This Smoked Beef Shank is a delicious way to cook up an underrated and tough piece of meat. I use a flavorful braise combined with a nice, slow smoke to produce tender and tasty shredded beef. This beef shank is ready to feed a [hungry] crowd!
What is Beef Shank?
The beef shank comes from the lower leg portion of a steer. With this cut of meat being in the leg of the animal, it gets used constantly, making it pretty lean and, when cooked incorrectly, tough and dry. As such, beef shank is not a super popular cut, but with the right ingredients and technique it can be just as tender as any other beef roast, with a rich flavor that is hard to match.
You might also hear the shank called the cross cut shank or beef fore shank. It is most often cut into smaller portions and used for osso buco. I had to ask my butcher for a beef shank and he had plenty in the back, even though there weren’t any on the shelves. This is a cut that is worth asking your butcher about about.
Due to it’s dry nature, shank is typically cooked low and slow with liquid. Unfortunately, the braising method robs us of any smoky flavor we could impart into our beef shank. Simply smoking the shank the whole time would give us smoky flavor and a great bark, it would take forever and likely be super dry. Smoking and then braising in liquid gives us the benefit of both cooking styles and then finishing with the added butter really helps keep things juicy.
Braised Beef Shank
The flavor secret to my beef shank is in the braise. Sliced yellow onions, madeira wine, beef stock, Worcestershire sauce, and a sprig of fresh rosemary come together to add the right amount of moisture with the most incredible flavor.
Add these ingredients to a slow smoke with oak and cherry wood and you’ll end up with a gorgeous shank that will surely become your new favorite bit of beef.
How to Smoke Beef Shank
Let’s get to it, friends! Make sure to scroll below to the printable recipe card for full ingredient amounts and more detailed instructions.
- Turn on the smoker. Preheat your favorite smoker to 250 degrees F. I recommend oak and cherry for this recipe.
- Prep the shank. Trim the shank by removing silver skin and all the fat from the meat. Keep in mind that each fat layer has tough silver skin underneath that also needs to be removed. I found a 6 inch filet knife made quick work of the trimming process. Once trimmed, season with my Signature Beef Seasoning or equal parts salt, pepper, and garlic powder.
- Begin smoking. Place the beef shank directly on the grill grates of the smoker and smoke for 3 hours. Just look at the picture above to see the nice red color starting to develop from the cherry wood smoke!
- Braise. Grab a disposable metal pan (I like to keep a good amount of these on hand for all my BBQ), and layer sliced onions, the beef shank, and all ingredients for the braise into the pan. Seal tightly with aluminum foil.
- Finish smoking. Increase the temp on your smoker to 300 degrees F and continue smoking until the meat reaches an internal temperature of 200-210 degrees. Test for temp as well as tenderness. The thermometer should slide into the meat with little resistance.
- Rest and DIG IN! Remove the pan from the smoker, transfer the meat to a cutting board, and rest for 45 minutes. If you want to make some delicious gravy (trust me, you do), follow the instructions in the recipe card while the shank rests. Next up, simply shred and serve. You’re gonna love this one.
Tips for Smoking Beef Shank
Before you begin, here are a few tips for smoking this beef shank so you’ll be sitting pretty come dinnertime.
- Change up the seasonings. I use my Beef Seasoning, but you could season simply with salt and pepper. You can also mix up the end flavor profiles by altering the seasoning and the braising liquids. Season with my South of the Border seasoning and then braise in a Mexican beer and orange juice for awesome shredded beef tacos.
- Finish in the oven. Don’t want to babysit the fire? Move the braising step inside to your oven. Since the meat is covered, it isn’t taking on any smoke from the grill.
- Freeze leftovers! This beef shank makes quite a lot of beef. If you can’t eat it all in one sitting, it freezes beautifully for future use. Leave some liquid in the bag and squeeze out any extra air. Simply defrost and then use however you’d like. It is delicious in chili and stews, pasta sauces, beef pot pie, French dip sandwiches and more!
There you have it. You’re ready to smoke up your own shank. Make sure to come back and leave us a note in the comments with your results!
More Smoked Beef Recipes
The best part about smoking beef is how many different cuts lend themselves so well to the tasty addition of some smoke. From ribs to a roast, Hey Grill Hey has all the recipes you’ll ever need for smoking beef.
Smoked Beef Shank Recipe
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Smoked Beef Shank
- 1 6-8 pound bone-in beef shank
- 2 Tablespoons Hey Grill Hey Beef Seasoning (or equal parts salt, pepper, and garlic powder)
- 1 medium yellow onion (sliced)
- 1 sprig rosemary
- 1 ½ cups beef stock
- 2 cup madeira wine
- 1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 2 Tablespoons salted butter
- Preheat the smoker. Preheat your smoker to 250 degrees F using your favorite hardwood. I love a combination of oak and cherry for flavor and color.
- Trim your beef shank. Unless your beef shank came already trimmed from the butcher, you'll need to trim up your beef shank. Using a filet knife, remove nearly all of the fat and silver skin from around the shank. Each fat layer typically has tough silver skin underneath that needs to be taken off. Use the tip of your filet knife to get underneath that layer and then gently work it away from the meat.
- Season the beef. Sprinkle the Beef seasoning (or equal parts salt, pepper, and garlic powder) on all sides of the beef shank, pressing the seasonings into the meat with your hands.
- Smoke your beef shank. Place the seasoned beef shank on the grill grates of the smoker. Close the lid and smoke the beef shank for 3 hours.
- Braise the beef shank. Scatter the sliced onions in the bottom of an aluminum pan. Place the beef shank on top of the onions and then carefully pour in the wine, beef stock and Worcestershire sauce. Top the shank with a sprig of rosemary and seal the pan tightly with foil (I usually use two layers of foil).
- Return to smoker. Increase the heat on your smoker (or oven) to 300 degrees F. Place the wrapped beef shank on the grates, close the lid, and cook until that shank is fall apart tender. The internal temperature when the shank starts to really soften will likely be between 200-205 degrees F, but it could go up to 210 degrees F before it feels tender enough. Use an internal thermometer to check temperatures, but also to test for tenderness. You want the probe to slide into the meat with very little resistance.
- Rest, shred, and serve. Remove the pan from the smoker and uncover. Carefully transfer the shank to a large work surface or cutting board. Place the foil on top of the meat and rest for 45 minutes. While the meat is resting, strain the braising liquid into pan, discarding the onions and rosemary sprig. Bring the liquid to a simmer and add in 2 Tablespoons of salted butter for an au just style dipping sauce. Keep warm while you shred the beef shank. Discard any tendons, veins, or gristle and transfer the shredded meat to a serving dish (with sides). Pour the rich sauce over shredded meat and serve.