Jamaican oxtail stew is widely known as one of the best dishes on the island. Oftentimes, it is the number one seller at many restaurants and street vendors. The stew is rich, hearty and savory, filled with oxtail and vegetables. And as a matter of fact, it is not uncommon for a Jamaican family to make this delicious meal once a week.  Jamaican oxtail stew is generally served with rice and a side of fresh green salad.

A Jamaican oxtail recipe is not as complex or time consuming to make as you might think. Unlike ‘fifth quarters’ such cow foot and tripe, oxtail does not require extra care and hours of cooking. In addition, cow’s foot and tripe take a lot of preparation so that the meat is palatable.  However, cooked oxtail is juicy, moist and ‘fall off the bone’ delicious!

Another great addition to this meal is dumplings.  Quite frankly, Jamaican oxtail stew with dumplings is one of the most delightful and comfort foods around.  The hearty combination of moist oxtail, fresh vegetables, aromatic spices and dumplings will have all your family, friends and neighbors over for a bite or two. Truthfully, Jamaican oxtail stew with dumplings is the ideal meal for get-togethers. And once a person has tried this amazing stew, they will anticipate and gladly accept the next invitation.

Serves 4-6

Prep 15 min

Cook time 2 hours 25 min

Total time 2 hours 40 min

Ingredients of the Jamaican Oxtail Stew

  • 2.5 lbs oxtail
  • 2 tablespoons cooking oil
  • 2 onions, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ tablespoon allspice
  • Black pepper, to taste
  • 1 medium tomato, chopped
  • 1 scotch bonnet pepper, whole (optional)
  • 1 sprig thyme, chopped
  • 2 Jamaican scallions (escallions), chopped
  • 2 green onions, sliced fine
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 3 large potatoes (optional), omit if serving with rice
  • 2-4 carrots, sliced
  • Salt, to taste
  • 5-6 cups water, as needed

Best Cookware to Use

Sharp knife

Large saucepan

Large heavy pot like a Dutch Pot


  1. Remove excess fat from the oxtail.
  2. Heat the oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the oxtail once the oil is very hot. Brown the oxtail on both sides. Remove the oxtail and set aside.
  3. Reduce the heat to low and add the onion, garlic and celery. Cook for 3 minutes. Stir in allspice and black pepper. Next add the tomatoes, cook for 1 minute or until lightly caramelized.
  4. In a large pot, add the browned oxtail and tomato mixture. Add the scotch bonnet pepper, thyme, scallions, green onions, celery and 5 cups water. Cover and reduce heat to low. Simmer the Jamaican oxtail stew for about 2 hours. Make sure to stir every 20 minutes. Add more water if needed. Also, skim off any froth that collects on the top of the pot.
  5. If the oxtail is not tender after 2 hours, allow the stew to cook for another 30 minutes. Next add the carrots and potatoes. Mix in enough salt to suit your taste buds. Cook the stew until the carrots and potatoes are tender.
  6. Serve hot.


Leaving the scotch bonnet pepper whole while cooking is best, otherwise the dish may be very spicy and hot.

This stew also is great with butter beans. Omit the potatoes and add 2 cups cooked butter beans (lima beans) when you stir in the carrots.