Vietnamese lamb shanks with sweet potatoes

Vietnamese lamb shanks with sweet potatoes

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(49 ratings)

Prep: 20 mins Cook: 3 hrs


Serves 4
Meltingly tender and full of classic Asian flavours, these lamb shanks are perfect for freezing

Nutrition and extra info

  • Freezable
  • Easily halved

Nutrition: per serving

  • kcal-
  • fat-
  • saturates-
  • carbs-
  • sugars-
  • fibre-
  • protein-
  • salt-
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  • 2 tbsp groundnut oil
  • 4 lamb shanks, about 350g each
  • 2 onions, halved and cut into half moons



    Onions are endlessly versatile and an essential ingredient in countless recipes. Native to Asia…

  • 2 tbsp finely chopped fresh root ginger
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely sliced
  • 2 red chillies, both deseeded, one chopped and one thinly sliced
  • 1 tbsp soft brown sugar, plus 1 tsp
  • 3 star anise
    Star anise

    Star anise

    star an-eese

    Star anise is one of the central spices in Chinese cooking. It has a strong anise flavour, with…

  • 2 lemongrass stalks, tough outer leaves removed, then bruised
  • 1.2l lamb stock
  • 1½ tbsp tomato purée
  • 4 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into big chunks
    Sweet potatoes

    Sweet potato

    sweet po-tate-toe

    Sweet potatoes have a creamy texture and a sweet-spicy flavour that makes them ideal for savoury…

  • 2 tbsp fish sauce
    Fish sauce

    Fish sauce

    A seasoning often used in Vietnamese and Thai cooking. In Vietnam it is usually made from shrimp…

  • juice 2 limes



    The same shape, but smaller than…

  • big handful mint leaves, torn



    There are several types of mint, each with its own subtle difference in flavour and appearance.…

  • handful basil leaves


  1. Heat oven to 160C/140C fan/gas 3. Heat 1 tbsp oil in a heavy-bottomed casserole, season the shanks, then brown them 2 at a time on all sides, adding the remaining oil for the second batch. Remove the lamb and add the onions. Fry them quite briskly, about 30 secs, add the ginger, garlic and chopped chilli, then turn the heat down and cook for 1 min. Add 1 tbsp sugar, stir, then add the star anise, lemongrass, stock, purée and seasoning. Bring to the boil.

  2. Cover and cook in the oven for 1½ hrs, then add the sweet potatoes and cook for 1 hr more. The lamb should be completely tender and almost falling off the bones. Stir in the fish sauce, lime juice and 1 tsp sugar to just lift the flavour, then scatter with the mint, basil and the sliced chilli to serve.

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Comments, questions and tips

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7th Aug, 2018
This recipe is just so good!! Followed it to the letter and the end result was beautiful. The meat just fell off the bone and the flavours were absolutely gorgeous. Planning to do it again for a birthday lunch and it will definitely be on our alternative Sunday dinner list in the future.
28th May, 2016
An excellent recipe. Lamb was beautifully tender and just about clinging to the bone. I followed it to the letter and my friends who love Vietnamese food gave it a huge thumbs up.
21st Feb, 2016
This recipe is absolutely delicious! I have worked in a Vietnamese restaurant, and always found it difficult to replicate the flavours at home, but this really was a resounding success. I followed the recipe to the letter, and found it to be everything I'd hoped for: hot, sweet and fragrant. I also love the idea of bruising the lemongrass and throwing it in whole, rather than chopping or blitzing it. This way, you don't get any unexpected woody bits, and the flavour infuses beautifully through the dish.
28th Oct, 2015
Easy and a great taste. I made it for 8 people and served with rice. I will definitely make this again. I also used less stock and doubled the lamb and took the lid off for the last half an hour of cooking to thicken sauce.
Claudia 15
25th May, 2015
this was SO tasty! However, having read some of the other comments and being fond of strong flavours I only used half the meat and only about 700ml of water. Also, didn't add potatoes as we like to eat rice with it which I made separately. Taste was divine!
8th Mar, 2015
Simply stunning. A real dinner party hit
29th Jun, 2014
This recipe is now one of my all time favourites, I made it for 2, used 2 shanks but kept the other ingredients for 4 people. The flavour was so intense it was absolutely fantastic, I put some butter but squash in at the beginning to thicken the sauce. The meat fell off the bone so I took it the bones out. I probably only used 500ml of stock I also served the sweet potatoes separately. I baked them in tinfoil. The sweetness of the potatoes and the spicy warmth of the lamb.... Wish I had doubled it up so we had left overs.
14th Apr, 2014
Yum! Didn't put in enough chilli, but it was delicious. First time cooking lamb shanks, and using star anise and lemon grass, delighted with the results!
5th Jun, 2013
Cooked this on Sunday for my Father who loves lamb, ideal as my husband is usually keen but loves asian cuisine. Amazingly my husband loved it and ate every bit. So did my Dad but that is nothing unusual !!! I cooked the lamb for an extra hour and the potato didn't take as long as I expected. I will do this again for a dinner party as so easy being able to tidy up etc while it cooks beautifully in the oven making the house smell gorgeous. I think I might cook it the day before though and just re-heat and add the sweet potatoes in on the day as I am sure the spices will infuse overnight and taste event better. You could add some coconut block for a different taste to the sauce or a little cornflour to thicken as it was quite runny but that didn't bother me. I cooked with rice. A winner for all of us !
9th Apr, 2013
Really yummy, partner loved it and so did I - I'm not the biggest fan of meat on the bone. Did half in a casserole and half in a slow cooker; slow cooker experiment has been frozen for later! I would agree with those who suggested cooking for longer - mine seemed quite watery, but still delicious with some sticky rice!


missflops's picture
27th Nov, 2017
I would like to cook this for 8 people. Do I automatically double up on all the ingredients?
goodfoodteam's picture
27th Nov, 2017
Thanks for your question. We can't give exact recommendations without testing but we'd suggest doubling most of the ingredients but go easy on the stronger ingredients for example the spices and fish sauce.
missflops's picture
28th Nov, 2017
Thank you for your reply and for your advice. Very much appreciated.
21st May, 2017
When would you freeze this? How long do you cook once frozen & is it cooked from frozen or defrosted first?
goodfoodteam's picture
23rd May, 2017
Thanks for your question. Yes, you can freeze the dish. We put a blue star above the nutritional information when it is freezable. If you look at the tip at the bottom of the recipe, you can also find a tip on how to reheat it. Enjoy!
Claudia 15
25th May, 2015
as I like strong flavours (am used to lots of Indian food) and having looked at some of the other comments I did the following: - kept all the ingredients the same except for the meat which I halved - only used about 700ml liquid The resulting taste was just SO jummy.