How to Cook Oxtails

Trying out a new dish can be an exciting culinary adventure, especially when you’re looking to cook something as savory and tender as oxtails. Whether you’re venturing into new territory or reminiscing about flavors from your childhood, you’ll be pleased to discover just how simple it is to transform this unassuming ingredient into a delicious meal. With various cooking methods such as slow cooking, boiling, or simmering in a soup with broth and veggies, you’ll find the perfect way to cook oxtails to your liking.

Starting with fresh or frozen oxtails, getting that perfect tenderness is just a matter of mastering the right technique and using bold, mouth-watering seasonings. From family gatherings to cozy dinners at home, your oxtail masterpiece is sure to impress. So let’s dive into this culinary journey and explore what it takes to cook oxtails to perfection.

Key Takeaways

  • Cooking oxtails is simple and versatile with methods like slow cooking and boiling.
  • Achieving tender and flavorful results is easy with the right techniques and seasonings.
  • Oxtails make for a delightful meal during family gatherings or cozy dinners at home.

How to Cook Oxtail

To savor a delicious oxtail dish, it’s essential to prepare it right. Follow these simple guidelines to achieve the best results.

When cooking oxtails, it’s crucial to soak them before boiling. Although not a labor-intensive task, the process is time-consuming, so allot a day for it. If you’re in a hurry, you can use an Instant Pot on high pressure.

You might wonder if it’s possible to cook oxtail from frozen. The answer is yes! Regardless of the cooking method – slow cooker, boiling, or Instant Pot – you can cook them without thawing first. The cook time will be more or less the same, whether they’re frozen or fresh; however, it may differ based on their size.

When boiling frozen oxtail, you should soak them in water with a pinch of salt. For a quicker thaw, use slightly warm water instead of cold. By the end of your soak time, they should be mostly defrosted, allowing you to continue with the following steps for cooking.

Ideally, you should use fresh oxtail pieces from the butcher that are not frozen solid. If you have enough time, it’s best to defrost them in the refrigerator over 16-24 hours. This way, you can enhance their flavor with onions and garlic while boiling or slow-cooking to create a rich, mouthwatering oxtail stew.

How Long Does it Take to Cook Oxtails?

When it comes to cooking smoked oxtails, you will need approximately 2 hours. If boiling is your preferred method, allow 5 hours of low rolling boil in a pot filled with water. To enhance the flavor, consider adding a touch of salt, black pepper, and garlic.

It’s crucial to ensure that the oxtails are completely submerged in liquid during cooking. You can choose from multiple options:

  • Plain water is an available and cost-free option
  • Vegetable broth adds extra flavor
  • A combination of half beef broth and half water is a popular choice
    • If using this option, skip the added salt to keep the taste balanced
  • Be sure to include oxtail seasoning to avoid blandness

These are the essential steps to achieve tender and lightly flavored oxtails. There are numerous oxtail recipes for you to explore and expand on these basics. If you’re after some added texture, you can brown the oxtails with olive oil over low to medium heat towards the end of cooking. Make sure to dry them with paper towels before placing them in the pan.

Once cooked, remove the oxtails, discard the bones, and incorporate the protein into a variety of dishes such as an Instant Pot bean soup, butter beans, or inside a serving of collard greens. Enjoy your delicious, home-cooked oxtails!

How Long to Make Oxtail Tender

Achieving tender oxtail can vary depending on the method you choose. Using a Crockpot is a convenient option that requires minimal attention, taking around 8-10 hours to reach that fork-tender consistency. Bear in mind that this method is quite lengthy.

Opting to cook oxtails on the stove can speed up the process to approximately 3 hours. However, you’ll need to pay close attention to the pan, ensuring it doesn’t boil over.

Oven baking is another alternative that takes around 3 hours to complete. You can simply place the oxtails in a covered Dutch oven and let it cook without much thought. This technique is great for recipes, such as Korean oxtail soup, where you remove the tender meat before adding it to the broth.

Lastly, an Instant Pot is fantastic for those short on time. This fastest method shows you how to tenderize the oxtail first, and if desired, you can proceed with making a soup by adding the remaining ingredients. Remember that the oxtail’s fatty nature contributes to its rich flavor and delectable texture.

How Long Can Oxtails Remain in the Fridge After Cooking

After cooking and enjoying your oxtails, storing the leftovers should follow similar guidelines as other cooked beef types. Ideally, you can keep them in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. To maximize their freshness, place them in an airtight container. If you need more extended storage, consider using a freezer instead. Get creative with your leftover oxtails by incorporating them into new meal ideas.

Cooking Oxtail

To give your oxtail dish a flavorful twist, you can add Jamaican seasoning or your favorite hot sauce for a spicy kick. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to prepare and cook oxtail for a delicious meal:

  1. Begin by trimming any excess fat from the oxtails and rinsing them under cool running water. Place the oxtails in a large stockpot with water and 1 teaspoon of salt, ensuring they are submerged. Let them soak for 1-2 hours.
  2. After soaking, discard the water and return the oxtails to the cooking pot. Refill the pot with 12-15 cups of water, broth, or a mixture of both. Cover the oxtails, making sure they are submerged, and bring the liquid to a low boil.
  3. Once the pot has been boiling for 2 hours, skim off any foam or fat that has risen to the surface.
  4. Add pepper and minced garlic to the pot, along with any other seasonings you’d like. Simmer the oxtail on low heat for 3 hours, slightly covering the pot if desired. To ensure the oxtails are tender, allow them to simmer for a total of 5 hours on low heat.
  5. After cooking, remove the oxtail pieces and place them on a cutting board. Separate the meat from the bone and serve as desired, or add to a soup.

For a simple yet tasty way to serve your oxtail, sauté the meat in a bit of olive oil over medium heat. You can finish it off with additional seasoning or a splash of Worcestershire sauce. Alternatively, you can add the tender oxtail meat to soups or stews for a wholesome meal. Enjoy cooking, and savor the delicious taste of your homemade oxtail dish!

How to Determine If Oxtails Are Cooked

Just like any other beef dish, you’ll want your oxtails to be fork-tender and easily pullable from the bone without cutting. When they reach that point, they’ll be quite hot, so it’s best to use tongs to hold each piece while using a fork to remove the meat from the cartilage and bone.

For the smaller crevices, a knife might come in handy. If you find yourself struggling to pull the meat using a fork, it means the oxtails need more cooking time. Place them back in the boiling water for an additional 30 minutes, and then repeat the fork test. Continue this process until the meat easily separates from the bone.

It’s worth noting that, unlike larger beef bones that you might save for making bone broth, oxtail bones are not suitable for that purpose. They tend to break apart, and there won’t be much left after cooking. Instead, simply savor the tender, well-seasoned bites of meat straight out of the pot, and enjoy your delicious oxtails.

Where Can You Obtain Oxtail?

Oxtail, as the name suggests, refers to slices of a cow’s tail. Now that you’re curious about it, you might be wondering where you can find it. Don’t worry; finding delicious oxtail is usually a simple process.

Start by checking your local grocery store or butcher shop. Head to the meat section, and if you don’t spot any pre-packaged oxtail, ask the meat counter staff if they have any in the back. Frozen oxtail is perfectly fine; just give it about 24 hours in the refrigerator to defrost before using it in your recipe.

In case the store doesn’t have any oxtail in stock, ask if they can order it for you. A good butcher or meat counter should be able to arrange for various cuts of protein upon request, including oxtail. If they can’t help you, try exploring another store. Remember, oxtail can be used in diverse recipes alongside other cuts like beef shank, soup bones, and short ribs, making it worth the effort to locate. So, happy cooking and enjoy the flavors of oxtail in your dishes!

How to Cook Oxtails

A tasty oxtail dish.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 1 hour
Cook Time 5 hours
Total Time 6 hours
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Servings 4
Calories 312 kcal


  • Stockpot
  • Cutting board
  • Knife


  • 6-8 oxtails
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 3 tbsp minced garlic


  • Trim any excess fat from the oxtails. Rinse thoroughly with cold water. Place oxtails in a large stockpot, filled with water and 1 tsp salt. Submerge oxtails and soak for 1-2 hours.
  • Drain the soaking water and refill the pot with 12-15 cups of water, broth, or a mixture of both. Ensure oxtails are covered. Bring to a low boil.
  • Simmer for 2 hours, then skim any foam or fat from the surface. Add pepper and minced garlic. Continue simmering for 3 more hours. If desired, cover the pot slightly. A total of 5 hours simmering time will guarantee tender oxtail.
  • Carefully remove oxtails from the pot and place on a cutting board. Separate the meat from the bones and serve as an appetizer, entree, or in a soup.


Remember that you can enjoy your oxtails as they are or add them to a delicious soup with other vegetables or rice. Take pride in your skillful preparation and savor the tender, flavorful result!


Calories: 312kcal
Keyword how to cook oxtails
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Frequently Asked Questions

What’s the top method for cooking oxtails?

The best way to cook oxtails is to braise them low and slow in a flavorful liquid. This ensures that the meat becomes tender and absorbs the delicious flavors from the cooking liquid.

How much time do oxtails need to bake in the oven?

Oxtails generally need about 3 hours to cook in the oven at temperatures between 300°F-325°F. Cover the oxtails with foil or a lid to prevent them from drying out.

Any ideas for tasty oxtail seasonings?

Some good oxtail seasoning ideas include:

  • Salt and pepper
  • Garlic powder
  • Onion powder
  • Smoked paprika
  • Cayenne pepper
  • Thyme
  • Rosemary

Feel free to mix and match these seasonings to create your own unique flavor profile or use a pre-made spice blend.

Is there a fast way to cook oxtails?

To cook oxtails quickly, you can use a pressure cooker or an Instant Pot. These cooking devices can reduce the cooking time significantly, often taking just an hour to cook oxtails until tender.

What’s the perfect approach to cooking oxtails in a pressure cooker?

To cook oxtails in a pressure cooker:

  1. Brown the oxtails on all sides using the sauté function.
  2. Add your seasonings and liquid (like beef broth, wine, or tomato sauce) to the pressure cooker.
  3. Secure the lid and set the cooking time to 45-60 minutes on high pressure for tender oxtails.
  4. Allow the pressure to release naturally before uncovering and serving.

How do I make oxtail gravy?

To prepare oxtail gravy, follow these steps:

  1. Remove the cooked oxtails from the cooking liquid and set them aside.
  2. Skim off any excess fat from the top of the liquid.
  3. Pour the liquid into a saucepan and heat it on medium heat.
  4. In a separate bowl, mix equal parts cold water and cornstarch to create a slurry.
  5. Slowly whisk the slurry into the hot liquid, stirring constantly to prevent lumps from forming.
  6. Continue to stir the gravy until it thickens to your desired consistency and season it to taste.
  7. Serve the gravy over your cooked oxtails.
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Cassie brings decades of experience to the Kitchen Community. She is a noted chef and avid gardener. Her new book "Healthy Eating Through the Garden" will be released shortly. When not writing or speaking about food and gardens Cassie can be found puttering around farmer's markets and greenhouses looking for the next great idea.
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