Homemade Chicken Bone BrothLast year I stumbled on to a few different articles about the bone broth trend that was cropping up in niche food stands and restaurants all over New York City. In some circles bone broth is advertised as the latest super food, though the truth about bone broth nutrition is in question.

Either way, it sounded like a tasty, hearty drink (meal?) that didn’t seem to be terribly difficult to make. For the next few weeks I saved all my chicken bones and started to experiment with a simple and easy way to make some bone broth at home. I’m not a chef (or even a particularly good cook) but I was able to put together a straightforward and easy recipe outline that anyone can follow.

Here’s how I make my chicken bone broth at home:

Step 1: Removing Bones from Your Chicken

The first step in making any bone broth is, obviously, getting together some bones. There are lots of ways you can do this, but the easiest way is to simply save all the bones you would normally throw away when you roast a chicken or turkey. Our family picks up whole roasted chickens once or twice a week as a quick and somewhat healthy meal and we almost always have some chicken in the fridge that can be used in sandwiches or lunches for the week. You can try working with your local butcher or even grocery store to see if they share or give away bones, but I’ve found that most are not willing to do so much anymore.

Removing chicken meat from bones.

Use those tools at the end of your arms to separate out your chicken bones.

You can use the bones from raw chickens, but the bones from roasted chickens are going to bring more seasonings and flavorings to your bone broth. With a roasted chicken the process of collecting bones is pretty easy.

First, make sure your chicken is cool enough to touch and handle easily. Trying to take the bones out of a chicken right from the oven (or microwave) is no fun. You’re going to want three containers: an airtight container to store your chicken meat in, a freezer friendly bag or container for your bones and a container for all your discards.

Now take off any jewelry if you can, wash your hands and be prepared to get a little messy. Simply use your fingers and hands to pry and tear off every scrap of chicken meat that you can from every chicken bone. Put the chicken meat that you collect into one container to save and put each picked over bone into your bone container.

Once you’ve done stripped off the meat off a chicken a few times you’ll begin to find yourself following a sort of pattern. I tend to take off all the breast and “top” meat first and then work my way down the side (legs and wings) before then flipping the chicken over and stripping out all the dark meat on the bottom of the chicken. I don’t personally save the chicken skin, but you can include it with your bones if you don’t mind the extra fat. I tend to throw the cartilage and joints into my bone bag.

When you’re stripping the meat off your chicken bones you don’t have to be perfect. Save as much meat as you can, but don’t worry about all the tiny morsels and tidbits that get stuck to the bone. Just throw it all into the bone bag. Feel break to break down the rib cage so it fits into your bag a little better.

When I buy a medium roasted chicken I usually only end up with a little more than a half pound of chicken bones. That’s not really enough to warrant making a batch of bone broth, so I save up the bones from several chicken in the freezer until I have 2 to 3 pounds of bones.

Step 2: Your Crock Pot Recipe

Now that you have your main ingredient of bones the rest is easy. Here’s the complete ingredient list:

  • 2-3 pounds of chicken bones
  • 1 Tablespoon of apple cider vinegar
  • 4-6 cups of water
  • Salt, Pepper, Seasonings to taste

First, place your fresh or frozen chicken bones into your crock pot and crush it down a bit so that your bones are evenly distributed. Pour in 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar. The vinegar will not affect the taste much but it will help soften the bones and bring out some of the nutrients.

Chicken bone broth in a crock pot.

Mmm…spells like chicken bone broth.

Now pour in enough water to cover all your bones by about an inch or so. If you use too much water your bone broth will still be tasty, but it will also be a bit diluted and may not taste as good as it could.

A lot of bone broth recipes advocate adding in onions, carrots or even potatoes, but I feel that once you start doing that you’re essentially creating a chicken vegetable soup and not the true “bone broth” that everyone is talking about. The beauty of creating a simple base of bone broth is that I can always add any flavoring I want after the fact. That being said, feel free to experiment a little bit. I have added pepper and onion powder in small doses and it does make a noticeable difference, especially after your broth cooks down.

Once you’ve added everything to your crock pot, cook it on high for 18 to 24 hours.

Making Bone Broth: A Step-by-Step Video

Step 3: Straining Bones and Saving Broth

Here we are, a day a later and we’re ready to save some broth. Turn off your crock pot and let it cool for about an hour. The bones and broth are a little easier to work with when they’re not piping hot.

You may want to work in your sink just so you don’t have to worry about spilling or dripping broth everywhere. To collect your broth place a wire mesh strainer over a container and scoop the contents of your crock pot into the strainer.

All the bones and solid material from the your crock pot will stay in the strainer while the water and juices will drip into the container below. Your broth should be fairly opaque and look more like gravy than chicken soup. If it’s too light or translucent then you probably used too much water.

The amount of broth you collect will largely depend upon how many bones you used, how much water you added and how long you cooked your broth. I’ve found that 3 pounds of pounds cooked for 24 hours will generally yield about 4 to 6 cups of quality bone broth.

Step 4: Chilling and Storing Bone Broth

Once you have collected your broth you’ll want to let it cool. I usually wait an hour or two before putting my big jug of warm broth into the fridge. Putting a hot container into a cold fridge will make your refrigerator work a lot harder trying to cool itself off the for the next 12 hours and it could actually warm up some of the other food in your fridge to dangerously warm temperatures.

As it cools a layer of fat will cool on the top which can be skimmed off if you wish. Once chilled your bone broth should be somewhat gelatinous in texture. It should actually bounce and jiggle like dessert gelatin when it’s right out of the fridge.

Enjoying Your Bone Broth

Now that you have your own homemade chicken bone broth there are hundreds of things you can do with it. You can substitute it for a little water in most recipes, you can add it for flavoring or you can obviously just drink it straight.

I like to put a cup or so of bone broth into a mug, pop it into the microwave for about a minute on high and then add a little seasoning. Your bone broth will smell and look like a rich chicken soup.

Now you can sit back and enjoy your warm, hearty cup of healthy homemade chicken bone broth.

How’d your bone broth come out? Have any tips or suggestions? Leave a comment below!

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