Authentic Jamaican oxtail stew

Jamaican Oxtail Stew Recipe

Jamaican Oxtail Stew is a beloved classic that captures the rich and soulful essence of Jamaican cuisine, even Caribbean cuisine. It is bursting with rich flavours of aromatic warm spices, herbs and most of all, the rich and tender oxtail. Oxtail Stewed Jamaican style, a traditional Jamaican dish, is a special treat for the whole family.

Oxtail is a delicious cut of meat, fatty, flavourful and rich that produces a luxurious stew. It is boney and tough so it takes a while to get very tender, in fact cooking Jamaican Oxtail Stew is a labour of love, it is time-consuming but worth the effort and time. You can cut down the cooking time by using a pressure pot.

Easy Jamaican oxtail stew


Jamaican-style oxtail stew with butter beans has quite a lot of ingredients and while you can do away with some ingredients, there are the essentials e.g. Pimento (Allspice seasoning), green onions, bell peppers etc. You can add Irish Potato, Worcestershire sauce, Soy Sauce, Ketchup, and Carrot. Also, the addition of Grace’s soup mix adds extra depth and flavour to oxtail stew.

For a dark-coloured gravy, there are two methods used, the first is when sugar is melted in the pot before adding the oxtail, and the second method is when the oxtail is coated with browning sauce before cooking. If you are melting sugar, you must watch it closely because it can go from brown to burnt in seconds. For this stew, I didn’t use any sugar or browning sauce.


Some extras that are added to Oxtail Stew, the most common ones are butter (Lima) beans and spinners. The beans don’t add much to the taste of the stew but they add nutrients and ‘body’ to the stew, it also gives it a good consistency. Spinners are also added, they are spindle-shaped flour dumplings common in Jamaican cuisine.


I like skin-on oxtails, the skin brings something to the dish but it’s not for everyone.

oxtail in a bowl



  1. If your oxtail is not skin-off, trim off excess fat.
  2. Place oxtail in a bowl of water, and add about 1/4 cup of white vinegar.
  3. Wash well and drain.
  4. Rinse two more times with water only, and drain.


Oxtail is a very tough cut of meat and usually takes several hours to cook. It benefits from long slow cooking over low/medium heat. This can take up to 2-3 hours to get the oxtail tender depending on the age of the cow.

I use a pressure pot to cut down on the cooking time. A pressure pot will get your oxtail fork tender in 20-30 minutes.

There are other ways to soften your oxtail quickly, but they might impact the taste of your gravy.

Jamaican Oxtail Stew


1kg Oxtail, cut into pieces
1 teaspoon salt 
1 teaspoon Black Pepper
2 teaspoons all-purpose seasoning
2 teaspoons Onion powder
1/2 teaspoon Oxtail Seasoning (optional)
5 cloves Garlic, crushed 
8 Pimento seeds
1 teaspoon fresh ginger, grated
1 onion, sliced
1/2 Green Bell Pepper, sliced
1/2 Red Bell Pepper, sliced
2 scallions, chopped
4 sprigs fresh thyme (2 teaspoons dry thyme)
10 Pimento Seeds
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 cups beef broth or water
2 tablespoons Tomato ketchup
1 Scotch bonnet pepper
1 cup Butter beans


Place oxtail in a bowl with water, and add about 1/4 cup of white vinegar. Wash well and drain.

Rinse two more times with water and drain properly.

Place oxtail in a large bowl, Season with salt, black pepper, all-purpose seasoning, onion powder, oxtail seasoning, crushed garlic, pimento seeds, and grated ginger.

oxtail marinading

Rub into oxtail thoroughly.

Cover and set aside. Leave to marinade for 2 hours or overnight in the refrigerator.

Meanwhile, cut onions, green bell pepper, red bell pepper, scallions, thyme and pimento seeds and set aside.

In a medium size pot, heat the cooking oil over medium-high heat.

Scrap off the natural seasonings from the oxtail, and leave in the bowl.

Add oxtail sections into the oil, stir well and cover, juices will be released from the oxtail.oxtail in cooking pot

Fry until the juices dry and oil is remaining in the pot. Sear until browned on all sides, stirring from time to time. Do not skip this step, it builds up flavour. (Only after this can you use the pressure pot.)

(You can repeat this 2 or 3 times adding some water in between until the oxtail has browned.)

Fried oxtail

Add onions, green bell pepper, red bell pepper, scallions, thyme and pimento seeds, and fry for 5 minutes.

Pour in enough beef broth or water to oxtail, and stir well.

Add whole scotch bonnet (remove before serving to control spiciness), and stir.

Cover, reduce heat to low and cook until the oxtail is soft, 2.5 to 3 hours. Keep adding water when the pot dries out. (If using a pressure pot, start checking at the 30-minute mark).

Jamaican Oxtail Stew in a pot

Taste and correct seasoning.

Add  Ketchup and butter beans to the pot, stir and cook 10 minutes. Take off the heat.

Your gravy should be thicker by now.

Jamaican Oxtail Stew in a pot

Remove the Scotch bonnet pepper and thyme sprigs before serving.

Serve Jamaican Oxtail Stew with traditional rice and peas or rice.


  • How long you cook your oxtail in the pot or pressure pot depends on different factors, eg age of the cow, gender of the cow (females take way longer to cook) etc.
  • Some people believe that using a regular pot gives more flavour due to slow extended cooking.

Simple Jamaican oxtail stew

If you enjoyed my Jamaican oxtail stew, you will also enjoy my Jamaican Oxtail Curry, Easy Jamaican Cowfoot Soup, Easy Jamaican Brown Stew Chicken, Jamaican goat curry or Jamaican Escovitch Fish. Click to experience Jerkfest Toronto, Grace Jerkfest in pictures.
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