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8 Slow Cooker Oxtail Recipes + Crock-Pot Cooking Guide

oxtail soup

Oxtails were once an overlooked cut but have now risen to delicious heights (and prices!). And for good reason — all that rich meat, collagen, and bone marrow found in oxtails creates legendary stocks and thick, gelatin-filled stews. From Jamaican oxtail stew to oxtail tacos, to rich pho broths, oxtail has found a home in cuisines all over the world.

What are oxtails?

Oxtails are cross-section cuts of a cow’s tail, divided into cuts that resemble chain links. Oxtail used to refer to male, castrated steers exclusively, but these days it is a broad term for any cow tail served for cooking. The delicious meat surrounds thick sections of bone, and the collagen melts down into gelatin when cooked low and slow.

How long does oxtail take to cook?

Oxtail thrives in low and slow cooking methods. In many cases, the longer the better! Most recipes require a minimum of 4 hours to coax out all that delicious gelatin. If you rush this process, you will end up with tough, gristly meat. Patience is key, but it’s worth the wait.

Most people use a dutch oven or slow cooker when preparing oxtail, beginning with an early sear and then cooking at a low temperature for hours until tender.

How to cook oxtails in a crock pot

If you’re a DIY chef, here’s a general list of steps for you to follow. If you prefer a specific recipe, skip to the next section and check out all the amazing recipes we sourced from a wide variety of chefs!

  1. Trim any hard cartilage or excessive pieces of fat (it doesn’t have to be perfect!).
  2. Pat them down with a paper towel to wick up any moisture before browning.
  3. Get a cast iron or dutch oven ripping hot and turn your slow cooker on low.
  4. Generously season the oxtails with salt, pepper, and whatever other marinade-friendly sauces you would like. Toss the tails in a bit of flour here if you would like to build a thicker crust.
  5. Sear for a few minutes on each side until crackling and brown.
  6. Place seared oxtail in preheated slow cooker, turn down the heat on the pan, and add onions, sliced carrots, aromatics, a knob of butter, and some flour to create a gravy.
  7. Pour gravy over oxtail.
  8. Add a broth of your choice, a bay leaf or two, and any final seasonings.
  9. Cook on low for 5-6 hours or until tender.
  10. Enjoy your amazing oxtail over rice, potatoes, or in tacos!

8 amazing slow cooker oxtail recipes

Here are a few specific oxtail recipes from a variety of cuisines and sources. All of them are delicious and amazing, so choose your own adventure.

1. Slow cooker oxtail soup

This recipe from African Bites has loads of substitutions and fun ways to spice this oxtail soup recipe up. It’s a nice way to see your options. But whatever you choose, don’t forget the baguette!

2. Slow cooker oxtail tacos with salsa verde

Oxtail doesn’t have to be a stew! This meat makes an incredible taco filling, and this recipe from Sweet Life shows you how to make the perfect oxtail taco, tomatillos, and all.

3. Slow cooker oxtail pho

Oxtails make an unbelievable pho broth. You can’t rush it and need quite a few spices and herbs to pull it off, but when you drop those basil leaves and bean sprouts into your broth you will remember exactly why you took the time. Shoutout to Sidewalk Shoes for the great recipe.

4. Jamaican oxtail stew

SeriousEats has some of the best recipes on the internet, and this Jamaican Oxtail Stew is no different. With big broad beans, rich broth, flour dumplings called spinners, and fresh rice, Jamaican Oxtail is one of the best ways to prepare oxtail. This recipe uses a dutch oven, but you could sub in a slow cooker after the aromatics.

5. Slow-cooker oxtail ragu with gnocchi

This is the dish that made me fall in love with oxtail. It’s a labor of love, especially if you make the gnocchi from scratch, but goodness is this recipe from the BBC decadent.

6. Paleo braised oxtail over rutabaga mash

You don’t have to be following paleo to love this recipe. Use lard or bacon fat to layer more meat flavor, and use beef stock instead of chicken to be more thoroughly beef. Try making this in the fall when rutabagas are in season for the best results! You can transfer things to the slow cooker after the herbs and aromatics are added.

7. Slow cooker oxtail stew with butter beans

For a rich, beefy, oxtail stew that is perfect for a winter night, use this recipe from Cooking Maniac. Don’t be intimidated by the ingredients list. The majority of what’s listed are classic pantry items.

8. Slow cooker Spanish oxtail stew

El Mundo Eats has you covered if you want to put a little rabo de toro in your life. Apart from the leeks, the recipe uses classic ingredients. Serve it with hot french fries for the true Spanish experience.

Oxtail pro cooking tips

It’s hard to mess up oxtail, but there are tricks to elevate the experience. Here are a few of them:

Always brown your oxtails before stewing.

Browning utilizes the complex Maillard Reaction (an explosion of flavorful compounds and color that arises when meat is exposed to heat) to bring a depth of flavor and color that makes this a non-negotiable step.

Brown your oxtail briefly on both sides until caramel brown. You’re not aiming to cook it here — just enough for the exterior to have flavor. Don’t overcrowd either. Pieces of meat cooking close to each other means the meat is steamed and cooked in its own fat more than through conduction.

Take your time.

Good oxtail takes time. Do not rush it. The timing changes depending on the heating tendencies of your oven, the size of the oxtail, and the temperature you set it at. Use the low setting on your slow cooker and let all that delicious collagen blend into your broth. The wait is always worth it.

Layer your broths for added flavor.

Use beef broth in your stew and braise instead of water. This stacks with the collagen and creates an even richer result. Bonus points if you have a bone broth from previous oxtail bones!

Season your oxtail generously.

Home cooks often underestimate just how much salt (and fat for that matter) restaurants use. Season these things up! You’ll be adding them into a stew anyway.

Use fresh herbs and spices when you can.

Fresh herbs and spices have a slightly different flavor and are usually more pungent. That adds depth that you can’t replicate with dried options.

Use wine you would drink for your deglaze.

It sounds obvious, but buy wine that actually tastes good for your deglaze! Many recipes call for one and you could ruin a good batch of expensive oxtail by adding really cheap or spoiled wine.

Oxtails and slow cookers were made for each other

Take one of the best cuts for slow cooking and put it in a slow cooker? Well, that will be delicious almost any way you make it.

In today’s market, oxtails are not cheap — but for good reason, they are decadent and make some of the most popular broths in the world.

If you’re going to go through the trouble (and expense) of picking up and preparing oxtails, you should opt for grass-fed and grass-finished oxtails for the real experience. The difference in taste, texture, and nutrition between industrial beef and cattle raised the way nature intended is startling.

See what beef oxtails from cows raised on the best grass in the world taste like.


Nathan PhelpsNathan Phelps

Nathan Phelps owns and writes for Crafted Copy, a boutique copywriting shop that finds the perfect words for interesting products. He is also an ethical foodie, outdoors-aficionado, and hails from Nashville, TN. He splits his time between helping sustainable businesses find new customers and managing his ever-increasing list of hobbies, which include playing guitar, baking bread, and creating board games.