Traditional stovetop bone broth takes a minimum of 24 hours, but ideally more like 48 hours to transform a pot of water, acid, and collagen-rich bones into a deep, golden-brown liquid with a texture like barely set jello. Truth is, when you cook bone broth on the stove for that long you and your house will smell like beef broth for days. The good news is there is another way.
Broth in an electric pressure cooker can feel like nothing short of magic, but cooking broth under pressure is a technique that professional kitchens and wise home cooks have been using for decades. Cooking the bone broth in a closed environment and under pressure speeds up the process, which means you can go from bones to luxurious broth in about eight hours — most of which is still hands-off. In this cooking lesson, we're going to show you the simplest way to do just that with beef or chicken bones.
What Is Bone Broth?
Bone broth is essentially a long-cooked stock. It's most often made with beef or chicken bones and cooked until the bones release gelatin and collagen that thickens the broth, giving it a gelatinous texture. Bone broth is slightly different from stock, in that it's cooked significantly longer with a little acidity (usually wine or vinegar) to help break down the bones.
We've explored the question of whether bone broth is good for you and found that while it does contain a measurable amount of protein per cup, one of the real boons of bone broth is that it teaches you the essential culinary technique of stock-making.
Whether you turn it into restorative soups, luxurious sauces, or drink it as an afternoon pick-me-up, all these reasons prove that bone broth is here to stay.
For Your Information
- Bone broth requires meaty, collagen-rich bones. You can use beef or chicken bones or a combination of the two. For the richest broth, we suggest oxtail, marrow bones, and even short ribs for beef, and wings for chicken.
- This bone broth is 3-step process: First the bones are roasted, then the bones are cooked under pressure. The vegetables are added, and then bone broth is cooked under pressure again.
- What to expect from timing: For the first round of pressure cooking, expect the pressure cooker to take about 1 hour to come to pressure, cook on high for 2 hours, and then take 1 1/2 hours for the natural release of steam. Once the vegetables are added, the second round of cooking will take less time to come to pressure. You will cook the broth again at this point for another 2 hours.
Key Steps for Bone Broth in the Instant Pot
- Roast the bones. Flavor, flavor, flavor is what roasting is all about, but it has an extra benefit of adding color to the final broth. Roasting also cuts down on the foam associated with boiling bones.
- Add vinegar and de-foam the bones. Supposedly soaking the bones with vinegar helps release minerals from the broth, according to the experts at Brodo, a broth-focused restaurant with locations throughout the Northeast. After the bones are roasted, move them to the pressure cooker and cover with cool water and add the vinegar. Bring these to a simmer using the sauté function. Use a wide spoon to skim off any foam.
- Cook for 2 hours on HIGH. The first round of pressurized cooking is for 2 hours. The Instant Pot can take up to an hour to come to full pressure. Use the manual or soup setting to cook on high pressure for 120 minutes.
- Use natural release to avoid sputtering and cook the stock longer. "Natural release" in pressure cooker recipes simply means that instead of opening the steam valve to quickly release the pressure, just let the pot slowly release the pressure on its own. Natural release is most often called for in broths and soups to prevent spurting of hot liquids from the valve. Here it does double duty, giving the broth a longer cook time, which means more extraction.
- Add the vegetables halfway through cooking. When the two hours are up, let the pressure cooker naturally release by leaving the steam valve as is until the pressure subsides. This will take about 90 minutes. When the pressure's up, add the vegetables. Adding the vegetables later in the cooking process keeps the broth from tasting bitter. Don't skip adding the vegetables all together — they add color and sweetness to the finished broth.
- Chill the broth quickly. In professional kitchens, broth chilling is serious business. It keeps the broth from hanging out in the temperature danger zone and won't heat up the fridge. Fill a sink or big bowl with ice water and strain your stock into another pot or mixing bowl that sits down in the ice bath. Personally I find my stand-mixer bowl is the perfect shape and size for chilling finished broth.
Storing and Using Bone Broth
As with any broth, it's best practice to chill the broth as quickly as you can after making it. I like to turn my sink into an ice bath with water and ice and strain my broth into a thin pot or my stand mixer's bowl and set the bowl in the ice bath to cool to room temperature before storing. Quick chilling keeps broth out of the bacterial danger zone and prevents it from heating up your fridge or freezer. Your broth will taste better and last longer because of this step.
Bone broth keeps well in the fridge for up to a week or can be frozen for three months. Chilled bone broth has a thick, jello-like thickness and a rich amber color. Don't worry if there's a layer of thick, white fat covering the top of the broth. You can skim this off and use it for cooking vegetables or grains — or leave it for a richer soup broth.
Use bone broth anywhere you might use broth for cooking — as a base for soups, to deglaze pans, and to make sauces. I've been heating mine up with a little garlic and ginger instead of my afternoon cup of tea.
How To Make Chicken or Beef Bone Broth in the Instant Pot
Makes 3 quarts
What You Need
beef bones, such as oxtail, marrow bones, or short ribs, or 3 pounds chicken bones, (at least 1 pound wings)
apple cider or white wine vinegar
6- to 8-quart electric pressure cooker
Chef's knife and cutting board
Fine-mesh strainer or colander
Preheat the oven to 400°F and rinse the bones. Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat to 400°F. Place the bones in a colander, rinse under cool water, and pat dry with paper towels.
Roast the bones for 30 minutes. Arrange the bones in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast until golden-brown, about 30 minutes.
Bring the bones and cider vinegar to a boil, skimming the top. Transfer the bones to an Instant Pot and add 3 quarts of filtered water. Add the vinegar and use the sauté function to bring the broth to a boil. When the broth comes to a simmer, use a wide slotted spoon to remove any white or gray foam off of the top.
Cook on high pressure for 120 minutes. Cover and lock on the Instant Pot lid. Make sure the pressure-release valve is closed. Set to manual, high pressure for 120 minutes. The quickest way to 120 minutes is to actually press the (-) until the clock hits zero and then 120 minutes.
Natural release for 90 minutes. When the 120 minutes is up, allow the instant pot to release its pressure naturally. Do not adjust the steam valve. This will take about 90 minutes.
Add the onion and carrots and cook again on high for 120 minutes. Open the Instant pot and add the onion and carrot. Cover and lock on the Instant Pot lid. Make sure the pressure-release valve is closed. Set to manual, high pressure for 120 minutes.
Natural release again for 90 minutes. When the 120 minutes are up, allow the Instant Pot to release its pressure naturally again. Do not adjust the steam valve. This will take about 90 minutes.
Strain the bone broth. When the broth is finished, strain and cool the bone broth as quickly as possible. Set a strainer over a large pot or even a stand mixer bowl. Carefully strain the bone broth into it. Discard the spent bits of bone and vegetables.
Cool the bone broth and store. Prepare an ice bath by either filling a sink or basin with cold water and ice and set the pot of broth inside the ice bath. Stir regularly until the broth is cooled to about 50°F, about 15 minutes. Transfer the broth to airtight containers or jars. Refrigerate or freeze.
Bones for bone broth: You can use any mix of beef, pork, or chicken bones for making bone broth. Adding some meaty bones, like short ribs or ham bones, will make a richer-tasting broth; you can also use the meat from the bones in other dishes.
Filtered water: We used filtered water for more neutral testing. If you've got great-tasting tap or well water, feel free to use it here. Water filtered with a filter or faucet filter works well; bottled filtered water is not required.
Storing and reheating: The broth can be refrigerated for up to 5 days or frozen for up to 3 months. To reheat, pour out as much broth as you'd like and reheat it gently on the stove or in the microwave.
Reducing bone broth for storage: To save on freezer space, you can simmer the broth over low heat on the stovetop until it's reduced by half. Keep it at a very bare simmer — you should see just a few bubbles as it simmers. Make a note on the freezer container that the broth needs to be thinned with water before using.