While bone broth is pretty simple to make yourself (here's an awesome recipe), its rapidly increasing popularity has resulted in a number of new store-bought options popping up at various retailers. Some appear legit, while a few seem to be co-opting a trendy marketing term without delivering a delicious and nutritious product.
So how do you know which to choose?
I, a self-proclaimed bone broth enthusiast, put 10 readily available bone broths to the test. Here's my ranking, which kept nutrition, quality, and — most importantly — taste top of mind.
But, first: What the heck is bone broth?
Turns out, it's not just regular broth with a trendy new label. Bone broth —popularized in part by the Paleo diet movement, which advocates sipping on this savory concoction as you would coffee or tea — is typically made with similar ingredients (meaty bones, aromatics, and often a splash of apple cider vinegar), but slow simmered for a much longer period, typically 24+ hours. The result should be deeply flavorful and with more protein than you'd find in broth or traditional stock since the long simmering process and added vinegar help extract a variety of nutrients from the animal bones, cartilage, and tendons.
Many conventional broths, on the other hand, are made by rapidly boiling these ingredients for short periods of time, which results in significantly less flavor and nutrition. Often, these broths will be jacked up with sodium and "natural flavors" to compensate for a lack of authentic tastiness.
When a revival becomes a trend: Why Bone Broth Is Here to Stay
10 Store-Bought Bone Broths, Ranked
1. Bonafide Provisions Organic Chicken Bone Broth, $10 for a 24-ounce pouch (ships frozen)
Hands-down, this is the best packaged bone broth of the bunch, leaving all others (even some truly solid options) in the dust. As I heated it up, its aroma immediately reminded me of my mom's homemade chicken and rice soup, and my first slurp didn't disappoint either — it was meaty, savory, smooth, and tasted like a perfectly seasoned roast chicken, thanks to some basic aromatics like garlic, onion, parsley, and sea salt.
Basically, it's a hug in a mug. And it's certainly good enough to sip on its own. With a moderate 280 milligrams of sodium per serving, it's not going to spike your blood pressure either. And thanks to 10 grams of protein per serving, you'll stay satisfied after you sip. My only complaint: I wish this pouch had a pour spout instead of a zip top!
2. Vital Choice Organic Chicken Bone Broth, $21 for a 24-ounce pouch at Vital Choice (ships frozen)
Damn, this stuff is tasty! A close second to Bonafide Provisions. Vital Choice has managed to infuse a crazy amount of flavor into this organic broth, which, upon first taste, reminds me of my favorite herb-crusted roast chicken recipe (you definitely get a nice hit of thyme). It gets an extra boost of umami flavor, thanks to the addition of kombu — yes, seaweed! — and it needs no added salt even though it has a relatively low 180 milligrams of sodium per serving. Bonus: Of all broths tested, it contains the most protein per serving with 12 grams.
3. Bare Bones Organic Chicken Bone Broth, $22 for two (16-ounce) pouches
This was a solid chicken bone broth. It wasn't quite as mouthwatering, meaty, or umami-packed as Bonafide Provisions, but it was the perfect level of saltiness (260 milligrams of sodium per serving). Its smooth, balanced flavor (no funky sharpness or aftertastes) make it a good option for sipping, and the pour spout is ideal for people who aren't going to heat up the entire pouch at once.
The company did send along a sample of their beef bone broth, too, and that was even better, packing a distinct beefy flavor from a variety of grass-fed beef bones. For both, I was also pleased to see 10 grams of protein on the label (which seems to be the norm for bone broths when they're simmered for the appropriate period of time). The significant downside here is that you get 8 fewer ounces of bone broth than Bonafide Provisions, while paying the same price.
4. The Osso Good Co. Bone Broth, from $12 for a 16-ounce pouch at The Osso Good Co. (ships frozen)
I was about to dismiss this brand of frozen bone broth as a little boring and bland (the chicken flavor left much to be desired) until I tried their Signature Bone Broth (a blend of pastured chicken, grass-fed beef, and pastured pork bones), which was fresh, robust, and delicious. With zero added sodium, many will find it needs a dash or two of salt, but the flavor is truly good enough on its own, getting an extra umami kick from shiitake mushrooms.
With 12 grams of protein, it's a little higher than the rest, making for a satisfying sip. Unfortunately, this brand is on the pricier side — especially its more interesting flavors like the Signature and Immuni-Q, one of their Chinese herb infused broths. So if you opt for this brand, reserve it for sipping so you can enjoy every penny's worth.
5. Kettle + Fire Chicken Bone Broth, $7.50 per 16.2-ounce carton at Thrive Market
Kettle + Fire is one of the more widely available shelf-stable broths, so I was pleased that it was a solid pick. It's also a pretty reasonable price, costing ounce-for-ounce about the same as Bonafide Provisions. But it differentiated itself from the pack by being the most vegetal of the bunch, having a subtle tomato aroma and tasting like a combination vegetable-chicken broth (you definitely get a good hit of celery on your first sip). And that's not a surprise when you scan the ingredient list, which contains nearly every veggie under the sun, from celery to roasted poblano peppers to carrots to scallions to tomato purée.
Like the first two broths, this one packs 10 grams of protein and a moderate amount of sodium (240 milligrams). If you want a less meaty flavor, this broth might be for you.
6. Thrive Market Chicken Bone Broth, $7 for a 16.9-ounce carton at Thrive Market
This organic bone broth hits all the nutritional marks with 11 grams of protein and just 105 milligrams of sodium. It tastes like chicken broth, but it won't knock your socks off. If you want an additional hit of protein in the recipes you're making, this broth would be great for cooking, but it doesn't quite compete with the four above in terms of drinkability.
7. Vital Proteins Chicken Bone Broth Collagen, $59 for a 10-ounce container (makes 28 8-ounce servings)
This product is made for convenience. Vital Proteins starts with organic, collagen-rich bone broth with no added seasonings or salt and dries it into a fine powder that easily dissolves in hot water (and apparently, maintains all of the nutritional integrity of real bone broth). It has a super-subtle chicken flavor that's just OK, but certainly not offensive.
In fact, the flavor is so subtle that you could probably even blend it into a fruit smoothie for a protein boost and not notice. I'd recommend this broth if you're more into broth for the health perks than the taste, or if you travel a lot and want a convenient way to get your broth fix on the go.
8. Epic Artisanal Homestyle Chicken Bone Broth, $8 for a 14-ounce jar
Upon my first sip, I basically yelped in surprise at this broth's surprisingly tart flavor, which is, I assume, from higher amounts of apple cider vinegar and the addition of turmeric. I definitely wouldn't call it bad, but I'd say it's an acquired taste that began to grow on me a bit with each sip, sort of like kombucha.
However, the tartness did somewhat mask the actual chicken flavor, which was a bummer, and it contains more sodium than it probably needs to (380 milligrams per serving). I'm not sure the distinct flavor would lend itself well to cooking, so I'd stick to sipping, but only if you're into somewhat vinegary flavors. Thumbs up for 10 grams of protein, though!
9. Swanson Organic Chicken Bone Broth, $2.50 for a 32-ounce carton
Swanson's brand-new chicken bone broth is definitely trying to bring this trend to the masses with its low price point, but it falls somewhat short. While it contains 9 grams of protein, it also packs a whopping 430 milligrams of sodium — way more than anyone should be slurping down in the form of a "healthy" beverage.
Beyond that, there's nothing particularly offensive about the taste, but it's not that great either. The fact that its ingredient list contains "chicken flavors" and "natural flavors" is also disappointing, since a quality broth gets its great taste from real-food ingredients. This would probably be okay for cooking, but not sipping.
10. Pacific Foods Organic Chicken Bone Broth, $6 for a 32-ounce carton at Thrive Market
Oh, man. I wanted to like this! Pacific is probably the most widely available bone broth on the market, and it's a great company, sourcing mostly organic and sustainable ingredients for its products. But the chicken flavor that I tested fell totally short on flavor. There basically was none, tasting slightly more interesting than hot water — no delicious meaty aroma, no complexity, no salt.
That said, however, it would be an acceptable way to add a dose of organic protein (9 grams per serving) to whole grains and soups you may be cooking — just add your own herbs and spices.