How to Make Bone Broth in a Slow Cooker The Right Way

Bone Broth in a Slow Cooker Recipe Using Real Bones

There are tricks to making bone broth in a slow cooker. Spend 5 minutes reading this article and you'll make gelatinous broth that is full of protein and absolutely delicious.

You'll learn exactly which bones to use, how long to cook it for and which settings to use. Plus, I'll dispel a few common myths about making bone broth.

Before we get started I want to mention that my company makes and sells the only chicken bone broth powder you'll ever need.

Seriously, it is delicious and has 12 g protein per serving. The powder is convenient for travel or bringing to work.

With that out of the way let's get onto the recipe!

What is bone broth?

Bone broth is made by simmering bones in water for a long time, creating a gelatinous soup with lots of nutrients.

Many people drink bone broth on its own in place of coffee or tea because of the nutrition and natural energy it gives you. You can make bone broth with any animal bones and connective tissues.

paleo chicken bone broth in a jar

It requires very little time and effort to make, which is perfect for busy people because you can throw everything into your crockpot and let it simmer away while you're at work or sleeping.

Bone Broth Benefits

Bone broth benefits include a healthier gut, fuller skin and hair, blood sugar control, brain development, sleep benefits, joint pain, lower inflammation levels and more.

Many of these positives are because of the unique protein found in it. It is loaded with collagen which has been linked to healthy skin, lips, teeth, nails and hair.

But it also has glycine, proline, glutamine, glucosamine and chondroitin which are responsible for the gut healing, food sensitivities, mineral absorption and osteoarthritis healing capabilities.

Moreover, the unique amino acids are needed to balance out your body's regular protein intake of muscle meat like steak and chicken breast.

Learn more about the shocking health benefits of bone broth.

take the bone broth quiz to find out which is perfect for you

Ingredients for bone broth

To make bone broth, you only need bones and water. From here you can add in herbs, vegetables and spices.

Common aromatics / veggies are carrots, onions and celery. I would say you can omit celery if you want because the onions and carrots give you more taste per pound of weight.

Common herbs to include are flat leaf parsley, bay leaf, thyme and rosemary. You can add salt and pepper, but only do so in the end after you've strained it all. This ensures you can control the sodium level.

beef bones on a plate with garlic and parsley

Other helpful tools are a crockpot or slow cooker, a spider strainer, compost bin, glass jars and cheesecloth.

How to Make Delicious Bone Broth in a Slow Cooker

You can make bone broth in the slower cooker by combining your bones and water in the cooker over high heat. As it boils you must skim it or risk a cloudy broth. From here you can slightly reduce heat and let it simmer away for 12-24 hours. Get the full recipe and steps below.

The beauty of a slow cooker recipe is that it requires minimal ingredients and steps, but a lot of patience to make it all come together.

And while the trend of bone broth has been around for hundreds of years, but it's just becoming popular now.

How long do I cook bone broth in a slow cooker?

Most people cook bone broth for 12 hours in a slow cooker. The longer cook time of 12+ hours makes the flavor more intense than cooking for 6-12 hours.

Don't be afraid to leave it on overnight. Simply turn the heat to low and top up the water before you go to bed.

The extra long cook time helps more collagen and nutrients dissolve from the connective tissue of the bones into the broth.

crockpot filled and sealed

What kind of bones should you use for bone broth?

The best kind of bones to use for bone broth are chicken feet and beef knuckle bones. Knuckle bones are the joints of cows: like hips, knees, feet and necks, they have the most cartilage and ligaments.

These have the most connective tissue, collagen and amino acids which are needed to make a thick, concentrated and high protein beverage. If you don't find the right bones then you risk making a bland liquid that isn't good for cooking or sipping.

Learn more about the best bones for broth.

Can you cook bone broth for too long?

From a practical standpoint, you cannot cook your bone broth for too long. However, you can cook the vegetables in broth for too long.

For this reason I always recommend that you only add your vegetables and herbs for the last 3 hours of your total cook time.

So you are free to cook the bones as long as you want, but make sure you do not cook the vegetables this long or they will give it a starchy flavor. The long cook time results in more nutrients being dissolved into the broth.

Do you need to roast the bones for bone broth?

Roasting the bones increases the flavor of bone broth, but you do not need to do it from a nutritional perspective. The nutrient content will be the same if you roast of don't.

But the taste and flavor will be richer and have more depth if you roast them first. It comes down to personal preference, time and resources and the choice is up to you.

If you do choose to roast, simply place them on a baking sheet pan and roast for 30 minutes at 400 F. You should know that roasting does not blanch them or get rid of funky bacteria like some people claim.

Slow Cooker Chicken Bone Broth Recipe

It's dead easy to make chicken bone broth in a slow cooker. The recipe for the calls for bones, celery, carrots, onion, parsley, ginger, garlic, thyme and bay leaves.

You can adjust the ingredients as you need to your preference. And for a beef recipe, simply use beef bones instead.

pot of cooked bones on a table

Equipment Needed: Crockpot

The Slow Cooker or crockpot is the only recommended kitchen tool for this recipe. You can adjust the recipe if you have a regular stockpot and stove or an Instant Pot.

A spider strainer is a helpful tool to scoop out the solids after your simmer is complete. This is easier than trying to pour the whole thing over a strainer, which often spills hot broth and leaves a mess.

Cheesecloth is used by some people to make cleanup easier. You can wrap all of your bones in it before placing them into the cooker. It acts as its own strainer when you are done. You can do the same for your vegetables when you add them in.

Mesh sieve or strainer

Oven if desired

Baking sheet pan

Containers for storage

Ingredients

  • 3 lb chicken bones split between feet, drumsticks, wings and leftover rotisserie chicken carcasses
  • 12 cups water
  • 1 onion with skins on, quartered
  • 2 carrots, cut in big chunks
  • 2 celery sticks, cut in big chunks
  • 10 sprigs Italian flat leaf Parsley
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 10 sprigs rosemary (or 1 tsp dried)
  • 2-3 garlic cloves (optional)
  • Thumb sized piece of ginger, roughly chopped (optional)
  • Lemon halved
  • Sea salt and peppercorns to taste (optional)
  • Olive oil (for roasting)

Instructions

  1. Drizzle oil or coat your bones with 1 tbsp olive oil.
  2. Preheat your oven and roast the bones at 400°F for 30 minutes.
  3. Scrape bones and crispy bits from pan into your slow cooker.
  4. Add 12 cups of water.
  5. Cook on high setting for 12-16 hours.
  6. As it begins to boil, skim the foamy bits that rise. Do this 2-3 times over the first hour. It should be visibly bubbling/simmering the whole time but not quite boiling. You can leave lid on or slightly ajar.
  7. Add water to your cooking liquid if it looks like it's reducing more than 1/3rd.
  8. When there is 3 hours left of your total cook time, add in your vegetables and herbs. The garlic, ginger and lemon are added to taste. I like mine stronger, so I add more garlic.
  9. Once you are finished cooking, remove solids using a spider strainer or tongs.
  10. Pour hot broth through a fine mesh sieve into another pot or large containers.
  11. Season the entire batch to taste

This recipe can be served immediately or refrigerate or freeze for later use You can cook longer if you like. Always strain it though.

try the best bone broth powder made by bluebird provisions

Recipe Review Notes

  • Never stir your bone broth or you risk it becoming cloudy. Just leave the raft as is.
  • It is recommended that you freeze this broth in a container with an inch of space at the top to allow for expansion. Avoid reheating in plastic at all costs.
  • Freezing bone broth in ice cube trays creates a handy store-bought bouillon whenever you need one.
  • Your bone broth is good for 7 days in the fridge or 12 months in the freezer.
  • Chicken fat is amazing to cook with. Scoop it off the top of your liquid and save it in the fridge for cooking.

Slow Cooker Beef Bone Broth

For any easy slow cooker beef bone broth recipe, simply substitute beef bones for chicken. I recommend using beef knuckle bones as they are better for soup / stews than marrow bones. You can also use thyme instead of rosemary to bring out the flavor.

Homemade Bone Broth Nutrition Information

If your bone broth is gelatinous a fridge temperature, then you can assume the following nutrition facts. Note: these are estimates and subject to many variables.

  • Calories - 50
  • Protein - 8 g
  • Carbs - 1 g
  • Fat - 1 g
  • Sodium - 300 mg

If your bone broth does not gel at fridge temperature, you can assume the following:

  • Calories - 30
  • Protein - 4 g
  • Carbs - 1 g
  • Fat - 1 g
  • Sodium - 300 mg

The fat may be lower and close to 0 g if you remove all of the fat cap as it hardens on top in the fridge. The sodium levels might surprise you, I used 300 mg as an average. If you add zero salt, it will be somewhere around 120 mg.

However, once you add any salt it will jump up very quickly. So use it sparingly if you are concerned about your sodium intake.

My bone broth didn’t gel?

Your bone broth did not gel because you did not use enough bones, you used the wrong types of bones, did not cook it hot enough or you added too much water back to it during the cook.

It doesn't always gel when you are new to making it. Don't panic, there are simple steps you can take to make sure it gels next time.

  1. Bones to Water Ratio: try to aim for 1.2:2 bones to water. Meaning if you have 1.2 pounds of bones, you need 2 pounds of water.
  2. Types of Bones: For beef, you need knuckle bones to make it gel. You won't get it with marrow bones alone. For chicken, feet help a lot as you wings and drumsticks. Carcasses will not make it gel unless you have a lot of them.
  3. Cooking Temperature: You need to cook it hotter than you think. Most articles tell you to do a gradual simmer. That is not going to cut it. You want an aggressive rolling simmer that is just below a boil. If you have a thermometer then aim for 97 degrees Celsius. This depends on your elevation though.
  4. Adding Water: If you add too much water back to your pot then it will dilute your broth. This takes some trial and error. I would recommend adding it back to the level you started with 1-2 times during the cook. Once after you skim and once towards the end if it looks like it's reducing a lot. You do not need to do this if you want a strong, concentrated broth.

How long does bone broth last in the fridge?

Bone broth will last 6-7 days in the fridge. That being said, you can make it last longer. The fat on top keeps it fresh, up to several weeks when sealed with a layer of fat.

It can be frozen for one year, but I recommend using it within six months because it starts to go bad after that time frame.

Can you make this bone broth in the instant pot?

You can easily make a few tweaks to use an instant pot for this recipe. Just add your bones and water to your pot, and cook on high for 120 minutes. There are some other tricks you don't want to miss, so be sure to check our completely custom instant pot bone broth recipe.

Ways to use Crockpot Bone Broth

Bone broth can be used in a variety of ways like in sauces, roasting vegetables, braising meat and deglazing pans.

Anytime I cook vegetables in a frying pan, I'll add broth to steam to them and deglaze the pan. This way you can use less oil if you want and get more protein.

It also works great instead of water to cook rice, quinoa or any grains in. This gives a delicious flavor.

You can make it ahead of time and freeze for later use, like when you have a cold coming on. In this case, it's great to freeze in single serve jars or ice cube trays.

Conclusion

It doesn't have to be difficult to make bone broth. This recipe is simple, but takes some trial and error to work through the kinks of making it.

Don't get discouraged if it doesn't gel or taste great the first time. Simply leave a comment and I'm happy to troubleshoot with you.

And don't forget that my company, Bluebird Provisions, makes the highest protein and most delicious bone broth you'll find. If you're sick of making it yourself, I recommend you try out Chicken bone broth powder.

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"Amazing!

Great taste and texture. Will be purchasing this again. Works great on its own for sipping and also in soup!"

Adrienne L