Traditional Osso Buco Recipe

Traditional Osso Buco recipe, although it needs a long cooking time, is not a difficult dish to make. What makes it truly special is its tenderness and unique flavor.

Ossobuco is a meat recipe that has its roots in the culinary tradition of the city of Milan.

Osso buco (in Milanese dialect “Oss Buss”, literally “bone with a hole”) is nothing more than a veal shank cut crosswise. The veal slices are about 3-4 cm high (1 – 1 1/2 inch), in the center there is a bone with marrow. All around the bone there is a very tasty and tender meat.

traditional osso buco recipe

Another peculiarity of the traditional Osso Buco alla Milanese is that the meat must be further flavored with a sauce made of parsley, garlic and lemon zest, all finely chopped. This sauce is called “Gremolata”. It comes from the Milanese dialect “gremulà” which means “to cut into small pieces”.

On December 14, 2007 the Traditional Osso buco recipe (Ossobuco alla Milanese) has received the special De. Co. (Denominazione Comunale) from the Municipality of Milan, a title awarded to local delicacies that have become an undisputed symbol of Milanese cuisine.

Now let’s show you how to make Ossobuco alla Milanese recipe!

traditional osso buco recipe ingredients

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Traditional Osso Buco Recipe (Ossobuco alla Milanese)

  • Prep Time: 20 Min
  • Cook Time: 2 H0urs
  • Yields : 4


  • 4 osso buco = veal shanks cut into four pieces 1 to 1 1/2 inches thick (3 to 4 cm high)
  • 1 medium onion 
  • 50 g (1/2 stick) of unsulted butter
  • 50 g (1/3 cup) of all purpose flour
  • 100 ml (1/2 cup) of dry white wine
  • 600 ml (2 cups) of meat broth
  • 1 tablespoon of tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • a pinch of fine salt
  • freshly ground black pepper

For Gremolata

  • a bunch of parsley
  • 1/2 lemon zest
  • 1 garlic clove

Kitchen Tools and Equipment

To prepare the traditional Italian osso buco recipe, you need a large, shallow pan with a thick bottom and a lid. A pan suitable for long cooking and stews. We recommend this stainless steel pan with five-ply base and with glass lid.

To make the Gremolada you will surely need a grater for the lemon zest and an electric chopper for parsley and for garlic. 

Many Italians, either for tradition or because they prefer a coarser mince, use the traditional Italian Mezzaluna Knife, so loved by our grandmothers!


Traditional Osso Buco Recipe step 1 (1)

Step 1) – Prepare the veal shanks. IMPORTANT: cut the white connective tissue surrounding the shank in few places using kitchen shears. This will prevent the meat from curling and changing shape during cooking. Then flour the veal shanks on both sides and set aside.

Traditional Osso Buco Recipe step 2 (1)

Step 2) – In a large pan, put the butter and oil, add the finely chopped onion and cook over low heat for 3 minutes until the onion becomes transparent.

Traditional Osso Buco Recipe step 3 (1)

Step 3) – Now put the floured osso buco in the pan with the onion soffritto. Cook them over medium heat for 5 minutes on both sides. Add salt and pepper to taste. Finally, add the white wine and let it evaporate.

Traditional Osso Buco Recipe step 4 (1)

Step 4) – Heat the meat broth (prepared earlier). Lower the heat and cover the shanks with the hot broth.

Traditional Osso Buco Recipe step 5 (1)

Step 5) – Now add the tomato paste, stir and let them cook over low heat for about 2 hours, covered with a lid.

About every 30 minutes, turn the veal shanks gently, making sure they don’t stick to the bottom. Add some broth during cooking only if necessary. The sauce must be thick and creamy, not too liquid.

Traditional Osso Buco Recipe gremolata step 6 (1)

Step 6) – In the meantime, prepare the Gremolata. So chop the parsley and the clove of garlic. Then mix them throughly with the lemon zest.

Traditional Osso Buco Recipe step 7 (1)

Step 7) – Add the Gremolata a few minutes before the end of cooking. Serve the traditional osso buco recipe with Gremolata alla Milanese piping hot, perhaps with some lemon peel as decoration.

traditional osso buco recipe


You can keep the Ossobuco alla Milanese in the refrigerator for 2 days in an airtight container .

You can make osso bucco ahead of time. Before serving, reheat in a pan, adding 1 or 2 tablespoons of water or broth if the sauce has thickened too much. You can reheat enen in the microwave.

Can you Freeze Cooked Osso Buco?

You can freeze cooked osso buco keeping them in freezer containers up to 1 month. Defrost it completely before reheating and serving.

What is Osso Buco Traditionally Served With?

Osso Buco with Risotto alla Milanese

Traditionally in Milan we serve Osso buco with Risotto alla Milanese.

Traditional Ossobuco alla Milanese is braised in a delicious sauce until the meat is tender and falling off the bone. It’s then served with a fantastic Risotto alla Milanese. This is the ultimate comfort meal!

This is certainly the most popular way to enjoy Ossobuco that you can find in any Milanese restaurant!

traditional osso buco recipe

Osso Buco in Gremolata with Crusty Bread

But you can also enjoy Milanese Osso buco in many other ways. You can serve the osso buco in Gremolata sauce with some slices of crusty bread. Scoop up the sauce with some pieces of bread. Delicious!

Osso Buco with Polenta or Potato Purée

Like any braised meat dish with gravy, in northern Italian tradition, osso buco is served with creamy polenta or mashed potatoes.

traditional osso buco recipe

Osso Buco with Peas

Very popular is also the combination with peas. Add them raw in the same pan, together with the Osso buco, about 40 minutes before the end of cooking. In this way the peas cook in the osso buco sauce and take on the flavor.

Traditional Osso Buco Recipe: Variants and Some Tips

Osso Buco with Beef Shanks

If you prefer beef instead of the traditional veal, you can certainly use it to make osso buco recipe.

Obviously the cooking time will lengthen by about 30 minutes. The flavor will be more intense but the meat will be less tender.

Light Osso Buco Recipe

This is a dish that is by nature very rich and caloric. But you can get a slightly less fatty version with these little tricks. This lighter version of the osso buco recipe doesn’t differ much from the traditional recipe.

First of all, you can ELIMINATE THE BUTTER and just use a little extra virgin olive oil to sauté the onion.

You can also use VEGETABLE BROTH instead of meat broth. It’s lighter.

Finally, you can use boiled VEGETABLES or fresh salad as a side dish, to make the dish less heavy and more balanced.

traditional osso buco recipe

Ossobuco alla Milanese: With or Without Tomato?

The original recipe for Ossobuco alla Milanese is “in bianco (white)“, that means without the addition of tomato.

The first evidence of this dish dates back to the Middle Ages and the tomato was imported much later in Europe.

So it was later that the habit of adding a tablespoon of tomato paste became widespread. This addition does not affect the taste and has only an aesthetic function as it makes the dish a little more colorful.

Tomato is not a basic ingredient and should not be added in large quantities. The white version of the Milanese Ossobuco remains the most famous in the regions of Northern Italy.

traditional osso buco recipeSome Tips about Gremolata Sauce

As we said, Gremolata is a mixture of parsley, garlic and lemon zest which you add at the end of cooking. The taste of Gremolata is really intense. It’s the peculiarity of Ossobuco alla Milanese and makes this recipe different from other ways of cooking this type of meat.

You usually add the Gremolata at the end and therefore the ingredients that make it up are undercooked!

If you don’t like/digest raw garlic, we suggest boiling it for 5 minutes before mincing it. This way, its flavor will be less strong and it will become much more digestible.

Some people bring Gremolata to the table in a separate cup, thus leaving everyone free to put the desired amount, according to their taste.

traditional osso buco recipe gremolata

Do you Eat the Marrow in Osso Buco? YES!

The marrow is of fundamental importance for Ossobuco alla Milanese. It’s the indispensable element of this dish because, melting during cooking, together with the connective tissue that binds the pulp, it contributes to giving creaminess, richness and taste to the dish.

Often osso buco is served with a very little spoon to take and taste the marrow left inside the bone. This is the reason why the slices of the shanks, and therefore also of the bone, must be high enough.

traditional osso buco recipe

Traditional Osso Buco Recipe: Origins

There is no doubt that Ossobuco is of Lombard origin. However, no one can say when it was born.

Some historians claim it dates back to the Middle Ages, as the use of bones with marrow and veal shanks was common in 14th century cuisine.

The first person to write the recipe for Ossobuco alla Milanese was the Milanese cook Giuseppe Sorbiatti (1827-1888). He offered his services to the richest Milanese families who considered this recipe a real delicacy.

Also the great Pellegrino Artusi (1820-1911) in his famous book “La scienza in cucina e l’arte di mangiar bene” (Science in the Kitchen and the Art of Eating Well) gives the authentic recipe of Milanese ossobuco. In this book Artusi, besides praising this recipe, also says that only Milanese people know how to cook it perfectly.

traditional osso buco recipe

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5 thoughts on “Traditional Osso Buco Recipe”

  1. Ciao folks.
    We can no longer buy veal in local butchers shop in Australia.
    Would lamb shanks cut by ban saw by butcher into perhaps 3 do the job?
    Grazie Kim Christina Maffina.

    • Kim, I use Lamb shanks, cross-cut at the butcher shop here in California. I have used the lamb in osso buco often and have also used veal. Both are wonderful. Go for it!

  2. This looks delicious. What meat should the meat stock be from? Some Osso Buco recipes call for chicken stock. Thank you, looking forward to trying this!

    • Hi Lans, surely a meat stock is more suitable I prefer mixed beef and chicken stock. But even just chicken is fine.


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