Trinidad Stewed Oxtails

21.3.22 | Recipe by Renz

A savory oxtail cooked in a rich and thick caramelized sugar gravy. Deep in flavor, this Trinidad stew oxtail is a hearty dinner option for your family.

Straight on picture of a large plate of oxtail stew trini style

Oxtail is an all-time Caribbean favorite. The method of cooking varies from island to island, like most dishes, with each island's having a slightly different taste, but at the end of the day, it's all stewed oxtails to me.. oh so yummy.

For us, eating oxtail usually was a part of a meal on Sundays. It easily became the prized meat on your Sunday lunch menu.

Nowadays, this meat is in high demand and the prices are crazy but by making this recipe you will forget all about the sacrifices to buy it.

And we just love making a good stew for Trinidadian dishes and stewing just about any meat.

So if you want another alternative, check out my favorite dish of stew chicken recipe.

What really are oxtails?

Let me tell you some more about oxtail. I'm always surprised when someone is shocked at what it really is.

Oxtail is the meat of the tail of cattle. It used to be only used from an ox or from a steer.

It used to be considered throw-away meat, and so in the time of slavery, slaves were able to cook oxtail because they were given the scraps to cook. This type of meat also included cows' feet, ham hocks, intestines, and livers.

But now this thing is expensive. Getting oxtail for dinner means it's a special occasion. Or even going to buy it now at Caribbean restaurants, it's one of the most expensive meals.

Oxtail needs to be cooked for a few hours. So if you want this in a hurry, then not an option. Well, then you need to go buy it from a restaurant.

The meat is a fatty type of meat (I get my butcher to take off as much excess fat as they can with the saw) and even with a pressure cooker, it still requires some slow cooking time.

Because this is slowed cooked all the flavor is absorbed into the bones of the meat and is just as cherished to be eaten as the meat is.

Where can I purchase beef oxtail?

You can get oxtail at most Latin American and Caribbean supermarkets.

They sell them already cut up and semi cleaned at the butcher area where you can order as many pounds as you like.

Or they sometimes already have them weighed and packaged. Most times those require much more cleaning off of the fat.

You can also purchase at Sam's, Wholefoods and Winne Dixie supermarkets.

Ingredients for stew oxtail Trini style

This dish packs a lot of flavor with the herbs and spices included in its cooking. Here are my favorite herbs and spices to use in oxtail stew:


Ingredients needed to make stew oxtail trini style.

Then the rest of the ingredients are:

How do I cook oxtail?

I mentioned that there are various ways to cook oxtails. There's the Jamaican version and there's the Trinidad oxtail recipe version.

There's honestly not that much of a difference other than Jamaicans usually braise their meet first and Trini's "stew" it with browning before.

This post is the Trinidad stewed oxtail method.

If you got a fatty oxtail, make sure and take some time to trim off as much fat as possible. Then rinse it off a few times to remove any chipped bones or blood that it may have been sitting in.

In a large bowl with the oxtail pieces, add the green seasoning, fresh thyme, Worcestershire sauce/browning sauce, salt, and black pepper and mix. Leave to sit in the marinade for at least 30 minutes.

A picture of a bowl of oxtails seasoned up for stewing.

In a large heavy-bottomed pot on medium-high heat, add your sugar as evenly as possible in the center of the pot. Let the sugar melt to a dark brown color and bubble.

Add the seasoned oxtail into the sugar and mix, coating in the sugar mixture.

Once coated continue mixing for about another two minutes until all liquid is absorbed.

Add hot water to cover the meat. Add bay leaf, sprigs thyme, and allspice to the water if using.

Lower the heat to medium and let it simmer for about 2 hours, checking on it from time to time to make sure that the water levels are not too low.

Test for tenderness.

Add more water to the pot, almost to cover the meat.

Add carrots, tomato paste, salt, and pepper, and let simmer till the oxtail pieces are done.

They will be tender and fall off the bone. And the meat would not be chewy.

What sides do you eat with oxtails?

Stews are so good with rice dishes. It's commonly paired with plain white rice but you can venture away from that and try it with:

Another great side option would be some macaroni pie, stewed lentils, and boiled plantain.

Completed Trinidad stew oxtail, in a pot with carrots.

Can you cook oxtail stew in the slow cooker?

You can make this stew in your slow cooker also if you want to either make it overnight or leave it in the morning and eat it later in the day.

You would use browning or caramelized sugar. You can also use Cassareep instead if you have that.

Can you cook this in a pressure cooker?

Sometimes you don't have time and just need to pressure-cook this bad boy. And it can be easily done.

Clean your meat as usual and season it as instructed.

If using a weighted pressure cooker: heat your sugar and let it start to caramelize, then add your meat and combine. Cook until the oxtail pieces are coated in the sugar. Then add water to cover the meat. Using the weighted pressure cooker, cover, and lock, and let it pressure. Once the meat is softened, remove the weight and continue cooking, adding other ingredients, until the meat is tender.

If using an instant pot: Brown meat on the stovetop. Then transfer to an instant pot and add all ingredients. Select "meat" and set it to 25 minutes, making sure the valve is locked. Once done, release and check for doneness. If not tender, check liquid levels, and retry for another 15 minutes. Continue until meat is tender.

Close up picture of a piece of Trinidad stew oxtail.

My oxtail stew is very oily

You needed to remove the excess fat from the pieces before cooking. It's good to trim off as much of the white fat pieces you see on the oxtail.

Even if you get it from your butcher cleaned, you will still get some fat. Take your time and try to remove as much as possible. This, like with stew pork, creates a lot of excess oil while cooking.

Substitutions | Additions

Burnt sugar: if you don't have sugar to burn to make your own browning, you can use pre-made browning, or even use cassareep.

Sweet potato: this pairs nicely with oxtails. Peel the sweet potato and cut it into cubes. Add it in close to the end when the meat starts to get tender so that it finishes cooking at the same time.

Butter beans or lima beans: Some people love having beans in their stew. Add them in when you add in the carrots to finish cooking.


Stew oxtail keeps really well. You can store it in the fridge for up to a week in an air-tight container.

You will see fat settle and look a little white, but that's okay.

It also freezes really, really well. Put in a freezer container or a freezer bag and make sure there's no air trapped. And it can stay well up to three months.


It's always best to reheat on the stovetop. Add a little water to the pot and let it simmer away until heated through.

You can also use the microwave. Put whatever amount into a microwaveable safe bowl, and do intervals of 40 seconds until heated through.

If doing from frozen, leave in the fridge to thaw overnight then reheat.

An overhead shot of a large plate of oxtail stew on a white plate.

Use of leftovers

We can always eat our leftovers like we usually do. Or you can take the leftover meat and make some repurposed dishes like oxtail mac and cheese.

Or even check out making oxtail pelau from April with Whiskitrealgud.

If you tried this recipe, I would really appreciate you let me know how it went by giving me a rating on my recipe card and leaving a comment below.

Here are some other Caribbean meat dishes for you to try: