An easy and healthy recipe for slow cooker bone broth. Use whatever bones you have on hand – chicken, beef, lamb or fish.
Traditional cultures always made bone broth, utilizing every possible part of the animal including the carcass. But even in our modern society, that tends to shy away from offal and focuses on muscle meat, the idea of cooking bones to create a rich broth is not foreign.
After all, it’s a beloved Thanksgiving tradition to use the turkey carcass to make a tasty broth, which serves as the basis for a delicious leftover turkey soup.
Is bone broth really healthy?
Bone broth has a reputation of being very healthy, although whether this is true or not is unclear. But even if it’s not a “superfood,” it is delicious, wonderfully rich and comforting. Much more so than regular chicken soup (which is also wonderful!).
So while I don’t go out of my way to buy bones, I do save leftover bones in the freezer (from recipes such as oxtail stew and oven baked ribs). And once in awhile, when I have enough of them (about 2 pounds), I make slow cooker bone broth.
Some concerns have been voiced over the heavy metal content in this broth. This should perhaps be a true concern if you consume large quantities of it – more than 1 cup per day. Since I usually make it once a week, with each of us consuming about 2 cups per week, I don’t worry about it too much.
How to make flavorful bone broth
Want your bone broth to have lots of flavor? Cook it with vegetables and herbs. Add plenty of salt (it still won’t be as salty as the MSG-laden, store-bought stuff). And cook for at least 8 hours.
This is especially important if you’re using beef bones. Those are tougher and take longer to soften and release their goodness into the broth.
How to store leftovers
Slow cooker bone broth keeps in the fridge for about 5 days. It freezes well, so I usually freeze some of it in mugs (covered in cling wrap), then gently thaw in the microwave.
Slow Cooker Bone Broth
- 2 lbs bones – beef, chicken, lamb or fish, preferably organic and/or grass-fed
- 1 large onion, quartered
- 2 large carrots, roughly chopped
- 2 stalks celery, roughly chopped
- 1 bunch parsley
- 2 tablespoons minced garlic
- 2 tablespoons coarse salt
- 1 teaspoon whole peppercorns
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 2 bay leaves
- If using raw bones (bones that you bought especially for this and not leftover bones), roast them first for 30 minutes in a 350-degree oven.
- Place all the ingredients in a large stockpot. Pour a gallon of water on top. Bring to a boil over high heat. This will probably take 20 minutes or so.
- Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover except for the tiniest crack, and allow to gently simmer for 8 hours. During the first hour of cooking, check the soup occasionally and if a foamy layer has formed on the top, use a spoon to remove it.
- Carefully pour the broth through a strainer into a large container, getting rid of the bones and overcooked vegetables. Serve immediately, or allow to cool to room temperature, then cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
- When ready to serve, remove the layer of fat from the top if you wish (I don’t), heat and serve as a delicious, good-for-you appetizer.