Homemade Oxtail Soup

Homemade Oxtail Soup

Prep: 25 mins

Cook: 3 hrs 30 mins

Total: 3 hrs 55 mins

Servings: 6 servings

Although the name implies otherwise, oxtails are beef tails (no specific breed of cow is used), and they happen to make the most delicious soup. While some people may balk at the idea of eating a cow's tail, this recipe may change their minds. Oxtail tastes like beef, but more specifically, like a more tender, silkier short rib in terms of texture. In fact, oxtail is often used on its own to make stock because it's such a gelatinous, rich meat.

It is believed that this oxtail soup recipe was created in the 1700s in London by French and Flemish immigrants. With their long cooking time and high-fat content, oxtails were traditionally a very cheap cut of meat meant to economize all parts of the animal. It's a dish that is made all over the world, from Korea, Indonesia, and Russia to Africa, Spain, Jamaica, and the American South.

The British recipe is made with onions, carrots, celery, and thyme. It does need a lot of time to simmer because of the fatty meat​, but requires little work. Once you taste the soup, you will see that the result is well worth it.

Why is Oxtail So Expensive?

It's a bit of irony that a cut of meat associated with economical cooking—i.e., using every part of the animal because it was efficient and inexpensive—has turned a different corner. In the wake of farm-to-table cuisine, chefs have of late rediscovered this cut of meat and demand has gone up. After all, there's only one tail per cow.

Why Does It Take So Long To Cook Oxtail?

To get a deliciously tender, fall off the bone meat, you must slow cook oxtail for a long time. Since oxtail is fatty and tough cut of meat, you need to slow cook it for at least 2-4 hours for the connective tissue to break down. This may seem like a long time but I promise you, the results are deliciously worth it!

Tips for Making Oxtail Soup

  • Use a slow cooker – if you want to not stress about leaving the stove top heat on, consider using a slow cooker after searing the oxtail meat to simmer.
  • Skim the top – while simmering the oxtail, you may need to skim the top of the soup for impurities or fat. Another way is to cooling the soup after cooking and then place in fridge. The fats sitting at the top solidifies, which makes it easier to remove the fats.
  • Gluten free – to make this gluten free, you can blend up softened vegetables or use gluten free flour instead.

“This soup was very flavorful. I refrigerated the soup so I could skim more fat from the top. I also added the dry sherry, but the broth was excellent with or without it. All in all, a tasty soup with French bread.” —Diana Rattray

Homemade Oxtail Soup

A Note From Our Recipe Tester


  • 2 pounds oxtail, fat trimmed cut into 1 to 1 1/2-inch chunks

  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

  • 2 tablespoons beef drippings, or cooking oil

  • 2 medium yellow onions, minced

  • 2 quarts water, or 6 cups water and 2 cups beef broth or bouillon

  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste

  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt

  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

  • 1 bay leaf

  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme

  • 3 whole cloves

  • 2 sprigs fresh parsley

  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and diced

  • 1 stalk celery, diced

  • 1/3 cup dry sherry, or port wine, optional

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Homemade Oxtail Soup

  2. Dredge 2 pounds oxtails, cut into 1 to 1 1/2-inch chunks in 1/2 cup flour.

    Homemade Oxtail Soup

  3. Heat 2 tablespoons beef drippings or cooking oil in a large, heavy pot over high heat. Cook to brown the meat, remove (keeping the fat in the pan), and drain on paper towels.

    Homemade Oxtail Soup

  4. Add 2 medium yellow onions, minced to the pot, turn the heat to medium, and sauté 8 to 10 minutes until golden.

    Homemade Oxtail Soup

  5. Sprinkle in remaining 2 tablespoons flour, mix well, and brown lightly.

    Homemade Oxtail Soup

  6. Slowly add 2 quarts water (or 6 cups water and 2 cups beef broth or bouillon), and stir in 2 tablespoons tomato paste, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper. Tie the 1 bay leaf in cheesecloth with 1/2 teaspoon thyme, 3 whole cloves, and 2 sprigs parsley and add to the pot.

    Homemade Oxtail Soup

  7. Return oxtail to pot, cover, and simmer 3 hours until meat is fork-tender. Cool and skim off fat; remove cheesecloth bag.

    Homemade Oxtail Soup

  8. Remove the oxtail from the soup and separate the meat from the bones. Cut the meat into bite-size pieces and return to pot. Add 2 medium carrots, diced and 1 celery stalk, diced.

    Homemade Oxtail Soup

  9. Cover and simmer 10 to 15 minutes until carrots are tender. If you like, mix in 1/3 cup dry sherry or port wine, optional.

    Homemade Oxtail Soup

  10. Serve as is, or strain the liquid and serve as a first course. Follow with oxtail and vegetables.

    Homemade Oxtail Soup

How to Store and Freeze Oxtail Soup

Oxtail soup can be stored and frozen like any other beef soup, which means it's good in the refrigerator, covered, for 3 to 5 days and frozen, in a freezer-safe container or zip-close bag, for up to 3 months.

Nutrition Facts
Servings: 6
Amount per serving
Calories 485
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 26g 34%
Saturated Fat 9g 44%
Cholesterol 139mg 46%
Sodium 541mg 24%
Total Carbohydrate 16g 6%
Dietary Fiber 2g 7%
Total Sugars 3g
Protein 43g
Vitamin C 6mg 28%
Calcium 64mg 5%
Iron 4mg 20%
Potassium 710mg 15%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.


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