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This Italian style, fork tender braised veal, slow cooker Osso Buco, is an easy and soul-satisfying cold-weather meal.
With the classic flavorings of northern Italy, slow cooker style, this dish almost makes itself. It’s absolutely delicious, especially when served over pasta, polenta, or even mashed potatoes. The gremolata garnish is an important component and one you won’t want to skip.
Ask your butcher to tie the individual veal shanks around the middle with kitchen string, or else do it yourself before cooking. It isn’t absolutely necessary, but it does help the meat keep its shape while cooking.
There are two hands-on tricks to this slow cooker recipe. One occurs in the beginning, one at the end. The first is to brown the veal shanks before they go into the slow cooker. The second is to reduce the cooking liquid sauce before serving. If your slow cooker insert is stove top safe — the second step can be completed in the same pot. Otherwise, a simple saucepan or skillet works easily.
Slow Cooker Osso Buco
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
4-6 veal shanks, 1 1/2 – 2-inch thick
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 yellow onion, coarsely chopped
2 carrots, peeled and diced
1 celery stalk, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 cup dry red wine
1 can (14 oz.) diced Italian plum tomatoes
1/4 cup low sodium beef stock
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
Chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley for garnish
Pasta or polenta for serving
For the Gremolada:
2 – 3 tablespoons finely minced flat-leaf parsley leaves
1 teaspoon finely minced lemon zest
3 medium cloves garlic, minced
Combine onion, carrots, celery, garlic, canned tomatoes and their juices, rosemary and thyme along with 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper into the bottom of a slow cooker.
Put flour in a wide, shallow bowl and season with salt and pepper. Dredge the veal shanks in the flour, coating evenly, and shake off the excess.
In a nonstick skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add veal shanks in batches, browning on all sides, about 10 minutes. Transfer shanks to the slow cooker. Add the wine to the skillet and scrape up any browned bits from the bottom. Add the beef stock and tomato paste to the wine and pour the contents over the shanks in the slow cooker.
Be sure the liquid comes almost to the top of the shanks, but not covering them. If you need more liquid, add beef stock or water.
Cover and cook on low heat for 6 to 8 hours — the meat will be fork tender, almost falling off the bone.
Transfer the shanks to a platter to rest and cover with foil to keep warm. Pour the sauce from the slow cooker into a large skillet and simmer for 10-15 minutes or until the liquid is reduced to about 2 cups. Season with salt and pepper.
Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine the parsley, lemon zest, and garlic to make a gremolata. Serve the veal shanks topped with sauce and garnished with gremolata.