Turn a tough cut of meat into the perfect shredded beef! Learn everything you need to know about smoking a showstopping beef shank (AKA “Thor’s Meat Hammer”) recipe using this detailed tutorial.
But there is something uniquely incredible about smoking a bone-in beef shank.
In many cases, this cut of meat is considered to be somewhat undesirable and often overlooked because it has a lot of tendons, silver skin, and tougher muscle that would need to break down for it to taste delicious.
Hear me out though…
I think I love this recipe more than the majority of BBQ I’ve made in ages. It’s that good!
If you have never tackled a smoked beef shin-style cook, then I encourage you to read through this article to better understand this cut, preparation tips, and the overall smoking process.
Let’s dive in!
- Knife and Cutting Board
- Small Baking Sheet
- Cooling Racks
- Spray Bottle
- High-Quality Digital Thermometer
- Butcher Paper
- Basting Brush
Welcome to my virtual classroom! Use the guided notes below where I often answer commonly asked questions I get from readers and cooks just like you.
This information is meant to help you have a stronger understanding of this recipe and the process so you can find success all on your own.
A huge shout out as well to a fellow chef and pitmaster Josh Milson of @Born_To_Chef for assisting me in the development process.
Ready to begin cooking? Simply jump to the recipe below and begin.
What Is A Beef Shank?
The beef shank is also called the beef shin. This is the shin leg portion of the cow above the knee.
Because this cut is part of the leg, the muscles get used a lot. The more any animal uses a muscle, the tougher that portion of the meat typically is.
Now, the nice part about BBQ is that you can take these less than ideal cuts and turn them into something incredible (and this is incredible).
For this recipe, I like using a bone-in beef shank that has been frenched (Where you expose 2-3 inches of the bone from the meat).
You may also sometimes find cross-cut shanks (commonly referred to as osso buco).
These cross cuts will work for this recipe but you won’t get the same visual effect and your smoking time will vary greatly.
Smoked Beef Shank Ingredients:
- 1, 8-10 lb. Frenched Bone-In Beef Shank (you can ask your butcher to French it if you don’t want to)
- BBQ Rub (I used a coffee ancho rub for this)
- Binder (this can be olive oil, mustard, hot sauce, etc.)
- Beef Broth or Beef Stock (for building your bark while smoking)
- Beef Tallow (for wrapping and finishing off your cook)
When you get your full beef shank from the butcher it will have a very hefty and thick fat cap on it. Under the fat cap, you may see some silver skin.
Leave both intact (not often will I say this when it comes to BBQ) because this recipe will not be using any braising liquids (no braised beef shank here).
You will be slow smoking this meat and then wrapped in butcher paper similar to a pork shoulder or brisket.
Here are the steps I recommend you follow to prepare for your cook:
- Remove the meat from the packaging and pat it dry.
- Only trim off any large pieces of the fat cap that hang off the edge of the meat, leaving the rest intact.
- Add a binder to your meat. I used the sauce from a can of adobo peppers because I used an ancho chili coffee rub.
- Add your dry rub of choice and season the beef shank in a fairly heavy layer. Place on a cooling rack suspended over a baking sheet and let it sit uncovered in the fridge overnight like this.
Smoking The Shank:
- Preheat your smoker (pellet smoker or charcoal smoker both work here) to 225-250 F.
- Before smoking, cover the exposed bone in foil. Place your beef shank onto the middle rack of your smoker and let the bark begin to develop. Place a thermometer into the thickest part of the beef.
- After 1-2 hours, lightly spray the outside of the bark with beef stock or broth. Continue to spray every 45-60 minutes until your bark sets and the internal temperature hits around 175- 180 F.
- Remove from the smoker and brush some melted beef tallow over the bark and onto the butcher paper. Carefully wrap the butcher paper tightly around the beef shank and return it to the smoker.
- Continue smoking until the beef shank is tender and hits an internal temperature of about 203 F.
- Let rest, wrapped in a towel, and placed into a cooler for at least an hour (DO NOT SKIP THE REST)!
Cooking time will vary depending on many factors. My beef shank was 10 lbs. and took roughly 8-9 hours and an additional hour of resting before pulling.
Shred the meat like you would pulled pork. Remove any tendons or cartilage as you break down the meat. Serve with this killer smoked mac an cheese!
Smoked Beef Shank
- 8-10 lb. Bone-In Beef Shank Frenched
- 3 tbsp. BBQ Dry Rub of choice
- 2-3 tbsp. Olive Oil or other binder desired
- 2 cups Beef Broth
- 1 cup Beef Tallow
- Remove the beef shank from the packaging and pat it dry with paper towels.
- The fat cap and silver skin will not be trimmed off for this cook, but assess if there is hanging larger potions of the fat cap that are not attached to the meat. Trim and remove.
- Apply the binder (olive oil) to the entire beef shank. Then coat it evenly on all sides, top, and bottom with a dry rub.
- Wrap foil around the exposed bone.
- Place in the fridge uncovered 12-24 hours prior to smoking for best results.
- Preheat your smoker to sit between 225 F. – 250 F.
- Place the beef shank onto the smoker, insert a thermometer, and let it smoke for 1-2 hours.
- Begin to spray it every 45-60 minutes with beef broth to help build the bark. Repeat this process until the beef shank reaches an internal temperature of 175-180 F.
- Remove it from the smoker and brush on the beef tallow so the outside bark is nicely coated. Reserve the remaining tallow for serving.
- Roll the beef shank up tightly with a long, double layer of peach butcher paper. Place the shank back onto the smoker and smoke.
- Start checking for tenderness around 195 F. internal. For best results it will be better if it cooks to at least 203 F.
- Remove and let it rest in a cooler for at least an hour. Resting is very important so do not skip this step.
- Carefully shred and pull the meat off the bone by hand. Remove any cartilage or tough pieces that are often a part of shank meat. Dress the meat lightly with the extra tallow if desired and serve.