Oxtail and beans

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 and beans pot

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 3 votes
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 2 hrs 30 mins
Total Time 2 hrs 45 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
  • 1 tsp cooking oil
  • 3 tbsp brown sugar to make the browning
  • 2 tsp salt to taste
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp allspice powder
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp ginger powder
  • 2 tsp onion powder
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp dried thyme leaves
  • 1 - 2 tbsp soya sauce msg-free
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce msg-free, optional
  • ½ tsp scotch bonnet pepper to taste
  • 4 cloves garlic crushed
  • 1 medium onion chopped
  • 1 inch ginger root crushed
  • 6-8 pimento seeds
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • ½ large green bell pepper chopped
  • ½ large red bell pepper chopped
  • 3 stalks scallion (green onion) chopped
  • 1 small tomato diced
  • ½ cube Knorr beef or chicken bouillon or 1 tsp all-purpose seasoning
  • 2 tbsp ketchup (optional)


  • 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, dried thyme leaves, 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, bell pepper, scallion and pimento seeds) then divide them into two portions.
  • Add half the portion of the fresh herbs and spices 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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    14 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. Roxy Chow Down

        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 🙂

    2. I’m experienced in cooking Indian, Mexican, Korean and Italian cuisines, but this was my first time both eating oxtail and cooking Jamaican food. I very much appreciated the cultural back-story to the dish, as well as the preparation and cooking tips, including the comments about the possible need to further brown up and thicken up the gravy.
      Your list of ingredients and steps however were not always aligned or complete. For example you listed dried thyme leaves as an ingredient, but didn’t include them in the step 2, where I imagine they belonged. Similarly, you listed the ingredients green and red bell pepper, and pimento seeds, but they are not specifically included in any of the steps. Since I was using a slow cooker, after browning the oxtails, I sauteed all the peppers plus the crushed garlic and ginger root (plus I threw in some carrots and minced celery for good measure), then added back in the oxtails. I substituted beef broth for the water and Knorr beef bouillon combination. Since you did not indicate when to add the 3 stalks chopped scallions, I did that right before serving. It is very helpful for novice cooks (and even experienced cooks who are new to the cuisine) to have ingredients listed in the same order in which they are used in the recipe. All in all, the end result was delicious, finger licking good; it was a hit with my husband (and that is really important!) and I look forward to making the stew again, with a bit more confidence and perhaps a larger portion of the scotch bonnet pepper! Your step #19, “bless up” was a most endearing touch. Thanks for sharing your culinary cultural heritage!

      1. Hi Theresa! Thank you so much for your thoughtful feedback. I really appreciate that you took the time to offer me advice on how best to share this recipe with others. I’ve gone ahead and updated the recipe considering your feedback. I’m glad the oxtail was a hit with your husband and it’s great that you put your own spin on it 🙂 Really looking forward to you trying more of my recipes and getting delicious results! Bless up every time my dear.

    3. 5 stars
      Well, I was so excited to try this recipe. I am mourning a great loss in the family and I thought a complicated dish would be exactly what I need to feel good. Comfort!! I watched your YouTube video then headed to the market, lol. That’s when things took a turn “What??” look at the price of oxtails. I decided to make the same recipe on neck bones. AMAZING RESULTS!! YOU HAVE PERFECTED THIS RECIPE. Full transparency, I modified the recipe and used granulated Knorr tomato and chicken bouillon in the rub and as needed when adding water during cooking. I didn’t need to use the ketchup.

      I have been vegetarian for over 15 years, so no tasting for me. This dish was so pleasing to my eyes and nose. Most of the time, the smell of raw and cooked meat is not pleasing to me as a vegetarian. This dish was different. Searing with the brown sugar, and, the fresh herbs smelled amazing throughout the house.

      So, if I don’t eat any meat, you’re probably wondering how you got your rating, lol. My husband is a very good cook and gives me, sometimes, painfully honest feedback. I wanted to leave a review and asked him what rating I should give… he said 10 stars.

      Ms. Roxy I can’t wait to try this recipe on short ribs and of course oxtails. Thank you so much for sharing and caring about our emotional health.

      1. 😭😭😭 Oh my goodness Shannon! I don’t know exactly where to start but let me firstly say a big “THANK YOU”🥰❤️, to you and your husband for this beautiful review and 5 star…no….10 STAR rating!!(BIG UP to your huzzy for that)😆. I must also say CONGRATS on a job well done!! Your tweaks to the recipe were creative and I could feel the love that went into preparing it. You amazed me by taking on a non-vegan dish, and acing it without tasting it!! That’s LOVE! May your marriage continue to be blessed my dear.
        My deepest condolences goes out to you for your loss. I’m so happy that cooking has offered some therapy and pray that the Holy Spirit comforts you daily. Thanks again for showing your support through this review. It encourages me to continue sharing my recipes and love for cooking with others. Bless up every time🙏❤️🙏❤️🙏❤️.

      1. Hi Michele, Happy New Year!! Thanks so much for leaving this sweet review 🙂 I’m happy to hear my recipes work well for you. Could you please a 5-star rating for those recipes you love to help support my page? Really appreciate it!

    4. Richard Paulsingh

      5 stars
      Roxy chow down your recipes are amazing i tried the oxtail and rice and peas today and my God it was absolutely amazing.

      1. Hey Richard!
        Thanks so much for taking the time to leave your 5-Star rating and this awesome review. I’m happy you enjoyed my Oxtail & Rice and Peas recipes and hope you try out the others soon 🙂 Bless up every time!!

    5. Good evening Roxy i appreciate that oxtails and rice recipe. I made this dish on Monday my family ate the whole pot. Thank you very much you Rock.

      1. Good evening Vern! You’re very welcome 🙂 It’s such a joy to hear how well my recipes work for you, and how your family members enjoy them!! Please help to support my website by taking the time to give these 2 recipes a 5-Star rating. Thanks in advance 🙂

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