Its never been easier to make your own bone broth! Find out how to make chicken broth from bones using one of four different methods, stove top, slow cooker, pressure canner, or electric pressure cooker (Instant Pot). Plus, find out why to make bone broth, what to do with it, and if it's really as healthy for you as some say.
Do you make your own chicken broth? Growing up, I didn't know anyone who did, but as a young mother trying to make a tight budget feed her family, I turned to all kinds of homemade options both for health and frugality (this is what my "pantry basics" category is all about - recipes for ketchup, mayo, bread crumbs and more - like bone broth).
And learning how to make chicken broth from bones that we typically throw away to make a healthy pantry staple? Well, that pretty much made my frugal heart go pitter-patter.
I learned how to make it on the stove top, moved on to the hands-off approach of a slow cooker, and now often use the Instant Pot when I'd like it done quicker. I also learned some important lessons - you NEED vegetables, both for flavor and more nutrients; while strong flavors like garlic and other herbs are good in the broth, it may affect the final recipe; and most importantly just how incredibly easy it is to make.
So it makes sense that when I started An Oregon Cottage in 2009 to share easy homemade recipes,
lazy simple gardening tips, and our DIY adventures, broth was one of the first recipes I shared, especially because I'd figured out a way to make it even cheaper by using vegetable trimmings. It was amazing to me then and it's STILL amazing to me!
Chicken bone broth - or any type of bone broth - is cheap, good for us, and a great way to help reduce food waste since you're using up more before finally throwing it out. Well, and it's delicious, too, straight from the jar as well as imparting a wonderful flavor to soups and recipes. I guess that's a win-win-win-win.
Since it's a favorite, there've been a number of methods published on AOC over the years on how to make chicken stock. In order to make it as easy and useful to you as possible, I'm gathering all the ways you can make chicken stock (or any stock - the process is the same, just replace the chicken bones with whatever type of bones you have) in one place.
In addition to how to make stock, I did a little research on the most asked questions about stock/broth/bone broth as a little "Bone Broth 101." Here are the questions you'll find answered below:
- What is the difference between stock, broth, and bone broth - or is there a difference?
- Is bone broth really healthy for you?
- Why make your own stock?
- What can you make with chicken broth?
We'll start with how to make chicken broth from bones and then work our way through the questions. Hopefully yours will be answered, but if not, shoot me a comment and I'll try to fill in any gaps so we can all become broth makers!
How to Make Chicken Broth From Bones (or Beef, Pork, Turkey, etc....) Four Different Ways
1. Traditional Chicken Stock On the Stove. This is the first way I made stock and the first broth recipe I added to the site. It remains the least complicated, equipment-wise - all you need is a pot and stove.
Go here to see the steps, including how long to cook it, and a few tips I've learned.
Find both of these cooking methods in the same article here. I've used a slow cooker for years once I figured out how easy it was to throw the bones from a roasted chicken in a cooker with vegetable trimmings and let it sit all night.
But sometimes you want it quicker, and that's when an electric pressure cooker comes in - the stock is done in about 2 hours total time (30 minutes to pressure + 1 hour cook + 30 minutes natural release). Both of these are good options to have for different times or depending on the appliance you have.
3. How to Make Chicken Stock in a Pressure Canner. This was actually a guest post on the site - I don't personally have a pressure canner, though I've used one for canning vegetables. If you have one, the benefits of using it is that it's done quicker like the Instant Pot, but has the capacity to make a LOT more at once.
Bone Broth 101
What is the difference between chicken (or other meat) "stock," "broth," and "bone broth" - or is there one?
Here's the short answer:
- Stock: made with the bones of the animal + vegetables and cooked a long time.
- Broth: made with the meat (and maybe a few bones) of an animal + vegetables and cooked only an hour or so.
- Bone Broth: it is the same as stock and used interchangeably.
And a bit more information:
While a quick look shows that dictionaries define stock and broth as pretty much the same thing (simmering meat, bones, and vegetables in water), the culinary world views them as two different things.
The Kitchn states: There are three important factors that differentiate stock and broth: the ingredients, cook time, and the presence (or lack) of seasoning.
Epicurious agrees, but goes even a bit further, differentiating bone broth a little bit more from stock in that it may have a bit more meat and is the one simmered up to 24 hours (while stock is 6-12 hours).
Splitting hairs? Maybe. I think from the home cook's perspective, these are the main points:
- Stock's longer cooking with more bones results in a different type of product than broth's shorter cooking with mostly meat. If you buy broth either in cans or boxes, you will be able to pour it out easily. A cold stock actually resembles a jello-type product due to the collagen that seeps out of joints and bones during long-term cooking. You'd need to scoop it out rather than pour. (This is, in fact, how natural gelatin is produced.)
- Stock also tends to have a fuller mouth feel and richer flavor. Many people (me included) add apple cider vinegar to help release nutrients from the marrow within the bones, as well as break down other tissues into the water.
- Bone broth is essentially stock. Some people cook their bone broth for 24 hours, so the bone marrow is fully absorbed into the broth and the bones are so depleted of minerals that they're soft enough to snap.
- Shorter cooking broths have their place, too. Chicken, beef, pork, turkey, or seafood broths can be made simply by adding the meat - maybe still attached to the bone - to a pot with vegetables, covering with water, bringing to a boil, reducing heat and then simmering for an hour or so. You can make this with boneless chicken breasts and thighs - essentially you are poaching the meat - and then use the meat for any recipe that calls for cooked chicken and save the broth for other uses. It's really a great way to get more from one cooking method.
Can I substitute chicken broth for bone broth?
Yes. Store-bought products, whether labeled stock or broth, are essentially the shorter-cooked broths. As long as you can pour them out easily, that's your clue. However, they can be used interchangeably in recipes along with bone broth - use whatever type of broth or stock that you have. When gelatinized bone broth is heated, it's back to resembling regular broth.
So, which is healthier - stock or broth?
Nutritionally, one cup of chicken broth provides 38 calories, while one cup of stock contains 86 calories. Stock contains slightly more carbs, fat and protein than broth, though it's also significantly higher in vitamins and minerals (source).
But studies haven't really found it to be as healthy as we're led to believe - though it's by no means unhealthy.
Is Bone Broth Really Healthy For You?
While you'll find many articles like this one touting the many health benefits of bone broth such as:
- helping with joint pain
- promote healthy bones
- heal leaky gut
- boost immune system
- healthier skin and hair from collagen, which may also reduce wrinkles and puffiness.
There are actually no studies that support any of these claims. And in fact the number of vitamins in bone marrow and the added vegetables that may make it into your bone broth is unknown and variable depending on the bones, vegetables, the water, and the cooking time.
We hear that bone broth is full of amino acids, like proline, which are the building blocks that aid in preventing inflammation for your digestive health and promote the growth of healthy probiotics. But there's no proof that our bodies use the amino acids any differently from other foods.
This article lists more of the science behind bone broth, essentially saying that yes, bone broth contains some calcium and protein, but not more than many other foods like greens, beans, and nut butters.
And this article from NutritionStudies.org shares that there is little research to suggest that drinking collagen in bone broth will help bones - we don't absorb it that way, it's just another amino acid to our bodies. And actually the most nutrition found in bone broths and stocks, besides the protein, is from the vegetables we use when making it!
(Note: I do not agree with these articles ending with the notion that bone broth could be harmful due to lead - one article only mentioned one study and not another that provided the opposite result - basically both studies mentioned contradicted themselves so it's hardly a reason to state that it's "harmful.")
Wait, what about collagen supplements if our body doesn't use it like we think?
I'm a fan of liquid collagen supplements since I've seen a direct benefit in my nails and hair, so this needed clarification for me! Here are a couple of sources that explain the difference:
This article explains that supplements deliver way more collagen than broth does. What’s more, the collagen in supplements is hydrolyzed, meaning that it’s broken down with heat, acids, and enzymes so your body can process it more efficiently. Collagen in bone broth isn’t hydrolyzed.
Also, some research has shown that hydrolyzed collagen with other ingredients can reduce the signs of aging.
So feel free to keep taking your supplements - I know I will!
Okay, so why bother making bone broth or stock?
For the reasons I started all those years ago! It's a great way to use up what you have, save money, and have a great tasting base for soups, stews, and any recipes you'd use broth in. As one component of a varied and balanced diet, it is delicious and good for you, and really does provide a soothing and comforting feeling.
And there have been a few studies that have shown that hot chicken soup made with vegetables and bone broth is better for colds than water, helping to mitigate some of the symptoms of upper respiratory tract infections.
And since we do know that eating a variety of vegetables DOES provide lots of nutrients - and in fact include sources of phytonutrients (vitamins C,E, & A, amino acids, and sulfur) that our bodies can make collagen from - what better way to eat that variety than in a lovely bowl of soup?
What can you make with chicken or other type of broth?
Besides sipping on cups of warmed, seasoned broth, it is also a key pantry staple that you'll find as an ingredient in a ton of recipes. Here are just a few ideas to get you started:
- Sausage Bean Soup with Spinach & Tomatoes (beef broth) - Crock Pot or Instant Pot
- 15-minute Rustic Italian Sausage Soup (beef broth)
- Quick Homemade Tomato Soup Recipe (chicken broth)
- The Best Sausage & Lentil Stew Recipe (chicken broth)
- Amazing Cauliflower Cheese Soup (chicken broth)
- Sriracha Chicken Noodle Bowls (chicken broth)
In addition to soups and stews, try substituting broth for water when making rice (so good!) - and it's a key ingredient in risotto. Use it in place of milk when making mashed potatoes or white sauce. It's an integral part of gravy and stuffing, plus there are a lot of casserole recipes that call for chicken or other type of broth.
You also can always substitute broth for wine in any recipe calling for it, in case you're avoiding cooking with wine.
So there you have it - everything you ever wanted to know about how to make chicken broth from bones but were afraid to ask, ha! I'd love to know if you make your own broth and what you use your homemade broth for - leave a comment and let me know!
And here's one more great idea in the "using up" category a reader sent in after reading:
And if you have a garden, you can easily turn your bones into bone meal to sprinkle on it. After making broth, I put the bones on a cookie sheet at 325 for 6-8 hrs. Then hammer the bones into smaller pieces and pulse them in a high speed blender until powder. Super easy, and you’re adding nutrients back into the earth while keeping from putting the bones into the landfill!
I LOVE this idea!