Greek Lamb Shanks with Orzo

by Mary Papoulias-Platis

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These Greek Lamb Shanks with Orzo, is one of our “best-sellers” from our catering company and the county fairs for years. We don’t make this dish very often, but when we do it’s for a holiday or for a special occasion. A simply made marinade whisked and poured over the shanks for tenderness is made to enhance their rich deep lamb flavor, then later used to add to the orzo which we serve alongside the shanks. Serve these Greek lamb shanks the day they’re made or they can be made the day before and re-heated for a larger crowd. The recipe can be cut in half, if needed. One shank per person is ample. If these Greek lamb shanks are hard to fine try a nearby restaurant food supplier or wholesaler. You can also purchase these lamb shanks at Restaurant Depo, or a natural food outlet.

Greek Lamb Shanks with Orzo

This traditional lamb dish is marinated with garlic and rosemary for a very earthy and warm dish served usually during the holidays or for a special occasion. We serve orzo alongside made from the deep browning juices of the lamb. This dish is best when made the night before.
Course Main Dish
Cuisine California Greek
Keyword Greek, lamb shanks, orzo
4 hours
4 hours
Servings 12
Author Mary Papoulias-Platis


  • 12 lamb shanks
  • 2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 4 cups cooked orzo
  • 1/4 cup tomato sauce
  • 3-4 tablespoons olive oil
  • Mizithra or Parmesan cheese for topping


  • 4 cups red wine
  • 2 cups olive oil
  • 1 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 4 large sprigs of fresh rosemary
  • 1/2 cup whole fresh garlic, chopped
  • salt and pepper



  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Salt and pepper both sides of each shank.
  3. Place on a hot grill and brown on all sides, about 15 minutes.
  4. (This can also be done in a hot skillet with a little olive oil.)
  5. Place in a deep casserole or baker and pour marinade over the shanks.
  6. Make sure there's enough liquid to cover the shanks. Place the sprigs around the shanks.

  7. Cover the pan tightly with foil and place in the oven.
  8. Bake for 4 hours. Remove and let cool for 10 minutes. Serve with orzo on the side.


  1. Bring salted water to a boil in a large pot.
  2. Add orzo and cook until al-dente.(almost done)
  3. Drain and place back in the pot.
  4. Add 3-4 tablespoons of olive oil to pasta and stir gently to cover. Set aside.
  5. While the shanks are resting, add about 1 cup of strained lamb juice to the pre-cooked orzo and stir. (You can add 1/4 cup tomato sauce if desired)
  6. Place over low-heat and re-heat until warm and add more juices if needed.
  7. Serve with lamb.
  8. Sprinkle the dish with Mizithra or Parmesan cheese.

Placing the shanks on the BBQ gives them a glazed browned crust which is important for keeping the shanks juicy.
This also can be done inside in a very hot skillet with a splash of extra virgin olive oil.

Enjoy many of our other Greek Lamb dishes:

Lamb Ribs Poached in Olive Oil with Blood Oranges and Beets

Lamb Stew with Artichokes and Gigante Beans

Grilled Lamb Chops with Greens and Beets

Don’t wait for the holidays to make this dish,


© 2012 – 2022, Mary Papoulias-Platis. All rights reserved.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Cara

Yum! Lamb is one of my favorite foods and this dish (an easier version of youvetsi, right?) is one of my favorite things to order when we go out for Greek food.

2 Mary Papoulias-Platis

I love youveti, but for a large crowd this is so much easier, and you don’t have a chance to burn the orzo ,as I have done many times. Yassou!

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