Despite its sudden resurgence as a hip, paleo-friendly drink, bone broth has been around for a long, long time. Just like other meat stocks, it’s been a powerful base for heartwarming soups or sauces like homemade gravy. Rich, slow-cooked bone broths are practically a pillar of classic French cuisine. And when I was digging through my grandma’s old recipe book, I even found a drink called “Broth on the Rocks”—it’s bone broth with a splash of tomato juice on ice!
Bone broth definitely deserves the comeback, just like these other old-school recipes. But if you’re scratching you head as to why you’d make it from scratch instead of buying it from the store, hear me out.
It’s economical (and eco-friendly)
Bones aren’t as cheap as they used to be before the bone broth craze, but they are a lot cheaper than the commercial broth. For the price of a quart of store-bought broth, you can make 4-6 quarts at home. Use old bits of veggies you’ve tossed in the freezer instead of the garbage for flavoring. That’s a double score for your wallet and the environment.
It’s good for you
I’m not going to dive into the brouhaha about how bone broth is some sort of magical elixir. But it’s still beneficial. Like a bowl of steamy chicken soup, it nourishes the body and spirit, especially on cold and dreary days.
It tastes better
Just like many foods you should be making instead of buying, bone broth simply tastes better when it’s made from scratch. You get a really meaty flavor, and it has more body than store stock. Plus, it’s free of nasty ingredients like added salt and unwanted preservatives.
Ready to get simmering? The recipe for how to make bone broth from scratch has lots of steps, though most of the work is hands-off. So it’s not hard. I teamed up with our Test Kitchen experts to walk you through the steps.
How to Make Bone Broth at Home
Fun fact: It’s technically incorrect to label this recipe a broth. Since it’s made using bones, it should really called a stock. Cooks and chefs often use these words interchangeably, so the distinction has blurred. Try these bony stock recipes, too.
4 pounds meaty beef soup bones (think beef shanks or short ribs)
2 medium onions, quartered, optional
3 chopped medium carrots, optional
1/2 cup warm water (110° to 115°)
3 bay leaves
3 garlic cloves
8 to 10 whole peppercorns
Large stockpot or Dutch oven
A word before you start:
The best bone broth takes time to make. We’re talking 8-24 hours. (Don’t worry, you won’t be standing over the pot the whole time.) We recommend making this a weekend project and letting the broth slowly cook overnight.
Step 1: Boil the bones.
Begin by preheating your oven to 450°. Meanwhile, gather up all those beefy bones and place them in a large stockpot. Add enough water to cover, then crank up the burner to medium-high and bring the contents to a boil. Turn down heat and let the pot simmer, gradually bubbling for 15 minutes.
Test Kitchen tip: Notice an ugly foam collecting on top? Don’t worry, that’s supposed to happen. In fact, this step is done to get rid of some of the gunky stuff inside all bones, so your final broth will be clear with a pure flavor.
Drain the bones from their watery bath and give them a quick rinse.
Step 2: Caramelize the bones.
Spread the boiled bones onto your roasting pan and cook uncovered for about 30 minutes. Add onions and carrots if you’d like.
Test Kitchen tip: Extra veggies aren’t necessary, but they help deliver the final flavor.
Continue to roast for 30-45 additional minutes until the bones are vegetables are a deep, caramelized brown. (They should almost look burnt!) Remove from the oven and carefully drain the fat.
Test Kitchen tip: Don’t skimp on roasting the bones. This is where the final broth gets its rich color and flavor.
Step 3: Return the roasted bones to the pot.
Carefully transfer your bones and veggies into your large stockpot. Don’t rinse that roasting pan just yet. See all those brown bits stuck to the bottom? That’s called the fond, and it’s what will help form the base of the broth. Add warm water to the pan and stir with a wooden spoon to loosen it.
Test Kitchen humor: The French dubbed that extra-flavorful dark matter the “fond” because they’re ever-so fond of it. Just kidding! “Fond” is the French word for base.
Step 4: Let it simmer and walk away.
Transfer the pan juices to the stockpot. Add seasonings and enough cold water to cover.
Test Kitchen tip: We usually love adding lots of herbs and spices, but in this case, keep them to a minimum. The long simmering time will extract a ton of flavor from the herbs, which could overpower the finished broth. You can always add additional herbs and spices when you’ve finished.
Slowly bring the broth to a boil. It’ll take about 30 minutes. Then, reduce the heat and cover with the lid slightly ajar. Let it simmer for as long as possible. Between 8 and 24 hours will do. Don’t feel like you have to stay glued to the pot the entire time. But do return occasionally to skim the foam or, if necessary, add water to keep ingredients covered.
Test Kitchen tip: The longer you simmer the broth, the more collagen is extracted from the bones. This component gives the final broth a silky smooth texture and body.
Step 5: Strain the broth.
The wait is over. You’re getting close. Use tongs to remove the beef bones from the broth, and let the pot cool.
Test Kitchen tip: Don’t fret if the bones have started to fall apart or crumble. This is a sign you’ve extracted pretty much everything you could from them.
Line a colander with cheesecloth and place over a large bowl. Then carefully pour in the broth to strain. Discard any remaining vegetables or seasonings.
Step 6: Enjoy (or save for later).
If using immediately, you’ll want to skim the fat before adding broth to a soup or bowl of rice. It’s easier to remove the fat after the broth is cooled, though. Stick the broth in the fridge to chill overnight. The fat will congeal on the surface, making it easy to scrape it away with a spoon. The broth will keep for about a week, covered in the fridge.
Want to save it even longer? Store it in a freezer-safe container. It’ll last for up to 6 months.
Cheers! You’ve finished your bone broth. Take your pick of what to do next.
- Drink it up: Bone broth is a great to drink by itself, but make sure it’s hot. Add a pinch of salt, black pepper, ground ginger, or even nutmeg to boost the flavor.
- Make it the base of a soup: Take a cue from this recipe for Vegetable Orzo Soup and toss in pasta, protein and plenty of vegetables.
- Intensify other dishes: When it comes to adding flavor, don’t stop at soups. You can cook grains like brown rice in bone broth, too.