Instant Pot Cuban Oxtail Stew (Rabo Encendido)

First let me say, this isn’t made from the tail of an ox. It used to be, but now meat labeled “Oxtail” is really tail of cattle. It’s got a lot of fat, short muscles, and lots of collagen which gives it a rich, meaty, and silky flavor and it’s perfect for pressure cooking.

Cuban Oxtail Stew is another one of those Cuban recipes with a strange name. Rabo Encendido in English literally means “Tail on Fire”. However, like most Cuban food, it is not spicy (though if you want to add a bit of Tabasco, I won’t tell.) Like most Cuban cuisine, at it’s core it is a dish that takes the cheaper, throw away cuts, and transforms simple ingredients into flavorful comfort food. It’s one of my husband’s favorites and once you try it, I am sure it will soon become one of yours.

Instant Pot Cuban Oxtail Stew (Rabo Encendido) 

Recipe by Lana Horruitiner Perez and Daniel Perez

  • 3 lbs Oxtail (I get mine from the butcher so I can pick out the pieces that are higher up and are larger with more meat, but use what you can get.)
  • 1 Tbl Goya Complete Seasoning (you can substitute with Badia Complete Seasoning or you can mix together 2 Tbl Garlic and Onion Powder, 1/2 Tbl Cumin and Oregano.)
  • 1 Tsp Salt
  • 1/4 Tsp Ground Pepper
  • 2 Tbl Vegetable Oil
  • 2 Small Yellow Onions, chopped fine
  • 1 Green Pepper, chopped fine
  • 1/8 cup Water
  • 3 Garlic Cloves, minced
  • 1 packet Sazon con Asafran (Sazon con Asafran is a packet of spices used in Latin cooking. You can usually find this in the Hispanic section of most grocery stores. However, you can make a substitute by combining 1 Tbl each of Coriander, Cumin, Tumeric, Garlic Powder, and Salt. Then add either a pinch of Saffron or Bijol. Use 1 1/2 teaspoons of this mix to equal one packet.)
  • 2 Bay Leaves
  • 2 Tbl Tomato Paste
  • 3/4 cup White Wine
  • 1 packet of Goya Beef  Bouillon 
  • 1 1/2 Water (You can substitute 1 1/2 cup Beef Broth instead of the the water and Beef Bouillon above.)
  • 1 small jar Sliced Pimentos

Mix together 1 Tbl Complete Seasoning, 1 tsp Salt, and 1/4 tsp Ground Pepper to make spice rub for Oxtail. oxtail spice rub


Trim some of the larger pieces of fat off the outside of the Oxtail. Place the Oxtail in a bowl and sprinkle with the spice rub. Place in the fridge for at least an hour. (You can do this step the day before and let it sit overnight.)20190306_151652

In a large measuring jug, mix together 1 1/2 cup water (if you are not using beef broth) and the packet of Beef Bouillon and the packet of Sazon con Asafran.

Pour in 3/4 cups White Wine and stir in 2 Tbl Tomato Paste (I freeze my tomato paste in 1 Tbl portions. If you do too, you can microwave the tomato paste for 30 secs to soften before stirring into the liquid.) Add in the Pimentos with its liquid. *You will add the 2 Bay Leaves just before you Pressure cook. Set aside. 


Press “SAUTE” button on your Instant Pot and add 2 TBL Vegetable Oil. Once the oil is hot, place the Oxtail in the pot in a single layer. You will have to do this in batches because you do not want to crowd the pot or else the meat will not brown. browning oxtail

Brown on most sides, about 1-2 minutes each. You don’t need a deep dark brown just a quick sear. This is mainly to add flavor and fat into the pot. It’s ok if not all sides are completely browned. Remove when done and add the rest until you have browned all the oxtail pieces. 20190306_165145

Add 1/8 cup of Water to the Instant Pot to stop the browning and keep the fat in the pot from burning. Use a wooden spatula to scrape up the brown bits and deglaze the pot a little. Add the 2 chopped Onions and 1 chopped Green Pepper to the Instant Pot and saute for 4-5 mins until a bit translucent. Stir and scrape occasionally while it sautes. onion garlic pepper20190306_165253

Add the 3 Cloves Garlic minced to the pot and stir and saute for 30 seconds.

Pour 1/2 cup of the Wine-Tomato liquid to the pot and scrape the bottom to deglaze again and make sure there are no brown bits stuck. Add the rest of the liquid and stir.  Bring to a boil. (Heating the liquid on “SAUTE” will help bring the pressure up quicker.)20190306_165623

Add the Oxtail in a single layer into the Instant Pot. Add the 2 Bay Leaves.20190306_165818

Lock the Instant Pot Lid into place and make sure the Valve is set to Sealed position. Pressure cook on HIGH for 60 minutes and Natural Release the pressure completely which should take about 15 minutes. 20190306_182951

Remove the Bay Leaves and taste the liquid and add salt if needed. I like to remove the Oxtail and place on a serving platter and then spoon the sauce over it. Serve with white rice (the sauce is AMAZING over rice!) or potatoes.

Buen Provecho! Enjoy!oxtail

oxtail with rice

oxtail and daisy

4 Comments Add yours

  1. Wendy says:

    I went out and bought the Goya seasonings last night, chopped the peppers and onions, and used the “total” to do the spice rub on my oxtails. They are marinating in the fridge right now, and I will easily be able to cook this dish in the Instant Pot after work for a pretty quick dinner. I know I’ll enjoy it with yellow rice and will heat up a package of frozen plantains.


    1. drlanaperez says:

      Sounds so yummy! I would love to know how it came out and if you liked it! Happy cooking and stay safe.


  2. michele fernandez says:

    I just went back on the internet to find this recipe again. The last time I made it it was soooo good. Now it is my go-to Rabo recipe! Thanks for sharing it with everyone! I used to simmer it for hours in cast iron, but this was so quick and tasty!


    1. drlanaperez says:

      Awe that makes me so happy to hear this. I am so glad you like it. Happy cooking and stay safe.


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