This is how to cook oxtails frozen or fresh becoming as tender and flavorful as possible. Enjoy with bold seasonings in our slow cooker oxtail recipe, boiled, or in a soup with broth and veggies.
Ok so you are broadening your horizons and want to try your hand at how to cook ox tails. Maybe this was a thing growing up but now you are on your own and haven’t got a clue, or you’re experimenting. Either way you’ll be surprised to learn how easy they are to get tender. (affiliate links present)
How to Cook Oxtail
Below we have just basic instructions in the recipe card. That is how to basically soak oxtails before boiling and how long it takes to simmer. It does take quite a while so you’ll need to set aside a day to do this. It isn’t labor intensive at all, just isn’t a quick process unless you make Instant pot oxtail under high pressure.
Want to save this post?
Enter your email below and get it sent straight to your inbox.
And be automatically signed up for our free newsletter too!
Yes you can. Whether you use a slow cooker, boil them or use an Instant Pot you can in fact cook them without thawing beforehand. Timing won’t really change whether they hard or fresh actually, the biggest change in cook time would be depending on their size.
Yes you can. Before boiling you are going to want to soak them in water and a bit of salt so if they’re frozen I suggest using slightly warm water instead of cold. By the time your required soak time is up they should be defrosted for the most part and you can continue with the next steps of cooking.
Here we have used fresh pieces from the butcher that were not solid, that is preferred. If you have time to defrost in the fridge over 16-24 hour period that is ideal so you can get them richly flavorful with onions and garlic while boiling or slow cooking.
How Long Does it Take to Cook Oxtails
Smoked oxtail takes about 2 hours. Boiled, it is going to take 5 hours in a low rolling boil pot full of water. Adding a bit of salt, black pepper and garlic is a nice addition too. There are a few choices when it comes to the liquid you use. The biggest factor is you want all of them to be completely submerged for sure though. You can use;
- Water is a given and free
- You can use vegetable broth instead that adds more flavor
- Or half beef broth and half water is best if you ask me
- if you do use this I would omit the added salt so it isn’t overwhelming
- Then you’ll want oxtail seasoning or else the protein will be rather bland
That is just the basic, how to get them nice and tender with some light flavors to the meat. From there there are tons of oxtail recipes out there. If you wanted to brown the oxtails with olive oil over low heat to medium at the end you could to add some texture to the outside. Make sure you dry them with paper towels before adding to the pan for this step.
How Long to Make Oxtail Tender
That depends on your method of choice. If you use your Crockpot it is totally hands off and you don’t have to make sure the pot doesn’t boil over. BUT that takes 8-10 hours. Oxtails on the stove take 3 hours at least but you’re going to need to pay attention to this one in your pan the most.
Oxtails in the oven take 3 hours again but you can pop that in covered inside a dutch oven and not really think about it beyond that. If you are making a soup out of these you’d follow the instructions below, remove the meat, and add into your Korean oxtail soup or whatever one you prefer.
Instant Pot oxtail soup would be the fastest method. It shows you first how to tenderize, then if you wanted to proceed with the soup, add the rest of the ingredients.
How Long Can Oxtails stay in the Fridge After Cooking
These don’t differ from storing leftover cooked beef of other types. 3-4 days is the rule of thumb before you want to use them somehow or throw it away (which would be a crime). You can use ideas from our leftover brisket recipes post and just swap this meat in for another meal.
Garlic, salt and pepper are just the basics. If you really wanted to infuse other flavors so these had more of a Jamaican oxtail recipe flavor you could add 1-2 tbsp of this seasoning into the water during the 3 hour simmer. To make hot add some of your favorite sauce to give it a bit of a spicy kick.
- You’re going to want to start off by trimming off any excess fat on the oxtails. Rinse under cool running water. Add the oxtails into a large stock pot filled with water and 1 tsp salt, make sure they are submerged. Soak for 1-2 hours.
- Discard water used for soaking. Return to cooking pot and refill it with 12-15 cups of water, broth, or half and half. Cover the oxtails so they are submerged. Bring to this to a low boil.
- After 2 hours of boiling, skim off any foam or fat that has risen to the surface.
- Add your pepper, and minced garlic (and any other seasonings you think you might want). Simmer for a good 3 hours. Pot can be slightly covered if desired.
- 5 full hours of simmering on low will make sure that they with become very tender.
- Remove the oxtail pieces and place on a cutting board. Remove meat and serve or put into a soup.
If you wanted to cook vegetables with the meat we talk about that one pot meal in our Oxtail Boil Recipe post. In a Dutch Oven on the stove it makes a great meal.
Many just saute these with a bit of olive oil over medium heat when done and serve as is with a bit more seasoning or a splash of Worcestershire sauce on top. I like the meat added into soups myself as you would any sort of shredded beef.
How to know when oxtails are cooked
Think of this like any other sort of beef recipe. You want it to become fork tender where you can pull the meat off without cutting it. Yes it will be quite hot when you pull these out of the pot. Use tongs to hold each piece and a fork to pull the protein off the cartilage and bone.
You may use a knife just to get into those smaller crevices in between. If you use a fork and you are yanking on the meat and it isn’t going anywhere, it isn’t done yet. Put it back into the boiling water for another 30 minutes. Then do the fork check again and continue doing this until it shreds easily away from the bone.
Unlike other larger beef bones which you could use to make bone broth I wouldn’t save these and use for that. They will break apart and there wouldn’t, and shouldn’t, be anything left of it. Just enjoy the tender bites of protein that should be nicely seasoned right out of the pot.
Where do you get ox tail from?
Well the answer is kinda’ in the name itself. It is slices of the cow’s tail, yep, literally that is what it is. If you’re asking how can you find a few pieces of it to get started that is another answer;
If you are ready to get going, head to your local grocery store or butcher. You may not see any packaged and will likely need to go to the meat counter. Ask if they have any in the back. If all they have is frozen that is okay. Stick them in the fridge at home for 24 hours to defrost ideally before starting.
If they don’t have any at all, they should be able to order them. Neither the case? Go to another store. A good butcher and meat counter will have access to ordering any sort of protein you should ever want.
Want to see a few of my favorite things that I am totally obsessed with?? Take a peek and see how many you might already have…twinsies!
How to Cook Oxtails
- Trim off any extra fat on the oxtails. Rinse under running water. Place into a large stock pot filled with water and 1 tsp salt, make sure they are submerged. Soak for 1-2 hours.
- Discard water used for soaking. Return oxtails to cooking pot, refill pot with 12-15 cups of water, broth, or half and half ensuring they are submerged. Bring to this to a low boil.
- After 2 hours skim off any foam/fat at the surface. Add pepper, and minced garlic. Simmer 3 hours. Pot can be slightly covered if desired. 5 full hours of simmering on low will ensure that they with be very tender.
- Remove and place on a cutting board. Remove meat and serve or put into a soup.