Jamaican Oxtail Stew – out-of-this-world delicious oxtail stew braised with butter beans in a flavorful deep gravy spiced up primarily with allspice, thyme, paprika, Scotch bonnet pepper, curry powder, and browning sauce. It’s fall-off-the-bone tender. A must-have on fall/winter rotation!
If there is one Jamaican dish that is extremely popular and a favorite of many, this Jamaican Oxtail Stew with butter beans surely bags the top spot. It is truly loved by many, myself included. As a matter of fact, it has gotten me in trouble plenty of times.
I use to work not too far from a Jamaican restaurant and would order it 3-4 times a week. Let’s just say, ordering it more often is not a wise decision for my wallet nor my waistline. But I can certainly tell you my belly is purring with joy!
What is an Oxtail?
I know here in the U.S. oxtails don’t get that much love compared to other cuts of meat but it should. And you should put it on your food bucket list and try it at least once. Furthermore, it’s tail-end delicious, finger-licking good. AND you are going to want to nibble on the bone and beat yourself for not trying it out sooner.
But what is an oxtail?
For those who are new to this term, an oxtail refers to a tail of a cow that is skinned and cut into sections. Each section is composed of a tailbone with some marrow in the center with gelatinous meat that works great for soups, stocks, and braises.
At one point, oxtail was considered as staple meat to underprivileged families due to its high-fat content, longer cooking time and cheap price. But as the years went by, the prices skyrocketed. That’s why I usually stock up on them if they’re on sale.
What’s in a Jamaican Oxtail Stew?
There are just two words that could sum up this oxtail recipe – SOUL SATISFYING! It has become a favorite of mine and most of my readers through the years. In fact, it is one of the most raved recipes here on the blog. If you’re still on the fence, please take the time to read the lovely reviews below and you’ll see what I’m talking about.
For this incredibly delicious and easy Jamaican Oxtail Stew, you’ll need the following below:
- cooking oil
- oxtails cut up in medium pieces
- onion, garlic, thyme
- smoked paprika
- ketchup /tomato paste
- whole Scotch bonnet pepper or habanero
- green onions
- whole pimento seeds or allspice (see notes)
- Worcestershire sauce
- curry powder (see my Homemade Curry Powder HERE)
- canned butter beans (may swap for lima beans or large white beans)
- browning sauce (optional), bouillon powder or cube (optional), salt
What Else Can You Add in this Oxtail Recipe?
Want some extra veggies in this braised oxtail? Sure! Feel free to add some extra veggies just like what some of our readers here have done. They’ve added:
- sweet potatoes
- mustard green (added at the last 20 minutes of cooking)
- stewed tomatoes (at the end together with broad beans)
How Long Does it Take to Cook Oxtail?
Oxtails are great for braising and require a long cooking time — usually about 2-3 hours. Slow cooking breaks down the connective tissue and renders it tender and allows it to fall off the bone. Which is what I recommend, especially for first-timers.
Unless you are like me, I like it with some bite to it and love to suckle and nibble the bones – a cultural thing. Additionally, if you can have the butcher cut the oxtail into medium pieces, that’d be good. It helps cut down on the cooking time. Oh, and make sure you pick out the ones with less visible fat.
Can You Cook Oxtail Stew in a Pressure Cooker?
Although I haven’t personally tried making this recipe in a pressure cooker, our wonderful readers took their time to leave some instructions on you to cook oxtail stew in a pressure cooker.
- Start with the “Saute” setting for the first three steps in the recipe box and carefully browning the oxtail pieces on both sides – about 2-3 minutes per side.
- Remove the oxtail, and saute the onions, green onions, garlic, thyme, allspice, Worcestershire, smoked paprika, stir for about a minute.
- Next, throw in scotch bonnet pepper, tomato paste, bouillon, and curry powder, stir for another minute.
- Return the browned oxtails and deglaze your pressure cooker with water or stock and switch to pressure cook for 40-45 minutes, depending on the size of the oxtails. Lastly, add the beans and continue to simmer it on the stovetop for about 5-10 minutes or until the sauce has thickened and butter beans are warmed.
Can You Cook This in a Slow Cooker, too?
Yes, you can! Simply follow the instructions as described in the recipe box. Then adjust water to about 2 -3 cups, and add to the slow cooker. Slow cook for about 5 hours or more, depending on the oxtail size and preference until tender.
What to Serve with Jamaican Oxtail Stew?
- Caribbean Rice and Beans (with video)
- Coconut Rice (with video)
- Cornmeal Coo Coo
- Grits Recipe
- Jamaican Pigeon Peas and Rice
- Skillet Cornbread (with video)
More Jamaican Recipes You’ll Love
Want to try more scrumptious Jamaican recipes? You’re in for a treat!
- Jamaican Jerk Chicken (with video)
- Cornmeal Porridge (with video)
- Slow Cooker Jamaican Beef Stew
- Easy Jamaican Curry Chicken (with video)
- Easter Spice Bun (with video)
- Jamaican Beef Patty or Meat Pies (with video)
How to Make Jamaican Oxtail Stew
Season oxtail with, salt and pepper. Set aside. In a large pot, heat oil over medium heat, until hot, and then add the oxtail sauté stirring, frequently, any browned bits off the bottom of the pot, until oxtail is brown. If desire drain oil and leave about 2-3 tablespoons
Add onions, green onions, garlic, thyme, all spice, Worcestershire, smoked paprika, stir for about a minute. Throw in scotch bonnet pepper, tomato paste, bouillon and curry powder, stir for another minute.
Then add about 4-6 cups of water, it’s best to start with 4 cups, then add as needed.
Bring to a boil and let it simmer until tender (depending on the oxtail size and preference) about 2- 3 hours, occasionally stirring the saucepan.
About 20-30 minutes before you remove from the stove add broad beans. Adjust the thickness of soup with water or stock
Season with salt according to preference.
Watch How to Make It
This post was first published in November 2015 and has been updated with a video and some cooking tips and notes.
Jamaican Oxtail Stew
- 2 -3 tablespoon cooking oil
- 1- 2 pounds oxtail cut up medium pieces
- 1 onion chopped
- 2 teaspoon minced garlic
- 1- teaspoon fresh chopped thyme
- ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 tablespoon ketchup /tomato paste
- 1 Whole Scotch bonnet pepper
- 2 green onions chopped
- 5-6 Whole pimento seeds (allspice),
- 1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1- teaspoon curry or more adjust to preference
- 15 ounce can butter beans , rinsed and drained
- 1 teaspoon browning (optional)
- 1 Tablespoon bouillon powder or cube (optional)
- Salt to taste
- Season oxtail with, salt and pepper. Set aside
- In a large pot, heat oil over medium heat, until hot, and then add the oxtail sauté stirring, frequently, any browned bits off the bottom of the pot, until oxtail is brown. If desire drain oil and leave about 2-3 tablespoons
- Add onions, green onions, garlic, thyme, all spice, worcestershire,smoked paprika, stir for about a minute. Throw in scotch bonnet pepper, tomato paste, bouillon and curry powder, stir for another minute.
- Then add about 4-6 cups of water , it's best to start with 4 cups , then add as needed . Bring to a boil and let it simmer until tender (depending on the oxtail size and preference) about 2- 3 hours, occasionally stirring the saucepan.
- About 20-30 minutes before you remove from the stove add broad beans. Adjust thickness of soup with water or stock
- Season with salt according to preference.
Tips & Notes:
- Want to marinate the oxtail before cooking? You can do so, especially if you have lots of time in your hand. Just marinate it using minced garlic, minced thyme, pinch of curry, onions, salt and pepper. One of our readers also lightly marinate it with Badia Complete Seasoning instead of salt and pepper, a teaspoon of browning sauce and a tablespoon of beef bouillon powder.
- If you want a really dark color like the ones you would sometimes see at a Jamaican restaurant then go ahead and use browning sauce. Add the browning sauce after you saute the onions.
- If you have particularly fatty oxtail be sure to spoon out the thin layer of fatty oil, about 1 hour into boiling. Not traditional but sometimes a necessity especially with non-organic cows.
- When simmering the oxtail stew for 2-3 hours, put the lid on. It helps to cook faster.
- If you only have the ground allspice on hand, you can swap a teaspoon of it for the pimento seeds.
- Scotch bonnets are very hot. So leave it whole or if you're not a fan of heat, add it towards the last 5-10 minutes of cooking. You can find Scotch bonnet pepper in Caribbean and African Markets or sub it with habanero peppers.
- To thicken the gravy, add a few slices of potatoes and let it cook longer. It usually just thickens up if you cook it longer. With that said, one of the other readers have used corn starch slurry towards the end with good results.
- Don't like adding beans? Feel free to omit it. Or replace it with veggies like carrots and potatoes, instead.
- Please keep in mind that nutritional information is a rough estimate and can vary greatly based on products used.