How to Make Bone Broth
Skip the store-bought stuff for homemade. We'll show you how to make bone broth that's full of rich flavor and easier on the wallet.
Bone broth has seen a resurgence as a trendy, paleo-friendly drink in recent years, but it’s been around for a very long time. Just like other meat stocks, it’s 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!
Learning how to make bone broth definitely deserves its comeback, just like these other old-school recipes.
What Is Bone Broth?
Bone broth is a rich liquid made from boiling animal bones in water for many hours. The bones release nutrients as they cook, resulting in a broth that is full of vitamins, minerals, collagen and gelatin. These contribute to the many health benefits of bone broth.
It’s technically incorrect to label this recipe a broth. Since it’s made using bones, it should really be called a stock. But, stock and broth are often used interchangeably, so the distinction has blurred. Here’s more on the difference between stock, broth and bone broth.
Regardless of what it’s called, bone broth is delicious and relatively easy to make homemade. Ready to get simmering?
How to Make Bone Broth at Home
Our bone broth recipe uses hearty beef bones and aromatics like onions, garlic and carrots for a broth that is flavorful and has a great mouthfeel. The best bone broth takes time to make. We’re talking 8 to 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 all day long.
- 4 pounds meaty beef soup bones (like beef shanks or short ribs)
- 2 medium onions, quartered, optional
- 3 chopped medium carrots, optional
- 1/2 cup warm water (110° to 115°F)
- 3 bay leaves
- 3 garlic cloves
- 8 to 10 whole peppercorns
- Cold water
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 the 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. Discard the boiled water.
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. They aren’t strictly necessary, but they help deliver the final flavor.
Continue to roast for 30 to 45 additional minutes until the bones and 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 bones to the pot
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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 will help form the base of the broth. Add warm water to the pan and stir with a wooden spoon to loosen it.
Step 4: Let it simmer
Transfer the pan juices to the stockpot. Add seasonings and enough cold water to cover.
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 the ingredients covered.
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.
Step 5: Strain the broth
The wait is over. Use tongs to remove the beef bones from the broth and let the pot cool.
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: Skim
If using immediately, skim the fat. It’s easier to remove the fat after the broth is cooled, though. To do that, put 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.
Step 7: Enjoy
Cheers! You’ve finished your bone broth.
How to Store Bone Broth
Store any leftover bone broth in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week. If you want to save it for even longer, transfer cooled broth into a freezer-safe container and pop it in the freezer. It’ll last for up to 6 months.
Why You Should Make Bone Broth
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 commercial broth. For the price of a quart of store-bought broth, you can make 4 to 6 quarts at home. Use bits of vegetables 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 added salt and preservatives.
Tips for Making Bone Broth
What are the best types of bones to use in homemade bone broth?
We recommend using meaty bones like beef shanks, short ribs or oxtail. For lots of flavor and a good mouthfeel, create a mix of meaty bones with some neck bones, knuckles or shank.
Do different kinds of bone broth need to be cooked differently?
Nope, you can follow the steps outlined above for beef stock or chicken bone broth.
How can you tell if the bone broth has been simmering long enough?
When it comes to making bone broth, the longer it cooks, the better. Each hour the broth is simmering, more collagen is extracted from the bones. This component gives the final broth a silky smooth texture and body and is one of the main benefits of bone broth.
Since you can’t overcook bone broth, let it simmer for at least 8 hours. Don’t fret if the bones have started to fall apart or crumble. This is a sign you’ve extracted everything you could from them.
How do you use bone broth?
Bone broth is incredibly versatile. Here are just a few ways to use it in the kitchen:
- Drink it: Bone broth is great 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.
When in a pinch, bone broth can be used in pretty much any recipe calling for stock or broth. Just be sure to frequently taste throughout the cooking process and adjust your seasonings as needed.
Now that you’ve mastered homemade bone broth, take a look at how to make chicken broth like a kitchen pro.