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Jerk Oxtails with Rice and Peas is inspired by a Jamaican oxtail recipe in Jamaica a few years ago. The oxtails are mouthwatering and tender in a flavorful gravy, served over creamy rice and peas. This is nothing like the classic brown gravy Jamaican oxtail staple, but it packs a ton of incredible flavors and guarantees to be an instant hit in your home.
I have always had a special place in my heart, both for oxtails and for all things “jerked,” so it only seemed fitting to share this amazing recipe for a Jamaican oxtails recipe. Jerk Oxtails with Rice and Peas. Between the fork-tender oxtails and the flavorful rice and peas, it’s nearly impossible not to go back for seconds.
Oxtails are a big part of soul food cooking, and if you’ve never tried them, you have been missing out. They are incredibly similar to beef short ribs in flavor and texture and, as of late, have cost the same. Oxtails are a tough cut of meat, but that’s where the instant pot or pressure cooker comes in and steals the show.
By using a pressure cooker, you can transform the toughest piece of meat into a melt-in-your-mouth masterpiece. And the best part? Braising the oxtails in a pressure cooker is entirely hands-off because the Instant Pot does all the work for you.
This Jerk Oxtails recipe is like a symphony of flavors coming together with every bite. A symphony that plays songs by Bob Marley and the Wailers, Steel Pulse, and Barry Levington. My closest Jamaican friends have approved the rice and peas we serve alongside the oxtails, so you know it’s the real deal.
For the kind of dish that instantly transports you out of your kitchen and onto the island of Jamaica, you need this recipe in your life. It’s easy to make, loaded with flavor, and keeps great in the fridge for later. What are you waiting for?
To make this flavorful oxtail recipe, you will need the following key ingredients:
The stars of the show, oxtails, are incredibly flavorful and can be found at most grocery stores. They’re a little pricey but way cheaper than beef short ribs and just as tasty.
You can use chicken, beef, or vegetable stock for this dish.
Jerk Seasoning Paste
Walkerwood’s and Grace are great options that you can buy in spicy or mild versions, depending on your flavor preference. The heat in jerk seasoning comes from the scotch bonnet pepper.
This is my favorite type of rice to use for this dish, but you can swap it out for long-grain white rice if needed.
Also known as the “peas” of our rice and peas. If you can’t find red beans, you can use kidney beans instead.
By cooking the rice in a combination of coconut milk and stock, you get rice that is extra rich and creamy.
In all authentic Jamaican oxtail recipes and cooking, you need this flavorful herb.
How to Make Jerk Oxtails with Rice and Peas
This recipe is split into two components: jerk oxtails and rice. The great thing is that the Instant Pot pressure cooker mode does most of the work on the oxtails for you, and you can cook the rice while it does its thing. To whip up this dish, follow these simple steps:
- Heat a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Season your oxtails with salt and pepper, then place them in the skillet and cook for 3-4 minutes on each side.
- Transfer cooked oxtails to a bowl and cover with jerk seasoning paste, then cover with a lid and set aside. Optional: refrigerate the bowl overnight.
- Add the oxtails to your Instant Pot, then pour the stock in the bowl that held the oxtails to get the remaining jerk seasoning paste and spoon it into the pot. Add garlic, thyme, and bay leaf, then seal the lid, press the pressure cooker button, set to high for 75 minutes. Natural release the pressure. The oxtails should be fork tender when they’re done.
- When the Instant Pot has about 30 minutes left, heat a saucepan over medium heat and add butter. Once hot, cook onions for 2 minutes, then add uncooked rice and cook for another minute.
- Stir in the remaining butter, coconut milk, stock, red beans, thyme, and spices. Bring the mixture to a boil, then cover, reduce the heat to low, and let it simmer for 15-20 minutes until the rice is cooked through. Fluff rice and cover for 5 minutes before serving.
- To serve, add rice and peas to a plate, then top with oxtails and gravy. Garnish with chopped Italian parsley, chopped green onions, and a sprig of fresh thyme.
How To Store Leftover Jerk Oxtails
Freezer: Jerk Oxtails: After the oxtails cool, place in an airtight container place in the freezer for 6 months max.
Fridge: Jerk Oxtails: After the oxtails cool, place in an airtight container in the fridge for 7 days max.
Rice and Peas: After rice and peas cool, place in an airtight container in the fridge for 7 days max.
Reheating: Jerk Oxtails: Pop in a 350°F degree oven for 10-15 minutes.
Rice and Peas: Bring a small amount of water or milk to a boil, stir in rice and peas, and cook until hot. *A ¼ cup of liquid will be enough for 2 servings.
Cooking Tips and Tricks
Here are some of my top tips and tricks to keep in mind when making this dish:
- You definitely don’t want to skip searing the oxtails before cooking them. This is essential to getting maximum flavor and avoiding gray-looking meat.
- Not spicy enough for you? Feel free to add a scotch bonnet pepper or add some scotch bonnet pepper sauce to your meal before eating.
- For a lighter grain-free version, try swapping out the basmati rice for cauliflower rice.
- I highly recommend serving this dish with some type of bread, like my Moist Southern Cornbread, to soak up all of that amazing gravy that we cooked the oxtails in.
- For a thicker gravy, stir ¼ cup of cornstarch and ½ cup of braising liquid in a bowl. Pour slurry mixture into the pot, and bring to a boil to thicken the gravy.
- This recipe will taste better the next day. Once the oxtail stew sits in the gravy, it'll absorb all the amazing deliciousness.
- Cooked oxtails can be stored in an airtight storage bag or container in the fridge for up to 7 days or in the freezer for up to 6 months.
- Cooked rice and peas can be stored in an airtight storage container in the fridge for up to 7 days.
- To cook oxtails in an oven: Cook in a pot, cover, and pop in a 325-degree oven for 5 hours.
- To cook oxtails in a crock pot: Cook on low for 6 hours.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about my version of the Jamaican oxtails recipe:
Traditionally oxtails were cut from the tails of oxen (male cow). While they may have started that way, today’s oxtails actually refer to the tails of cows(female cows) cut into small pieces. Oxtails consist of cylindrical bone surrounded by chunks of fatty, flavorful meat. When cooked right, they’re just as delicious as beef short ribs, but for a fraction of the price.
Making a homemade jerk seasoning paste is easier than you think if you can find scotch bonnet peppers in your local area. If you cannot, do not worry. Order some scotch bonnet pepper sauce and add a couple of tablespoons. Click here to get my recipe from my Jerk Chicken Wings.
If you do not have an Instant pot or pressure cooker, you can use a slow cooker. You can easily cook these Jamaican oxtails recipe in the slow cooker instead. Follow the first two steps as normal, then for step 3, add your ingredients to a slow cooker instead of an Instant Pot and cook on low for 5-6 hours until the oxtails are fork-tender.
If you’ve never had rice and peas before, you might be a little confused as to where the peas are hiding. Don’t worry; you’re not going crazy! Jamaicans actually refer to kidney beans as “peas,” which is why the dish is called ‘rice and peas’ and not ‘rice and beans.’
There are two ways to release the pressure from your instant pot. Natural release and quick release. Natural release means that you'll let the instant pot depressurize on its own without any help from you. With a quick release, you can immediately depressurize your instant pot by using the pressure valve or by manually turning the venting knob.
The main difference between quick and natural release is how much steam/hot water is released during each method. With the natural release, the instant pot has time to absorb some of that steam/water and replenish some of its liquid contents.
When using instant pot quick release, you won't notice any difference in your instant pot recipe or soup consistency because all of this extra water basically evaporates during cooking anyway. However, your instant pot recipe will have a thicker consistency and maybe soupy or starchy when doing instant pot natural release.
If you plan on using instant pot quick release for any of your instant pot recipes, I recommend leveling off the amount of liquid in the instant pot by turning it to its saute setting until no more steam is coming out.
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Jerk Oxtails with Rice and Peas
- 8-12 oxtails
- kosher salt to taste
- black pepper to taste
- 10 oz. Walkerwood’s or Grace Jerk Paste
- 12 cloves garlic peeled
- ½ teaspoon dry thyme or 3 sprigs fresh thyme
- 1 bay leaf
- 3 cups unsalted stock (vegetable, chicken or beef)
Rice & Peas:
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 onion chopped
- 2 cups basmati or white long grain rice rinsed
- 13 oz. can full coconut milk add water to equal 2 cups
- 2 cups unsalted chicken stock
- 15 oz. canned red beans drained
- ½ teaspoon dry thyme or 3 sprigs fresh thyme
- 1 teaspoon all-spice
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- Season oxtails with salt and pepper, place oxtail in a heavy bottom skillet over medium high heat and cook on each side for 3-4 minutes, cook in batches. Sit skillet to the side for rice. Transfer oxtails to a bowl and cover with jerk paste and cover with a lid and refrigerate overnight(optional).
- Add oxtails to instant pot, pour stock in bowl you used to toss oxtails to get remaining jerk paste add to pot along with garlic, thyme and bay leaf cover with lid, press pressure cook and set timer for 75 minutes. Oxtails should be fork tender when they’re done, continue cooking if more time is needed.
Rice and Peas
- When oxtails have about 30 minutes left, in a sauce pot over medium heat add 1 tablespoon of butter once hot cook onions for 2 minutes add rice and cook for 1 minute, stir in remaining butter, coconut milk, stock, red beans, thyme, all spice, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, cover and turn heat to low simmer for 15-20 minutes. Fluff rice cover for 5 minutes before serving.
- To serve add rice and peas to plate, oxtails and gravy, serve hot.
- Season oxtails with salt and pepper, place oxtail in a pot over medium high heat and cook on each side for 3-4 minutes, cook in batches. Cover with jerk paste and cover with a lid and refrigerate overnight(optional).
- Preheat oven, pour in garlic, thyme, bay leaf and stock, bring to a boil and cover with a lid. Pop in the oven for 5 hours. Oxtails should be fork tender when they’re done, continue cooking if more time is needed.