This delicate and deeply flavorful Slow Cooker Oxtail Recipe is perfect for special occasions, dinner parties, or healthy home-cooked meals. The meat is slow-braised in a rich red wine sauce for hours, leaving you with tender, fall-off-the-bone results.

If you’re a fan of rich and beefy dinners, like my Keto Beef Stew, then chances are you’re going to love this Slow Cooker Oxtail Recipe. The meat may seem intimidating, with its gelatinous texture and boney looks, but it’s a real treat when cooked low and slow.

Oxtails served on a blue round plate with a golden fork. Some green garnishing and a table cloth.

Oxtail is typically slow-braised in a Dutch oven until the meat is incredibly moist and tender. The same methods are used in this slow cooker version, resulting in deep flavors and a melt-in-your-mouth texture. The only difference is this version requires very little hands-on work! 

Let the oxtails slow cook overnight in the flavorful and aromatic red wine sauce, then dig in the next day. It’s an undeniably succulent dinner! 

Looking for something a little quicker? Use my Instant Pot Oxtail Recipe instead. It’s just as flavorful but ready to eat in a fraction of the time.

What is oxtail?

Oxtail is a flavorful cut of beef from the cow’s tail. It’s a global delicacy, but is especially popular throughout the Caribbean, specifically Jamaica. The traditional preparation is influenced by African one-pot cooking techniques.

Oxtail meat isn’t inherently juicy, but with proper preparation, it has the potential to be next-level tender and tasty. The meat itself has a strong beefy flavor, similar to stew beef, pot roast, or short ribs. There’s also a richness to oxtail meat that really sets it apart. 

Ingredients to make slow cooker oxtail recipe displayed.

Ingredients and substitutions

  • Oxtail – Many well-stocked grocery stores carry this cut of beef. If you can’t find it, head to your local butcher, Asian grocery store, or Caribbean market.
  • Onion and garlic – For deep, savory flavors! Once they hit the slow cooker, your kitchen will smell amazing.
  • Red wine – Wine will deglaze the pot and wake up the rendered beefy flavors. A dry red like Merlot, Cabernet, or Pinot Noir are all good options. For a wine-free and Whole30 version, use extra beef broth or coconut aminos instead.
  • Tomato paste – This adds a sweet and tangy umami element to the dish while helping to thicken the sauce. 
  • Beef broth – This is your main slow cooking liquid. For a double dose of collagen, use homemade bone broth.
  • Herbs – I like adding bay leaves, fresh thyme, and fresh oregano for savory, herbaceous flavor. For presentation purposes, this oxtail entree looks gorgeous garnished with fresh parsley. 

How to make oxtail in a slow cooker

If you have a multi-cook slow cooker, set it to saute mode. If your slow cooker does not have a saute function, you will need a heavy pot for the first step. 

Step 1: Heat the oil in the slow cooker (or pot on the stove), then add the seasoned oxtails. Brown them on all sides before transferring them to a plate on the side.

Step 2: In the slow cooker (or the same pot), add the onion and garlic. Cook until soft and fragrant, then season with oregano and fresh thyme. 

Step 3: Add the tomato paste and wine. Stir well and let it simmer until the wine reduces by half. 

Step 4: Return the browned oxtails to the slow cooker. If you browned your oxtails in a pot, transfer the wine mixture to the slow cooker along with the oxtails.
Step 5: Add the broth and bay leaves, cover, and cook for 8 hours on Low or 4 hours on High.

Slow cooker oxtail recipe inside slow cooker with broth.

Tips and tricks

  • To properly brown oxtails, the slow cooker (or pot) must be hot enough that the meat sizzles as soon as it’s placed inside. Let them cook undisturbed for 2 to 3 minutes or until a light crust forms on the surface. Use tongs to turn the meat and repeat on all sides.
  • If you have any celery or carrots, finely dice and saute them with the onion and garlic to add extra depth. 
  • To thicken the red wine sauce, set your slow cooker to saute (or pour the liquid into a large saucepan) and bring it to a boil. Add a cornstarch or arrowroot slurry and cook, stirring often, until the liquid thickens into a rich sauce. 

Serving suggestions

Creamy polenta is my favorite side to serve with oxtail. Most polenta recipes are made with water but mine has water and milk for an extra creamy texture. If you don’t have polenta, opt for mashed potatoes, egg noodles, sweet corn risotto, or butternut squash risotto. 

For Whole30-friendly sides, enjoy the oxtails over baked sweet potatoes, spaghetti squash, roasted carrots, zoodles, or cauliflower rice. 

Jamaican oxtail recipe in slow cooker served in blue round plate with herbs as garnishing.

Frequently asked questions

How long does it take to cook oxtails in a slow cooker?

It usually takes 8 hours to slow cook oxtails on Low because the meat is naturally tough. However, the crock pot does a fantastic job of rendering the fat and tenderizing the meat over this time. If you don’t have 8 hours to spare, cook it on High for 4 hours.

Do you have to brown oxtails before you cook them?

Technically, no, but it makes a big difference in the final texture and flavor of the meat.

How do you know when oxtail is done cooking?

Oxtails are done cooking when the meat falls right off the bone and the internal temperature reaches 145ºF.

Why is my oxtail so tough?

If your oxtail isn’t tender, it’s possibly undercooked. Oxtails have a lot of connective collagen tissue that needs time to soften. Slow cooking oxtail melts the gelatinous tissue, which tenderizes the meat.

Storing leftovers

Leftover oxtail tastes even better the next day because the flavors have all had a chance to mingle. I highly recommend making extras to enjoy for meal prep and keeping them in the fridge or freezer:

  • Storing: Keep any leftovers stored in a shallow, airtight container in the fridge and enjoy within 3 to 4 days. 
  • Freezing: Let cool, then transfer the oxtails to a freezer-safe container or bag. Freeze for up to 3 months. Let them thaw in the fridge before reheating. 
  • Reheating: Leftover slow cooker oxtails are best warmed up on the stovetop. To keep them tender, heat the oxtails in a skillet or saucepan over medium heat. Add more beef broth and let simmer until the meat is hot and juicy. 
A blue plate with slow cooker oxtails. Some fresh herbs as garnishing and a table cloth.

Hungry for more fall-off-the-bone meats?

Slow cooker oxtail recipe
5 from 3 votes

Slow Cooker Oxtail Recipe

by Silvia Dunnirvine
Beef lovers: this Slow Cooker Oxtail Recipe is a must-try! The mostly hands-off process results in a flavorful, aromatic, and fall-off-the-bone meal. Pair the succulent oxtails with creamy polenta for a restaurant-worthy dinner.
Prep: 22 minutes
Cook: 4 hours
Total: 4 hours 22 minutes
Servings: 4 people

Ingredients 

  • 2-3 lbs oxtails
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion diced
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 3 tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 1/2 cups beef broth
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions 

  • Turn slow cooker on sauté mode if that's available otherwise use a heavy pot. Add oil to heat. Season oxtails with salt and pepper and brown on all sides (8-12 minutes). Set aside
  • To the same pot or slow cooker on sauté mode add in onion and garlic and cook until soft and fragrant. Season with oregano and fresh thyme.
  • Add tomato paste and wine. Stir and let wine reduce by half (about 4-6 minutes).
  • Transfer oxtails back to the slow cooker. If using a pot to sauté you can transfer the onion in wine sauce and oxtails to the slow cooker.
  • Add broth and bay leaves. Cover and set timer for 4 hours on high or 8 hours on low heat.

Notes

 
  • To properly brown oxtails, the slow cooker (or pot) must be hot enough that the meat sizzles as soon as it’s placed inside. Let them cook undisturbed for 2 to 3 minutes or until a light crust forms on the surface. Use tongs to turn the meat and repeat on all sides.
  • If you have any celery or carrots, finely dice and saute them with the onion and garlic to add extra depth. 
  • To thicken the red wine sauce, set your slow cooker to saute (or pour the liquid into a large saucepan) and bring it to a boil. Add a cornstarch or arrowroot slurry and cook, stirring often, until the liquid thickens into a rich sauce. 

Nutrition

Calories: 694kcal | Carbohydrates: 11g | Protein: 73g | Fat: 34g | Saturated Fat: 13g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 17g | Cholesterol: 249mg | Sodium: 1102mg | Potassium: 393mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 197IU | Vitamin C: 7mg | Calcium: 93mg | Iron: 10mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Keyword: Jamaican Oxtail Recipe, Slow Cooker Oxtail Recipe
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: American, Brazilian, Jamaican
Like this? Leave a comment below!
Oxtails served in a blue bowl. Cilantro garnishing and a golden spoon.
Oxtails in slow cooker. Oxtails braised in red wine and cooked slowly. Tender meat falling off the bone.

Hi! I’m Silvia.

My goal is to make cooking simple and enjoyable.

Garden in the Kitchen is full of easy and balanced recipes for busy families. Classics get a healthier twist with additions of veggies or alternative ingredients.

I hope my recipes will inspire you to cook more home meals and above all have fun in the kitchen!

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6 Comments

    1. I am excited for you Geno, oxtails are so delicious honestly my favorite treat. Good luck, enjoy it and please let me know how they came out for you. xoxo Silvia

    2. The best and easy recipe! My husband praised me for the flavor and texture, l explained it was not my recipe, but one that I will share with family and friends. Yummy!!

  1. W0W! Finally an Oxtail Stew that was as delicious as the 1st one I had in Switzerland! I’ll be making it often 💕

    1. Hi Alice, that’s great, I am so happy to hear that you enjoyed my oxtail recipe. Also thanks for taking the time to share your feedback with me! xoxo