Beef Osso Buco is an Italian dish that looks and tastes fancy, but is super easy to make. Usually it is made by slow cooking or braising in an oven, but using your pressure cooker or Ninja Foodi speeds things up quite a bit. You can make a delicious Osso Buco with beef shanks in just about an hour using your pressure cooker. However, if you don't have a pressure cooker or would rather slow cook it or braise it in the oven, directions for various cooking methods are provided below in the recipe article.
Traditional Osso Buco is made with veal shanks, but not only can they be hard to find in your local grocery store, they are usually more expensive than beef shanks. In fact, it was the inexpensive price of beef shank that inspired me to do this recipe.
The cost of meat and groceries in general has increased quite a bit in the last year and I wanted to make recipes using less expensive cuts without compromising flavors and textures. This was the first time I had experimented with beef shanks and, let me say, I'm impressed!
They are better than any other cut of beef that I've used to make things like pot roast and beef stew. The meat is rich, decadent, and so incredibly tender when cooked correctly. I think you will be amazed at how delicious bone-in beef shanks are and you can't beat the price, at least not where I live. They range from anywhere from $3-$4.75 a pound! It's the best kept secret in the meat department, so let's not tell anyone else!
Ingredients & Substitutions
Beef Shanks are cut from the leg and almost always come bone-in. At least that is how I've always seen them. They look like a large, well marbled steak, but you definitely don't want to throw these on the grill or you will end up with a very tough and chewy steak. Beef shanks have a lot of connective tissue because the cut of meat is from a well worked muscle and that connective tissue has to be broken down during the cooking process. This can be done by slow cooking in your slow cooker, braising in the oven, or in your pressure cooker.
Try to find beef shank that is at least 1½" thick and each steak should weigh about ¾-1 pound (.34-.45 kg). When testing this recipe, I haven't always been able to find them much thicker than 1" and those work just fine, but tend to curl more easily and the meat falls off the bone more often. No worries, though; if that's all you can find, grab them anyway. I'll give you some tips for dealing with the curling of the meat and even the thinnest beef shank is going to have the same rich flavor as the thicker ones.
If you do not want to use beef shank, you can absolutely substitute veal shank or lamb shanks instead. In fact, you could also make this dish with chicken thighs (bone-in, skin on) and it would absolutely amazing!
The vegetables I used are onions, carrots, celery, and garlic. The vegetables in this dish are mostly for flavor, but the small dice of the veggies in the gravy look absolutely beautiful when served. You can certainly leave some or all of the vegetables out of the dish, but it will change the flavor slightly. They all work together in this dish to create a well-balanced and flavorful meal.
I use whole cloves of garlic that I peel and smash and add to the pot, but you can use minced garlic, if you prefer. I would use about 1 teaspoon of minced garlic and add it to the vegetables towards the end of sautéing them. Make sure not to let the minced garlic burn or it will be unpleasant in your dish.
Liquids & Seasonings
I use simple salt and pepper and a bay leaf for my dry seasonings, but you could certainly add some Italian seasoning, onion powder, or garlic powder, if desired. I also use some fresh thyme sprigs and rosemary in the recipe. The reason I use fresh herbs and not dry is so I can remove the stems after cooking and I get a nice infusion of the herbs without them being overpowering. If you want to use dry thyme and rosemary leaves, use just ½ teaspoon of thyme and ¼ teaspoon of rosemary. Make sure to use the dry leaves and not powder which would be overpowering. If you don't have either of these in your pantry, just skip them. Your beef osso buco will still be delicious.
It might surprise you a little that I use white wine and chicken broth as the liquids in this recipe instead of red wine and beef stock. The reason is because when the connective tissues dissolve during cooking, it leaves behind a very rich sauce and while you can certainly use beef broth and red wine if desired, the white wine and chicken broth is lighter and I think it cuts through the rich sauce beautifully. I. use a dry white wine like a pinot grigio or sauvignon blanc. A dry chardonnay would work as well.
If you want to use red, make sure it is a dry red like a cabernet or a merlot. A shiraz would also be fine. You don't want a sweet wine and, if that is all you have, skip it and use the vinegar.
You can also use chicken stock or, even better, a homemade chicken bone broth.
You can skip the wine altogether if you aren't a fan and add a touch of vinegar instead. I would use either white or apple cider vinegar and just about a Tablespoon will be plenty. The acid in the vinegar will act like the acid in the wine and cut the richness of the sauce.
I use tomato paste at the end of pressure cooking to thicken the sauce and, for me, this is enough of a tomato flavor without being overwhelming. The liquid after pressure cooking definitely needs something acidic to cut through the fat and the tomato paste does the trick. If you aren't a fan of tomato paste, you can add a different tomato product like a sauce or puree, but your sauce will be thinner. You can thicken it with a cornstarch slurry, if desired.
If you are using your pressure cooker and want to make potatoes at the same time, you will need about 1½-2 pounds of any type of potato you like. I used the small new potatoes, but you can use any size just cut them in large chunks. After the potatoes are cooked, you can mash them for mashed potatoes or throw them in your oven or air fryer to roast a bit and have roasted potatoes.
You can certainly skip the potatoes and there aren't any changes to the pressure cook time.
Osso Buco is usually served with a gremolata, which is a combination of chopped parsley, lemon zest, and minced garlic. To make things a little easier, I simply use chopped fresh parsley and grated lemon zest as a garnish on top of the sauce. While this is optional, it adds a brightness in flavor and the lemon zest cuts the richness of the dish. It also looks beautiful when served.
Tips for Making Osso Buco
Preparing the beef shank for cooking
When you look at the beef shank, you will see that the meat is basically surrounded by connective tissue which holds the meat together during the cooking process. However, sometimes you will see the beef start to roll and curl when you are searing it. This happens when the connective tissue cooks and begins to shrink. It squeezes the meat and causes it to curl.
I tried a few different ways to prepare the beef shanks so they didn't curl or fall apart during the cooking process.
The easiest way to prevent this is to remove the connective tissue around the meat. However, this will allow the meat to fall apart while cooking. If that doesn't bother you, then this is a great option to do before searing the meat.
I wanted to be able to serve the whole slice of beef shank with the bone, so that didn't work well for me.
One of the most common recommendations that I read was tying them with kitchen twine. This may be a good option if you have thick beef shanks that are about 2" thick, but with the thinner ones, it didn't work. When I was searing the meat, the twine fell off.
Another way is to snip the connective tissue off of one end of the beef shank slice. You can usually tell where it's the thickest and giving it a snip with kitchen scissors or a sharp knife will work. The only issue I ran into with doing this is sometimes the meat fell away from the bone before I was even able to sear it.
So, what I do is season and sear the meat without doing anything and see if it starts to curl up during the searing process. If it does, I simply snip the connective tissue where it is causing the problem and flatten out the steak again.
Trim the Beef Shank after Cooking
The very outer edge where the thick connective tissue doesn't always dissolve when cooking and it can be unpleasant for your guests.
To avoid this, I simply trim the outer area where I can still see the tough connective tissue after the cooking process is complete.
Don't Skip the Lemon Zest & Parsley Garnish
Garnishes are often overlooked and skipped when making recipes because they may seem like extras that aren't needed. Well, with the osso bucco, I urge you not to skip it this time!
The lemon zest and fresh parsley complete the balance of the dish and bring a pop of freshness that this rich and savory meal really needs.
You can also make a gremolata to serve over, or on the side, of the beef osso buco if you prefer. I've tried it served with gremolata and it's wonderful. The garnish of parsley and lemon was just as good to me and easier.
Just don't skip it and you'll thank me!
Beef Osso Buco Cooking Directions
Prep (Mise En Place)
Mix 2 teaspoons of fine grind sea salt or kosher salt with ½ teaspoon of black pepper together and season both sides of each beef shank.
Place ½ cup of flour into a shallow container and if there is any seasoning mix left, add it into the flour and mix it in.
Dredge each beef shank through the mixture to lightly coat each side with a little bit of flour. You will have leftover flour, it can be discarded. Set the beef shanks on a plate while you dice the vegetables.
Dice the celery, carrot, and onion into about ½" dice. Peel and crush 3-6 garlic cloves. To crush the garlic, I use the back of my chef's knife. I use about 3 in the beef osso buco and 3 in the garlic mashed potatoes, but you can use as little or as much as you like.
Measure out the liquid ingredients you are using, you want a total of ¾ cup/ 175ml of thin liquid. This can be a combination of wine and broth or all broth with a Tablespoon of vinegar.
Pour 1-2 Tablespoon of olive oil (or oil of your choice) into the inner pot of the Ninja Foodi/ Instant Pot OR if you are slow cooking or oven braising, you can use a large pan or a dutch oven. Heat the oil on high sear/sauté until it is super hot. This takes about 3 minutes.
Place 2 of the beef shanks into the oil and sear on each side for about 3 minutes or until nicely brown. Remove and repeat for the other 2 beef shanks. You can add more oil if you need to. Don't let the flour burn -- turn the heat down, if needed.
Place the browned beef steaks on a plate while you sauté the vegetables.
Add 3 Tablespoons of butter (or you can use more oil, if you prefer) and the diced veggies. Lightly season with salt and pepper. I used ¼ teaspoon of sea salt and ⅛ teaspoon of black pepper. Sauté on high for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. The onions will turn translucent and that is how you know they are done.
Deglaze the Pot
When the veggies are done, pour in the wine (if using) and chicken broth. Scrape the bottom of the pot to remove any browned bits on the bottom. This is to prevent any scorching on the bottom that can trigger the water notice when pressure cooking and also brings all that delicious flavor into the liquid no matter which cooking method you are using.
I usually leave the sear/sauté on high until I switch over to pressure cooking, but you can also turn the Ninja Foodi or Instant Pot off at this point.
If you are slow cooking, remove the veggies and liquid and place them in your slow cooker along with the browned beef shanks. Add in another ¾ cup of liquid to account for the evaporation that occurs during slow cooking.
If you are braising in the oven, you will want to use an oven safe container that you can cover. A dutch oven is great or you can cover a casserole dish with foil. You will need more liquid due to evaporation. I recommend starting off with 1½ cups total.
Return the beef steaks to the pot.
Add in crushed garlic, bay leaf, rosemary sprig, and 2 sprigs of thyme. Leave the herbs on the stem for easy removal after cooking.
Cooking the potatoes at the same time
If you want to cook potatoes at the same time, put 1½-2 pounds of potatoes (any kind is fine), if they are large, cut them in quarters. Add in some crushed garlic if desired.
Skip this step if you aren't making the potatoes.
Place the reversible rack into the Ninja Foodi in the low position or use a trivet and place a pressure safe container on the rack/trivet and add the potatoes to the container. I used my 8" Fat Daddio pan and it worked great.
You do not have to cover the potatoes, but you can if you want to.
If you are using the Smart Lid Ninja Foodi Model with one lid and the heating coil in the top, you may have some clearance issues depending on the container you use, so check that out first.
As you can see below in the picture, my rack did extend up a little, but the lid closed without any issues and it didn't cause a problem. If you can't fit the pan on the rack and have the lid closed, see if you can find a shorter rack or you can make a foil sling or use the red silicone sling if you have one and lower the pan directly into the inner pot to cook the potatoes. Obviously, this will be a little messier, but it will work.
Make sure the valve is to the seal position.
Cook on High pressure for 25 minutes and, when the time is up, allow the pot to naturally release for 5 minutes and then manually release any remaining steam.
Remove the pressure lid and the rack with the potatoes. You will see that there is some liquid in the pan, you don't have to drain it unless it is more than a few Tablespoons. I usually leave it in there.
Mash the potatoes with butter, cream, salt and pepper. I use my mix 'n mash and do it right in the pan they cooked in. I use 2-3 tablespoon of butter, salt and pepper to taste and about 2 Tablespoons of heavy cream.
Carefully remove the beef shank steaks. I use a spatula (or turner), the kind you would flip eggs with, so I can get under the steaks and reduce the chances of them falling apart. Yes, they are that tender!
Add 1-2 Tablespoons of tomato paste to the liquid in the pot and stir to combine. I usually only need 1 Tablespoon, but use your judgement. If the sauce is still too thin after the 1 Tablespoon, add a second. If you are skipping the tomato paste and using a cornstarch slurry instead, use about 1 Tablespoon of cornstarch in 2 Tablespoons of water and add into the liquid. You may have to use sear/sauté to increase the temperature of the liquid to get the cornstarch to thicken.
Slow Cooking Instructions
Once you have the beef and vegetables sautéed and you deglaze with 1½ cups of liquid, transfer the contents from your pan to the slow cooker.
Stir in the tomato paste.
Place the browned beef steaks on top and add in the garlic, bay leaf, rosemary and thyme sprigs.
Put the lid on the slow cooker and cook on high for about 4 hours or low for about 6 hours.
Oven or Stovetop Braising
The best way to make this recipe is with dutch oven. You can sear and sauté and then put the dutch oven right into the oven to cook or just continue to simmer on the stove for about 90 minutes.
However, if you don't have one, you can use a deep pot with a cover on the stove for the browning of the beef shank and sautéing of the vegetables and continue to simmer on the stove or transfer the contents to a large casserole dish that you can cover with foil and finish it in the oven.
When cooking on the stove or in the oven, you will want to make sure the liquid doesn't run dry, so make sure to have extra chicken broth handy. I would start off with 1½-2 cups if you are going to braise in the oven and 2-3 cups if you are simmering on the stove. You can also add in the tomato paste before cooking or wait and stir it in at the end.
Stovetop: Simmer on the stove for about 90 minutes covered. Make sure to check the liquid level every 20 minutes or so and add more as needed. The beef shanks should be ¾ of the way covered with liquid the entire time.
Oven: Put the dutch oven, covered, into a preheated oven on 350℉/175℃ and allow to cook for about 2 hours or until the beef shanks are fork tender. Check on the liquid level after the first hour and add more as needed. I like to remove the lid the last 15 minutes or so to get some browning on the beef shanks.
Trim any connective tissue that didn't dissolve around the edges of the beef shanks. Top the beef with the gravy and garnish with chopped parsley and lemon zest.
Have everyone make a plate and enjoy the Osso Buco. It's 100% pure Italian comfort food!
Don't forget to try the bone marrow found right in the center of the bone! It was my first time trying it and it's very good!
Frequently Asked Questions
Absolutely! Just let it cool completely before freezing to avoid ice crystals from forming. Then portion out the number of servings you want into a freezer-safe container or zip lock freezer bag. Get as much air out as you can and freeze. It will stay good for up to 6 months, when packaged properly.
Make sure to freeze with the gravy for the best results when reheating.
I do not recommend freezing the mashed potatoes, they have a grainy texture when reheated.
You can easily cut the recipe in half by reducing the ingredients by half. The pressure cooking time stays the same and I would recommend using ½ cup of thin liquid.
If you are making it on the stove, oven, or slow cooker, you can also cut the ingredients by half and the cook time will be the same. You will need to keep the liquid amounts the same, though. This might result in a thin sauce, so either use more tomato paste and adjust the seasonings or thicken with a cornstarch slurry.
What to Serve with Beef Osso Buco
I like to serve beef osso buco with rustic style mashed potatoes and a steamed green vegetable, but it also goes well with rice side dishes and heartier root vegetables. Here are a few side dishes that would be lovely with your osso buco dish.
Beef Osso Buco Recipe
- Pressure Cooker, Stove, Oven, or Slow Cooker
Beef Osso Buco with gravy
- 3-4 Pounds Beef Shank
- 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
- ½ cup all purpose flour
- 2¼ teaspoons fine grind sea salt divided in recipe
- ¾ teaspoon pepper divided in recipe
- 2 Tablespoon butter salted
- 1 cup diced celery about 2-3 stalks
- 1 cup diced carrot about 2-3 carrots
- 1 cup diced onion 1 small to medium onion, I used a sweet onion
- ¼ cup dry white wine
- ½ cup chicken broth
- 3 cloves garlic smashed and peeled
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 sprig rosemary
- 2 sprigs thyme
- 1 Tablespoon tomato paste
Garnishes for Osso Buco
- ½ cup chopped fresh parsley
- 1 lemon zest only
- 1½ pounds new potatoes
- 2-3 Tablespoons butter
- 2 Tablespoons heavy cream
- salt and pepper to taste
Pressure Cooker Beef Osso Buco
- Snip the thick connective tissue on the end of the beef shank furthest away from the bone. This will help with it curling when it's seared and cooked.
- Combine 2 teaspoons of sea salt with ½ teaspoon of black pepper and sprinkle on both sides of each beef shank.
- Combine the flour with any remaining salt and pepper that you didn't use on the beef shanks. Coat each side of the beef shanks with the flour.
- Dice the celery, carrots, and onions into about ½" dice. Smash and peel the garlic cloves. Measure out the liquid and have the remaining ingredients ready.
- Turn the NInja Foodi or Instant Pot on High sear/sauté and add about 1-2 Tablespoons of oil. Allow it to get hot and then place 2 of the beef shanks in the inner pot to sear. Sear for 3 minutes each side and remove. Repeat with the remaining beef shanks. Add more oil if needed and be careful not to burn the flour. Remove the beef shanks and place on a plate.
- Add 2 Tablespoons of butter and the diced vegetables. Add ¼ teaspoon salt and ⅛-¼ teaspoon of black pepper, depending on how peppery you want it. Sauté for about 5 minutes or until the onions turn translucent in color.
- Deglaze the pot with the wine and chicken broth. Scrape the bottom of the pot to remove any browned bits at the bottom.
- Add in the smashed garlic and place the beef shanks on top. Put in the sprigs of thyme and rosemary and the bay leaf.
- Place the rack in the low position over the beef shanks. Put the potatoes into an 8" pan and place on the rack. Add in some garlic if you like.
- Put the pressure lid on and turn the valve to seal. Pressure Cook on high for 25 minutes with a 5 minute natural release followed by manually releasing the remaining pressure.
- Remove the rack with the potatoes and set aside. Carefully remove the beef shanks using a spatula or something that get get under the steaks and help prevent them from falling apart. Place them on a plate.
- Stir in the tomato paste to thicken the gravy. Trim any tough connective tissue from the edges of the beef shanks.
- Add butter, cream, salt and pepper and hand mash the potatoes. They are delicious chunky with the rich gravy, but you can also use a hand mixer to get them smoother.
- If serving family style, plate the potatoes on one end of the platter and place each beef steak beside them. Pour the gravy over the beef and garnish with chopped parsley and the zest of a lemon. Serve & Enjoy!
Slow Cooking InstructionsFollow the same instructions for searing/sautéing using a pan on the stove, except increase the deglazing liquid to 1½ cups. Transfer to the slow cooker and slow cook on high for about 4 hours or low for about 6 hours. You can either add the tomato paste before or after slow cooking. Make sure to check the liquid levels and add more broth if needed. The beef shanks should remain covered ¾ during the cooking process.
Stovetop InstructionsFollow the same instructions for searing/sautéing using a dutch oven on the stove. Stir in the tomato paste and increase the liquid to 2-3 cups. Add enough liquid to cover the beef shanks. Simmer covered for about 90 minutes or until the beef is fork tender. Check on the liquid level every 30 minutes and add more if needed. The beef shanks should remain ¾ of the way covered with liquid during the cooking process.
Stovetop/Oven InstructionsFollow the same instructions for searing/sautéing using a dutch oven on the stove. Stir in the tomato paste and increase the liquid to 2 cups or so. Add enough liquid to cover the beef shanks at least ¾ of the way. Stir in the tomato paste. Place the dutch oven, covered, in a preheated 350℉/175℃ oven. Bake for about 90 minutes, making sure to check on the liquid every 30 minutes or so and add more as needed. The beef should be fork tender. Uncover and bake another 15 minutes to get some browning on the beef shanks if desired.
ABOUT THE RECIPE AUTHOR, LOUISE LONG
Louise is a full-time recipe creator and food blogger @ The Salted Pepper. She has over 30 years of experience with cooking and recipe development. She owned a restaurant for several years and was a full-time RN until retiring to blog full-time.
She published her first cookbook in the Fall of 2018 and is very interested in writing several more.
Louise is also the creator of an online Ninja Foodi Pressure Cooking Course with over 100 instructional step-by-step videos. People absolutely rave about the course and all the value they have received from it.
Louise has several very active Facebook groups that help people with the basics of cooking and getting the most out of the Ninja Foodi.
Louise is also a YouTube creator and you can find most of her recipes in video format on The Salted Pepper YouTube channel.
She is very responsive to messages and eager to help in any way she can. Get more Information about Louise & contact information
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