy method of cooking beef shanks.

In a pressure cooker, add about a tea spoon or two of your favorite oil, I use canola oil. Cook the shanks for about 3 minutes each side, you can add salt and pepper if you like. Then throw in slice onions and garlic and cook them for about 1 to 2 minutes or until brown. Throw in a 12 to 16 ounce can of diced tomatoes, add about 4 cans of water with the same can where the tomatoes were in. Add Cumming, ground cloves, thyme, 3 potatoes, 1 medium sweet potato, half of a chipotle chile or less if you don't like it spicy. Cook for 1 hour in the pressure cooker, and let it cool down for about 30-45 minutes. Enjoy with avocado, lime and few chips in a bowl.


I throw a couple of crosscut beef shanks in vegetable soup. They season the soup wonderfully and the meat is very tender this way.

  • Simply adding random vegetables doesn't make the meat more tender.
    – Luciano
    May 15, 2018 at 10:57

I love beef shank because it is very affordable. Marinades do nothing, and just braising slow and low is of no merit if there are no other ingredients to work in tandem with the meat to make it tender. My suggestion to anyone still seeing this old post is to start with two recipes, Beef Shank Peposo and Beef(not Veal) Osso Buco. Do it in a slow cooker, in a Braiser in the oven, or in a large pot on the stove. You will understand how the liquids such as wine and broth, as well as the added flavor ingredients, work to make the meat tender and flavorful. Once you master those two recipes, you can start creating many of your own using the ingredient techniques you've learned.
Depending on how much meat you are cooking, time can range anywhere from 1-1/2 hours to 3 hours.


I'm a lazy old bachelor, so here's how I do it:

  • 1) set the oven to 250°
  • 2) put the shank in the freezer for 45 minutes
  • 3) get the friend and wine and music and flowers ready
  • 4) put a T butter in the 7" skillet (on high gas flame)
  • 5) when it's all melted, toss in that cold shank
  • 6) sear it up like a cauterized wound (sides and edges)
  • 7) throw on whatever is on hand that makes sense (garlic, onion, mushrooms [I prefer oriental…say maitake], celery, overripe tomatoes, etc. [you get the idea])
  • 8) olive oil and maybe a little sweetwater or stock
  • 9) cover it with one of those old enamel skillet tops
  • 10) put it in the oven for a long conversation, maybe some dancing, you know…after at least a couple of hours, test it to see if it's ready, but don't be in a hurry. More dancing is always appropriate.
  • 11) make a salad
  • 12) pour the wine, drink a few glasses
  • 13) share a bite to see if it's really ready… sooner or later it will be perfect

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