This rich and flavorful slow cooker oxtail stew is lovely on a bed of mashed cauliflower for the perfect comfort food meal!
The leftovers keep well for several days and taste better the next day after the flavors have had a chance to meld together.
I love slow-cooked meats like pot roast or beef back ribs. But there's something unique about this oxtail stew. It is incredibly flavorful! Wonderfully fatty, tender meat that literally falls off the bone. It's one of my favorite winter meals. Comfort food at its best!
You will love this recipe if you like rich and aromatic beef stews. And the fact that you can make it right in your slow cooker - pretty much set it and forget it - is a huge bonus.
Here's a list of the ingredients needed to make this hearty stew. The exact measurements are included in the recipe card below:
- Bone-in oxtails: I get them at Whole Foods. Sometimes I need to special-order them.
- Soy sauce: Or you can use a gluten-free alternative.
- Sesame oil: I like to use toasted sesame oil in this recipe. It's so flavorful!
- Rice vinegar: White wine vinegar works too. I don't recommend using distilled white vinegar. It's too acidic.
- Honey: Just one tablespoon. It doesn't make the oxtails sweet - it merely balances out the other favors. You can use a sugar-free alternative if you wish.
- Hot sauce: Much like the honey, this is not about making the dish spicy. It's more about adding a layer of flavor. I like to use sriracha sauce.
- Kosher salt and black pepper: If using fine salt, reduce the amount you use by half.
- Garlic powder: You can also use fresh minced garlic.
- Cornstarch: A small amount to help thicken the stew. This is optional.
Sometimes, when pressed for time, I don't bother using the Asian-style ingredients listed in the recipe card. Instead, I sprinkle the oxtails with kosher salt, black pepper, garlic powder, smoked paprika, and ground cumin.
I place them in the slow cooker pan, add ¼ cup of water, close the lid, and cook on low for 8 hours. The result is just as good, although it has a different flavor profile.
Oxtail Stew Instructions
The detailed instructions are listed in the recipe card below. Here are the basic steps for making this recipe:
- Place the oxtails in your slow cooker pan (Photo 1).
- Whisk the remaining ingredients except for the cornstarch. Pour them over the oxtails. (Photo 2).
- Cover and cook on low for 8 hours. (Photos 3-5).
- Reduce the cooking liquids over medium heat, adding a slurry of cornstarch and water to help them thicken. Serve the oxtails with the rich sauce. (Photo 6).
Since the oxtail is the tail of cattle, the pieces you'll get at your butcher's come in different sizes - the larger pieces are from the top of the tail, while the smaller ones are from its end. You can see the difference in the photo below.
Despite the difference in sizes, you can cook all these pieces together, and they'll all come out perfectly tender.
They used to come from the tails of oxen, hence their name. But nowadays, they come from cattle of both genders.
Much like internal organs (such as beef tongue, beef cheeks, or beef heart), eating them is an excellent way of utilizing the entire animal, the ethical choice for meat-eaters.
No. Simply place them in the slow cooker pan without browning them first. They come out perfectly cooked and wonderfully tender.
This meat is tough, but slow cooking makes it tender, and the fat softens and melts. I cook this stew in the slow cooker on the low setting for 8 hours for the best results.
I get them at my local Whole Foods. They are usually available in the meat department, although sometimes I need to special-order them. They are also available online at US Wellness Meats.
In the middle of an oxtail, you'll find the bone and bone marrow. Around it are meat and fat. As you can see in the photo, the fat is trimmed by the butcher, but there's still a fair amount of it surrounding the meat; in addition, you can see the marbling - the intramuscular fat inside the meat.
The leftovers keep well in the fridge, in a sealed container, for 3-4 days. In fact, like many slow-cooked stews, they taste better the next day since storing allows the flavors to meld.
I reheat them gently in the microwave, covered, at 50% power. You can freeze the leftovers for up to three months.
More Slow-Cooked Meat Recipes
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Slow Cooker Oxtail Stew
- 3 lb. oxtails raw, bone-in
- ¼ cup reduced-sodium soy sauce (or a gluten-free alternative)
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 teaspoon hot sauce such as sriracha
- 1 teaspoon Diamond Crystal kosher salt or ½ teaspoon of any other salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- Place the oxtails in your slow cooker.
- In a medium bowl, whisk the soy sauce, sesame oil, rice vinegar, honey, hot sauce, kosher salt, black pepper, and garlic powder. Pour over the oxtails and stir to coat.
- Cover and cook on LOW for 8 hours, until the meat is very tender.
- Temporarily transfer the cooked oxtails to a platter. Strain the liquids from the slow cooker into a measuring cup. Return the oxtails to the slow cooker, cover with the lid, and set to WARM.
- Skim the fat layer off the top of the cooking liquids. Pour them into a medium saucepan. Heat the cooking liquids over medium heat. Whisk the cornstarch with a tablespoon of cold water and stir it into the saucepan. Keep cooking the sauce, whisking often, until it has thickened into a rich glaze, 3-5 minutes.
- Remove the oxtails from the slow cooker onto a serving platter. Top them with the sauce and serve.
- This recipe yields about 20 oz of cooked meat without bones.
- If too much fat remains in the cooking liquids, the glaze will separate when you try to reduce it. Sometimes I place the cup with cooking liquids in the freezer for a few minutes. It enables the fat to solidify somewhat, and then it's easier to remove.
- The leftovers keep well in the fridge, in a sealed container, for 3-4 days. In fact, like many slow-cooked stews, they taste better the next day since storing allows the flavors to meld. I reheat them gently in the microwave, covered, at 50% power. You can freeze the leftovers for up to three months.