Oxtail Stew, Rice and Peas, Steamed Cabbage by Roxy Chow Down

Jamaican Oxtail & Broad Beans

Oxtail and Broad Beans is one of Jamaica’s most iconic dishes. For many Jamaicans, there’s nothing more satisfying than a plate of juicy oxtail and rice and peas for Sunday dinner. That’s the life! The craving Jamaicans have for oxtail is so well-known, that there is hardly a Jamaican celebration without this intriguing cut of beef on the menu. That’s why you’ll often find Jamaican oxtail at special events like Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner. The love for oxtail is so strong that Jamaicans take it with them all over the world. As such, any restaurant or event catering to Jamaicans knows that having Jamaican oxtail on the menu is a ‘must’ to please their patrons! 

Today you’ll get my easy Jamaican oxtail recipe that’s tender, succulent and deliciously rich in flavour. Spice up your next Sunday dinner with some Jamaican-oxtail and rice and peas, throw in a side of tossed salad, then wash it all down with a refreshing drink of soursop juice.

How do you clean oxtails before cooking?
Traditionally, Jamaicans wash all raw meat before cooking it. To clean oxtails before cooking, first, add them to a large bowl of water. Next, add either 1/4 cup of vinegar or some lime/lemon juice to the bowl and mix well. Use your hands to rub each piece of oxtail to remove any unwanted debris. Finally, pour off the water and rinse the meat twice then drain the bowl completely before seasoning and cooking it. 
Jamaican Oxtail Stew – Good to the Bone!

Jamaican Oxtail (stewed oxtail) is a favourite because it is meaty, juicy and flavourful when cooked right. My recipe teaches you how to get oxtails that’s seasoned ‘down to the bone’ which is exactly how I like it. 

To get Jamaican oxtail with maximum flavour, I layer a delicious blend of rich herbs, spices and seasoning at the start, middle and end of the cooking process. The result of that layering technique, is a juicy pot of oxtail that’s good to the bone. This is when the real oxtail-lovers ‘dash whey’ (throw away) their knives and forks then use their hands to enjoy the sweet and sticky bones that’s bursting with flavour. Because even though eating oxtail can get messy, sucking on the bones is how to truly enjoy it. And every oxtail-lover knows that’s the best part!

How long should you cook oxtail?

There are two main ways to cook oxtail. One way is to slow-cook the oxtail on the stove top for  3 – 3.5 hours or until the meat is tender. However, a pressure cooker may be used to speed up the cooking process, and cut the time in half.

How to thicken oxtail gravy

The most flavourful way to thicken oxtail gravy is to add broad beans, butter beans, carrots or spinners (skinny Jamaican-style dumplings), in the last 15 minutes of stewing the oxtail. However, if you won’t be using any of those ingredients, then using cornstarch is a quick way to thicken the oxtail gravy. First, dilute 1 – 2 teaspoons of cornstarch in 3 – 4 tablespoons of cold water then add it to the pot and stir in well. Next, cook the oxtail on high heat with the pot partially uncovered, until the desired gravy consistency is achieved.

Why are oxtails so expensive? – From Rags to Riches

How oxtail stew became an expensive, world famous dish, is an interesting rags to riches story. 

Did you know that oxtails (or more commonly the tails of cows or bulls) were once the least desired cut of beef? In the past, butchers discarded the oxtails or sold them at a low cost to those unable to afford the ‘preferred’ cuts of beef. So at that time, oxtails were classified as ‘poor people food’ or food only the poor ate.  

Things changed however, when word spread about how those ‘poor people’ created a culinary masterpiece using oxtails. Cooks stewed the oxtails to sweet perfection, resulting in a captivating dish with a rich and tantalizing taste. Demand then grew for this delectable cut of beef and vendors took note. As the demand for oxtail grew, so did its price. Today, oxtail is no longer ‘poor people food’ but somewhat a delicacy, with the premium price to match.

Tips for Cooking the Best Jamaican Oxtail Stew

Here are some tips to cooking the best Jamaican oxtail stew:

• Rinse oxtails in vinegar or lime or lemon juice before seasoning it. 

• Trim the fat from the meat to make your gravy less oily.

• Season the oxtail and let marinate for 6 – 8 hours  (if possible) before cooking, to infuse flavours into the meat.

• Cook oxtails until soft and tender then remove from heat. Do not overcook it.

Is Oxtail Stew Healthy?

Oxtail is beef, which is classified as red meat. This cut of meat also has a considerable amount of fat. Studies show that there is a link between cardiovascular diseases and consuming large amounts of red meat and fatty foods. I recommended enjoying all your meals in moderation. Especially when predisposed to health issues.

Oxtail Stew, Rice and Peas, Steamed Cabbage by Roxy Chow Down

Jamaican Oxtail Stew Recipe

Enjoy this easy, step-by-step Jamaican oxtail stew recipe that's juicy, flavourful, tender, and 'seasoned to the bone' good!
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 3 hrs 30 mins
Marinate 8 hrs
Total Time 3 hrs 40 mins
Course Dinner, Main Course, Main Dish
Cuisine African, Caribbean, Jamaican, Spanish
Servings 5


  • 2 kg oxtail stew
  • 1 can broad (fava) or butter beans optional
  • 2 tsp salt to taste
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp allspice
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp ginger powder
  • 2 tsp onion powder
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp dried thyme leaves
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce msg-free
  • 1 - 2 tbsp soya sauce msg-free
  • ½ tsp scotch bonnet pepper to taste
  • 4 cloves garlic crushed
  • 1 medium onion chopped
  • 1 inch ginger root crushed
  • ½ large green bell pepper chopped
  • ½ large red bell pepper chopped
  • 6-8 pimento seeds
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 3 tbsp brown sugar
  • ½ cube Knorr beef or chicken bouillon or 1 tsp all-purpose seasoning
  • 2 tbsp ketchup (optional)
  • 3 stalks scallion (green onion) chopped
  • 1 small tomato diced


  • In a large bowl, wash oxtail in vinegar, lime or lemon juice then drain completely.
  • Season the oxtail with salt, black pepper, paprika, allspice, onion powder, garlic powder, ginger powder, soya sauce and worcestershire sauce.
  • Thoroughly rub the seasoning into the oxtail by hand or using a large fork or spoon.
  • Prepare (cut) the fresh herbs and spices (onion, garlic, ginger, thyme, tomato, scotch bonnet pepper, scallion etc.) then divide them into two portions.
  • Add half the portion to the oxtail and rub in well.
  • Cover and let the seasoned oxtail marinate for 6 - 8 hours or move immediately to the next step.
  • In a large skillet, heat the cooking oil on medium heat. Add 2 tablespoons of brown sugar, stirring quickly and thoroughly for about 1 minute or until the sugar melts.
  • Immediately add the seasoned oxtail and allow each side of the meat to brown for 1 - 2 minutes.
  • Using the same bowl used to season the oxtail, add 1 cup water and mix well.
  • When both sides of oxtail have browned, add the water from the bowl, stir the pot then cover it and let the meat cook for 10 - 15 minutes.
  • Next, add enough water to cover the meat. Stir the pot then cover it and let the oxtail cook on high heat for 2 ½ to 3 hours. Remember to stir the pot every 10 minutes.
  • Check the pot regularly to make sure there is enough water to cover the meat and top it up each time it runs low. After about 3 hours, taste a small piece of the meat to check if it's fully cooked.
  • When the oxtail stew is fully cooked (tender), add ½ of the bouillon cube, ketchup (or 1 tbsp brown sugar) and the second portion of chopped seasoning. If the water has dried out, add enough water to cover the meat. Cook for 10 - 15 minutes.
  • Drain and discard the liquid from the can of beans, then add the beans to the pot.
  • If the oxtail stew isn't brown enough, add 1/2 to 1 tablespoon soya sauce and stir. Cover and cook on medium-high heat for a further 8-10 minutes.
  • Check the gravy for the desired consistency and taste.
  • If the gravy is too thin, leave the pot uncovered to allow the gravy to thicken (approximately 10 minutes). OR - add 1 tsp. of cornstarch diluted in 2 tablespoons of cool water to thicken the gravy.
  • If your sauce needs more salt, you can add a bit more (to taste), stir the pot and let it simmer for 5 minutes.
  • Bless up and enjoy it!
  • Please remember to come back to leave me a Rating & Review as soon as you've tried this recipe. Thanks in advance!
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4 thoughts on “Jamaican Oxtail Stew”

  1. 5 stars
    Right just tried this and it’s amazing, my first time just reading a recipe. You honestly did a good job thank you.

    1. Hi Abi! I’m so happy to hear your oxtail came out amazing. Thank you so much for taking the time to leave a review to let me know that my recipe helped you. Please try some more of my recipes and let me know how they work for you. Just so you know, I’ve lots of delicious recipe videos on YouTube. Check those out too. My channel is ‘Roxy Chow Down’. All the best 🙂

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