how to make homemade bone broth

Making bone broth is one of the easiest and healthiest things you can do for your body! I remember spending a couple years seeing headlines like “how to make your own bone broth” and “amazing health benefits of homemade bone broth” and ignoring them, thinking it seemed like an unnecessary waste of time and probably pretty time-consuming.

Once my mom started making it, and it didn’t take her long to convince me to start making it too! They always know best don’t they? 🙂 Now let’s see if I can convince you!

how to make bone broth
So what is bone broth?

It’s is a mineral-rich infusion made by boiling bones of healthy animals with a variety of vegetables, herbs and spices. One of most people’s interactions with broth is in the form of soup! I’m sure everyone has had someone tell them to have soup when they were sick. There’s a reason behind that other than just being warm and delicious.

The University of Nebraska Medical Center conducted a study to find out what it was in bone broth that made it so beneficial for colds and flu.  They discovered that the amino acids that were produced when making bone broth reduced inflammation in the respiratory system and cells, and improved digestion. It also works pro-actively by boosting the immune system to prevent the cold or flu in the first place.

What nutritional benefits does bone broth offer? 

LOTS of them!! The reason it’s such a fantastic source of nutrients/minerals (like magnesium, potassium, calcium, phosphorus) is that they enter our bodies in forms that are easily absorbed. It contains amino acids that help reduce inflammation, alleviate aches and pains, aid digestion and nutrient absorption, and even helps prevent bone loss (after puberty we lose about 1% of our bone density every year!).

Bone broth is a rockstar at helping maintain a healthy gut and digestive system and alleviate other digestive problems like gas, bloating, diarrhea, or IBS symptoms. It can even help the body heal leaky gut. 

how to make bone broth

Is the store-bought version just as good?

Nope! Any broth or stock you see on the shelves at the grocery store will not give you the same level and quality of nutrients. Store-bought broth has been cooked quickly at a high temperature, resulting in basically just watered-down meaty tasting liquid.

When it’s not cooked the proper way, all of those beneficial vitamins and nutrients don’t get extracted from the bones. Also, there are many brands that add unnatural flavors and additives (like MSG, oftentimes hidden under the name Yeast Extract). I like to make large batches of broth and freeze any I don’t use right away in smaller containers so I just thaw/use what I need.

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How easy is it?

Very! I’ll give you more guidance below on the types of bones/vegetables/herbs to use and where to find good bones, but now I’ll give you a rundown of the overall easy method. 

Homemade Bone Broth Recipe

Ingredients

  • Bones (I use chicken and beef)
  • Herbs (fresh and/or dried)
  • Filtered water
  • Raw apple cider vinegar
  • Sea salt
  • Optional: Vegetables, chopped (like onion, celery, carrots)

Instructions

    1. 1. ​Add the bones into your slow cooker or Instant Pot (turned off) along with 1-2 tablespoons raw apple cider vinegar.
    2. 2. Add enough filtered water to cover the bones by about 2 inches, and let sit for about 20 minutes before turning your machine on. This pulls out all of the nutrients from the bones. Add salt, seasonings/herbs to the bone and water mixture (I love using fresh garlic cloves, rosemary, sage, thyme, and a bay leaf).
    3. 3. If you're using chopped vegetables, add those now, and if needed add more water until it covers everything by about 2 inches.
    4. 4. SLOW COOKER: Turn on high for the first hour, then low for 12-24 more hours.
      INSTANT POT: Turn on manual or "Soup," low pressure, for 120 minutes.
    5. 5. After that time has passed, using a large strainer in a large bowl, and slowly ladle the newly made broth into the strainer to strain out all of the ingredients.

Notes

If you make extra to freeze, be sure to use freezer safe containers. I love using these: https://amzn.to/2RRMmR2

It’s so simple, and SO worth doing to get all of those awesome health benefits. Some people even drink it every day like their morning coffee!

The first time I made bone broth I used the remains from a whole chicken I had taken the meat off of. At the end of this post, I’ll include a recipe to make a whole chicken in a crock pot that takes less than 5 minutes of prep work…stay tuned. That’s my favorite way to make bone broth because I get to enjoy lots of meat from the chicken, then re-purpose it for broth. Thanksgiving is great for this too 🙂

how to make bone broth
What kind of bones are good to use and where do you get them? 

You can use bones from many different types of animals (from buffalo to duck to even sea bass!). Whichever type you choose, be sure to look for high-quality bones. This means grass-fed cattle or bison, pasture-raised poultry, and wild-caught fish. Since you’re going to be extracting minerals out of them in a concentrated form, then drinking it, you really want to make sure the animal was as healthy as possible to begin with.

Also, get a variety of bones. Marrow bones, oxtail, knuckles, feet (chicken feet have LOTS of wrinkle-fighting collagen), they’re all great for broth. I was intimidated at first buying things like those (“I’d like some chicken feet please” was so weird to say) but it gets easier!

There are many options for where to get these good bones. Locally – you can ask your local butcher or find a farm nearby (ask at a farmer’s market for help finding one). Grocery stores that carry healthier foods like Earth Fare and Whole Foods are great. I’ve bought pre-packaged knuckle bones and marrow bones from their freezer section, or you can ask the guys behind the meat counter. They won’t look at you weird I promise! Online is another really good resource, I’ve bought chicken feet and all kinds of other bones from US Wellness Meats. You’ll want about 2 pounds of bones for every gallon of water in your pot.

What are some good vegetables and herbs to add for flavor?

I’ll list some ideas below, but feel free to mix and match, and invent your own! There’s no right or wrong here (keep in mind, certain veggies like broccoli, Brussels sprouts, collard/mustard greens will make your broth taste bitter):

  • Onions
  • Carrots
  • Celery
  • Leeks
  • Garlic
  • Rosemary
  • Thyme
  • Sage
  • Bay leaf
  • Parsley
  • Whole peppercorns
  • Salt
What’s a good starter recipe using the method above? 

Being newer to making homemade bone broth, it’s a lot more comforting to have an actual recipe to follow. Here is a more basic recipe, made with the leftover carcass/bones from a whole chicken:

Homemade Bone Broth Recipe (Specific)

Ingredients

  • 2, 3-4 pound chicken carcasses & bones
  • 4 large carrots, cut into a couple pieces
  • 3 celery stalks, cut into a couple pieces
  • 1 large onion, cut into a couple pieces
  • 3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • Few sprigs parsley
  • 2 sprigs rosemary
  • few sprigs thyme
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon peppercorns
  • 2 tablespoons raw apple cider vinegar
  • Filtered water to cover bones & veggies + 2"

Instructions

  1. 1. * See the "method" recipe above!
how to make bone broth

Now for that whole chicken in a slow cooker recipe I promised:

Simple Whole Chicken Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 Whole chicken, pasture-raised/organic (3-4 pound bird)
  • Any seasonings you'd like
  • 1 onion, roughly chopped

Instructions

  1. 1. Remove any giblets from the inside of the chicken and clean rinse/pat dry the outside.
  2. 2. Season your chicken with whatever you'd like! I typically just use salt and pepper, with some dried thyme, rosemary, and garlic powder. Just sprinkle it all over the outside of the bird.
  3. 3. Add the chopped onion to the bottom of the crock pot. Then, place the chicken (breast side up) on top.
  4. 4. Cover and cook for approximately 4-5 hours on high or 5-7 hours on low, or until the chicken is falling off the bone.

Notes

(If you have an INSTANT POT, add the trivet to the bottom with 1 cup water, and place the chicken on top. Cook a 4 lb chicken for 24 minutes on high pressure with 15-min natural release (5 lb for 30 minutes)