Easy Slow Cooker Bone Broth Recipe
This homemade slow cooker chicken bone broth is easy, delicious, and healing.
I've been drinking bone broth every day for about a week now as part of a 14-day bone broth "experiment" to see if I feel any different as a result. (You can read about how that turned out here.)
Until now, I've been trying out some different store-bought brands. I had put off making homemade bone broth (or actually wasn't really planning to make it in general) because 1) It seemed so daunting and time-consuming and 2) It can be difficult to find good quality bones.
I did finally decide to try making some though and I'm glad I did because it's the best bone broth I've had thus far. This recipe was inspired by this Easy CrockPot Bone Broth recipe by The Clean Eating Couple, and I love it because it's super simple and they blend the veggies right in afterward; genius.
It turned out really great and it was a lot easier than I expected. One thing that made this easier than some recipes is that I did not roast the bones first. Some people swear by this and say it's key to getting a good flavor but I just did not have the time, energy or desire to do so.
This recipe just involves cutting your vegetables and adding them to a slow cooker with your chicken bones, herbs, and water. It's then cooked for at least 12 hours on low heat and then strained. That's it. It still takes a while but it's less labor-intensive than many other bone broth recipes.
Let's quickly define the difference between broth, bone broth, and stock:
What is Broth?
Broth is produced when vegetables and meat are simmered for about 2 hours or less; less time than it takes to make bone broth or stock. Unlike stock or bone broth, regular broth is thinner overall and doesn't congeal when chilled.
What is Stock?
Stock is made by simmering bones with vegetables, herbs, and spices for several hours (3-4) and the ingredients are strained out keeping only the liquid. Stock is gelatinous when chilled because of the collagen and gelatin extracted from the bones during the cooking process.
What is Bone Broth?
Bone broth is essentially stock except it's simmered for a much longer time (usually anywhere from 8 to 24 hrs). The longer simmer time helps to release additional nutrients like glucosamine, amino acids, and electrolytes from the bones.
Are Bone Broth and Stock the Same?
Before doing this exploration of bone broth, I'd been wondering about bone broth vs stock as they seem very similar. As you can see from above, they're not exactly the same however, bone broth and stock can be used interchangeably in recipes.
Why Do You Add Vinegar to Bone Broth?
The acidity of the vinegar helps to break down the bones extracting the collagen and maybe some mineral, making a more nutrient-rich broth.
Best Bones for Bone Broth
Making a good bone broth requires knobby joints, knuckles, neck bones, oxtail, short ribs, etc. from high-quality sources. Ideally, they should be from organically grown/grass-fed/free-range animals. If you can get to know your local butcher, this can be a good source.
I got the bones from a whole frozen chicken from our local butcher because I didn't have any bones on hand and couldn't find any good ones at our grocery stores. Mine maybe have a little more meat on them than they should but it still worked out fine.
If you don't want to just buy bones, you could, of course, buy a whole organic chicken for a meal or other type of responsibly sourced meat and use those bones or save them in the freezer for later.
So here's basically what I did:
As you can see above, I placed everything in my slow cooker/crockpot. I did this on a Saturday and didn't get around to actually doing it until around 2 pm, which isn't a big deal for most recipes but when it takes 12 hours to complete, that means it's getting done at 2 am. I knew this but decided to go ahead anyway because I was eager to try it. Just a note though to have this in mind and try to have it finish during waking hours!
I was a little nervous going to bed around midnight knowing that the broth would finish around 2 am and hoped I wouldn't sleep through it and ruin the broth. My fear was that if it sat too long and cooled, it would be a food safety nightmare OR something would catch fire.
I was awakened around 2 am by a loud timer beeping, so I got up and went to check on it. This is how it looked...maybe not gorgeous but it smelled really good. By this time the crockpot had switched to warm mode and since many bone broths are cooked much longer than 12 hours and the broth was incredibly hot at this time (and I was tired and not wanting to deal with straining it yet), I decided to let it continue on warm mode for a couple hours.
I woke up at 4 am to another loud beep, which was the crockpot basically shutting off. I checked on it again and it was still scalding hot, so I went back to bed and set my alarm for 6 am; I did finally get up this time and get to work straining it. In total, the broth actually got to cook for a good 16 hours.
I started by carefully pulling out the veggies and putting them in one bowl and then scooping out most of the bones and putting them on a plate. This made pouring the broth through the strainer a lot less cumbersome. If your broth has a lot of fat on the surface, you can skim it off or cool it first, then skim. Mine didn't have a whole lot, so I didn't do much skimming.
I decided to blend the veggies with some of the broth but reserve some plain broth too.
I actually ended up with some plain broth, some broth with just a little bit of veggies, and some broth blended with a lot of veggies. You can do this however you want of course. It's all pretty good but I think I really prefer it with the veggies mixed in; delicious.
To answer a few bone broth questions:
How can I use bone broth?
- Drink it straight- There are cool bone broth bars opening up everywhere. Remedy Bone Broth Bar of Nashville sells broth by the cup and also sells a variety of bone broths by the quart. They use responsibly raised/sourced animals for their products. They deliver around Nashville and also offer 2-3 day delivery to over half of the states.
- Make Soup- I guess I'd consider adding the veggies to the broth like I did in this post a soup but you can also check out a few awesome recipes here, here, and here.
- Bone Broth Smoothie bowl- I was surprised to hear that this is a thing; it sounds kind of gross but it's actually pretty cool. It's basically the same concept as the usual fruit smoothie bowls except bone broth is incorporated and you may or may not see fruit used. Often it's just a smooth savory soup made with bone broth and other nourishing ingredients like avocados and coconut milk, then topped with things like fruit, nuts, coconut, etc.
- Freeze it for later use- Considering bone broth recipes often produce more bone broth than one can use all at once, it's great that it freezes well. Using an ice cube tray to make broth cubes is one of my favorite hacks because you can use just one cube at a time if needed. Plenty of recipes call for a small amount of broth so it's nice to be able to just pop a few cubes out of the tray and add it to your recipe rather than open an entire carton or can of store-bought broth which may go to waste or have a large amount of homemade broth hanging around in your fridge.
When Should I Drink Bone Broth?
You can drink bone broth any time of day but depending on what your goals are, drinking it at certain times of day may help. For example, if your goal is better sleep, drinking it before bed may be best. If your goal is to combat gut issues, drinking it in the morning can help with this throughout the day. If you have cravings in the afternoon, a cup of bone broth may give you a little boost and help to keep your appetite in check. Drinking it any time of day is believed to help support detoxification and strengthen immunity.
Recipes that use bone broth:
I hope you enjoyed this post. If you tried the recipe, let me know what you thought!
Easy Slow Cooker Bone Broth (Paleo, AIP)
- slow cooker
- bones from one whole chicken
- 4 carrots peeled and halved
- 6 celery stalks halved
- 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
- 4 peeled garlic cloves
- 1/2 thumb-sized piece of fresh ginger optional
- 2 small onions quartered
- 8 cups filtered water
- 1 lemon halved
- 2 tbsp coconut aminos
- 10 sprigs of fresh thyme
- salt and pepper to taste (omit pepper for AIP)
- Combine all ingredients in slow cooker and set on low temp and set timer for 12+ hours.
- Once cooking is completed, allow to cool and if desired, carefully pick out vegetables and set aside for making a puree to add back to the broth later.
- Position a large strainer over a large bowl and pour liquid through the strainer. You may want to spoon out the larger chicken bones first and set aside before straining but it's up to you (and depends on how large your strainer is).
- If adding the veggies back to the broth, add the veggies and some of the broth (whatever will fit) to the blender and blend on high speed. Add veggie/broth mixture back to whatever broth didn't make it into the blender and stir together.
- Pour broth/soup into large mason jars and store in the refrigerator for 3-4 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months.