Authentic Jamaican Oxtail Stew: A Rich, Flavorful Delight

Authentic Jamaican Oxtail Stew Recipe - Flavorful & Hearty

Dive into the heart of Jamaican cuisine with this mouthwatering oxtail stew. Tender, fall-off-the-bone meat simmered in a rich gravy with butter beans and traditional dumplings – it’s a taste of the Caribbean you won’t forget!

Unveiling the Story of Jamaican Oxtail

Oxtail stew is more than just a meal; it’s a journey through Jamaica’s culinary history. Born from necessity during colonial times, this dish showcases the ingenuity of using every part of the animal. Once a weekly staple, it’s now considered a special treat due to rising costs. But the memories of savoring this rich stew, complete with butter beans and “spinners” (dumplings), remain a cherished part of Jamaican culture.

The Art of Transforming Tough Cuts

The secret to irresistibly tender oxtail lies in the low and slow cooking method. We’ll guide you through the process of searing for flavor, then braising to break down connective tissues. The result? Meat that melts in your mouth and a broth thick with rich, savory goodness.

Perfecting Your Oxtail Stew

While the oxtail is the star, don’t overlook the supporting cast. Learn how to craft perfect spinners that add both sustenance and thickening power to your stew. We’ll also show you how to incorporate butter beans for that authentic Jamaican touch. Get ready for a soul-satisfying meal that’s well worth the effort!


For the Marinated Oxtail:

  • 1/2 medium yellow onion, roughly chopped
  • 3 scallions, root ends trimmed and cut into 2-inch segments
  • 4 medium cloves garlic
  • 1/2 Scotch bonnet pepper, stemmed, seeded, and chopped
  • 3 pounds (1.4kg) oxtail
  • 1 tablespoon (15ml) soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons Diamond Crystal kosher salt; for table salt, use half as much by volume
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon picked fresh thyme leaves

For the Oxtail Stew:

  • 2 tablespoons (30ml) vegetable oil or other neutral oil, plus more as needed
  • 1/2 medium yellow onion (about 4 ounces; 113g), cut into large chunks
  • 1 scallion, root end trimmed and roughly chopped
  • 4 medium cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 10 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 whole Scotch bonnet pepper, optional
  • 1 tablespoon (15ml) browning, such as Grace brand, or soy sauce (see notes)

For the Spinners (Optional) and to Finish:

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (6 3/4 ounces; 191g)
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 cans butter beans or broad beans, drained
  • 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Cooked white rice or rice and peas, fried plantain, sliced avocado, and/or green salad, for serving


  1. Marinate the Oxtail: Blend onion, scallion, garlic, and Scotch bonnet with water. Coat oxtail with soy sauce, salt, pepper, and thyme. Combine with blended aromatics, refrigerate for 24 hours.
  2. Prep the Oxtail: Remove oxtail from marinade, scraping off excess. Reserve marinade.
  3. Sear the Meat: Brown oxtail in batches in a hot Dutch oven. Set aside.
  4. Deglaze the Pot: Add water to the pot, scrape up browned bits. Return oxtail and juices.
  5. Build the Stew Base: Add aromatics, browning or soy sauce, and water to cover. Simmer covered for 40 minutes.
  6. Long, Slow Cook: Add reserved marinade. Simmer uncovered for about 2 hours, adding water as needed.
  7. Make the Spinners (Optional): Mix flour, salt, and water. Rest dough, then form into small dumplings. Add to stew.
  8. Finish the Dish: Add butter beans. Simmer until thickened, about 30 minutes. Remove thyme sprigs.
  9. Season and Serve: Add black pepper, adjust salt. Serve with traditional sides like rice and peas, plantain, avocado, and salad.

Recipe Notes

Browning sauce adds color and a unique flavor to the stew. If unavailable, soy sauce can be used as a substitute. For tougher cuts, a pressure cooker can reduce cooking time by about 1 hour.

Make-Ahead and Storage Tips

This oxtail stew freezes beautifully for up to 2 months. Separate meat from liquid before freezing. To reheat, bring liquid to a boil and add frozen meat, adjusting sauce consistency as needed.

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