How To Make Chicken Bone Broth on the Stovetop or Slow Cooker

How To Make Chicken Bone Broth on the Stovetop or Slow Cooker

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Meghan Splawn
Feb 24, 2018
(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

Bone broth, or a long-cooking, enriched stock, has moved from trend to bonafide kitchen staple with big brands and chefs rallying around this liquid gold. While beef bone broth gets the most fanfare, you can indeed make bone broth from chicken.

Not only will this thick, gorgeous stock make for a better chicken-noodle soup, but it also makes for ever better gravy, pasta sauces, and casseroles. Chicken bone broth is also much thriftier than its beef brethren and just as easy to make at home.

(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

What Is Bone Broth?

Think of bone broth as a super-enriched stock. Despite the name "broth" by definition, bone broth is stock because it contains bones. Meaty, collagen-rich bones are roasted, soaked with some acidity (wine or vinegar), and then simmered low and slow for an extended amount of time until all the flavor and body are drawn into the thick broth.

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.

Whatever your motivation for making this culinary elixir at home, here are two of the easiest ways to make chicken bone broth at home — on the stovetop or in the slow cooker.

(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

For Your Information

  • You'll need about 3 pounds of chicken bones. Make sure at least half of that is collagen-rich, like chicken backs or wings. The rest can include everything from bone-in thighs to last night's roast chicken bones.
  • Bone broth needs to cook for a minimum of 24 hours, but ideally 48 on low heat.
(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

Key Steps to Chicken Bone Broth

  • Rinse and roast the bones. Rinsing the bones helps remove some mineral flavors that can concentrate as the broth cooks, giving it an off flavor after hours of cooking. Roasting brings a ton of flavor and color to the finished broth. If you're tempted to skip roasting because you have already cooked bones, your broth will be lighter in color and flavor.
  • Soak the bones with cold water and vinegar. This tip comes straight from the broth brains of Brodo. Reportedly this cold soak draws some minerals out of the bones and helps break down the collagen. It's also a nice opportunity to skim off any impurities that float to the top.
  • Skim the broth for the first hour. As the broth comes to a simmer, you'll notice some funky foam float to the top. Use a large slotted spoon to skim this off. This step makes for a cleaner-tasting and clearer broth.
  • Add the vegetables partway through cooking. The carrot and onion called for here are for both flavor and color. Often people skip adding them, as they can turn bitter-tasting after the first 24 hours. The trick is to add them later in the process so they bring their goodness without going bad.
  • Strain and quickly chill the broth. Chilling the broth is the last important step. Broth can hold heat for a long time, putting it in the bacterial danger zone for several hours. Make an ice bath (water and ice) in your sink and strain your broth into another pot or metal bowl. Then set the bowl in the ice bath, stirring to chill.
(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

Storing and Using Chicken Bone Broth

Once your bone broth is chilled, you can store it in the fridge for up to a week or freeze for 3 months. Dividing the broth into smaller portions will make it easier to use up as needed. For instance, quart-sized portions are perfect for soups, while freezing 1/2 cup portions will serve you well for a warm mug for sipping or making pan sauces. Use chicken bone broth any where you might use store-bought broth. May I suggest you start with the gorgeous lemon soup first?

How To Make Chicken Bone Broth - Stovetop and Slow Cooker

Makes 2 to 2 1/2 quarts

What You Need

Ingredients

  • 3 pounds

    chicken bones and pieces, such as roast chicken bones, chicken back bones, and chicken wings

  • 2 tablespoons

    white vinegar

  • 1 large

    onion, peeled and halved

  • 1 large

    carrot, peeled and chopped

  • 3 quarts

    filtered water

  • Equipment
  • Baking sheet

  • Scale

  • Chef's knife and cutting board

  • Large stock pot or 6-quart slow cooker

  • Strainer

  • Ice

Instructions

Stovetop Instructions

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. Cover the bones with water and the vinegar and rest for 30 minutes. Transfer the hot bones to a large stockpot. Add the water and vinegar and stir to combine. Cover and let sit for 30 minutes.

  4. Bring the pot to a simmer over high heat. Bring the water to a rapid simmer over high heat.

  5. Skim the broth for the first hour. Immediately turn the heat down to the lowest setting possible. Check the pot occasionally, skimming off any foam that collects on the surface and adding additional water as needed to keep the ingredients covered. Cover and keep the broth at a low simmer for 24 hours.

  6. Add the onions and carrots and cook for another 12 to 24 hours. Add the carrots and onions and continue to simmer for 12 to 24 hours more, adding more filtered water as needed to keep the bones covered. The broth is done when it is a rich golden-brown and the bones are falling apart at the joints.

  7. 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 and line it with cheesecloth if desired. Carefully strain the bone broth into it. Discard the spent bits of bone and vegetables.

  8. 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.

Slow Cooker Instructions

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. Cover the bones with 3 quarts cool water and the vinegar and rest for 30 minutes. Transfer the bones to a 6-quart or larger slow cooker. Add the water and vinegar and stir to combine. Cover and let sit for 30 minutes.

  4. Bring to a simmer on the HIGH setting. Turn the slow cooker to the HIGH setting high and bring the broth mixture to a simmer.

  5. Skim the broth for the first hour. Check the slow cooker occasionally, skimming off any foam that collects on the surface the first hour and adding additional water as needed to keep the ingredients covered. Keep the broth at a low simmer on HIGH for 24 hours.

  6. Add the onions and carrots and cook for another 12 to 24 hours. Add the carrots and onions and continue to simmer on the HIGH setting for 12 to 24 hours more, adding more filtered water as needed to keep the bones covered. The broth is done when it is a rich golden-brown and the bones are falling apart at the joints.

  7. 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 and line it with cheesecloth if desired. Carefully strain the bone broth into it. Discard the spent bits of bone and vegetables.

  8. 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.

Recipe Notes

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.

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