Bone Broth 101
Learn How to Make Bone Broth at Home
Homemade bone broth is easier to make than you think. Once you’ve collected your ingredients and ensured that you have the right tools in your kitchen, you can have your bone broth brewing in as little as 15 minutes. While cook time will vary depending on the vessel you use, we will show you how to make bone broth in just a few steps.
Some of the many health benefits of bone broth include strengthening your hair, skin, and nails, reducing joint pain, boosting your immune system, and improving your overall gut health by sealing the gut lining. The key constituents in bone broth that contribute to these outcomes are the collagen and gelatin that are released from the bones during a slow cook time on low heat – or, in the case of using an Instant Pot, an intense heat and pressure with a much shorter cook time (1).
Save Your Scraps
Making bone broth is the perfect way to make use of your veggie scraps, chicken carcasses, beef bones, and even pork bones before eventually composting or trashing them. The final step in bone broth-making is straining out the solids, which means that you can include the parts of vegetables that would otherwise go directly into the compost bin: carrot tops, garlic and onion skins and ends, celery butts, and more.
During your day-to-day cooking, consider saving these scraps in freezer bags, along with the bones left over after you’ve eaten your meals. Once you’ve filled a bag or two, you’re ready to make broth.
Buy High Quality Bones
If you’re making a large quantity of broth (using a two- to three-gallon stock pot or more), you might consider supplementing the bones from your freezer with high-quality bones from your butcher or local farmer. When we say high quality, we mean bones from humanely raised animals: grass-fed or pasture-raised beef, or pastured chicken and pork. But we’re also talking about bones that will yield the most nutrient-dense, healthy broth. Here are some guidelines on what to buy:
- For chicken bone broth: Supplement your frozen chicken bones with chicken feet or wings
- For beef bone broth: Supplement your T-bone with marrow bones or beef knuckle, or use roasted bones for a richer broth
- For pork bone broth: Supplement your rib bones with pork feet or neck bones
We recommend using these bones because they are rich in connective tissue. Connective tissue contains collagen, gelatin, and amino acids, the most valuable nutrients for reducing joint pain and healing the digestive tract. The best bone broth recipes will call for these types of bones for this same reason.
Gather Your Kitchen Tools
Before you get started making your own bone broth, you’ll need to make sure your kitchen is stocked with everything you need to make the process quick and efficient. The three most common ways to make bone broth are:
- On the stovetop in a large stock pot
- In the slow cooker or Crock-Pot
- In the Instant Pot or pressure cooker
Each option has its own limitations and advantages. For example, most in-home pressure cookers have a 6-quart capacity, or 1 1/2 gallons. While that amounts to roughly half the broth you’ll get in a large stock pot on your stovetop, the cooking time is only two hours.
Compared to the six- to 24-hour cooking time on the stovetop, you might find that making less broth more frequently works better for you. The slow cooker and stovetop options both require longer overall cook times, but only the stovetop requires leaving the stove on with an open flame (in the case of gas stoves) for all of that time. Your level of comfort with this requirement might steer you in one direction or the other.
After you’ve chosen which vessel you’ll use, you’ll also want to make sure you have a mesh strainer and some large mason jars. We recommend no larger than 6-cup mason jars, as jars larger than that tend to crack in the freezer. Once your broth has cooled, you’ll want to strain out the spent bones and veggies, pouring the golden elixir into your jars.
A word of caution: For the jars you intend to put in the freezer, make sure you leave at least one inch of clearance between the top of your broth and top of the jar. Liquid expands as it freezes, so if you don’t leave that space, you’ll end up with broken jars in your freezer.
Another creative option for freezing your broth is to use ice cube trays. Freezing small portions of broth this way allows you to use small amounts in cooking, a little bit at a time, without having to thaw an entire mason jar just to use a small quantity. While the mason jar option works great if you’re planning to sip your broth in the morning or make a large batch of soup with it, the ice cube tray method allows you to use your broth more frequently. Drop a cube into your pot of rice or into your stir fry to add a bit of flavor and extra nutrition into your cooking.
Make Your Bone Broth
Now that you’ve collected your kitchen tools, it’s time to get started with your ingredients. Making bone broth is as simple as tossing everything into your pot, but first let’s go over what you need.
Start with your bones. For a 2-gallon pot, we recommend using 3 to 4 pounds of bones. Place bones into your pot and fill it with filtered water, leaving at least 2 inches at the top.
You might consider roasting your beef bones before this step if you’re making beef broth, but it’s not 100% necessary. It just makes for a richer, darker finished product.
A critical, yet often forgotten step is to include an acid of some sort to encourage your bones to release those nutrients we mentioned earlier (collagen and gelatin). Add a few tablespoons of apple cider vinegar or lemon juice. It’s important to let the bones sit in the water with the acid for at least 30 minutes before you turn on the heat to let the acid work its magic.
When you’re ready to start cooking, add your veggie scraps to the water. If you haven’t started saving your scraps yet, include carrots, celery, onion, and garlic in your broth, all roughly chopped, and a couple of bay leaves. Don’t bother peeling your veggies, and be sure to include every part of the vegetable to ensure that you’re maximizing the nutritive value of your broth.
For a more complex flavor profile, you might also consider adding some chopped ginger or jalapeno (or both!) for some kick.
Once you’ve tossed all of your veggies into the pot, turn your stove up to high until you’ve reached a rolling boil. At that point, lower your heat to a gentle simmer and partially cover the pot, leaving an opening for steam to escape.
Set a kitchen timer for between six and 24 hours, depending on how much liquid you’ve started with and how much time you have.
Your broth will reduce for the duration of the cook time, so you don’t want to overdo it and end up with only a tiny amount of broth at the end. For both the stovetop and slow cooker method, you’ll want to check on your broth at the six hour mark to ensure that your broth isn’t reducing too quickly. For the pressure cooker method, you’ll set your cooker to two hours.
In all cases, it’s up to you if you’d like to add sea salt during the cooking process or as needed when you use the broth in cooking.
Strain out the liquid for freezer storage in glass jars or ice cube trays.
Enjoy Your Homemade Broth
Sipping a mug of bone broth adds a delicious, nutritious element to your morning ritual – or any time of day. It only requires a few steps to make and minimal time spent in the kitchen, but the end result is endlessly rewarding.
Bone broth can add depth to your cooking in addition to standing alone as a warm, tasty beverage. It also boasts tremendous health benefits and contributes mightily to a healthy lifestyle. So don’t miss the most critical step of making bone broth: enjoying the fruits of your labor!
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