What is Oxtail? Exploring the Tail End of Deliciousness

February 17, 2023
Written by Kristy J. Norton

Oxtail, as the name implies, is the tail of an ox. It’s typically cut into sections and used to make oxtail soup, stew, or braised oxtail. However, don’t let the idea of eating the tail of beef cattle put you off. Oxtail is a delicious and versatile cut of meat packed with rich nutrition and some flavorsome goodness.

I was first introduced to it through my grandma’s delicious meat stew at a family gathering. It’s been years since then, however, the memories still make my mouth water. Ever since I’ve tried it out several times on the skillet at home and cookouts, and I’m reassured of the quality of this meat. So, whether you’re a seasoned oxtail pro or a curious first-timer, join me as we dive into the world of oxtail and check out one of the most popular oxtail recipes. 

What Is Oxtail

What Kind of Meat is Oxtail?

So, what is oxtail? Is it a beef tail or does the tail comes from a special type of cattle?

Well, an oxtail is a type of beef that comes from the tail of a beef cattle, specifically an ox – that is, a male castrated adult cattle.

It is a relatively tough cut of meat known for its rich, beefy flavor and tenderness when slow-cooked. It is often used to make stew, soup, or braised dishes, as the long cooking time allows the meat to break down and become tender. 

A typical oxtail cut can also be used to make a flavorful broth or stock, as it is a good source of collagen. 

Is Oxtail Different From Beef Tail?

Well, that’s a tricky question to answer. Beef tail is the tail meat from any cattle, whether cow, steer, or ox. 

On the other hand, the term “oxtail” traditionally refers to the tail of (often castrated) adult male cattle known as a bullocks or steers.

What Does Oxtail Taste Like?

Most cuts of oxtail taste like game meat with a rich, beefy flavor. It’s a fattier cut of meat, and it’s packed with collagen, so when cooked properly, it’s super tender and juicy. 

The beef is also infused with all the flavors of the bones and the bone marrow, giving it a deep, satisfying taste. It’s often described as having a rich, meaty taste with a hint of sweetness. 

I’ve had it cooked in soups and even in traditional Jamaican oxtail stews. It’s always been a hit. 

What’s Special With Oxtail?

Beyond just a tail meat, the oxtail is a hidden gem of beef. Here’s why I’m so fond of it:

Versatile Meat 

One of the reasons I have fallen in love with oxtails is their versatility.

It’s used in traditional dishes like oxtail stew, oxtail soup, and oxtail curry. 

It’s not just limited to traditional dishes – beef oxtail can also be used in more creative ways, like oxtail risotto, oxtail tacos, and oxtail mac and cheese. 

It can be used in many cuisines, such as Italian, Chinese, and African. It’s also perfect for making rich broth and stock. 

Raw Oxtail Meat with Leaves

Rich in Collagen 

One of the reasons beef oxtail is so delicious is that it’s a tough cut of meat packed with collagen. 

During low and slow cooking, the sinews and marrows of the oxtail melt into collagen and gelatin, giving dishes a rich and hearty flavor.

Highly Nutritious 

Beef oxtail is also nutritious. It’s a great source of protein, iron, and zinc, making it a healthy addition to any diet. 

Its high amount of collagen is a great benefit for the joint and skin health. However, it is also high in fat, so it should be consumed in moderation as part of a balanced diet.

Oxtail Nutritional Information 


Value (Per 100 Grams Serving)



Calories From Fat



141 mg

Total Fat

14.34 grams

Saturated Fat

5.56 grams


30.93 grams


233 mg


10 grams



Where to Buy Oxtail?

When it comes to buying beef oxtails, you may have to do some research. It won’t be readily available at your local grocery store, but it’s definitely worth looking for. 

Some specialty butcher shops or ethnic markets may have it in store. You can also try asking the butcher at your local grocery store if they can reserve it for you. 

Some supermarkets also have online services that you can use to order and have them delivered. 

You can also buy oxtail meat online from websites specializing in meat delivery. Here are some retail outlets selling oxtails and the products available: 




Although it may take some effort to find oxtails, once you do, you’ll be rewarded with a delicious and unique cut of meat.

How to Cook Oxtail in Three Methods? 

When it comes to cooking beef oxtail, there are a few different methods you can try. 


Braised oxtail is one of my personal favorites. I first season it with salt, pepper, and any other herbs or spices. Then I brown it in a hot pan with some oil. 

Once it’s browned on all sides, I remove it from the pan and set it aside. I then add some onions, carrots, and celery to the pan and sauté them until they’re softened. 

Oxtail Soup with Boiled Veggies

Next, I add in some liquids like bone broth, red wine, or tomato puree and bring it to a simmer. I return the oxtail to the pan, cover it, and let it simmer in the oven for about three to four hours or until the meat is tender and falling off the bone. 

Cook in a Crockpot 

Another way to cook oxtail is to cook it in a crockpot in a slow cooking method. This is also a great option if you want to prepare your meal in advance. 

Start by seasoning the beef oxtail with salt, pepper, and other herbs or spices. Then add some vegetables and liquids. Let it cook on low for six to eight hours or until the meat is tender.

In Soups and Stews

I always start by browning the oxtail on the skillet over medium-high heat. Then I add the tail cuts to the soup or stew along with the other ingredients. 

Finally, you have to let it simmer until the meat is tender and the flavors have melded together. 

Whatever method you choose, the key is to use a slow-cooking method. This will help to break down the connective tissue and make the meat tender. Always serve it with some sauce to enhance the flavors of the meat. 

Oxtail Recipe Highlight: Jamaican Oxtail Stew (Complete Recipe)

Jamaican oxtail stew is a must-try of all oxtail recipes. It’s packed with traditional oxtail soup ingredients like thyme, allspice, and bay leaves and slow-cooked to perfection. 

Here’s how to prepare the recipe:


  • 2-3 lbs oxtail
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups beef broth (bone broth can also be used for added flavor)
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp ground allspice
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 4-5 carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 4-5 potatoes, peeled and diced (mashed potatoes can also be used as an alternative)
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • Salt to taste
Raw Oxtail with Chilies and Herbs


Step 1: Season the oxtail with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the oxtail and brown on all sides (beef cheeks or beef neck can also be used in this slow-cooked oxtail recipe).

Step 2: Remove the oxtail from the pot and set it aside.

Step 3: In the same pot, add the garlic and onion. Then cook until it softens up.

Step 4: Stir in the flour and cook for 1-2 minutes.

Step 5: Gradually stir in the beef broth, wine, tomato paste, soy sauce, thyme, allspice, and pepper. Add the bay leaves.

Step 6: Allow everything to boil and reduce the heat to low. Add the oxtail back to the pot. Cover and cook slow for 2-3 hours or until the oxtail is tender (slow cooking is vital for tender meat).

Step 7: Add the carrots, potatoes, and peas. Simmer for another 30-40 minutes or until the vegetables are tender.

Step 8: Taste and adjust seasoning with salt as needed.

Step 9: Serve with rice or crusty bread (rich broth and very little meat are typical of oxtail recipes simmered in a crock pot). Enjoy!

Extra Cooking Tips

Here are some additional tips to help you make the perfect Jamaican Oxtail Stew:

  • Marinate the oxtail overnight: To make Jamaican Oxtail stews, start by marinating the oxtail in a mixture of red wine, soy sauce, and spices. The marinade is then used as the braising liquid for the stew, adding even more depth of flavor to the dish. The oxtail is then cooked with carrots, potatoes, and peas, creating a comforting and satisfying meal.
  • Use a slow cooker: Slow cookers are an excellent option for cooking oxtail, as they allow you to set it and forget it so you can come home to a fully cooked and delicious stew. However, if you’re in a hurry, a pressure cooker can also be used.
  • Use beef broth instead of water: Using beef broth instead of water will give the stew a richer, more robust flavor.
  • Don’t skimp on the vegetables: To add even more flavor to the stew, be sure to add enough vegetables and adjust the seasoning at the end of the cooking process. 
  • Experiment with spices and seasonings: You can also experiment with different herbs and spices, such as cumin, cayenne pepper, and coriander, to give the stew a different twist. Taste the stew at the end of the cooking process and adjust the seasoning as needed. Add more salt and pepper as necessary to bring out the flavors.
  • Let it rest: Once the stew is done, remove it from the heat and let it rest for at least 10 minutes before serving. This will allow the flavors to meld together and make the stew even more delicious.


Can Oxtail Be Eaten Raw?

No, oxtail should not be eaten raw. Raw meat in general contains harmful bacterial that can cause food poisoning. It should always be cooked to an internal temperature of at least 145 degrees Fahrenheit to kill bacteria.

Is Oxtail Healthy?

Oxtail is a rich source of protein and iron, but it’s also high in saturated fat and cholesterol. It should be consumed in moderation, especially for those trying to manage their cholesterol levels. 

Oxtail Soup with Scallion


In summary, an oxtail is taken from a steer’s tail. It is a flavorful cut of beef thanks to the bone marrow, fats, and connective tissues, which give it a rich, meaty flavor. It’s often used in stews, soups, and braises.

Oxtail is a good source of protein and iron, but it is high in fat and cholesterol, so it should be consumed in moderation. With proper cooking techniques, oxtail can be a delicious and hearty addition to any meal. 

By Kristy J. Norton
I'm Kristy – a chef and connoisseur of all things BBQ! You can find me either in my kitchen (or someone else's) or at a big outdoor barbecue surrounded by friends and family. In both my professional and personal life I’ve picked up more than a few tips and tricks for turning out delicious food. I consider it a privilege to share it with others!
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