Comforting, hearty food for the soul

This hearty, comforting braised oxtail with fluffy dumplings is perfect for those colder winter days.

  • SERVES: 6
  • PREP TIME: 30 mins
  • COOK TIME: 4.5 hrs
  • DIFFICULTY: easy

Braised oxtail with fluffy dumplings

Do I even need to write this post?

Those 5 words should stop you in your tracks.

Make you salivate.

Then put you into action to order in oxtail.

Because this mouth-watering beefy stew with homemade dumplings is proper comfort.


Now, if you’ve been following me on my cooking journey for a while.

Then you’ll know how much I fell in love with oxtail once I discovered it.

Once a very cheap cut, it’s become quite trendy with chefs dishing it up in their restaurants.

But it’s still a lot cheaper than buying a premium beef cut.

And I’d go so far as to say, its flavour is superior.

Ok, different.

But the bold, unctuous flavours are out of this world.

So, if you haven’t tried oxtail yet…get cracking!

Oxtail stew with dumplings

Nose to tail

Literally, the tail.

But don’t be put off by oxtail.

I’ll admit, it’s not the prettiest of cuts.

But it’s not at all tricky to prepare.

That’s the beauty of it.

Oxtail needs low and slow cooking.

So, this hands-off cooking approach gives you more time to crack on with your day.

And yet, the flavours it will produce will make you seem a legendary cook.

I’ll take that.

Masters of simple food

The Italians.

They’re masters at turning simple food into outstanding dishes.

And they promote seasonality and quality produce.

(Check out this post on what beef to keep an eye out for when buying good quality meat).

So, it’s no surprise the Italians have a traditional oxtail recipe that is uncomplicated.

And it’s called peposa as the beef is cooked in red wine and pepper.

Check out this Tuscan peposa beef stew – utterly delicious, very simple.

Now, let’s get to the nitty-gritty at the end of an oxtail slow-cook.

Because it can get messy.

And a lot of recipes don’t tell you about this part of cooking oxtail.

But don’t see it as off-putting, it’s satisfying picking the meat off the bone.

And the low and slow cooking means it should just fall off easily.

But don’t leave any behind, it’s worth taking your time.


Oxtail stew is great to have with mashed potatoes, loads of greens.

Or even with gnocchi…check this stunning oxtail and gnocchi with green beans.

But who doesn’t love a dumpling?!

So, here are a couple of alternative versions to the cornmeal dumplings I’ve used in the recipe below.

And I can tell you, you’re not going to get any complaints once you’ve served up dumplings on top of a stew.

Dumplings are traditionally made with a mixture of flour and beef suet.

But can be flavoured with herbs, spices, cheese, etc

Suet traps the air as it melts and therefore creates the perfect light and fluffy texture.

I usually make my dumplings with suet.

But have tried cornmeal dumplings in this recipe.

You can also buy veggie suet, made from vegetable oils such as sunflower oil and palm oil (*make sure you know where the palm oil comes from).

So, if you don’t fancy cornmeal dumplings then here are 2 versions with and without suet.

Perfect fluffy dumpling recipe


  • 150g of self-raising flour
  • 75g of suet
  • 1 tsp salt
  • water

Alternatively, if you don’t have suet, use:

  • 250 g self-raising flour
  • 125 g unsalted butter, cold
  1. Combine the flour, suet and salt in a large mixing bowl
    • If you want to add flavour to your dumplings:
    • Before adding the water to the flour and suet, add your chopped herbs (rosemary or thyme are good, chilli flakes or mustard powder for a little heat, or some grated cheese)
  2. Start to slowly add a little water and begin to mix in with your hands until a dough starts to form
  3. Once you have a soft dough with specks of the suet still visible stop mixing – don’t want to overwork the dough. If it is too sticky, add a tiny bit more flour
  4. Roll the dough into small balls using the palms of your hands
  5. Place the balls on top of a simmering stew for the last 20 mins of its cooking time. Serve
  6. NOTE: to get a crispy exterior, you can bake the dumplings in the oven for 10 mins before adding to the stew.

Braised oxtail with fluffy dumplings

So, don’t delay.

Get ordering some oxtail now.

Because unlike a lot of cheap cuts like chuck etc, this isn’t always one that is readily available.

But it’s worthwhile speaking to your butcher or visiting an online butcher to find them.

Enjoy your next braised oxtail with fluffy dumplings!

Braised oxtail with fluffy dumplings

Course Main Course
Keyword braised oxtail, casserole, comfort food, easy recipe, one pan meal, oxtail, stew
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 4 hours 30 minutes
Total Time 5 hours
Servings 6 people
Cost £


  • 2 kg oxtail
  • 2 tbsp flour (season with salt and pepper to dust the oxtail with )
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 3 onions, sliced
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 1 bottle of red wine
  • 500 ml beef stock
  • 2 oranges, zest and juice


  • 225 g cornmeal (polenta) (*see blog post for alternatives to cornmeal dumplings)
  • 225 g plain flour
  • 50 g castor sugar
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 225 ml milk
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 60 g butter, melted


  • Dust the oxtail in the seasoned flour, then in a large casserole dish, heat the oil and brown the oxtail. You may need to do it in batches (and don't rush, make sure you get a nice brown sear).
    Place the seared oxtail on a plate and set aside.
  • In the same dish, add the onions and cook until soft and translucent – approx -5 -10 mins. Then add the cumin and fry for another couple of minutes before you add your oxtail back in.
    Now, add the red wine, stock and orange zest and juice – make sure you use a wooden spoon to scrape any brown bits off the bottom (this adds flavour).
    Bring to the boil, then simmer for approx 4-4.5hrs until lovely and tender and falling off the bones.
  • Now, pull the oxtail meat off the bone – it's a bit messy but worth it – and place it on a plate while you reduce the cooking liquor by approx 1/3 to thicken.
    Put the meat back into the dish.


  • Mix the dry ingredients, then add the milk, egg and butter and mix together well.
  • Heat the oven to 200C and dollop on large spoonfuls of the cornbread mixture, then bake for 25 mins or until the cornbread has browned and the meat is bubbling.
    (NOTE: to get crispy dumplings, you can bake on their own for 10 mins then add to the oxtail dish and continue for another 10 mins)
  • Serve!


Recipe: W&H

Recipe inspiration: W&H