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Rabo de Toro, stewed bull tail, is one of my favorite dishes to eat during the winter in Spain!

Spanish Bull Tail Stew (Rabo de Toro)

Spanish bull tail stew (also known as rabo de toro estofado or oxtail stew) is one of Spain’s most typical dishes. Dating back to Roman times, rabo de toro is a delicious slow cooked meal worth trying!
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Course: Main
Cuisine: Spanish
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 3 hours 10 minutes
Total Time: 3 hours 25 minutes
Servings: 4 servings


  • About 3-4 pounds of rabo de toro oxtail, cow tail, etc.
  • 3 carrots sliced into 1/4 inch rounds
  • 1 large sweet onion diced
  • 1 red pepper diced
  • 1 leek diced
  • 2-3 ripe tomatoes diced
  • 4 cloves of garlic minced
  • 2 cups of beef stock
  • 3 cups of red wine a decent table wine like a Spanish rioja or tempranillo will do nicely.
  • 2 bay leafs
  • 4 cloves
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Flour to coat the meat
  • Olive oil


  • Season the bull tail with salt and pepper.
    Raw bull tail (oxtail) seasoned with salt and pepper
  • In a large, heavy pan (cast iron works great) heat a splash of olive oil to a medium high heat (not yet smoking).
    Olive oil in a cast iron pan
  • Lightly dust the rabo de toro with flour (shake away excess) and sear each piece in the hot oil until nicely browned, about 30 seconds per side.
    Oxtail coated in flour searing in a cast iron pan
  • Remove the bull tail and let the pieces rest.
    Seared and browned oxtail on a ceramic plate
  • In the pan's oil, saute the leek, onion, garlic, red pepper, and tomato for about 10 minutes.
    Diced onion, leek and red pepper in a cast iron skillet
  • Add the carrots, bay leafs, ginger, and cloves and saute 1 minute.
    Chopped carrots, bay leafs, and onion, leek, red pepper sauté in a large pot
  • Add the bull tail back to the pan and cover with the wine and stock.
    Bull tail in a pot covered with red wine and stock.
  • Bring to a boil and then cover and reduce to a slow simmer.
    Rabo de toro simmering in a metal pot
  • Cook the rabo de toro for 3 hours and then check to see if it is falling away from the bone. It may need another hour or so if the meat is very tough.
  • If it is tender enough, remove the meat and then puree the sauce with a hand blender (not necessary but nice).
  • Serve with the sauce and homemade french fries or mashed potatoes for an authentic Spanish meal!
    Finished Rabo de toro on a plate over mashed potato and with parsley


Top Tips & Substitutions

  • Flour: Dusting the oxtail with flour will help build a thick and delicious sauce, but you can omit if you prefer without an effect on flavor.
  • Wine: Make sure you use decent red wine -- nothing fancy, but it should be drinkable. It gives a lot of flavor to the stew! Antonia sometimes substitutes some of the red wine for sherry or brandy. 
  • Spices: Ginger is not a traditional ingredient, but I love it! Feel free to omit if you prefer. And if you like even more of a spiced flavor, add more cloves.
  • Oxtail substitutions: Oxtail can easily be substituted for osso bucco, beef shanks, beef short ribs on the bone, veal neck, and veal shank.
  • Additions: Antonia sometimes adds a little something extra to this dish, after puréeing the sauce. Options include mushrooms and pearl onions. Both are delicious.
  • Time is your friend, it might need more than three hours. It should be tender and falling off the bone when finished. Keep going if in doubt!
  • You can use a pressure cooker if you prefer, just adjust the time.
Did you make this recipe?Tag @spanishsabores on IG and hashtag it #spanishsabores!