How to Make Bone Broth for Soup Using Real Bones
Are you sicking making bland soup? Me too. The secret to a delicious soup is starting with a quality broth.
Learn how to avoid common mistakes and make a gelatinous bone broth for soup with a simple recipe that shows you steps to making it from scratch using real bones.
That being said, you may want to try a real product to save you some time and money. My company makes the best chicken bone broth powder for soup.
It's convenient, easy to use, has 12 g protein per serving and makes a delicious soup base.
What is bone broth?
Bone broth is the liquid that is left over after you simmer meat in water for an extended period of time. It's made by simmering meaty bones, vegetables and water in a pot and usually has herbs and spices to bring out more flavor and add nutrients.
The medicinal properties of bone broth can be credited to the the long, slow simmer and the types of animal proteins used. More on that below.
The most common types are beef bone broth and chicken bone broth. Although, some people make it using everything from fish to pork and lamb. Most people use it for soup.
But you can also use it in any cooked meat dish or drink when you are feeling under the weather.
What's the difference between broth, stock and bone broth?
Broth, stock and bone broth are similar foods made using different ingredients in slightly different ways. Historically, broths were for sipping on their own as a hydrating beverage, while stocks are used to create sauces and soups.
Traditional stock is cooked between 1 hour to all day while broths are cooked for 45 minutes to one hour. Stocks use bones and vegetable scraps while broths primarily use meat.
On the other hand, bone broth is made from a variety of meaty joints and bones, simmered for an extensive period of time. Learn the complete list of differences in this article.
Nowadays, stock and broth that you find in grocery stores are both made using concentrates, natural flavors and yeast extracts. The quality is awful and most of them should be avoided in favor of the real thing.
Can I use bone broth instead of stock?
You can use bone broth instead of stock in any recipe. It will give you a thicker, more flavorful cooking liquid with added nutrition and a deep, richness. You can also use it in place of any broth in a recipe.
For example, a chicken noodle soup can be upgraded by using quality, warm bone broth recipe instead of stock or broth.
The Best Bones For Bone Broth
The best bones for bone broth are beef joints or knuckles and chicken feet or wings. These give you the most milage to make a thick, gelatinous broth because they have the most connective tissue and collagen.
When we are making it, you have to think that we are harvesting collagen from bones and the joints of animals. It follows that we want bones with the most connective tissue.
Bones for Beef Broth
For beef this means you want to use knees, hips, short ribs, neck bones. These are commonly referred as knuckle bones.
They are big, sturdy bones that help move a cow around. They can are commonly cut into 2 inch pieces then sold frozen.
Look for a red tinge when buying your bones as this means it was a healthy animal. Avoid dark colored ones with no red to them if you can.
You can use marrow / thigh bones as well, but they do not work as well. You can opt for a mix of the two.
Best Chicken Soup Bones
The best chicken soup bones are feet as they are a cheap and flavorful option when it comes to gelatin-rich bones. However, now they are hard to find because companies buy them up to make soup.
If you can’t find them then you can just use more chicken neck bones, carcass wings and drumsticks. But you need to use 50% more without them.
Wings and drumsticks give you an amazingly delicious tasting broth. Leftover bones or roast chickens also give you a great benefits. You can use the meat after cooking it too.
Always ask the butcher at your grocery store what types of bones they have. Sometimes they have them in the pack for processing and not on shelves.
Sometimes, if you ask nice they will cut them in half for you if you're unsure of what kind of bones to use.
What are the best ingredients for bone broth?
The best ingredients for bone broth are pasture raised bones that are grass fed and certified organic. You want organic herbs and vegetables if possible and a high quality salt.
Beef bones should be grass fed and grass finished. However, it is difficult to trust sourcing and brands on this. Oftentimes, you have to ask them to confirm where they are getting their bones from.
Chicken should be organic and pasture raised with some sort of animal source welfare certificate or audit.
Tips for How to Make Bone Broth For Collagen
Collagen rich bone broth is simple to make but requires some practice and patience. First time makers are often frustrated with the results. Here are some tips to follow to ensure you get it right the first time.
1. Cooking Bone Broth Hotter Then You Think
Lower the temperature to a low simmer if you want to wait days for it to be done. If you want it quicker and better than crank the heat up.
I recommend cooking your bone broth as hot as you can without the broth spilling over your pot. If you have a thermometer, I’d recommend 98 degrees celsius.
This is a hard rolling simmer, not a boil. That being said, it is ok if it boils from time to time during the day while you are around and watching it.
When you go to sleep or out, then you are fine to turn it down to a simmer at 95 or 96 C.
With this temperature, you can make a collagen rich chicken bone broth in 10-12 hours and a beef bone broth recipe in 16-18 hours.
2. How Many Bones to Make Bone Broth?
You need more bones. They're pricey, but if you want a quality beverage, invest in lots of bones.
This is why you see the cost of some store bought bone broths and scoff. Bones are incredibly expensive and you need a lot of them. Other cheaper brands cut corners.
Think of your stockpot filled with bones as a cup full of ice cubes. You add water to the ice which fills in the nooks and crannies.
In our case, the pots of bones are ice cubes. For chicken, I recommend 1.3:2 ratio of bones to water.
With chicken feet you can get the ratio close to 1:2. Meaning that you want 1 pound of bones per 2 pounds water. For beef (or other ruminants) the ratio is closer to 1:2 bones to water, but this depends on the specific cuts of bones used.
3. Skim it Properly
Make sure you are diligent with your skimming or else you'll risk a cloudy broth. Embarrassing I know, but it happens to all of us from time to time. You know it when you see it. Trust me.
Cloudy broth is the result of poor skimming and stirring it. Never do this. And be sure to skim every 20 minutes during the first 1-2 hours. You'll end up with loads of foamy stuff.
What are we skimming? Fat, foam and impurities. These gunky bits boil up as your water gets to a boil.
4. How to Prevent Nutrient Loss
You can add herbs and spices for extra nutrition and a delicious soup base. It is important to only add your vegetables and herbs for the last 2-3 hours of your total cook time.
If you have them in longer, they cook into mush and give you a starchy taste. This maximizes the nutrition and prevents nutrient loss.
Turmeric adds color and anti-inflammatory properties to the soup. Making bone broth can be time consuming, but using a pressure cooker can shorten the cooking time.
Also, if you have time to roast your bones before you start your simmer, you'll get great results. Roasting bones before making bone broth gives a richer, more robust taste.
How to Use Homemade Bone Broth
Bone broth is traditionally served as a restorative beverage with many health benefits.
It can be used to make soups, sauces and grain dishes. Simply replace water for it in any rice dish you make. Stir fry vegetables using it or use it to deglaze your pan.
Try our delicious chicken soup recipe.
A great tip is to pour it into ice cube trays and freeze it into cubes for later use. The homemade cube can be used in dishes that need added liquid and nutrients, such as cauliflower rice, pasta, vegetables and soup.
You can even toss a cube into your morning smoothie for extra protein.
Do you dilute bone broth for soup?
You do not need to dilute bone broth for making soup. It will give you a deliciously rich soup on it's own. However, if you find it too strong than you can dilute it. Always taste it first to see if it needs salt or more water. Sometimes, it takes 5-10 minutes for the true flavor to develop.
Basic Bone Broth Recipe
The building blocks for making an easy chicken soup are bone broth. This basic recipe can be made in the slow cooker or on the stove top, and it only takes 15 minutes to prepare.
The bones are the most important part. These take some planning to track them down, but once you have them, it's easy to find the rest. IF you find a good source, buy loads of them to save time and money.
This recipe is made with chicken bones and vegetables, but you can use whatever type of bones you have on hand. You will also need roughly chopped vegetables (carrots, celery and onions).
- 3 lbs bones or more
- 12 cups water
- 1 onion, quartered with skins on
- 2 large carrots, cut in thirds
- 2 celery sticks, cut in thirds
- Italian flat leaf parsley
- Bay leaves (2)
- Rosemary or thyme springs
- 1 lemon, quartered
You need a the following equipment to make it: stockpot, instant pot or 6 quart slow cooker, roasting pans, wire mesh or fine metal strainer and a spider strainer.
- Preheat oven to 450 F.
- Layout bones on large baking sheet.
- Roast for 40 minutes, tossing half way through and / or until golden brown.
- Add bones and scrape brown bits from the roasting pan into stockpot or slow cooker
- Add water until bones are covered (try 12 cups).
- Bring to a boil, then reduce to a rolling simmer.
- Skim foamy bits 2-3 times over hour 1. Don't avoid this step.
- Cook on a rolling simmer for 12-16 hours (high setting for crockpots)
- Place lid on top to prevent reduction.
- Add vegetables and herbs for the last 2-3 hours of total cook time.
- Remove bones and vegetables using spider strainer.
- Strain using mesh strainer / sieve.
- Transfer jars / containers to the refrigerator to cool.
- Some people remove the fat and some keep it (if works great for cooking). You don't need to do this step.
Store it in the refrigerator / fridge for 7 days or 6 months in the freezer.
Meat Broth Variations
Bone broth can be made using different methods, including a stove top pot in a crock pot / slow cooker or Instant Pot.
You might need to adjust your recipe if you are following a specific diet (GAPS, AIP), but this recipe is paleo, keto and whole 30 compliant.
Ginger is a great addition for gut health, just be careful of the amount as it can make it quite strong.
How long to cook, simmer or boil bone broth?
For beef, you will want to cook your bone broth for 20-24 hours. For chicken, you can get away with 12-16 hours. But if you use the tips and specific ratios and techniques in this article, you can get your boil times down to 16 for beef and 8 for chicken.
What are some healthy soup recipes that use bone broth?
Troubleshooting Your Broth
Common questions or things that come up to troubleshoot your broth include: adding apple cider vinegar, getting cloudy broth and having a liquid that doesn't gel or taste strong. We'll address each below.
Apple Cider Vinegar is not Necessary
Every blog you read tells your that you must use apple cider vinegar because it helps extract nutrients and minerals from the bones while you cook it. While this sounds good on paper, it does not hold up in practise.
How do I know? I've made over 300,000 L of bone broth in my career. We've directly tested batches made with ACV to identical ones without ACV.
The results had zero difference in key nutrient levels like calcium, magnesium, vitamin C, iron, vitamin A and B vitamins.
Apple cider vinegar is not needed in any bone broth recipe. Save your money.
Fixing Cloudy Bone Broth
A nightmare for stock and soup makers is a gross, cloudy looking liquid. You can avoid this by following these two steps.
- Make sure you are skimming it properly over the first 1-2 hours
- Never stir or touch your bone broth while it simmers. Simply leave it be and do not disrupt the raft.
The difference between a cloudy batch is that fats from bones or connective tissue will dissolve into the liquid during the simmer, which may result in cloudiness.
This is preferred in Japan and other parts of Asia, but in North America, we tend to prefer non cloudy versions.
Why is my bone broth bland?
Your bone broth is bland because you did not use enough bones, did not cook it hot enough or for long enough.
A correct bones to water ratio is 1.3:2. Meaning you need 1.3 lbs of bones to 2 pounds of water in your recipe. If you are using chicken feet, then you can get away with 1:2. Otherwise, it will surely be bland and tasteless.
The other common reason is that you were scared to cook it at a rolling simmer. You want it just below a boil in order to maximize the gelatin and collagen content. This way you can cook it for shorter as well. If you are using a slow cooker or cock pot then use the high setting.
Sometimes you can get away with 8 hours if you cook it close to a boil at 96-99 degrees celsius.
When you see a grey or white colored foam floating on the surface of your broth, scoop it off with a skimmer.
You can easily make it for soup in your home, but sometimes, it is difficult to get the right bones and ingredients. Also, even if you have the right ingredients, it takes time and practise to get the recipe right.
For this reason, you might be better off buying a pre-made bone broth. Bluebird Provisions makes the best powder version on the market with 12 g protein.
It is perfect for any soup recipe because you can control how strong it is. Simply add 2 tbsp dried powder per cup of water.
Below are some frequently asked questions about making it from our website.
Does bone broth taste different than regular broth?
Bone broth is rich and satiating and often tastes like chicken soup broth, but with a better taste. Compared to a regular broth which is often salty because of the added sodium and artificial additives.
This is because of the long simmer time used to make it. This simmer is needed for these flavors to develop. Also, some products roast their bones before simmering, which adds body as well.
Does chicken stock or bone broth have more flavor?
Bone broth has a much richer flavor compared to chicken stock. You want to use it if you can for any soup or recipe. Chicken stock and broth are typically made from concentrates and contain added salt, preservatives, yeast extracts and meat taste mimicking agents.
Are chicken stock and bone broth interchangeable?
You should not use chicken stock and bone broth interchangeably because they are have different nutrition, uses and quality. Bone broth is a tastier and nutritionally superior product.
So you can swap it for stock in any soup recipe but you cannot do it the other way around. On the other hand, stocks are full of preservatives and sodium, so they are not great for your health.
Is regular broth the same as bone broth?
Bone broth is a traditional soup made using bones and other animal parts while regular broth is simply made using meat and water. You will not get the same nutrition from regular broth and they are often full of salt and made from yeast extracts instead of real meat.