Oxtails are common in a lot of different cultures but ain’t nothing like a good Jamaican oxtail recipe which besides jerk chicken is my favorite Jamaican dish to eat. It consistently produces rich, tender meat and the most aromatic, flavorful gravy that’s worthy of it’s own post.
For those unfamiliar with either oxtails or Jamaican cuisine, Jamaican oxtail can sound daunting, but the steps are simple and few but result in greatness.
I would describe this as my take on a Jamaican oxtail recipe that is converted for instant pot cooking. Traditionally these are cooked long long long braised style, but for this version, I sped things up and condensed timing by pressure cooking.
I also had to make some alterations/substitutions on a few ingredients due to some of the limitations of the instant pot. It's very easy to get the dreaded "burn" notice with your instant pot if you don't have enough liquid. I added broth and red wine as a solve and enhancer.
Once upon a time oxtails were considered cheap eats or the nasty bits that only poor people ate. We ate a lot of oxtails growing up but never steak or short ribs due to lack of affordability. Now things done changed as white chefs have made oxtails famous, basically gentrifying them. Oxtails have gone from the hood to trendy upscale restaurants.
Ordinarily I would move on to the next better value beef cut, but oxtails are special, and I’m so gone, I can’t let go. You can dress them up and charge crazy money for them, but it’s still a hood classic. You can take them out of da hood but you can’t take the hood out of them. Oxtails for life! Now make them cheap again lol.
Ingredients Needed To Make Jamaican Oxtail
- Browning sauce
- Soy Sauce
- Worcestershire sauce
- Garlic Cloves
- Scotch Bonnet Pepper (or Habanero pepper)
- Garlic Powder
- Kosher Salt
- Black Pepper
- Jerk Paste
- Red Wine
- Beef Broth
- Fresh Thyme
- Bay Leaf
- Cognac (optional)
- Olive Oil
How To Make Oxtails the Jamaican Way
Wash and dry oxtail. Place the cleaned oxtail pieces in a large bowl. Season with the spices (garlic, salt, pepper, allspice). Add browning, soy, and Worcestershire sauces to the oxtail covering each piece well. Marinate for at least 2 hours.
Set Instant Pot to high “Saute” settings. Once “hot” add oil, butter or ghee. Add the oxtail and brown on all sides. Remove and set aside.
Cut slits into the sides of the chili using the point end of a sharp knife then add to the pot.
Add carrots, onions, celery, and garlic and saute 2-3 minutes adding a bit of the seasoning as you go. Add the paste and mix well.
Add the red wine being sure to deglaze the pot by scrubbing the bottom with a wooden spoon. Allow the wine to cook down slightly (2-3 minutes). Add the cognac (if using), beef broth, thyme, bay leaves, and any remaining dry spice seasoning.
Add the browned oxtails back to the pot, mixing well.
Close the lid and high pressure cook 45 minutes and then allow the pressure to release naturally.
Remove the oxtail, then return instant pot back to high “saute” settings to reduce the liquid to thick and delicious oxtail gravy.
Instant Pot Jamaican Oxtail Cooking Considerations and Tips
Clean oxtails are a must! I wash mine with either lime or lemon juice and water.
This recipe can be conducted via traditional cooking methods. Follow the same steps but use a braising pan and cook at about 250 degrees F 3-4 hours until oxtails are super tender.
Season at every step.
If available to you add whole allspice berries (aka pimento berries) to your marinade step for even more authentic Jamaican flavor.
Red wine is not a traditional Jamaican ingredient but it is typical in braising and essential to cooking oxtail in an instant pot.
Use a full-bodied red, but don’t break the bank for it. Do choose the one you’d feel good about drinking and enjoy a glass while you wait.
If you prefer not to make your own paste, feel free to use store-bought brands like Grace or Walkerswood.
If scotch bonnets are available to you, definitely use them in this recipe. Their sweet aroma and flavor give a unique, authentic element. Habaneros are a fine substitute though.
Be sure to remove the chili when you remove the oxtails from cooking. Otherwise, they will disintegrate in your gravy and make it fiery as hell.
These taste even better overnight. Leftovers will be a treat! My favorite leftover dish is taking the oxtail gravy plus those pieces of oxtail meat that fell off the bone to season canned black beans.
Oxtail have much fat so it's a good idea to trim them some before cooking. That fat will render during the cooking process leaving a lot of excess fat behind which can be no fun to eat. Use a few paper towels to soak up that excess after cooking.
To make this dish more of a Jamaican oxtail stew recipe add a can of butter beans to the pot after pressure cooking then saute 5-7 minutes before the next step.
Be sure to remove the thyme stems and any allspice berries from the oxtail after cooking. Biting into either ain't no phone!
Garnish with green onions
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Where can I find Browning Sauce?
Browning sauce adds that element of a traditional Jamaican dish but admittedly it's not always easy to find. However it is easily accessible in ethnic markets focused on Caribbean/African food. Many mainstream groceries will carry it where you find dry packaged gravy.
Where Can I Find Oxtails?
Most grocery stores will have them. Oxtails have gone mainstream and are now premium priced. Look for sales or shop in ethnic markets where you get a better price. Hispanic, Asian, and Caribbean markets offer best values.
Can I cook Jamaican Oxtail in Crockpot?
Yes you can though I still highly recommend browning the oxtails in a skillet before adding to the crockpot to maximize flavor.
Can I make delicious oxtails on the stovetop the traditional way?
This oxtail dish is actually pretty versatile. Pressure cooker, slow cooker, and traditional oven are all great options for cooking with a few modifications depending on approach. The main thing is to brown the oxtail as well as cook slow in a large pot or dutch oven at a medium-low temperature. Also, be sure to use a tight-fitting lid.
Are these spicy?
No these aren’t spicy assuming you use mild jerk paste and use the whole scotch bonnet chili vs. cutting it open and allowing the veins and seeds to be a factor.
Are oxtails really from the tail of an ox?
For all intents and purposes when we're talking about oxtail it's in the context of a cut of meat from a cow's tail.
make this recipe
If you make this Instant Pot Jamaican Oxtail recipe or any other recipe please come back and leave me a comment below with your feedback. Definitely take a photo of the dish and be sure to tag #foodfidelity so that I can see them.
You can also keep up with my food exploits as well as original recipes! You can find me on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. If you like any of the music you find on the site, visit me at Spotify to find curated monthly playlists.
Lastly, go to my YouTube channel and subscribe to be notified when new weekly videos are uploaded.
- instant pot
- 2 lbs Oxtail
- 1 teaspoon Browning sauce
- ¼ cup Soy Sauce
- 2 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 Yellow Onion diced
- 2 medium Celery Stalks diced
- 2 medium Carrots peeled and diced
- 4 Cloves Garlic diced
- 1 whole Scotch Bonnet or Habanero
- 1 teaspoon Allspice
- 1 teaspoon Garlic Powder
- 1 teaspoon Kosher Salt
- 1 teaspoon Black Pepper
- ¼ cup Jerk Paste
- 1 cup Red Wine
- 1 pint Beef Broth
- 4 sprigs Fresh Thyme
- 2 Bay Leaves
- 2 tablespoon Cognac optional
- Wash and dry oxtail. Place in a large bowl. Season with the spices (garlic, salt, pepper, allspice). Add browning, soy, and Worcestershire sauces to the oxtail covering each piece well. Marinate for at least 2 hours.
- Set Instant Pot to high “Saute” settings. Once “hot” add oil, butter or ghee. Add the oxtail and brown on all sides. Remove and set aside.
- Cut slits into the sides of the chili using the point end of a sharp knife then add to the pot.
- Add carrots, onions, celery, and garlic and sauce 2-3 minutes adding a bit of the seasoning as you go. Add the paste and mix well.
- Add the red wine being sure to deglaze the pot by scrubbing the bottom with a wooden spoon. Allow the wine to cook down slightly (2-3 minutes). Add the cognac, beef broth, thyme, bay leaves, and any remaining dry spice seasoning.
- Add the oxtail back to the pot, mixing well.
- Close the lid and pressure cook 45 minutes and then allow the pressure to release naturally.
- Remove the oxtail, then return instant pot back to high “saute” settings to reduce the liquid to gravy consistency.