Slow braised oxtail cooked in a delicious, rich sauce is pull-apart tender, unctuous and perfect served on a bed of creamy 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.
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.
- Olive oil.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Finish the oxtail stew: Remove the lid for the last 30 minutes of cooking and allow the sauce to reduce and thicken slightly.
- Serve: Serve with the sauce over a side dish of your choice.
What to serve with braised oxtail?
- Garlic Parmesan mashed potatoes
- Maple butter mashed sweet potatoes
- Creamy polenta
- Steamed white 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.
- Slow braised beef short ribs with cheesy mash
- Instant Pot Guinness beef stew
- Slow-braised lamb shanks
Slow braised oxtail
- 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.
This recipe is amazing! My first time making oxtails. So rich and delicious. Enjoying them right now with a nice red wine.
Could I make this in a slowcooker
Yes, you can. It will probably take up to 8 hours in a slow cooker.
I’ve made this before and cooked it overnight in the slowcooker on low it was melt in the mouth tender.
This turned out amazing! Will definitely make again.
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.
Hi, looking forward to making this. Should the tomatoes be fresh or tin?
I prefer using canned/tinned tomatoes.
If you were to use fresh, would you add some tomatoe paste? And howany fresh medium tomatoes would you add?
You could add a tablespoon or two of tomato paste. I would use 4 medium fresh tomatoes.
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.
Balsamic would be delicious but depending on how strong it is, I would start with two tablespoons and add more if necessary.
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!
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.
The red wine I added was too sweet! How can I remedy this?
Add more salt and maybe a splash of Worcestershire to balance.
Could you deglaze the pan with beer? Say a stout like Guinness in lieu of the red wine?
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.
Hello! For how many people is the above recipe? I need to cook for 2 people but 2kg seems a lot! Thank you!
This serves 8. It freezes beautifully though so I would suggest making the full quantity, portioning and freezing for up to 3 months.
When you freeze it do you leave the meat on the bones?
I do sometimes de-bone the meat but often just freeze it as is.
Love this recipe, will share with family members.
Do you put oil in the pot to brown the oxtail?
Yes, you can.
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!
So happy to hear that Susan!
Would you put veggies like sweet potato or butternut in with the oxtail and if so… at what stage?
You absolutely can. They only take 20-30 minutes to cook so I would do it close to the end when the oxtail is already tender.
What tomatoes?? I don’t see them in the recipe. Yet, you say “add tails and tomatoes back to pot????
Chopped tomatoes mentioned in the ingredients list.
No. Tomatoes are not mentioned in the ingredients list. Perhaps update? I was confused as well.
You’ll see under red wine the recipe calls for 400g of chopped tmatoes.
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.
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?
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. 🙂
Hi what kind of red winebdo you use8
I used Cabernet Sauvignon.