Oxtail: What is it? And how do you cook it?

From grilling to stewing

What do you make of oxtail? The most obvious is a homemade fresh oxtail broth. With a classic oxtail soup as a starter during a festive dinner, your guests will be impressed! Read more about this interesting and tasty piece of meat in this article.

Table of contents

Chapter 1

What is Oxtail?

Oxtail is, as the word says, the tail of a beef. It can come from the ox, a bull or a cow. The oxtail usually weighs 1 to 1.8 kilograms and consists of the round tail vertebrae surrounded by a small amount of muscle tissue. The meat is first cut into pieces, between the vertebrae, before it’s sold.

Oxtail is quite firm and a special kind of meat. It’s gelatinous and has a lot of bone in it. You can make the well-known oxtail soup from the oxtail. What gives the stock flavor is the gelatin that you extract from the oxtail during cooking.

Oxtail is not very popular as meat. Nevertheless, you can make delicious dishes with it. You can make a delicious oxtail stew with wine or chocolate, for example. There are countless possibilities.

You can buy a good piece of oxtail at the butcher. The pieces of oxtail vary in weight from 200 to 300 grams.


Chapter 2

Is oxtail healthy?

Oxtail is a good source of minerals and vitamins such as calcium, iron, vitamin B12 and vitamin B6. This is also why oxtail soup or broth is very healthy.

Calcium is a mineral that you need for building and maintaining bones and teeth. Iron is a mineral that’s important, among other things, for the formation of hemoglobin, a component of red blood cells. Red blood cells carry oxygen throughout our body.

Vitamin B12 is necessary for the production of red blood cells. In addition, it’s also important for the proper functioning of the nervous system.

Vitamin B6 is important for metabolism, especially for the breakdown and synthesis of amino acids. Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins. Vitamin B6 also regulates the action of certain hormones and is important for growth, blood production and proper functioning of the immune and nervous systems.

Oxtail is low in fat. Because it’s important to get the most calories from healthy fats at every meal, choose a side dish or dessert high in fat when eating oxtail.

Chapter 3

The taste

The oxtail has a specific, good and strong taste. The taste comes out even better if you first brown the piece on all sides before you let the tail draw into a soup.

Chapter 4

Which wine?

Oxtail goes well with a powerful red wine, such as Brunello, Ribera del Duero or Châteauneuf-du-Pape.

Chapter 5

How to cook oxtail?

A well-prepared oxtail falls right off the bone. Oxtail does need to be cooked slowly and evenly to become tender.

It’s suitable for making ragout or for stewing very slowly until it falls off the bone. For a delicious stew, it’s best to let the meat stew for at least 2 to 3 hours or about 6 hours in a slow cooker.

You can buy oxtail frozen. The meat is vacuum-packed, so that the meat has a longer shelf life and there is no chance of crystal formation in the freezer. This may cause the meat to discolour a bit, but this is a natural reaction and does no harm.

Before you can cook the oxtail, you must first let it thaw. You can do this in several ways:

  • Remove the oxtail from the freezer in time, for example the evening before you are going to cook it, and let it thaw in the refrigerator. Place a bowl underneath, the packaging can sometimes leak. It’s wise that you cook thawed meat in the refrigerator within 2 to 4 days.
  • You can also thaw the oxtail in a waterproof container in cold water. Defrosting meat in this way can take about 3 hours, but you can speed up this process by changing the water every half hour. It’s wise to cook the meat immediately after defrosting.

Grilling on the barbecue

If you’re going to barbecue oxtail, you do this at a high temperature.

  1. Season the oxtail with some salt and pepper.
  2. Leave the oxtail in the refrigerator overnight to marinate.
  3. Prepare a barbecue with an indirect heat of about 120 to 150°C with a block of smoking wood.
  4. Place the oxtail pieces on the cooler side of the grid and close the lid.
  5. Let the meat smoke for 2 hours.


If you want to stew oxtail, you do this at a low temperature.

  1. Season the pieces of oxtail with some salt and pepper.
  2. Sprinkle the oxtail with flour and press all over.
  3. Heat a heavy pan such as a casserole.
  4. Add a good glug of olive oil and brown the oxtail on all sides.
  5. Add some garlic and onion and fry them until they just start to color slightly.
  6. Add carrot and celery and stir everything.
  7. Sprinkle fennel seeds, chili pepper and rosemary on top and toss.
  8. Let the meat stew gently until the vegetables start to soften.
  9. Pour in red wine and stir in some tomatoes from a can.
  10. Fill the can halfway with water and shake it to release the remaining tomato.
  11. Pour the water from the tomato can into the oxtail.
  12. Add the broth and bring everything to a gentle boil.
  13. Put a lid on the pan and let it simmer over low heat.
  14. Stew the oxtail for more than 3 hours until soft and cooked through.
  15. Season with salt and pepper.

Chapter 6

All recipes

Looking for more inspiration? Below you will find an overview of our bavette recipes. Or check our beef recipes for even more inspiration.

Stewed oxtail with pasta

Everyone knows it from the oxtail soup dish. But you can also make delicious stews [...]