Homemade Oxtail Soup

Oxtail soup recipe

The Spruce / Julia Estrada

Prep: 25 mins
Cook: 3 hrs 30 mins
Total: 3 hrs 55 mins
Servings: 6 servings
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
484 Calories
23g Fat
19g Carbs
48g Protein
See Full Nutritional Guidelines Hide Full Nutritional Guidelines
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 6
Amount per serving
Calories 484
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 23g 29%
Saturated Fat 9g 44%
Cholesterol 140mg 47%
Sodium 1488mg 65%
Total Carbohydrate 19g 7%
Dietary Fiber 3g 12%
Protein 48g
Calcium 102mg 8%
*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.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

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.


  • 2 pounds oxtail (cut into 1 to 1 1/2-inch chunks and trimmed of excess fat)
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons beef drippings or cooking oil
  • 2 medium yellow onions (peeled and minced)
  • 2 quarts water, or 6 cups water and 1-pint beef broth or bouillon
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 teaspoon thyme
  • 3 cloves
  • 2 sprigs fresh parsley
  • 2 medium carrots (peeled and diced)
  • 1 stalk celery (diced)
  • Optional: 1/3 cup dry sherry or port wine

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for oxtail soup
    The Spruce / Julia Estrada
  2. Dredge oxtails in the 1/2 cup flour.

    Dredge oxtail
    The Spruce / Julia Estrada
  3. Heat the 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.

    Heat drippings
    The Spruce / Julia Estrada
  4. Add the minced onions to the pot, turn the heat to medium, and saute 8 to 10 minutes until golden.

    Add minced onion
    The Spruce / Julia Estrada 
  5. Sprinkle in remaining 2 tablespoons flour, mix well, and brown lightly.

    Mix in pan
    The Spruce / Julia Estrada
  6. Slowly add the water, and stir in tomato paste, salt, and pepper. Tie the bay leaf in cheesecloth with the thyme, cloves, and parsley and add to the pot.

    Add spices
    The Spruce / Julia Estrada
  7. Return oxtail to pot, cover, and simmer 3 hours until meat is fork-tender. Cool and skim off fat; remove cheesecloth bag.

    Return oxtail to pot
    The Spruce / Julia Estrada
  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 the carrots and celery.

    The Spruce / Julia Estrada
  9. Cover and simmer 10 to 15 minutes until carrots are tender. If you like, mix in sherry or port.

    Oxtail soup
    The Spruce / Julia Estrada
  10. Serve as is, or strain the liquid and serve as a first course. Follow with oxtail and vegetables.

    Oxtail soup
    The Spruce / Julia Estrada 

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.

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.