What Does Oxtail Taste Like? Unraveling the Delectable Flavors of this Culinary Gem

By Alex Au Yeung

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Curious about “What does oxtail taste like“? Oxtail, the name might make you wonder if it’s really the tail of an ox! Well, it’s not just from oxen; it can come from cows too. But why are people so curious about its taste?

You see, oxtail has a unique and delicious flavor that’s hard to put into words. It’s like beef, but there’s something more to it. The meat is tender and juicy, thanks to all the collagen and connective tissues.

When you cook oxtail slowly, it becomes incredibly soft, and the flavors blend magically with herbs and spices. That’s why it’s a favorite in Vietnamese cuisine and beyond.

So, if you ever get a chance to try oxtail, don’t miss it! It’s a taste adventure you won’t forget!

What is oxtail?

What Does Oxtail Taste Like? Unraveling the Delectable Flavors of this Culinary Gem

Oxtail is a cut of meat that comes from the tail of cattle, particularly from cows. Despite its name, it does not come from oxen exclusively but can be sourced from various breeds of cattle. This unique cut is highly regarded for its delectable taste and rich, gelatinous texture.

The term “oxtail” is derived from the historical use of the tail of oxen for this culinary delight. In the past, oxen were utilized as working animals in agriculture, and when they reached the end of their service, their tails were used for food to avoid wastage.

The price of oxtail can vary depending on the region, availability, and demand. Generally, oxtail is considered to be more affordable compared to some premium cuts of beef. It is often favored for its rich flavor and tenderness, making it a cost-effective choice for creating hearty and flavorful dishes. However, prices may still fluctuate based on market conditions and location. If you’re looking to enjoy a delicious and budget-friendly cut of meat, oxtail is an excellent option to consider.

What does oxtail taste like?

Oxtail is an extraordinary cut of meat that boasts a rich, beefy flavor with a hint of gaminess. As it is taken from the tail of a cow, it contains a good amount of collagen, contributing to its incredibly tender texture. The taste can be likened to beef, but with a unique depth and complexity that sets it apart from other cuts. When cooked properly, the meat becomes fall-off-the-bone tender, making it a true delicacy.

The gelatinous nature of oxtail lends a luxurious mouthfeel to any dish it graces. As you take a bite, you’ll savor the full-bodied taste that coats your palate with its richness. Whether braised, stewed, or simmered in a savory broth, oxtail delivers a hearty and comforting flavor profile that leaves a lasting impression.

Oxtail is a good source of collagen, essential amino acids, and minerals like iron and zinc. Additionally, the slow cooking process preserves the nutrients in the broth, making it a nourishing and wholesome dish.

How to cook oxtail the right way?

Braising oxtail is a cooking technique that promises a delectable and tender outcome, making it well worth the wait. This method involves slow-cooking the oxtail in a flavorful liquid, allowing the meat to absorb all the wonderful tastes while becoming irresistibly tender.

To achieve the best results, plan on a long cooking time of at least 3 hours. This slow cooking process is essential for breaking down the tough fibers and collagen present in the oxtail, resulting in meat that falls off the bone and is packed with flavor.

There are two popular methods to braise oxtail: using a slow cooker or a pressure cooker.

Slow cooker method

Slow cookers are a convenient and fuss-free way to braise oxtail. To get started, season the oxtail with your favorite herbs and spices. You can use a mix of garlic, onions, thyme, bay leaves, and other aromatic ingredients to infuse the meat with enticing flavors.

Place the seasoned oxtail in the slow cooker and add a flavorful liquid like beef broth or red wine. The liquid should partially cover the oxtail but not fully submerge it. Set the slow cooker to low heat and let it work its magic for several hours. The low, gentle heat ensures the meat becomes incredibly tender while retaining all its succulence.

Pressure cooker method

If you’re short on time but still want to savor the delights of braised oxtail, a pressure cooker is your best friend. Begin by searing the oxtail in a hot pan to lock in the flavors and juices.

Next, add your preferred herbs, spices, and a sufficient amount of liquid to the pressure cooker. It’s essential to follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for the correct amount of liquid and cooking time.

Secure the lid of the pressure cooker and set it to the appropriate cooking setting for oxtail. The high pressure will significantly reduce the cooking time, resulting in tender and succulent meat in a fraction of the time it would take with traditional braising methods.

Vietnamese oxtail recipes

Vietnamese cuisine offers a variety of delicious recipes using oxtail. Here are some popular Vietnamese dishes featuring this flavorful cut of meat:

Oxtail and Taro Stew (Lẩu đuôi bò khoai môn): A hearty and comforting stew made with oxtail and taro, simmered in a savory broth with aromatic spices.

Oxtail Braised in Beer (Đuôi bò hầm bia): Oxtail braised in beer, resulting in tender and succulent meat with a rich beer-infused flavor.

Traditional Herbal Oxtail Soup (Lẩu đuôi bò thuốc bắc): A nourishing soup made with oxtail and a blend of traditional Vietnamese herbs and spices for a soothing and flavorful broth.

Oxtail Braised in Green Peppercorn (Đuôi bò hầm tiêu xanh): Oxtail braised with green peppercorns, providing a delightful balance of heat and fragrance.

Oxtail Braised in Green Peppercorn

Oxtail Braised with Papaya (Đuôi bò hầm đu đủ): Oxtail braised with papaya, creating a delicious sweet and savory combination.

Oxtail Stew with Potatoes (Đuôi bò hầm khoai tây): Oxtail stewed with potatoes, resulting in a comforting and satisfying dish.

Oxtail Braised with Lemongrass (Đuôi bò hầm sả): Oxtail braised with lemongrass, infusing the meat with a delightful citrusy aroma.

Oxtail and Lotus Root Soup (Canh đuôi bò củ sen): A light and refreshing soup featuring oxtail and lotus root for a delicate and nutritious combination.

Oxtail Braised with Black Beans (Đuôi bò hầm đậu đen): Oxtail braised with black beans, adding depth and richness to the dish.

Oxtail in Red Wine Sauce (Đuôi bò sốt vang): Oxtail cooked in a red wine sauce for an elegant and indulgent dish.

Oxtail Soup (Súp đuôi bò): A classic and comforting oxtail soup, often served with noodles or rice.

Turmeric Stir-Fried Noodles with Oxtail (Bún xào nghệ đuôi bò): Stir-fried noodles with turmeric-seasoned oxtail for a flavorful and aromatic dish.

Turmeric Stir-Fried Noodles with Oxtail

Oxtail Congee (Cháo đuôi bò): A rice porridge made with oxtail, perfect for a warm and soothing meal.

These Vietnamese recipes showcase the versatility of oxtail, each offering a unique and delightful taste experience that celebrates the rich flavors of this exceptional cut of meat.

How to choose a good oxtail?

Selecting a good oxtail is essential to ensure that you end up with a flavorful and tender result when preparing your dish. Here are some tips to help you choose the best oxtail:

  • Freshness is Key: Look for oxtail that appears fresh and has a vibrant red color. Avoid cuts that have a dull or brownish hue, as this could indicate that the meat is not as fresh.
  • Marbling and Fat Content: A good oxtail should have adequate marbling, which means there are thin streaks of fat running through the meat. Marbling adds richness and flavor to the final dish. However, be cautious of cuts with excessive fat, as this might result in a greasy end product.
  • Consistency in Size and Shape: Try to choose oxtail pieces that are consistent in size and shape. This will ensure even cooking and prevent some pieces from becoming overcooked while others remain undercooked.
  • Flexibility and Texture: Gently press the oxtail with your fingers. A fresh and good-quality oxtail should be somewhat flexible and have a firm texture. Avoid oxtail that feels overly rigid or mushy.
  • Source and Quality: If possible, buy oxtail from a reputable butcher or a trusted source. They can guide you in choosing the best cuts and provide information about the quality of the meat.
  • Ask for Recommendations: Don’t hesitate to ask the butcher for recommendations on the best oxtail for your intended recipe. They may suggest specific cuts or provide helpful tips on how to best prepare the meat.
  • Avoid Discoloration and Odor: Steer clear of oxtail that exhibits any signs of discoloration, such as green or grey patches, as this indicates spoilage. Additionally, a strong and unpleasant odor is a clear indication that the oxtail is not fresh and should be avoided.

How to clean oxtail?

  • Rinse the Oxtail: Begin by rinsing the oxtail under cold running water. Use your hands to rub the meat gently, removing any surface dirt or debris.
  • Trim Excess Fat: Trim any excess fat from the oxtail using a sharp knife. While some marbling is desirable for flavor, excessive fat may lead to a greasy end result.
  • Inspect for Bone Fragments: Check the oxtail for any small bone fragments or cartilage that may be attached to the meat. Use a pair of kitchen tweezers or pliers to remove these if necessary.
  • Soak in Cold Water (Optional): For an extra step to ensure cleanliness, you can soak the oxtail in cold water for about 30 minutes. This can help to loosen any remaining dirt or impurities.
  • Pat Dry: After rinsing and soaking (if desired), pat the oxtail dry with paper towels. Ensuring the meat is dry will help with searing and browning during the cooking process.


What does oxtail soup taste like?

Oxtail soup is a beloved Vietnamese dish that showcases the best of this flavorful cut of meat. The broth, simmered to perfection, carries the essence of the oxtail’s rich flavors. Combined with an array of aromatic herbs and spices, oxtail soup delivers a harmonious balance of savory, umami, and herbal notes. The meat in the soup becomes incredibly tender, allowing it to absorb all the wonderful flavors of the broth. This dish is a true culinary delight for those seeking warmth and comfort in a bowl.

What does braised oxtail taste like?

Braised oxtail is a popular Vietnamese dish that takes the already delicious oxtail to new heights of flavor. The oxtail is first marinated with a blend of Vietnamese spices and then braised to perfection. The result is a tantalizing combination of sweet, savory, and aromatic notes that permeate the tender meat. The braising process allows the flavors to meld, creating a dish that’s both hearty and heavenly. Served with steamed rice or rice noodles, braised oxtail is a true gastronomic delight that will leave you craving for more.

Can oxtail be tough if not cooked properly?

Yes, oxtail can be tough if not cooked for a sufficient amount of time. The collagen and connective tissues in the meat require slow and gentle cooking to break down and transform the tough meat into tender, succulent goodness.

How do Vietnamese chefs enhance the flavors of oxtail dishes?

Vietnamese chefs use a variety of spices and herbs such as lemongrass, star anise, cinnamon, and ginger to elevate the taste of oxtail dishes. These aromatic ingredients infuse the meat with enticing flavors.

Can I freeze oxtail to preserve it for later use?

Yes, you can freeze oxtail to prolong its shelf life. Wrap it tightly in freezer-safe packaging to prevent freezer burn and use it within three to four months for the best results.

Which other types of soup bones can be used as alternatives to oxtail?

Various soup bones that can alternate oxtail include beef shank, beef short ribs, and marrow bones.


Oxtail is a hidden gem in the culinary world, and Vietnamese cuisine beautifully showcases its exquisite flavors. From the hearty and comforting oxtail soup to the flavorful and tender braised oxtail, each dish offers a unique taste experience that delights the palate. Oxtail’s rich, beefy taste, combined with its tender texture, makes it a favorite among those who appreciate fine cuisine.

Next time you come across oxtail on a Vietnamese restaurant’s menu, don’t hesitate to give it a try. You’ll be embarking on a delectable journey through the tantalizing flavors of this exceptional cut of meat.