How to Make Bone Broth
I bet you’ve heard of bone broth BUT do you know how to make bone broth? How about how to make bone broth in the crock pot? It is NOT difficult. Not at all. And if you decide to use your slow cooker, it does most of the work for you.
Using the slow cooker isn’t the only way to make bone broth though. You can make it several ways. So we’ll talk about several different methods. Just so you can decide what works best for you.
But why WOULD you make bone broth? What’s the big deal there? We’ll talk about that part too! That way, you can decide if it’s something you want to try your hand at.
What is Bone Broth?
So, before you can decide if you want to learn how to make bone broth I bet a lot of folks would like to know what it is. AND what’s the difference between broth and stock too! Well, here we go…
Bone broth is a savory (meaning not sweet) liquid that's made by simmering water, bones, meats, fish, vegetables and herbs. And the main difference between stock and broth is the stock cooked a lot longer and all the little bits of meat and vegetables aren't always strained out. That's it in a nut shell. If you want to read a really long definition about it, check out its bio here.
Both broth and stock can be used to make any number of dishes. If seasoned properly it tastes awesome. AND it's very, very good for you.
Why is Bone Broth Good for You?
I sure wondered that when bone broth became a craze of sorts. I thought "Why the heck would I drink that? What makes it any different than the bouillon cubes in water I remember as a kid?".
Don't get me wrong. I use bouillon. Not the cubes so much but the better stuff. Not always. Just sometimes when I'm cooking and forget I'm out of bone broth (or bone stock).
You can check out the list of recipes that SlowCookerKitchen.com uses both broth and stock to make in the listing at the bottom of this article.
But again, why drink it? What makes bone broth better for you than bouillon? It's the "cook down" process. The long, slow simmering. And though you can make your bone broth in all sorts of ways (discussed later, read on) the crockpot is awesome for this! Cause it's made to cook low and slow...perfection!
When those bones simmer for a long period of time lots of nutrients leach out into the water. We're talking vitamins, minerals, and lots of other stuff that's really good for you.
Two of the biggies are glucosamine and collagen. If you want to read up on why both of those are good for you. Here are a couple of really good articles.
Benefits of Bone Broth
So we talked about HOW the process works and what it gives you. But whats all that do? LOTS of stuff! Here are just a few examples.
You Can Absorb More Nutrients
Bone broth has its own nutrients that can provide a lot of different health benefits. But that's not all. It also helps you to absorb more nutrients from other foods you are eating.
There are some great nutrients in bone broth that are bio available. That means it makes it much easier to digest.
So if you're looking for a way to add to your general health and increase how many nutrients you get into your body (without taking supplements) bone broth is a great way to start!
Your Skin Will be Glowing
One thing you might not know about bone broth is that it can do wonders for your skin. The collagen in bone broth makes your skin more elastic, more like a child's.
This is going to help minimize lines and wrinkles. You'll be able to hold onto more of your skin’s youthful appearance.
Some people notice their skin has a natural glow to it, while others notice it has begun smoothing out and looks more youthful. Either way, you really can’t go wrong.
It is Amazing for Your Gut Health
Gut health is not the easiest condition to get help with. But one thing that does help dramatically is bone broth.
It's the gelatin you get in bone broth, that comes from the bones you use when making this broth. That gelatin can help with your gut health.
Not just your standard digestive issues, but gut issues like leaky gut syndrome. This is going to help with problems like holes in your intestine, which can then help rectify diarrhea and constipation issues.
3 Different Ways to Make Bone Broth
The longer you cook bone broth, the better is it. By that I mean, the better it tastes and the better it is for you too.
Really good bone broth needs to cook at least 12 hours. Great bone broth can cook up to 72 hours. Insane right? But alas, true as well.
There are a few different ways you can make bone broth.
- Slow Cooker Method
- Pressure Cooker Method
- Stock Pot Method
- Perpetual Method
The method you use will be your own, personal preference. I will explain how to do each one and why I prefer to use the slow cooker method. And no, it isn't just 'cause this is a crockpot website either.
Optional Prep Work for All Types of Bone Broth
There are a few additional steps you can do when making bone broth. You don't have to. You CAN.
Blanching the Bones: I've read a lot about this. Some swear you should blanch the bones, others never mention it. The true answer is I don't know! I've not done it personally. Here's how in case you decide you want to do it.
Blanching the bones is said, by some, to remove all the impurities from the bones. It won't remove the marrow or the gelatin. You want both those. without losing all the marrow and gelatin that you want to get from them.
You should try to blanch all bones before you roast them. To do this, simply add the bones to a pot, cover with cold water, and boil them for about 20 minutes. You then want to drain the bones and prepare for roasting.
Roasting the Bones: Roasting the bones gives the bone broth more flavor. It's the same idea as searing the meat before you toss it in the crockpot. It also allows you to get more from the bones during the slow cooking process. Turn on your oven to 425-450 degrees Fahrenheit, then roast your bones for about 15 minutes.
Slow Cooker Bone Broth
When it comes to making bone broth, you can definitely use a stock pot on your stove, I'll walk you thru that in a bit. BUT that does tend to take more effort. AND this is a slow cooker site too. So we're gonna talk about making it in the crock pot first 🙂
Using your slow cooker is also easier. You set it and forget it. No worries.
You'll want to use a standard-size slow cooker. Nothing smaller than 4-quarts and not as big as the crockpot roaster. Unless you intend to make a huge batch and freeze it. Then I'd use the biggest crock pot you can find. If you want to start small until you're comfortable with cooking the bone stock, smaller would be better.
Blanch and roast your bones if you're doing this step. Then choose your veggies and seasonings. What seasonings and veggies you use will depend on what you're going to do with the broth. Also, on This will depend on what you want to use the broth for and what type of animal bones you are using. You can make a typical broth with onion, carrots, and celery, or just add some of your favorite seasonings and veggies.
Add your bones with the veggies and seasonings to a slow cooker. Then add your apple cider vinegar. Then cover the bones completely with filtered water.
You might want to cover the vegetables in cheesecloth and tie it up. That way you don't have to strain it later. It really depends on how small you chopped the veggies and if you're going to use them in a soup or something.
Then cover and cook. And cook. And cook some more. At least 24 hours and up to 72 is recommended. SEE why I prefer the slow cooker?
The only babysitting involved here is waiting for the crockpot to begin boiling. Crockpots vary a LOT on heating temps. That's why all the recipes say something like "Cook 5 to 7 hours", 'cause the times vary.
You may have to turn your slow cooker to high for the first 12 hours or so. Boiling helps get the process moving really well.
Stock Pot Bone Broth
Using the stock pot on the stove is the traditional way to make bone broth. You can use as large or small a pot as you like, just so the bones get submerged completely under the water.
Use the same principle here as with the crockpot. Bones, meats, vegetables, and seasonings. A splash of apple cider vinegar and then cover with water. Cover the pot and bring it to a boil.
Reduce the heat to low and let it simmer for 12 to 72 hours. That doesn't mean you need to leave the stove on for 72 hours. You'll just have to be around some. So cooking bone broth is best for a couple of consecutive days around the house...
- Start the broth a morning you know you'll be home all day, let it simmer until bedtime
- Start over the next morning all over again. Bring it back to a boil, turn to simmer, cook it all day.
Simmering and then allowing the broth to sit (x 2) will allow most of the nutrients to have leached from the bones. Again, the longer you boil it, the better it'll be!
Perpetual Bone Broth
The first time I heard of this method I sorta got grossed out. All I could think about what the Mother Goose rhyme about "peas porridge hot, peas porridge cold, peas porridge in the pot 9 days old".
I just thought absolutely nasty and ick. But not really. Not if it's done right.
And this isn't quite a method. It's more a "sub-method". You'll still cook you stock in the slow cooker or in the stock pot. But you really never stop cooking it. At least for about a week.
This method would be really good for someone that's sick or is trying to heal a leaky gut. It would supply them with an ongoing source of deliciousness without all the stop-start work.
If you decide to use this method just replenish the water as it gets a bit low. There isn't an exact science here. Just make sure the bones stay submerged.
I'd personally use this with only the slow cooker method. I don't think I'd want to leave a 6 day something on the stove and not cook it overnight 5 times. I also don't think I'd want to leave my stove on overnight.
But the basic principle is sound. You cook it constantly and replenish the water to keep the bones submerged.
You'll then have a constant supply of bone broth as you need it. Again, perfect for folks that are ill or that need to heal a leaky gut.
How to Store Bone Broth
So, after you learn the basics of why bone broth is awesome, what its good for and how the heck to make it...how do you store it? Do you have to make it every single time you need it? Nope, nope and nope again!
It's important to store your bone broth properly. You're most likely made more than you'll be able to use in a day or so. Because of that, freezing is a great option. Take a look at how you can store your bone broth.
Why the Storing Method is Important
You should first understand why you need to plan ahead for how you will store your bone broth. Bone broth is often made in larger quantities since it is a slow simmering process.
You are simmering your bones for 24 hours or longer, so you are naturally going to make a big batch and have quite a bit leftover. While it is okay to
store some of it in the refrigerator for soup or stew you intend to make within a couple days, the rest might spoil if you not used quickly.
A better option is to store the rest in the freezer until it is ready to be used. However, you can’t just store an entire container, as all of it would have to be defrosted at the same time. Instead, you want to use smaller containers for each portion you want to use at one time.
Options for How to Store Bone Broth
Smaller containers that are freezer-safe, and relatively easy to use. You can store the broth in freezer bags, but since it’s liquid, this might get a little messy when you first pour the liquid inside.
So if you choose to do the freezer bags, you'll need to plan just a little more. But not lots, don't worry. You only need two things, and one we already mentioned.
- Freezer Bags: Really good quality freezer bags. There are some genetic brands that tend to leak. I can't name names here but if you know which ones those are I would NOT use those.
- Baggie Holders: Oh, the baggie holder. These things are a life saver. Both for freezing bone broth and for crockpot freezer cooking. Heck, they are awesome anytime you need an extra hand to hold bags!
Some other options include using muffin tins, either standard or mini muffin tins, ice cube trays, or using small snack-size plastic storage containers. However, one of the most popular methods is to use silicone molds. These are great because even after being in the freezer, the silicone remains flexible.
You can easily bend it to remove small portions of the broth quickly and easily. You just need to wait for your broth to cool, strain it, then add to the silicone molds. Freeze it and
use as much as you want, when you need it.
You can get different types and sizes of molds. This allows for smaller portions when you just want to heat up a cup of broth, or larger portions for cooking soup with. They
give you a lot of options, are easy to use, and will last a long time. Just remember to label your molds when you are storing them so that you know how long you have to use
Don't laugh too hard at the ones I'm showing below. They all work! I already had a bunch like these to make candies for Christmas. So they do double-duty. My broth is in funky shapes 🙂
How to Use Bone Broth
As you probably already know or have learned from reading up above, bone broth has loads of health benefits. It can definitely be warmed up and drank just like a cup of regular broth. However, there are also some other ways to cook with it, using it on more of a regular basis.
Soup with Bone Broth
One of the most common ways to use your bone broth in cooking is by making soup or stew. There are so many different ways to do this. Everything from using lots of superfoods (like turmeric
and nutrient-rich veggies) to making a thicker stew with large chunks of carrots and celery like our Classic Crockpot Beef Stew.
You can use bone broth you made with just one type of bones. Like chicken bones. Then use it to make chicken noodle soup with chunks of chicken and your chicken bone broth.
You can also use a mixed bone broth made from a mix of bones. Like if you added chicken, beef, and duck bones all together in one pot. You can really get creative here when making soup with your bone broth.
Bone broth is actually a great way to cook your veggies and add tons of flavor to them. Many people use regular beef or chicken broth for this, but bone broth has better flavor. It also adds more nutrients, so you really get some amazing vegetable to use as side dishes.
For example, you can use this method for green beans or asparagus by cooking them in a pan with butter and seasonings, then add a cup or so of your bone broth. Then you just let the green beans simmer in the broth. The broth cooks down, leaving behind some of the most flavorful veggies you have ever had. You can check out our Slow Cooker Green Bean recipe here.
Bone Broth Gravy
Another option is a much more simple one. You can use your bone broth as a gravy. This can be gravy you make to put over meat and potatoes, veggies, or just about any side dish when meat gravy is involved.
It's a good start to your gravy, but you can add other ingredients as well, like veggies and seasonings. This will, of course, depend on what you want to use the gravy for and the type of bone broth you are working with.
Also, don’t forget about the simple method of heating up a cup of bone broth and drinking it as-is. It is probably seasoned, so it should taste warm and delicious, heating up
your belly, filling you up between meals, and getting all those extra nutrients from the broth too!
How to Make Bone Broth Printable & Pinnable
How to Make Bone Broth
- 6 to 8 cups of bones cartridge and leftover meats
- 2-4 cups vegetables of your choice optional but tasty
- 1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar per cup of water
- Enough water to cover everything
- Toss the ingredients in the crockpot and cover with water.
- Bring the crockpot to a boil (this might take using the high setting on some crock pots), then turn to low.
- Simmer for 12 to 72 hours. The longer you cook it, the more nutrients and flavor it will have.
- Store in the refrigerator for 2 to 3 days or freeze in small canisters, freezer bags or silicone molds.
Even More Uses for Bone Broth
ANY recipe that calls for bouillon, stock or broth can use bone broth instead. Not only will it add a LOT more flavor, it'll provide a serious amount of health benefits too. Here are just a few:
- Lots of the sausage recipes in this big list roundup call for broth!
- Our Crockpot Chicken Alfredo Tortellini only calls for 5 ingredients. Yep, one of them is broth too.
- Several of these Freezer Meals, call for either beef or chicken broth. There are two. One is for 110 freezer meals & the other is for 122 meals. Both take 3 to 4 hours to complete. That means per person meals. Not 110 actual recipes you can assemble in 3 1/2 hours. Not being a smartie, it's just a clarification.
- And just for yumminess sake, here are a couple soups that ALL work with bone broth:
I hope you enjoyed this article. There was a lot of research that went into it and I honestly hope I got it all right. If you have any questions, concerns or requests, please contact me here.
Judith Jones says
I'm making my first bone broth today & was looking for a crock pot recipe. This article has been very helpful & I'm sure I will learn more as I make it.
Thank you Judith 🙂 I'm glad you found it helpful.