Bone broth is easy to make, nutrient dense, and has so many uses. Learn how to make chicken bone broth at home using a just few simple ingredients!
If you’re intimidated by all the steps and processes involved with making chicken bone broth, this is the recipe for you! Truth be told, I’m not someone who loves spending hours in the kitchen, especially when it comes recipes I make routinely. That’s why I love making chicken bone broth in the slow cooker. It’s hands off, and you can easily make it using the bones from a whole roasted chicken.
This homemade chicken bone broth recipe will fit right into your schedule—so much so that you’ll barely even know you’re making it!
What is Bone Broth?
Bone broth is simply the broth or liquid made from boiling animal bones and connective tissue for an extended period of time. You can use the bones of whole roasted chicken, or purchase beef, pork, or turkey bones. Beef bones are sometimes sold as soup bones. You can get these at local farms, meat counters, and butcher shops.
The History of Bone Broth
Bone broth has a long and rich history of medicinal and culinary uses. In addition to being a staple in many professional kitchens, bone broth made from animal bones was used by many traditional cultures around the world to support digestive health, immunity, and to create traditional stews and soups.
Traditional practices like eating organ meats and making bone broth allowed our ancestors to make use of all of the parts of the animals they hunted, which provided deeper nutrition, and showed respect for the animal giving its life to sustain others.
The Benefits of Bone Broth
Bone broth is rich in nutrients, including minerals and amino acids. Simmering bones in water for an extended period of time helps to release the nutrients within the bones and break down connective tissue. The end result? A liquid gold that’s incredibly nutrient dense and packed full of culinary potential. Bone broth is beneficial because:
- It contains collagen. Collagen is the glue that holds cartilage together. The breakdown of collagen in bone broth produces gelatin. Gelatin soothes the gut lining, improves gut integrity and digestive function, and can increase gastric acid secretion.
- It’s rich in minerals that support bone and joint health. Bones broth is packed with minerals in forms the body can easily absorb, including calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, silicon, sulphur and other trace minerals. It’s also rich in glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate, which are know to support joint health.
- It’s loaded with amino acids. The amino acids found in bone broth, including glycine and arginine, have anti-inflammatory effects. Bone broth also contains glutamine, which can help improve gut wall integrity and leaky gut syndrome.
What Bones Are Best For Bone Broth?
The best bones are whatever you have on hand! I always make bone broth after roasting a chicken in the slow cooker because it’s easy and available. You can quickly set chicken bone broth into motion with very little prepwork.
While all bones are great for bone broth, different bones will enrich your broth with different nutrients:
- Large beef or pork bones are packed with minerals.
- Knuckle and joint bones are a good source of collagen.
- Marrow bones are rich in nourishing fats.
- Poultry necks, wings, and feet are loaded with collagen.
When making chicken bone broth, I recommend keeping collagen rich bones like feet and necks on hand in the freezer so you can add it to your broth to increase the nutrient content. This will also help your bone broth “gel” because it will have more gelatin.
What You’ll Need to Make Chicken Bone Broth
While making chicken bone broth can seem daunting and overwhelming, you can make it with just a few basic ingredients:
- Bones from a whole chicken (just use the bones from a whole roasted chicken)
- Chicken neck or feet (optional to add collagen)
- Filtered water
- Apple cider vinegar
- Bay leaf, optional
How to Make Chicken Bone Broth
The best part about chicken bone broth? It’s easy and simple to make at home! All you need to do is debone a whole roasted chicken, cover the bones in water, and add some seasoning and vegetables before letting it simmer. Here’s how to make chicken bone broth:
- Roast the bones. If starting with raw bones (not from a whole cooked chicken), preheat the oven to 425°F, then place the bones on a large baking sheet in a single layer. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until golden brown.
- Prepare the slow cooker. Place the chicken bones, carcass, and any drippings into a large 6-quart slow cooker. Add the onion, carrots, celery, apple cider vinegar, garlic, salt, and bay leaf to the pot.
- Cover in water. Fill the pot with filter water until it covers the bones by about 2 inches.
- Simmer the broth. Cover and cook on the HIGH setting for 1-2 hours, or until the liquid begins to boil. Switch to the LOW setting and cook for 5-24 hours, or until the broth is reduced by about a 1/3.
- Strain and store. Using a fine mesh strainer, strain the bone broth into a separate large bowl or pot. Let the broth cool, then transfer to containers to store in the refrigerator or freezer. Once chilled, the broth will have a layer of fat on top. Scrape off the fat and discard.
Do I Need To Roast The Bones?
If you are using raw bones, yes. Just preheat the oven to 425°F, then place the bones on a large baking sheet in a single layer. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until golden brown.
If you are using bones leftover from a rotisserie chicken or whole roasted chicken, you do not need to roast the bones because they’ve already been roasted during cooking. If you plan to throw in extra chicken feet, these do not need to be roasted. Just clean with cool water and make sure the nails are removed.
Slow Cooker Chicken Bone Broth
While you can make bone broth in a dutch oven or large stock pot on the stove, I much prefer making chicken bone broth in the slow cooker. It’s the perfect low and slow simmer, and cooking is completely hands off.
You can also easily make broth after cooking a whole roasted chicken in the slow cooker. Just cook a whole chicken rubbed with seasoning in the slow cooker for 6-8 hours on the LOW setting, or 4-6 hours on the HIGH setting. Debone your chicken and add the carcass and bones back to the slow cooker. Then, following the remaining instructions as detailed below to make bone broth!
A slow cooker is one of my most favorite kitchen appliances. While there are many fancy slow cookers out there, I’ve been using this slow cooker for almost a decade and I absolutely love it. In fact, we use it weekly! Here are more slow cooker recipes so you can put it to good use!
Straining and Storage
You’ll need to use a fine mesh strainer when straining homemade chicken bone broth. This will remove all the little bits and leave you with pure, liquid gold. I recommend straining the broth into another large stock pot or bowl to let the bone broth cool before transferring to storage containers.
I love using Le Parfait gasket jars for storage. They come in a variety of sizes and have different top options. You can also use mason jars.
After you transfer the bone broth to your storage containers, let the broth chill overnight in the fridge. Scrape off the fat that’s separated to the top and discard. If you plan to freeze any of your broth, store it in the freezer after the fat has been removed. Bone broth will last in the fridge for 5 days, and in the freezer up to 6 months.
Bone Broth Tips & Tricks
- Adjust the amount of water you use according to the size of your chicken carcass. Make sure to cover the bones in about 1-2 inches of water.
- You can use all of the contents leftover from roasting a whole chicken, including the carcass, bones, and any drippings or gelatin.
- Add 1-2 chicken feet to help your bone broth gel.
- Simmer your broth for at least 5 hours, or up to 24 hours. Do whatever fits your schedule!
- Let your broth cool before pouring into storage containers, especially if you’re using glass storage containers.
- I love using Le Parfait gasket jars for storing homemade chicken bone broth.
- Leave plenty of room in your containers for expansion if you plan to freeze your bone broth.
How to Use Chicken Bone Broth
- Sip on bone broth warmed up in a mug in the morning or as a mid-afternoon drink. This is great to do especially when sick!
- Use it to make homemade chicken soup, stews, or chili. It gives incredible nutrient-dense properties to your dishes and adds delicious flavor!
- Use it in sauces, gravy, marinades, or add it to mashed potatoes instead of water or stock.
What if My Bone Broth Didn’t Gel?
If you’re bone broth doesn’t gel, never fear! Your bone broth is still packed with all the beneficial nutrients. You may have added a little too much water, or you didn’t use enough jointy bones, like chicken feet and necks. Local farmers, butchers, and grocery stores sell these for as cheap as $1/lb. Next time, throw a couple chicken feet and you should be in business! You can also add a little gelatin to your bone broth after the fact to make it gel.
Recommended Equipment + Pantry Items
This is the slow cooker I’ve been using for years and I love it! For more info about what I personally have tried and tested in the kitchen, plus recommendations when it comes to pantry items, check out my baking and cooking resources page.
Other Recipes You’ll Love
- Thai Chicken Coconut Curry
- Creamy Crockpot White Chicken Chili
- 15-Minute Egg Roll in A Bowl
- Instant Pot Chicken Enchilada Soup (Whole30, Paleo)
- Healthy Chicken Tikka Masala
- Bones and carcass from 1 whole roasted chicken (about 1-2 lbs bones)
- 1 medium onion, roughly chopped
- 2 carrots, roughly chopped
- 2 celery ribs, roughly chopped
- 1 tablespoon raw apple cider vinegar
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- 1 bay leaf, optional
- Filtered water, about 8-10 cups
Roasting the bones:
- If starting with raw bones (not from a whole cooked chicken), preheat the oven to 425°F, then place the bones on a large baking sheet in a single layer. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until golden brown.
Slow cooker bone broth:
- Place the chicken bones, carcass, and any drippings into a large 6-quart slow cooker. Add the onion, carrots, celery, apple cider vinegar, garlic, salt, and bay leaf to the pot.
- Fill the pot with filter water until it covers the bones by about 1-2 inches.
- Cover and cook on HIGH setting for 1-2 hours, or until the liquid begins to boil. Switch to the LOW setting and cook for 5-24 hours, or until the broth is reduced by about a 1/3.
- Using a fine mesh strainer, strain the bone broth into a separate large bowl or pot. Let the broth cool, then transfer to containers to store in the refrigerator or freezer.
- Once chilled, the broth will have a layer of fat on top. Scrape off the fat and discard. If freezing, let the broth chill in containers the fridge overnight and remove the fat layer before placing in the freezer.
- Throw in some extra chicken feet or neck into your bone broth to increase the collagen content. You can purchase these separately from local farms or butcher shops.
- Let the broth simmer for a minimum of 5 hours, or anywhere up to 24 hours.
- Most slow cookers have restrictions on how long they can be programmed. Mine can be programmed to cook on LOW for 20 hours, so I usually let it go for 20 and strain it the following evening.
- If freezing, leave plenty of room in your containers for expansion.
- Bone broth will last in the fridge for 5 days, and in the freezer up to 6 months.
Got any additional questions about how to make chicken bone broth? Ask away below!