Slow Braised Oxtail

Slow braised oxtail cooked in a delicious, rich sauce is pull-apart tender, unctuous and perfect served on a bed of creamy mashed potatoes. Love slow cooked beef recipes? Try our delicious easy beef stew!

Slow braised oxtail on mashed potatoes.

What is oxtail?

Oxtail is the meat from the tail of a cow. It is cut into sections and perfect for slow cooking. The unctuous meat falls off the bone and is similar to slow cooked short ribs but so much more delicious and full of flavor.

Ingredients needed

This oxtail recipe is the way South Africans often cook this delicious cut of beef. Jamaican oxtail (which is the more famous way of preparing oxtail) is cooked with Scotch Bonnet pepper, butter beans and allspice.

  • Oxtails. 
  • Extra-virgin olive oil.
  • Onion.
  • Celery.
  • Carrots.
  • Fresh garlic cloves. Garlic powder can also be used but I would still use fresh garlic.
  • Herbs. Aromatic herbs like bay leaves, rosemary and fresh thyme all work well in braises and stews.
  • Red wine. I used a Cabernet Sauvignon but any full-bodied red wine will work.
  • Tomatoes. I used canned chopped tomatoes but tomato Passata or fresh chopped tomatoes will also be delicious.
  • Beef broth/beef stock.
  • Salt and black pepper.

How to cook oxtails

Oxtail is a tough cut of meat full of connective tissue that needs to be cooked low and slow in liquid to break down properly. You can do this on the stove, in the oven or in an Instant Pot.

  1. Brown the oxtail: As with any stew, start by browning the meat well in a large, deep Dutch oven or pot set over medium-high heat. This allows the meat to caramelize (Maillard Reaction), adding incredible depth to the stew. Once the meat is browned, remove from the pan and set aside. You can also brown the meat in a large skillet but be sure to deglaze the pan and pour the reduced liquid into the stew to add all that rich flavor.
  2. Make the stew: In the same pot, sauté the onion, celery and carrots until golden and just starting to soften. Stir in the garlic and herbs and sauté for another minute. Pour in the red wine and deglaze the pan. Allow the wine to simmer and reduce for a few minutes then pour in the tomatoes. Add the meat back into the pot and pour in the beef stock or broth. Add just enough stock to cover. Reserve the rest. Generously season with salt and pepper then cover and allow to simmer slowly for 3 hours until the meat is tender and succulent.. Alternatively, place in the oven at 160ºC/320ºF. Check on the liquid level every 45 minutes and top up as necessary.
  3. Finish the oxtail stew: Remove the lid for the last 30 minutes of cooking and allow the sauce to reduce and thicken slightly.
  4. Serve: Serve with the sauce over a side dish of your choice.

What to serve with braised oxtail?

Oxtail (as most stew recipes) is great served with mashed potatoes, polenta or rice to soak up all the delicious gravy. Feel free to add a side dish of vegetables like broccolini, green beans or Brussels sprouts.

  1. Garlic Parmesan mashed potatoes
  2. Maple butter mashed sweet potatoes
  3. Creamy polenta
  4. Garlic Butter Rice


How long to cook oxtail?

Oxtail will take approximately 3 hours to cook slowly in liquid set over medium-low heat, depending on the size of the oxtails. You can also cook oxtail in an Instant Pot or pressure cooker for approximately 45 minutes. In a slow cooker, oxtail can take up to 10 hours to cook.

Why do people love oxtail so much?

When cooked correctly, oxtail is one of the most delicious cuts of beef you can eat. The fat and connective tissue cooks adds a ton of flavor and the meat becomes soft and unctuous.

Why is my oxtail so tough?

Oxtail will be tough if you don’t cook it for long enough. As mentioned above, you need to cook the meat low and slow for a few hours for the meat to soften sufficiently.

How do you soften oxtail fast?

Using a pressure cooker is the best way to cook oxtail quickly. It will still take around 45-60 minutes for the meat to soften cooked at high pressure.

Stew recipes

  1. Slow braised beef short ribs with cheesy mash
  2. Instant Pot Guinness beef stew
  3. Slow-braised lamb shanks

Slow braised oxtail

Slow braised oxtail cooked in a delicious, rich sauce is pull-apart tender, unctuous and perfect served on a bed of creamy mashed potatoes.
4.49 from 147 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: South African
Keyword: oxtail, oxtail recipe, slow braised oxtail
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 3 hours
Total Time: 3 hours 30 minutes
Calories: 354kcal
Author: Alida Ryder
Servings: 8


  • 2 kg Oxtail
  • 4 large carrots peeled and finely chopped
  • `1 onion finely chopped
  • 2 stalks celery finely chopped
  • 5 garlic cloves finely chopped
  • 3 Bay Leaves
  • 2 sprigs rosemary
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 400 g (14oz) chopped tomatoes
  • 4 cups beef stock
  • salt and pepper to taste


  • Season the oxtail generously with salt. In a large pot set over high heat, brown the oxtail in batches.
  • Remove and set aside. Add the onions, celery and carrots and cook until golden and just starting to soften.
  • Add the garlic and herbs and sauté for another minute.
  • Add the red wine and allow to reduce slightly.
  • Add the tomatoes and the oxtail back to the pot.
  • Pour in the stock, just enough to cover the oxtail. Reserve the rest. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Bring up to a boil then reduce the heat, cover and simmer gently for 3 hours. Check every 45 minutes if the oxtail needs more stock and top up as needed.
  • Remove the lid for the last hour of cooking to allow the sauce to reduce.
  • Serve the soft oxtail with mashed potatoes, polenta or rice.


Calories: 354kcal | Carbohydrates: 8g | Protein: 42g | Fat: 17g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Cholesterol: 138mg | Sodium: 574mg | Potassium: 441mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 5154IU | Vitamin C: 8mg | Calcium: 67mg | Iron: 6mg

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  1. I would love to make this but someone in my family cannot consume any form of alcohol, even if cooked. I have researched alternatives for cooking red wine and saw many suggestions for either pure pomegranate or cranberry juice (not sweetened abviously) and mixing it with a little bit of vinegar. Do you think that would work for this recipe?

  2. This was delicious! My husband and I have had oxtails before but I’ve never cooked them. What a great recipe. Easy to follow and a great end result. I’ll definitely be making this again following this recipe exactly. Thank you for a recipe that made such a wonderful dinner.

  3. This recipe is amazing! My first time making oxtails. So rich and delicious. Enjoying them right now with a nice red wine.

  4. Made it today, turned out fantastic hubby and I loved it. Followed your recipe exactly. Did not deviate or added anything. Will make it again.

  5. I just bought some really delicious balsamic vinegar. For some reason I want to add it in leu of the red wine, do you think this would work? Thinking less obviously say 1/4 cup.

  6. I have been making this for over 35 years. I started because my husband at this time from Scotland, asked me to make this. I just made it like I do a stew. Very skeptical but is now my favorite stew to make! Now cooking with Oxtails is the “new” thing to cook. Best broth ever!

    1. In South Africa we LOVE oxtail. I remember loving when my gran or dad would make oxtail as a child because I loved picking the succulent meat off the bones. So happy you’re also a fan, Alice.

  7. I only added lemon zest and toasted tomato paste with veggies and put over pappardelle pasta mm mm good. I started a little late ? (2:30) so it wasn’t done for a while but even my VERY picky 2 and 6 yr old scarfed it down.

  8. I picked up some oxtails and was looking for a recipe and made this one! IT was so good! I used beef consommé. I served over cheese polenta. It was everything I had wanted. The house smelled wonderful. Thanks so much!

  9. Hi Alida
    Would you put veggies like sweet potato or butternut in with the oxtail and if so… at what stage?

  10. What tomatoes?? I don’t see them in the recipe. Yet, you say “add tails and tomatoes back to pot????

      1. No. Tomatoes are not mentioned in the ingredients list. Perhaps update? I was confused as well.

  11. I’ve been making Oxtail for 30 years from my mom’s recipe and it always comes out nice but this one looks delicious – I’m definitely going to try it.

  12. The “in Laws” are coming for lunch and I would like make this but the Bovril is as issue. Personally I LOVE Bovril, having grown up with it smeared all over toast with loads of margarine. But the boyfriends family are majorly against bovril. Could I use beef stock as a substitute or does the BOvril create the amazingness in this recipe?

    1. Rose, You could use beef stock. I just use bovril with water when I don’t have beef stock. When used that way, you don’t taste that it’s bovril AT ALL! But Beef stock is perfect too. 🙂