Skip to Content

Balbacua Recipe

Balbacua and its variations are a Filipino dish that has been a household favorite for hundreds of years.

Made with beef oxtails, potatoes, onions, garlic, bay leaves, and a variety of herbs and spices, this dish is packed with flavor.

The slow simmering of the oxtails in the flavorful broth creates a tender, succulent texture.

The potatoes, onions, and garlic provide a unique depth of flavor that will leave you wanting more.

Balbacua is very similar to an American stew or soup.

However, the traditional Balbacua recipe uses beef oxtails as the main ingredient instead of chicken or pork.

What are the main ingredients in a balbacua recipe?

The main ingredients in a Balbacua recipe include beef oxtails, potatoes, onions, garlic, bay beans or bay leaves, vinegar, kamias flowers, ginger and turmeric.

Other ingredients include coriander seeds, Sarsaparilla root leaves, dried tomato pieces and green banana chips (also known as basta), chilies peppers.

To make the dish you first need to peel the potatoes and cut them into bite sized pieces.

You will also do this for the onions.

To prepare the oxtails for cooking you will want to remove any excess fat and wash them thoroughly under cold running water.

Next place all of the ingredients in a large stock pot and fill with water until it covers the bottom of the pan by an inch.

Bring to a boil on high heat and then reduce to low heat.

After two hours have passed, remove the oxtails from the broth and carefully place them on a large plate or platter to cool down.

Never put your hands directly in the boiling broth or your skin may blister.

After oxtails are cool enough to touch add more water and bring back to a simmer on low heat.

Place in large containers and cover with lids or foil containers but do not seal tightly.

To speed up the preparation time you can use a pressure cooker instead.

However, balbacua is traditionally cooked in a traditional Filipino clay pot called “balbacuan.”

In order to make balbacuan you need to find one that is at least five feet tall with three sides (15 inches) that are completely intact (they should be smooth without any cracks).

How long does it take to prepare balbacua?

The ingredients for a Balbacua recipe can be found in most Filipino homes.

However, if you have never cooked Balbacua before, it may be time consuming.

The most difficult part about preparing this dish is making sure the meat is tender and that it does not overcook and turn into a tougher piece of meat.

Here is how long it takes to prepare and cook Balbacua:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

2. Brown the oxtails and then place them in a large pot with enough water to cover them.

3. Bring the water to a boil, then simmer on low heat for an hour and a half.

4. Season the oxtails with soy sauce, salt, sugar, vinegar, dried oregano, garlic powder, onion powder, basil leaves, and black pepper. Add more seasonings if you want more flavor.

5. Transfer the oxtails from the pot to a baking dish and place in the oven for 30 minutes to an hour or until they are tender.

6. While the oxtails are cooking, start boiling your potatoes in salted water for 20 minutes or until soft.

7. Peel and dice your onions.

What type of meat is typically used in a balbacua recipe?

Beef oxtails are the main ingredient in a balbacua recipe.

The oxtails can be very tough and require a little extra tenderizing to make them more edible.

In addition, beef oxtails come in varying sizes, so it is best to choose a size that you will eat easily.

Beef oxtails are a great source of dietary iron, which is an essential mineral for healthy blood and red blood cells.

In addition, beef oxtails contain connective tissue, gelatin, and proline which are all important for maintaining healthy joints.

What is the origin of balbacua?

Balbacua has been a traditional Filipino dish for over 500 years.

The name balbacua itself refers to the fact that the dish is slow-cooked for days at a time.

Traditionally, balbacua recipes were made with pig’s feet, but later on, oxtails were used as the main ingredient.

Are there any variations of the traditional balbacua recipe?

Balbacua can also be called Balbos, Bolbacua, or Oxtail Soup.

Different ethnic groups have their own versions of this dish.

As such, the recipe may differ slightly from one person to another.


Are there any health benefits to eating balbacua?

While balbacua is primarily a dish made with beef oxtails, that doesn’t mean that all oxtails are created equal.

There are different cuts of oxtail that contain varying amounts of fat and dark meat (remember, the white meat is actually a muscle).

The oxtails in balbacua are probably cut from the knuckle section of the animal.

In this case, the meat is quite lean because it contains less fat from the area of the body where the tail was attached.

The dark meat, on the other hand, contains more fat.

Both types of oxtail can be used for balbacua.

However, skinless oxtails can create a drier dish than those with some fat left on them.

Regardless of whether you use skinned or non-skinned oxtails, check to make sure that the whole bone is included in your meal.

Trimming away just a piece will not give you all of the benefits of this dish.

Aside from using leaner parts of animals and removing excess fat before cooking, there are also several health benefits associated with eating balbacua instead of meats that contain more saturated fat.

Red meats and dairy products contain large amounts of cholesterol and saturated fat.

When choosing food items, it is wise to keep this information in mind.

What type of cooking method is used to make balbacua?

Since the main ingredient in balbacua is the beef oxtails, the same method can be used to make it that is commonly used in cooking oxtails.

The oxtails are cut into large chunks and then boiled or simmered in a heavy saucepan with vinegar, water, bay leaves, onions, and garlic.

The onions and garlic are smashed before the oxtail pieces are added to the saucepan.

The meat becomes tender after several hours of simmering on low heat.

Finally, the potatoes, onion, and garlic are added to the simmering pot.

The dish is finished off by adding a handful of herbs and spices such as turmeric, black pepper, cloves, coriander seeds, salt, sugar, rice vinegar, red chili flakes and soy sauce.

After a few minutes of simmering on low heat for about an hour or two (depending on how well cooked you like your balbacua), it is ready to be served.

What is the traditional way of serving balbacua?

If you are looking for the traditional way of serving balbacua, it is traditionally served in a large bowl.

The ingredients in the dish are filled with a generous amount of meat, potatoes, onions, and garlic.

A few bay leaves, cloves, and other spices are also sprinkled over the top.

For those who are adventurous chefs out there, they will find that they can create several versions of balbacua or beef stew by embellishing their own versions of the recipe.

You may choose to use chicken instead of beef oxtails or you can take a creative route and substitute pork for beef.

Do note that the dish has to be accompanied with vegetables such as onions, carrots, and cabbage because these vegetables provide a more balanced flavor compared to plain boiled vegetables.

Also, if you want your dish to be more flavorful and an adventure for your taste buds, try adding in some ground black pepper.

This is one of the most common ingredients used in stewing dishes across the globe.

While the traditional balbacua recipe does not include ground black pepper, it would definitely add a special kick to your dish.

What are some common side dishes that go well with balbacua?

Balbacua contains beef oxtails, which are the main ingredient in this dish.

Beef oxtails are a large cut of meat that comes from the rear section of the cow.

Oxtail is usually a rich source of iron and other minerals.

Beef oxtails also possess an extremely high protein content, which makes them a healthy complement to any meal.

Some popular side dishes that go well with balbacua are:

  • Rice
  • Cabbage
  • Onions
  • Peas

Try out some of these side dishes to add some variety to the balbacuas you cook for your family and friends!

What type of spices are used in balbacua recipes?

The characteristic flavor of Balbacua is derived from the use of lots of herbs and spices.

The oxtails and potatoes are seasoned with bay leaves and black peppercorns.

The dish also uses garlic, onions, and ginger.

The traditional ingredients for balbacua are very simple but provide a great deal of flavor.

These spices add depth and complexity to the beefy broth and vegetables.


Barbacoa is typically made with tougher meat cuts that require long, slow cooking times. Barbacoa is traditionally made with large cuts of meat or whole animals. Barbacoa is commonly associated with beef in the United States. Barbacoa is made from beef, goat, lamb, or mutton in Mexico.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 7 hours
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: Filipino
Keyword: Balbacua
Servings: 4
Calories: 144kcal


  • large pot


  • 500 grams ox skin
  • 16 cups water divided, for boiling
  • 1 head garlic crushed
  • 2 medium onions thinly sliced
  • 2 inch ginger thinly sliced
  • 1 head garlic crushed
  • 2 medium onions thinly sliced
  • 2 inch ginger thinly sliced
  • 3 stalks lemongrass tanglad
  • 3 pieces laurel leaves
  • 1/4 cup atsuete seeds
  • 2 tablespoons cooking oil
  • 2 pieces beef bouillon cubes
  • 2 pieces green finger chili siling haba
  • 3 pieces siling labuyo bird’s eye chilies
  • 3 stalks green onions Chopped, for garnish
  • salt to taste
  • ground black pepper to taste


  • Cook ox skin in boiling water after thoroughly cleaning it. Bring oxskin and 8 cups water to a simmer in a large pot. Simmer for 30-45 minutes, or until scum rises to the surface of the water.
  • Remove the water and thoroughly clean the skin again. Bring the remaining 8 cups of water to a boil, then add the cleaned ox skin and the first batch of aromatics (lemongrass or tanglad and laurel leaves). 6 hours on the stove.
  • Make the atsuete oil halfway through the boiling process. Cooking oil and atsuete seeds in a small pan. Remove the atsuete seeds and add the second batch of aromatics when the oil turns orange. Cook until the ingredients are fragrant. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  • Pour the atsuete oil and sautéed aromatics into the pot with the oxskin. Beef cubes, siling haba, and siling labuyo or bird’s eye chilis are optional.
  • Cook until the skin is tender and the broth has thickened. If desired, season with additional salt and pepper. Garnish with green onions if desired.



Calories: 144kcal | Carbohydrates: 19g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 7g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 4g | Trans Fat: 0.03g | Cholesterol: 0.02mg | Sodium: 176mg | Potassium: 329mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 4IU | Vitamin C: 13mg | Calcium: 88mg | Iron: 1mg
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
Follow me