Grillhaxe Grilled Eisbein Pork Shanks: Traditional Recipe, Serving Tips & Drink Pairings

Grillhaxe Grilled Eisbein Pork Shanks: Traditional Recipe, Serving Tips & Drink Pairings

Eisbein refers to a traditional German dish featuring cured and boiled pork shank. Known for its tender, flavorful meat, Eisbein is often served with sauerkraut and potatoes. The name “Eisbein” translates to “ice leg,” originating from the Old High German word for “ice bone,” referring to the shank’s use in crafting ice skates in ancient times.

The Grillhaxe Method

Grillhaxe transforms Eisbein into a grilled delicacy. Start by selecting a high-quality, bone-in pork shank. Brine the shank to enhance flavor and moisture. After brining, score the skin to create a crispy texture. Preheat the grill to medium heat, then place the shank over indirect heat. Grill the shank for 2-3 hours, turning occasionally for even cooking. The internal temperature should reach 165°F for safe consumption. For extra crispiness, finish by grilling over direct heat for 10-15 minutes, rotating constantly.

Ensure the shank rests for a few minutes before serving to retain juices and enhance flavor. Pairing Grillhaxe with sauerkraut, potatoes, or a tangy mustard sauce complements the dish’s rich, smoky profile.

Key Ingredients and Preparation

Essential Ingredients for Grillhaxe

To prepare Grillhaxe, start with a high-quality pork shank. Ensure you have the following essential ingredients on hand:

  • Pork Shanks: Choose fresh, ideally bone-in shanks for optimal flavor.
  • Salt: Use kosher or sea salt for brining.
  • Sugar: Add brown sugar to balance the salty brine.
  • Spices: Include black peppercorns, bay leaves, and juniper berries for aromatic depth.
  • Garlic: Use fresh cloves for enhanced flavor.
  • Water: Use filtered water for the brine solution.

Adjust the amounts according to the number of pork shanks you’re preparing to ensure even brining and seasoning.

Preparing the Pork Shanks

Preparation sets the foundation for a tasty Grillhaxe. Follow these essential steps:

  1. Brine the Shanks: Dissolve salt and sugar in water. Add spices and garlic. Submerge pork shanks, ensuring they’re fully covered. Refrigerate for 24 hours.
  2. Score the Skin: After brining, remove the shanks and pat them dry. Score the skin diagonally with a sharp knife to ensure even cooking and crispy skin.
  3. Preheat the Grill: Set up your grill for indirect heat at a temperature of 300°F. Use charcoal or wood for a smoky flavor.
  4. Grill the Shanks: Place the pork shanks on the grill away from direct heat. Cover and grill for 2-3 hours, turning occasionally until they reach an internal temperature of 165°F.
  5. Rest the Meat: Once cooked, remove the shanks from the grill and let them rest for 10 minutes before serving. This step helps redistribute juices and enhances tenderness.

Your pork shanks are now ready to be served with your choice of traditional sides like sauerkraut, potatoes, or mustard sauce.

Cooking Techniques and Tips

Grilling for Optimal Flavor

Grilling shines as the preferred method for preparing Grillhaxe. Start by ensuring the grill is preheated to a medium-low temperature, around 300°F (150°C). This allows the meat to cook evenly. Use the indirect heat method by placing the pork shank away from direct flames; this technique keeps the meat tender while the skin crisps.

Apply a dry rub of salt, pepper, garlic powder, and paprika on the shanks for enhanced flavor. Rotate the shanks every 20 minutes to ensure even cooking. Cover the grill to maintain a consistent temperature. Expect a cooking time of 3-4 hours or until the internal temperature reaches 165°F (74°C). Use a meat thermometer to check doneness. Let the meat rest before carving to lock in the juices.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

Avoid these errors to achieve the perfect Grillhaxe:

  • Skipping Brining: Brining helps in flavor retention and moisture. Use a mix of salt, sugar, and spices for the brine solution.
  • Ignoring Temperature Control: Both undercooking and overcooking can ruin the dish. Maintain a steady, medium-low temperature throughout the grilling process.
  • Using Direct Heat: Direct heat can cause the skin to burn and the meat to dry out. Stick to the indirect heat method for best results.
  • Not Scoring the Skin: Scoring allows the fat to render out and the skin to become crispy. Use a sharp knife to make shallow cuts in the skin before grilling.

Serving Suggestions

Serve Grillhaxe with traditional German sides like sauerkraut and mashed potatoes. Sauerkraut adds a tangy contrast to the rich pork, while mashed potatoes offer a creamy texture that complements the crispy skin. For a fresher option, consider Kartoffelsalat (German potato salad) with vinegar-based dressing. Red cabbage also works well, balancing sweetness with acidity.

For a lighter side, try an arugula salad with a lemon vinaigrette. Include toasted nuts and shaved Parmesan for added flavor. Bread dumplings, known as Semmelknödel, can add a hearty element to your meal, providing a satisfying base for the pork’s juices.

Pairing Drinks with Grillhaxe

Beer pairs superbly with Grillhaxe, especially German varieties like Märzen or Pilsner. Märzen, with its malty sweetness, complements the pork’s flavors, while Pilsner’s crispness balances the richness. Wine lovers might enjoy a dry Riesling, which cuts through the dish’s fattiness.

For a non-alcoholic option, consider sparkling water with a splash of lemon. This simple drink refreshes your palate between bites. Apple cider also pairs well, offering a sweet acidity that contrasts the savory meat.

These carefully chosen side dishes and drinks enhance your Grillhaxe experience, making each bite even more enjoyable.


Grillhaxe offers a delightful culinary journey into traditional German flavors. By mastering the brining and grilling techniques, you can achieve that perfect balance of tender meat and crispy skin. Pairing it with classic sides and beverages elevates the experience, making each bite memorable. Whether you’re hosting a backyard barbecue or a cozy dinner, Grillhaxe is sure to impress your guests and leave them craving more. Dive into this authentic dish and enjoy the rich, savory taste of German cuisine right at home.

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