The Best Plant-based Jamaican Oxtail Recipe

December 12, 2023
Shanika | Orchids + Sweet Tea

DISCLAIMER: This post may contain affiliate links, which means that I make a small commission off items you purchase at no additional cost to you. Please read my policy page!

This Plant-based Jamaican Oxtail Recipe is the best twist on classic oxtail and It's full of flavor and comfort and entirely meatless. A recipe that the entire family will enjoy!

The Best Plant-based Jamaican Oxtail Recipe

You're sure to love this Plant-based Jamaican Oxtail Recipe which is the best rendition of the authentic traditional oxtail dish! Made with a marinated jackfruit base, this dish is the perfect melt-in-your-mouth, tender, jam-packed with flavor lunch or dinner option for the entire family. Tossed together over the stovetop and packed with bell peppers, ginger, onion, garlic, scallion, butter beans, carrots, thyme, seasonings, and a kick of heat from the scotch bonnet-----this recipe is a guaranteed new staple for those who enjoy a bit of meatless nostalgic comfort. Slow cooker option.

Plate full of plant-based oxtail with two forks and two cups of drinks.

Ya'll, I'm so excited to finally be sharing this Best Plant-based Jamaican Oxtail Recipe with you. Growing up in a Jamaican household, oxtail was one of the dishes that we enjoyed religiously, especially on Sundays or during the holidays. Traditionally, the oxtail meat is first cooked in a pressure cooker, which tenderizes it a bit, before being transferred over into a dutch pot and slow cooked with the remaining ingredients for a nice tender, flavorful finish.

I remember watching my parents begin the cooking process in the early mornings on Sundays just to get a head start and once the oxtail made it halfway through the slow cook process over the stovetop, they would begin throwing together the rice + peas along with other meats and sides that would be added as a part of one big meal. Honestly, it was one of my favorite Jamaican dishes----next to curry goat and jerk chicken. And while I still enjoy oxtail from a good Jamaican restaurant ever so often now, I'm so thrilled to have master a plant-based version that I can enjoy more often.

Believe it or not, I never grew up eating jackfruit (although my parents have), but my husband has and he loves it----so it was only befitting for me to use it as my base for this recipe. Plus, I find that the texture of jackfruit mimics a nice "pulled" situation, which when oxtail is truly made right-----includes some "shredded" pieces of oxtails along with whole pieces. That's when you know it's real tender and perfectly cooked in my opinion. Haha.

However, if you're new to Jamaican cuisine or you're just curious about other traditional dishes that I grew up eating, then you'll definitely love this Jamaican Pineapple Jerk Chicken, Authentic Jamaican Brown Stew Chicken, Authentic Jamaican Curry Chicken, Jamaican Spicy 'Pepper' Shrimp, Jamaican Cornmeal Porridge, Baked Jamaican Jerk Chicken Wings, Nourishing Jamaican Chicken Soup, and Spicy Jamaican Beef Patties.

And of course, if you're into awesome Jamaican twists to recipes, then these Jerk Salmon Tacos, Vegan Jamaican Beef Patties, Best Jamaican Jerk Chicken Pizza, and Weeknight Jamaican Curry Chicken + Gnocchi recipes are truly one to give a try!

Jump to:

What is Oxtail?

Basically, oxtail is a type of beef----the tail from the beef cattle to be specific. When placed in stores for sale, it's often skinned and cut into portions which come in an oval-like shape as we know it. Like I've mentioned, oxtail is a huge staple in the Jamaican culture and is a deeply rich, bold taste----often requiring a slow cooked process to create that tender texture that we love.

Ingredients on a white wood table.

How to Make Plant-based Jamaican Oxtail Recipe

The MAIN part to this Plant-based Jamaican Oxtail Recipe is the jackfruit itself. Then secondary comes the seasonings and veggies.

The best part about any Jamaican meat dish is the marination process, which I talk more about tips to doing so whether overnight or just for a few minutes. But let’s talk about this delicious recipe, especially the marinade and the sauce/gravy.

The Ingredients

Here’s what you need for this rich, bold plant-based otxtail recipe:

  • Jackfruit. I love using canned young jackfruit because it's readily available and it makes for a great substitute for chicken or pulled pork or a very sauce dish like this one. Be sure to drain and rinse prior to cooking. You can also sub with whole jackfruit by removing the core/seeds and prepping the same way once chopped.
  • Olive oil. You can also use avocado oil  or Grapeseed oil, if you prefer.
  • Thyme. I recommend fresh, but if you only have dried, use a half teaspoon.
  • Browning seasoning. You can find this at specialty markets or online at Amazon. You can also "brown" your jackfruit the traditional way by burning brown sugar and frying it in that first instead.
  • Tomato paste. Gives the dish some color. If you prefer a sweeter flavor, use ketchup.
  • Scotch bonnet. If you don’t like spice, use less of the peppers. You can also sub with habanero peppers.
  • Jerk marinade. This is my secret ingredient for this dish for a nice kick of flavor. Just a tad-bit is needed and it's totally optional. You can purchase a store-bought version or make your own (I discuss more further below).
  • Brown sugar. This adds a hint of sweetness to balance the heat. I like to use organic brown sugar, however, you can substitute with honey or maple syrup, if that's what you have on hand.
  • Bell peppers. These add great color to the dish. You can use any color you'd like or mini sweet peppers.
  • Carrots. I love adding carrots. You can peel + chop and use them raw or roast them for added flavor.
  • Red onion. Substitute with yellow or white if that’s what you have.
  • Garlic + ginger. I prefer fresh, but you could substitute with 1 teaspoon garlic powder and ½ teaspoon ground ginger in a pinch.
  • Scallions. Don't skimp on these!
  • Soy sauce. I like to add soy sauce for additional saltiness and umami flavor, but you can omit this or substitute with tamari, Worcestershire, etc.
  • Dried herbs and spices. I love to season my dishes in "layers" which means that marinating your jackfruit overnight or for at least an hour in seasoning is best! Generally, you'll need a combination of salt, black pepper, smoked paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, and allspice.
  • Vegetable stock. This adds great additional flavor. Use store-bought low-sodium broth or make your own! For added nutrition, add in half the amount in bone broth (if you don't need it to be entirely plant-based) or substitute with water if that's what you have handy.
  • Butter beans. This adds a nice meatiness to the dish. Traditionally, these beans are added to Jamaican oxtail. However, you can substitute with Cannellini Beans or Navy Beans.
More ingredients on a white wood table.

What You'll Love Most About this Plant-based Oxtail Recipe:

  • It has a bold, rich flavor profile.
  • Has a comforting, traditional feel to it's original counterpart despite being entirely meatless and comes packed warm-spices with a bit of heat!
  • Is completely dairy-free + vegan for everyone to enjoy!
  • Comes together easily over the stovetop and can be made in a slow cooker for greater ease.
  • Goes together well with simple staple sides like rice, grits, mashed potatoes, roti skin, etc.
Chopped veggies on a cutting board with a knife.

How to Prep + Season Jackfruit for this 'Oxtail' Dish

Cooking canned jackfruit is generally an easy process—in total about 40-45 minutes which includes the entire prep process. You first start by draining and rinsing your jackfruit once removed from the can to ensure that they are clean and ready to be seasoned.

Once your jackfruit is clean, then it’s seasoning time! I’m all about seasoning every “layer” of my food, therefore, the jackfruit gets direct seasoning and so does the sauce. Let everything marinate for 10-15 minutes or at least 1 hour (tightly wrapped in the refrigerator) for the best results.

Then cut and prep your remaining ingredients in the meantime and let the cooking process begin.

What are the 3 Main Ingredients in Jerk?

In jerk sauce or marinade, the 3 main ingredients that MUST be present are: scotch bonnet, thyme, and allspice (aka pimento seeds). You can't remove any of these ingredients or else it wouldn't be considered "jerk".


  • 3 scotch bonnet peppers
  • ½ red onion, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • handful of scallions (aka green onions)
  • 2 Tbsps white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon salt + black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
  • 2 Tbsps brown sugar
  • 1 carrot, peeled + chopped
  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • 2 Tbsps pimento seeds (aka allspice)
  • ¼ cup filtered water

Simply add all ingredients to a high-powered blender and blend until smooth.

Bowl full of marinated jackfruit being held.

What is Brown Stew Sauce Made of?

In this recipe, I love using browning sauce to make the sauce darker in color, which is traditionally used in many recipes. In addition, the browning sauce helps to deepen the flavors in this dish.

What is Jamaican Browning Sauce? How to Make Browning Sauce?

Jamaican browning sauce combines brown sugar and hot boiling water to form a syrup-like sauce and it's used to enhance the flavors of many dishes like stews, gravy, cakes, etc. In addition, it give a rich color to your dish.

How to Serve Plant-based Oxtail

You can serve this plant-based oxtail stew as-is. I like to add a veggie side and some rice to sop up all of the rich brown stew flavors. It would pair great with white ricebrown rice, traditional rice & peas, yellow rice, roasted veggies, mashed potatoes, grits, naan bread, or a fresh salad.

Cooked plant-based oxtail in a skillet with a black spoon.

What Meat Alternatives are Best for this Plant-based Oxtail Stew?

If you aren't a fan of jackfruit, want to switch things up, or just try something else entirely--no worries! The following meat alternatives are perfect with this oxtail stew and can easily be substituted for jackfruit:

  • Plant-based Meatballs
  • Plant-based 'Beef'
  • Mushrooms
  • Beans & Legumes
  • Tofu + Tempeh
  • Vegetables (i.e. peas, carrots, potatoes, etc.)
Up close shot of plant-based oxtail in a skillet with spoon.

Common Q + A's for this Best Plant-based Jamaican Oxtail Recipe

How to store + reheat leftovers?

Any leftovers can be kept in a tightly sealed container and refrigerated for up to 3-4 days. To reheat, add leftovers in a skillet over the stovetop and add a splash of veggie stock is needed to create a velvety sauce and cook until fully heated through.

Do I need to add the jerk marinade?

Not at all! This secret ingredient that I use in this recipe is totally optional. However if you choose to use it, see Post for homemade ingredients. Store any leftover sauce in an airtight jar or container and refrigerate for up to 1 week.

Why is my brown stew bitter?

OK, so if you find that your brown stew 'oxtail' dish has a more bitter taste, this is more than likely due to using too much browning sauce. No worries---you can fix this! Simply break up the bitter taste with a bit of ketchup, brown sugar, and additional stock. This should help!

Is Jamaican oxtail stew spicy?

Because I love spicy flavors and whenever making anything Jamaican, I'm always inclined to add scotch bonnet peppers-----this specific oxtail stew is spicy. However, you can feel free to remove the scotch bonnet peppers entirely and create a much milder dish. It's all about preference, not necessity.

How to make sauce/gravy thicker?

If you find that your sauce isn't thick enough, I definitely recommend covering the pot and allowing it to simmer a bit more. Usually, with a slow simmer over time, the sauce will automatically thicken. However, if it's truly not doing that, add 1 tablespoon of flour with 3-4 Tbsps warm water to a small cup or bowl, stir until smooth and "milky" and add to the sauce to help aide it.

What does browning sauce taste like?

Basically, this sauce has a rich, deep smoky and slightly sweet flavor. It can be added to both savory and sweet dishes, however, I recommend not adding too much because it can taste pretty bitter.

Can I make this plant-based oxtail in a slow cooker?

Absolutely! To make this plant-based oxtail stew in a slow cooker, simply sauté the onions, garlic, ginger, and other veggies first as mentioned in the steps. Then add in the wet ingredients followed by the marinated jackfruit and other ingredients----allowing everything to slow cook for 4-6 hours or until the jackfruit and veggies are tender and the sauce has thickened. If needed, see FAQ question on how to thicken sauce.

How long should I marinate the jackfruit?

Traditionally, Jamaicans will clean, rinse, and season their meat 1-2 days prior to making this dish. Simply add your seasoned jackfruit to a ziplock bag or airtight container and refrigerate for 10-15 minutes (for a quick marinate) or at least 1 hour or overnight for the best results. When ready to cook, remove from the refrigerator and let it sit at room temperature for a few minutes or so before adding it to the rest of the ingredients.

Can jackfruit be eaten straight from the can?

Yes, the canned jackfruit is perfectly safe to eat straight out of the can, but it tends to taste best warm and with seasoning. 

Should I soak canned jackfruit?

It's not necessary! However, because jackfruit is canned in brine, it makes it very salty as a result. Soaking it in water draws out a lot of that salt. The longer you soak it for, the less salty it will be.

Can I use a whole jackfruit instead of a canned version?

Of course! You can also sub with whole jackfruit by removing the core/seeds and prepping the same way once chopped. TO PREP: Run a paring knife along the core to separate it from the fruit pods. Pull out fruit pods and remove the white fibers and tips. Cut pods in half lengthwise; remove the jackfruit seeds and their rubbery skins. From there, cut the jackfruit into whatever size pieces you need for the recipe.

Two plates of plant-based oxtail with forks and drinks.

More Flavorful Meatless Recipes to Try Next!

Now that you're a complete believer with this plant-based oxtail recipe, give these other delicious meatless recipes that your entire family will love a try next:


If you tried this Best Plant-based Jamaican Oxtail Recipe or any other recipe on my website, please please leave a 🌟 star rating and let me know how you go in the 📝 comments below. I love hearing from you.

Plate full of plant-based oxtail with two forks and two cups of drinks.

The Best Plant-based Jamaican Oxtail Recipe

December 12, 2023
5 from 8 votes
This Plant-based Jamaican Oxtail Recipe is the best twist on classic oxtail and It's full of flavor and comfort and entirely meatless. A recipe that the entire family will enjoy!
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 5 minutes
Serves: 4 servings



  • 2 cans young jackfruit, drained + rinsed
  • 3 Tbsps browning sauce (You can add 1-2 more Tbsps for a darker color)
  • 2 Tbsps soy sauce, low-sodium (You can also sub with Worcestershire sauce)
  • 1-2 Tbsps organic brown sugar
  • ½ red onion, chopped
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 inch ginger root, peeled + minced
  • ¼ medium green bell pepper, chopped (You can use any color pepper)
  • ¼ medium red bell pepper, chopped (You can use any color pepper)
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice
  • ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 3 Tbsps tomato paste, organic (You can sub with ketchup)
  • 1 tablespoon jerk marinade, optional (This is a secret ingredient that elevates the flavor)
  • 1 (14 oz.) can butter beans, drained + rinsed
  • 4 scallions, chopped (aka green onions)
  • 3 Tbsps Extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 carrots, peeled + chopped
  • 4 thyme sprigs
  • 1 scotch bonnet pepper, minced (You can also use habanero pepper)
  • 2 cups organic vegetable stock, divided


  • 2-4 cups Cooked basmati rice



  • In a bowl, add the jackfruit along with browning sauce and seasonings: salt, black pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, allspice, and smoked paprika, stirring everything together until combined and the jackfruit are coated. Let it sit for 10-15 minutes covered in the refrigerator. NOTE: Best when marinated for at least an hour.



  • In a medium skillet (10-inch) over medium-high heat, add 2 Tbsps of olive oil. Once heated, add the onions and garlic, sautéing until fragrant and translucent, about 2-3 minutes. Add the chopped bell peppers, ginger root, scallions, carrots, and minced scotch bonnet pepper, sautéing until veggies are slightly tender, about 3-4 minutes.
  • Add the brown sugar, tomato paste, jerk marinade (if using), veggie stock, and soy sauce, stirring everything together until combined.
  • Remove the marinated jackfruit from the fridge and add to the sauce, stirring to combine. Add the butter beans and thyme sprigs, stirring to combine and reduce heat to low and allow everything to simmer for about 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally until veggies are completely tender and jackfruit becomes tender enough to shred slightly with a fork.
  • Towards the FINAL 10 minutes of cooking or so, add the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil and any additional veggie stock (if things dry out too much). NOTE: You want to have a good amount of gravy to serve over the rice, therefore, an additional ½ cup or so of veggie stock might be needed.
  • Remove from heat and serve the plant-based oxtail atop your favorite side like basmati rice, brown rice, grits, mashed potatoes, etc.
  • Bon Appetit!

Tips & Tricks

  • STORAGE: Any leftovers can be kept in a tightly sealed container and refrigerated for up to 3-4 days. To reheat, add leftovers in a skillet over the stovetop and add a splash of veggie stock is needed to create a velvety sauce and cook until fully heated through.
  • SPICES/HERBS: If desired, you can reduce the amounts slightly. Please know that this recipe is bold in flavor, so feel free to adjust based on your tastebuds.
  • JERK SAUCE/MARINADE: See Post for homemade ingredients. Store any leftover sauce in an airtight jar or container and refrigerate for up to 1 week.
  • SCOTCH BONNET PEPPER: If you'd like, you can increase the amount of scotch bonnet peppers used in the jerk sauce to as much as 6 total, if you love extra spice!


Calories: 288kcal | Carbohydrates: 40g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 11g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 8g | Sodium: 1230mg | Potassium: 423mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 10g | Vitamin A: 5859IU | Vitamin C: 30mg | Calcium: 62mg | Iron: 2mg


Tag @orchidsnsweettea_ on Instagram and hashtag it #orchidsandsweettea

Xx, Shanika in script writing

Love this Post? SHARE!


5 from 8 votes (7 ratings without comment)

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Love this Recipe?

  1. tried this today and it was so good! tastes just like how I remember and the jackfruit gives a good texture to the overall flavour profile! definitely will be making again!

    • Hi Bre! Wow! I'm SO happy that you enjoyed this dish! It's definitely one of my faves! Thanks so much for giving it a try! 🙂