wikiHow to Cook Oxtails

Three Methods:StovetopStovetop and OvenSlow Cooker

Oxtails need to be cooked using slow, steady heat in order to become tender, but properly cooked oxtail falls off the bone. Here are a few basic methods you can use to prepare oxtails.


Makes 4 to 6 servings

  • 4 lbs (1800 g) oxtails, sliced 1 1/2 to 2 inches (3.8 to 5 cm) long
  • 2 Tbsp (30 ml) salt
  • 2 cups (500 ml) beef broth
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) Balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 to 1 cup (125 to 250 ml) red wine
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 Tbsp (15 ml) fresh rosemary
  • 1 Tbsp (15 ml) fresh thyme
  • 1 Tbsp (15 ml) fresh oregano
  • 2 tsp (10 ml) fresh tarragon
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 4 Tbsp (60 ml) olive oil
  • 4 Tbsp (60 ml) all-purpose flour

Method 1

  1. Image titled Cook Oxtails Step 1
    Combine the oxtails, salt, Balsamic vinegar, garlic, rosemary, thyme, oregano, tarragon, and onion. Place these ingredients in a large, heavy stock pot.
  2. Image titled Cook Oxtails Step 2
    Cover the ingredients with liquid. Pour enough beef broth and red wine into the stockpot to cover the ingredients.
    • Start with the beef broth and make up the difference with the red wine.
    • If you still do not have enough liquid to cover the ingredients, add a little water or additional broth.
  3. Image titled Cook Oxtails Step 3
    Stew the oxtails for 2 1/2 to 3 hours.[1] Bring the liquid to a boil over medium-high to high heat. After it begins to boil, stir it, cover the pot, and reduce the heat to medium. Let it simmer for 2 1/2 to 3 hours.
    • Stir the oxtails every 15 to 30 minutes to ensure even cooking.
    • If the liquid is still boiling rapidly after dropping the heat, you may need to drop the heat to medium-low. The oxtails should cook in simmering liquid, not rapidly boiling liquid.
    • Remove the pot from the heat after the designated amount of time has passed.
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    Warm the olive oil and flour in a skillet over medium heat. Heat the oil first for 30 to 60 seconds before adding the flour. Stir continuously for 3 minutes.
    • Vegetable oil, bacon drippings, or shortening can also be used instead of olive oil.
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    Remove 4 cups (1 l) of liquid from the stock pot. Add this liquid to the skillet and stir continuously until a thick gravy forms.
    • You can also add a few dashes of browning sauce to the gravy to deepen the color.
    • The gravy can be flavored with additional salt, pepper, and garlic powder, if desired.
    • Remove the skillet from the heat.
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    Coat the oxtails in the gravy. Transfer the oxtails from the stock pot to the skillet, coating them with the gravy by stirring them in. Heat over medium-low for 5 minutes.
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    Serve warm. Allow the oxtails to rest for 3 to 5 minutes before serving.

Method 2
Stovetop and Oven[2]

  1. Image titled Cook Oxtails Step 8
    Salt the oxtails. Rub the oxtails with the salt, using enough salt to coat the meat on all sides. Allow them to sit in a glass bowl at room temperature for 2 hours or in the refrigerator overnight.
  2. Image titled Cook Oxtails Step 9
    Rinse the salt off. Use running water and scrub the salt off with your fingers.
    • You need to remove virtually all salt from the meat. Otherwise, you will end up with an excruciatingly salty dish by the end.
  3. Image titled Cook Oxtails Step 10
    Preheat the oven and a heavy, oven-safe pot. The oven needs to be preheated to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (177 degrees Celsius). Heat 2 Tbsp (30 ml) olive oil in the pot over medium-high heat.
    • Vegetable oil, shortening, or bacon drippings can also be used instead of the olive oil.
    • The pot must be oven-safe since you will be transferring it directly from the stovetop to the oven. It should also have a lid.
  4. Image titled Cook Oxtails Step 11
    Sauté the garlic in the pot. After the oil begins to smoke, Sauté the minced garlic, stirring frequently until it begins to brown.
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    Brown the oxtails. Add the oxtail slices cook for 5 to 10 minutes, stirring, until they are brown on all sides.
  6. Image titled Cook Oxtails Step 13
    Add the liquids and seasonings to the pot. Fill the pot with the beef broth and Balsamic vinegar. Use enough red wine to cover the top of the meat by 1 inch (2.5 cm). Mix in the rosemary, thyme, oregano, and tarragon.
  7. Image titled Cook Oxtails Step 14
    Transfer the pot to the oven and continue cooking. Cover the pot and put it into the preheated oven for 3 to 4 hours.
    • Check on the oxtails periodically to make sure that there is still enough liquid. If the volume begins to dip below the surface of the meat, add more wine.
    • The oxtails are done when the meat begins to fall off the bone.
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    Sprinkle with chopped onions, if desired. Continue cooking for another 30 minutes.
    • For a milder flavor, substitute the onion for 2 chopped leeks.
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    Serve warm. Remove the bones from the oxtails prior to serving, or allow your guests to do so themselves.
    • If desired, create a gravy by stirring the flour into the cooking liquid and heating the liquid on the stovetop over medium-high heat. Allow the liquid to boil and thicken, adding more flour if necessary, and serve with the oxtails.

Method 3
Slow Cooker

  1. Image titled Cook Oxtails Step 17
    Heat the oil in a skillet. Use medium-high heat.
    • Vegetable oil, bacon grease, or shortening may also be used instead of olive oil.
  2. Image titled Cook Oxtails Step 18
    Season and brown the oxtails. Sprinkle the oxtails with enough salt to season them and coat the slices in flour. Add them to the skillet and cook for 5 to 10 minutes or until evenly browned on all sides.
    • This step could be skipped, but browning the meat beforehand adds a significant amount of flavor to the final dish.[3]
    • Coating the oxtails in flour leads to better browning.
  3. Image titled Cook Oxtails Step 19
    Transfer the oxtails and other ingredients to the slow cooker. Place the oxtails in the slow cooker. Cover with Balsamic vinegar, garlic, rosemary, oregano, thyme, and onion. Pour in the broth and add enough red wine to cover the meat by about 1 inch (2.5 cm).
    • To make cleaning up easier, you could spray the inside of the slow cooker with nonstick cooking spray. You could also use a nonstick slow cooker liner.
  4. Image titled Cook Oxtails Step 20
    Cover and cook on low heat for 8 hours. You could also cook the oxtails for 3 to 4 hours on high.
    • Do not stir the contents of the slow cooker or open the lid as it cooks. Doing so could release a significant amount of heat, and you may need to add an additional 30 minutes onto the cooking time simply by opening it for a few minutes.
  5. Image titled Cook Oxtails Step 21
    Serve warm. Turn off the heat and transfer the oxtails to a serving platter. Let rest for 3 to 5 minutes before serving.


  • If using dried herbs instead of fresh, decrease the amount used from 1 Tbsp (15 ml) to 1 tsp (5 ml). For the tarragon, decrease the amount from 2 tsp (10 ml) to 1/2 tsp (2.5 ml).
  • A good wine to use for this recipe is Malena Garnacha, but any Spanish red wine is a suitable choice. You could also use red wine vinegar, but many cooks discourage the use of wine vinegars since these tend to have a cheap, salty flavor.
  • If you do not want to use wine, you could substitute it for an equal amount of additional beef broth.
  • Ask the butcher to cut the oxtails when you purchase them. Oxtails are usually cut already, but if not, it is advisable to have a professional butcher cut through the bone rather than attempting to do so yourself.

Things You'll Need

  • Large oven-proof stock pot
  • Large skillet
  • Large slow cooker
  • Heat-resistant serving spoon
  • Tongs
  • Large glass bowl

Article Info

Categories: Meat