This classic and savory slow cooker bone broth recipe is a flavor-packed drink that will nourish and warm you up during cold winter days.
And this recipe is cooked with raw vegetables and enough meat on bones to produce hearty flavors!
Enjoy for breakfast or as a quick pick-me-up afternoon sip, or use this bone broth as a versatile stock to add richness to soups, stews, sauces, and other quick weeknight meals.
It's healthy, delicious, easy to make, and great for a low-carb or Paleo lifestyle. Plus, I share with you some of my favorite ways how to make and enjoy it.
- Nothing beats the homemade stuff
- Broth vs. Stock vs. Bone broth
- Equipment you'll need
- Best bones for bone broth
- Other Ingredients
- Additional things you can add to increase the flavor?
- Should I roast my bones first?
- How long to cook bone broth
- Drinking bone broth
- Bone broth for dogs
- How long will bone broth keep in the refrigerator?
- How to freeze bone broth?
- A note on store-bought bone broth
Nothing beats the homemade stuff
Okay, I know there is nothing new about making bone broth. Homemade long-simmered (bone) broths or stocks have been around for a long time.
I've even have some memories that I associate with these comforting cooking liquids, I'm sure some of you have them too, like their incredible savory aromas that used to linger in the kitchen on cold days.
And sipping broth or having a cup of a good old chicken soup was also—still is to me—that old fashioned remedy for preventing a nasty cold, restore strength after you got that ugly flu, or take in extra minerals and nutrient with freezing temperatures outside.
It's also the kind of thing that is perfect for using up any vegetable scraps or dressing up other meals. There are so many different ways to use a homemade broth.
These days, it's so easy to grab good-quality bone broth or stock from the grocery store shelf or get them online.
So if you don't want to make your own, or you want to have some in your pantry for those times you need a quick-fix then I have some suggestions for you down below.
Let's do it!
Broth vs. Stock vs. Bone broth
Believe me; I use these words interchangeably here at home: bone broth, stock, broth.
The difference between a broth and stock is pretty easy, but we somehow added the term bone broth to the mix over the years.
And the debates in the online culinary world were on fire, at least for a while. So what's the difference?
Note that I am referencing here my own biased information on what was taught to me in the family kitchen.
What is stock?
A good stock usually refers to an ingredient that is made with primarily (roasted) animal bones plus associated connective tissue and some vegetables, often onions, carrots, and celery.
It is then simmered long enough on the stove to extract all their rich collagen, minerals, and flavors.
Usually, I don't use a cooked stock immediately. More often I let it cool completely and then refrigerate it overnight.
Then I skim off a thick layer of fat that has congealed at the top and thus creating a lighter version of the stock—it's just the way we did it at home.
Once cooled in the refrigerator, good stock gels, and depending on the bones and the length of simmer time, it can range from a little to very gelatinous after cooking the liquid.
But that gelatin melts again once reheated.
What is broth?
A broth is an already deliciously flavored liquid by simmering meat with or without its bones, aromatic vegetables, and herbs in water over the stove until the meat is soft.
Like my fall-of-the-bone poached whole chicken recipe. I simmer a whole chicken with vegetables and herbs to cook the chicken.
Some of its meat I keep in the broth for soups, and some you can use for pasta dishes or make a chicken salad.
Usually, the broth turns into a hearty (chicken) soup—like my Stracciatella soup.
Sometimes, fish or vegetables and herbs become a good broth base to extract their flavor.
So what is bone broth?
For some, bone broth is simply a long-simmered stock. But for me, it's a bit of a mix between a stock and a broth.
- Like a good stock, I simmer animal bones for several hours in water.
- But I use raw meaty bones (or bones with some meat on them) and season it more heavenly with aromatic veggies and herbs, so it becomes off the bet a delicious drink to consume on its own—like a good broth.
- Stock on the other hand is a bit less concentrated and more used as an ingredient to flavor other meals, while a good bone broth is richer in flavor, heavier and can be enjoyed as a meal in itself.
- Plus, the meaty bones are a delicious nibble in itself.
- I also usually simmer a bone broth much longer (at least 8 to 24 hours) or to the point where the bones themselves almost fall apart.
- Whatever you prefer to call it, there are so many ways to make a deeper, collagen-rich stock that is nutritious and savory enough to enjoy as a drink.
Let's tackle this great bone broth recipe together.
Equipment you'll need
While it is totally possible to use a pressure cooker or instant pot to make this bone broth recipe, I noticed that the broth did not have the same richness and deep flavor like when you use a slow cooker or crock pot. But that's just me.
If you must use a pressure cooker, then your best time is 2 hours on a high-pressure setting.
If you are planning to be at home the whole day or have a lazy Sunday, you can make this recipe on the stovetop and in a large enough pot ( 8 QT ). Count for 8 hours of cooking time.
I am not keen on leaving the stove on overnight. So, if I use the stovetop method, I prepare everything in the morning and keep an eye on it while doing other things at home.
My preferred method is using a slow cooker or crockpot. It's also ideal if you're going for a thicker stock with 24 hours of slow simmer time.
It's convenient, requires less attention than a Dutch oven or a stove pot, and slowly builds up all the stock's flavors.
Best bones for bone broth
You want this bone broth recipe to be so tasty that you can sip on it for breakfast (and you want to because it's savory, hearty, and satisfying).
But you won't get those rich flavors with bare bones alone (without any meat).
So go for bones that still have small amount of meats clinging to it. And I personally love to throw in some marrow bones as well.
My favorites are:
- Soup bones that still have a bit of meat on them. Usually, I go for beef, pork bones, or oxtail.
- You can also go for marrow and knucklebones. I prefer to mix them together with other meatier bones to give the broth lots of collagen but also a richer body.
- Meaty short ribs or neck bones (chicken neck bones here are my favorite)
- You could certainly use also big beef bones from a roast you made (leftovers).
- If you're using bones that don't have any meat, I would throw in some small meaty cuts to give your broth that hearty slurping flavor.
So buy bones with some or still enough meat on them. It really is key to a great bone broth that's deliciously nutritious and tasty.
Where to buy quality bones? I normally get mine at my local farmer's market—often, I can order them in advance online. But if you ask for soup bones at the butcher stand in your local grocery store, they'll most likely have them in the back and will gladly sell them to you.
I encourage you to get either organic bones, 100% grass-fed beef bones, or bones from a pastured chicken.
Often local sources (anything less than 48 hrs away) offer far better prices than grocery stores.
You might have to do some research to see what's offered in your area. If that's not available to you, see where you can find the healthiest and reasonably priced sustainable food online.
The slight extra cost is so worth it for your health and difference in taste.
There are so many ways to make and enjoy a long-simmered bone broth.
I am sharing a classic recipe I like to make during winter.
So, look at some of the other ingredients you'll need to flavor this broth.
Vegetables or vegetable scraps
I often make my bone broth with vegetable scraps from leftovers in the fridge. Ultimately, you will strain the stock and discard the vegetable solids anyway.
You can use the ends, peels, roots, stalks, and leaves from vegetables such as carrots, shallots, onions. Other great options to add flavor are celery and leeks.
Yellow onions, scallions, and celery are my favorites to add to a broth, so sometimes I throw in the whole vegetable.
The sweetness of a yellow onion and the buttery heartiness of celery add a beautiful richness and extra flavor!
Feel free to discover which herbs you like best. You can't go wrong with adding dried or fresh herbs like Thyme and Rosemary sprigs.
But I highly recommend garlic. And although botanically a vegetable, I use it as a herb here.
Garlic softens during the long simmer time, and its intense flavors become sweeter and more mellow. Its distinct taste perfectly balances out all the other characteristics of this broth.
Vegetable Broth Seasoning or Vegetable and gluten-free Bouillon Cubes: This type of seasoning is optional, but I love adding a healthy seasoning mix that instantly adds a deep flavor and makes the bone broth a worthy drink.
Apple cider vinegar or tomato paste (optional)
Mild-flavored apple cider vinegar is said to extract minerals from the bones due to its acidity.
I just like it because a touch of this fermented liquid helps balance out the overall flavors and fattiness of the broth.
You could also use instead of apple cider vinegar some tomato paste to add a different but nice balanced and sweet taste.
Sea salt or Himalayan salt
I don’t put a lot of salt in my broth, just enough to give it some taste and as an extra nutrient.
You can opt to add some salt later based on preference when serving the broth individually as a drink or when using it as a base for other dishes.
Additional things you can add to increase the flavor?
- Green onions
- Whole peppercorns
- Red pepper flakes
- Bay leaves
- Onion powder
Often, when drinking bone broth I tend to sprinkle on top some fresh chopped parsley, cilantro or season it a bit more with black pepper or even a touch of grated Parmesan cheese.
Find what you like best.
Should I roast my bones first?
I don't roast my bones first, but there is no right or wrong here.
It heavenly depends on what type of bones you will use to make your bone broth. Let's have a look.
Plan to use bare bones only?
If you plan to use a lot of bare bones without much meat, I can see why you would want to roast the bones first.
You are not going to extract a lot of flavor from slow-cooking bones alone, and roasting them will deepen the stock's aroma and color.
If you prefer to roast them first, simply rinse your bones, place them on a rimmed baking sheet, season with some salt and olive oil, and then roast in a preheated oven of 400°F until golden brown (about 25 to 30 minutes).
Note that roasting your bones will result in a different flavor.
Plan to use meatier bones?
Since I prefer to use bones with bits of meat still on them—and I highly recommend you do—I prefer to make bone broth without roasting the bones first because the final result is a slightly lighter flavored broth and nicer for sipping.
Also, I love how the meatier parts of the bones become deliciously tender after a long simmer.
Usually, I take those meatier pieces out with a slotted spoon when sufficiently cooked and serve them as a snack to nibble on and enjoy the bone marrow as well.
Those meatier parts offers a deeper flavor to the broth, but also becomes a succulent bite when taken out earlier.
You can also shred the meat, season with some salt, oregano, and olive oil, then enjoy it as-is or with some Italian bread.
How long to cook bone broth
Usually I let the broth simmer in the slow cooker anywhere from 6 to 12 hours. Most of the time, I am pretty satisfied with how the broth turns out at around the 8-hour mark.
I would not go longer than 24 hours. You won't get any more benefits flavor-wise, and you'll start to lose a lot more liquid after that.
But my motto is to check the broth and trust your senses.
A meaty and soupy smell, a beautiful deep brownish color, fall-off-the-bone meat with softer bones, and a delicious taste test will let you know whether your bone broth is good enough for you.
Drinking bone broth
But here are a few of my favorite ways to enjoy it.
Sipping broth in a mug for breakfast
Reheat a cup of bone broth, pour it into a mug, and enjoy it like your cup of coffee—add additional seasoning to taste, if preferred. It is incredibly satisfying.
My husband, who loves his cup of Joe in the morning, doesn't mind replacing it now and then with this hearty broth.
Use it to flavor this creamy breakfast recipe (bonus recipe)
Sometimes I love making a quick breakfast bowl with wheat and gluten-free cream of Buckwheat (Try Cream of Buckwheat from Pocono).
This organic cereal is ready in no time and soaks up the incredible hearty flavors of bone broth.
- Cook your cream of buckwheat in water over the stove according to package directions.
- When soft, pour a cup or two of bone broth over the cooked cream of buckwheat and top it off with some cheese (optional).
- Let it softly simmer until the cheese is melted and the liquid is hot—it will cook away a little but leaves a wholesome flavor to the dish.
- You can even stir in an egg until fluffy but still moist. This cheesy and protein-rich breakfast is hearty and incredibly filling.
Pour a cup of broth as an afternoon-pick-me-up drink
Drink it like a cup of hot tea in the afternoon or before your evening meal.
Add a little extra Vegetable and Broth Seasoning while reheating it over the stove and some fresh chopped Parsley leaves to stimulate the appetite and improve digestion.
Use bone broth as a base for lunch, brunch, or quick dinner
Here are a few dishes that turn into a delicious meal with (leftover) bone broth.
- Make my savory Asian-inspired Noodle dish with leftover bone broth (gluten-free). It is straightforward to make, yet this dish is filling, comforting, and so tasty.
- Use it to add flavor to this healthy mashed cauliflower.
- Better yet, pair a mug with my Parsley and Anchovy Mini Frittatas for a healthy Sunday brunch!
Bone broth for dogs
If you have a canine friend at home then the incredible aromas of the broth is going to make your dog want to join in on all that goodness.
I know that our dog, Porthos, certainly goes crazy for homemade bone broth. I usually use a couple of tablespoons to flavor his lunch or dinner.
If you plan to make this bone broth recipe with your dog friend in mind, then you have to leave out the onions and any vegetables related to onions like leeks and scallions.
I would go with chicken neck or beef bones, and keep it simple with your choice of vegetables and choose carrots or celery.
I always use a bit of garlic. It is NOT bad for dogs in very small amounts. But when in doubt, leave it out.
How long will bone broth keep in the refrigerator?
About 3 to 4 days. After removing the meaty bones, I let the slow cooker bone broth completely cool at room temperature and then strain the liquid before I store it in the fridge.
I always skim off any fat that has hardened at the top before reheating the broth or using it in other dishes.
If you know that you will not consume it in the next few days after making the bone broth, store it in the freezer.
How to freeze bone broth?
Once cooled, I strain the liquid and store it in glass mason jars or glass food storage containers. Make sure to leave enough room at the top for the broth to expand.
The broth keeps well in the freezer for about 6 months. Defrost by placing it in the fridge the night before.
A note on store-bought bone broth
Sometimes you just don't have the time to make your own delicious bone broth or want something quick at the ready for those exceptional hectic days.
I have those days as well, and then I rely on certain stocked products in my pantry or fridge that will allow me to still make something healthy.
You can get healthy, delicious, and well-made bone broth that either lasts for a week in the fridge or one year in the freezer.
Personally, I love Brodo. They use bones from cooperatives and family farms from 100% grass-fed animals, in open pastures, and are free of antibiotics and hormones.
Their poultry (chicken and turkey) are certified organic, raised on pasture, and fed a vegetarian diet free of GMOs, antibiotics, chemical fertilizers, and pesticides.
They have a wide variety of choices and flavors to choose from, but it all comes down to their delicious flavors.
- 3 cups vegetable ends from carrots, shallots, green onions, or dark green ends of leeks
- 1 large yellow onion, peeled and coarsely chopped (you can also use celery instead)
- 3 cloves garlic, crushed
- 3 to 5 pounds beef bones or beef marrow bones (if preferred, you can also use pork neck bones or chicken necks)
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 2 vegetable bouillons (optional)
- Black pepper ( 10 turns with the pepper mill)
- 2 or 3 fresh Thyme or Rosemary sprig
- 2 tablespoons of sea salt
- In an 8 QT slow cooker, cover the bottom with all the vegetable ends, the onion, and the garlic.
- Add the meat bones and pour the vinegar over the bones—season with salt or vegetable broth seasoning and pepper. Then throw in the fresh sprigs.
- Cover everything with water but leave about 1-inch space between any liquid and the pot's rim or fill the pot to its maximum capacity.
- Throw in the vegetable bouillons (optional)
- Cook on low for 8 to a maximum of 24 hours.
- When ready, allow the broth to cool. Remove the big pieces of meat with a large slotted spoon, then strain the stock into a large bowl. Transfer the liquid to airtight containers and refrigerate up to 4 days or freeze up to 6 months.
- Immediately enjoy the meat bones or peel off the soft meat and enjoy in casseroles, omelets, etc.
After refrigeration, always skim off the fat congealed on top before reheating or using it as a soup or stew base.
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(Note: this post was initially published in December 2018. This post has been updated to include new info and photos)