Homemade slow cooker chicken bone broth is the easiest thing you could ever make. Even better? If you save bones throughout the month, it costs NOTHING to make and it's good for you.
It basically cooks on its own in the slow cooker, turning into a rich, flavorful broth you can use to make all your favorite soups, stews, and more!
Recipe: Free | Yield: 2 quarts (~8 cups)
This recipe was originally inspired by this whole roasted chicken recipe way back in 2014. After making it for dinner, I used the bones, juice, fat, and scraps to make slow cooker chicken broth overnight.
It's such a great way to use up all the scraps you'd usually just throw in the garbage! And really it cost virtually NOTHING else to make it.
- Why You Will Love This Recipe
- Chicken Stock VS Chicken Bone Broth?
- Additions and Substitutions
- How to Make Slow Cooker Chicken Broth
- How to Use Homemade Chicken Broth
- How to Freeze Chicken Broth
- Expert Tips and FAQs
- Why Didn't My Bone Broth Gel?
- More Helpful Resources on Bone Broth and Health
- More Recipes to Use Chicken Bone Broth
- Easy Homemade Chicken Stock (Slow Cooker or Stove Top)
Why You Will Love This Recipe
- Skip the added sugar, preservatives, or other unnecessary ingredients when you make homemade chicken broth. Plus, homemade can be individualized - this version is Low FODMAP, and if made in a pressure cooker, it is Low Histamine.
- It's packed with nutrition and healing benefits. Most homemade bone broths are therapeutic foods, while most store bought brands don't provide enough nutrition to fall into that category. Plus, homemade tastes incredible by comparison!
- It's free! How's that for frugal nutrition?
- It's the easiest thing you could ever make, you literally just pile everything in the slow cooker and let it cook.
- So many different ways to use it!
Chicken Stock VS Chicken Bone Broth?
In many ways they are all quite similar but they have some very small differences.
- Broth: This term refers to any liquid that results from cooking vegetables, meat, or fish. The ingredients added to the water, flavor the water as it cooks.
- Stock: Similar to broth but includes additional seasoning ingredients such as salt, pepper, herbs, and spices. It is most often strained after cooking.
- Bone broth: Can be prepared using either of the techniques above but specifically includes bones. It usually includes vinegar which helps to break down the bones and make the nutrients in them more available to dissolve into the broth.
Make a batch of bone broth with leftover chicken bones from your chicken dinner!
- Chicken bones: This includes the bones, grease, skin, little pieces of meat from a chicken. This could be leftover from dinner or meals throughout the month, or you can usually buy just the bones for about $1 per pound at your local grocery store.
- Apple cider vinegar: This helps to break down the bones and extract minerals. You can also use another type of vinegar if you'd prefer.
Additions and Substitutions
I keep my chicken broth simple most of the time, but you can add in whatever vegetables or herbs you'd like.
- Soup base vegetables like onions, garlic, celery, and carrots are delicious in broth.
- Use up vegetable scraps: I often keep a bag of vegetable scraps in my freezer, which I will add at the beginning with everything else.
- Herbs: Thyme, oregano, marjoram, rosemary, and parsley are some herbs that work great to add flavor.
- Peppercorns: These work better than cracked pepper as they're much easier to remove when straining.
TIP: I would avoid adding anything from the cruciferous family (cabbage, broccoli, and cauliflower) as these do not taste or smell great in a broth.
How to Make Slow Cooker Chicken Broth
Here's an overview of the main steps involved in making this recipe! Check the recipe card for the details.
- Place the pre-cooked chicken bones in the slow cooker. (Can be frozen or not.) You can pack these in to get as many bones to fit as possible.
- Add enough water to just barely cover all the bones.
- Add the apple cider vinegar.
TOP TIP: If you are adding any additional ingredients like onion, carrot, celery, herbs or spices add them now as well.
- Set the slow cooker to cook on low for 12-20 hours. As it cooks, skim off any foam or scum rising to the top.
- When it's done cooking let it cool slightly and then strain the chicken bone stock through a fine sieve.
- The fat will settle on the top after it cools, you can skim this off if desired, prior to storing. This fat is safe to cook with and tolerates high heat.
How to Use Homemade Chicken Broth
Now that you've made your bone broth, here are some of my favorite ways to use it.
- Cook up veggies in it such as this caramelized fig-onion-kale saute.
- Use it as the liquid for cooking grains such as this simple quinoa recipe.
- Replace water in soup recipes. I love it in this easy white bean soup.
- Use it any recipe that calls for chicken broth.
- Add small amounts of unsalted, unseasoned broth to smoothies.
- Sip it hot from a mug!
- Use unsalted stock to cook beans from dry or to make refried beans.
- Make a One-Pot Pasta with broth instead of water.
How to Use Broth as a Therapeutic Food
Therapeutically, we use broth as a way to get bioavailable nutrients and amino acids that are important for gut health and joint health.
There are many different doses, but the standard recommendation is as follows:
- Prepare homemade bone broth as indicated in the recipe below, ensuring it jiggles after it has cooled overnight in the fridge.
- For acute needs: Consume 8 ounces twice a day. This can be as a beverage, in a soup, or spread throughout the day in various recipes.
- For long-term support, consume one 8-ounce serving daily or a few times a week.
How to Freeze Chicken Broth
Unless you're doing an insane amount of cooking, it's a good idea to freeze the broth in glass jars (tips for freezing in glass), BPA-free plastic bags, or in your ice cube tray. Let the broth cool to room temperature before adding to freezer containers or plastic.
- Fill the jar or container only about three-quarters of the way, leaving 2 inches or so at the top to allow the broth to expand.
- Place the jars in the freezer without their lids overnight, and then add the lid in the morning.
This way if you didn't leave quite enough room, the broth can expand over the top of the jar instead of cracking the jar.
TOP TIP: If it expands over the top you can thaw the broth and use it immediately or chisel away the top bit of broth until the lid fits. The broth will not continue to expand once it has been frozen.
Expert Tips and FAQs
- Salt or unsalted? I prefer to skip salting homemade broth or stock when making it. This way I can cook beans from dry (without them taking forever to cook) or use it in dishes that are already salty.
- Just use enough water to barely cover the bones so you don't water down the flavor or nutrients.
- Make sure your bone broth gels after chilling.
- Store broth in the fridge for up to five days or in the freezer for up to three months.
How do I know my bone broth is prepared correctly?
One of the ways you know your broth is a therapeutic food is if it gels and becomes jiggly overnight in the fridge.
That meals the gelatin in the bones - which contains the glycine and glutamine - has left the bones and entered the broth.
Why Didn't My Bone Broth Gel?
- Did you use too much water? Try using significantly less water in the future.
- Did you have enough gelatin-rich bones and connective tissue? You can add 2 chicken feet (cleaned!) or about 4 whole chicken wings (cooked or raw) to ensure your broth gels in the future.
- Did you cook your broth over high heat? If your broth simmers at too high of a heat, the structure of the gelatin in the broth may break down, resulting in a thin broth without any remaining gelatin.
- Did you cook your broth for too long or not long enough? I find that 12-24 hours is the sweet spot for chicken broth in the slow cooker, and 8-14 hours is the sweet spot for the stove. If you cook it for longer, the gelatin may break down, not allowing your broth to gel. If you don't cook it long enough, the bones might not break down enough to release the gelatin and other nutrients.
The most important thing to remember is that a broth that doesn't gel is still perfectly good to consume! It will have nutrients and flavor, but it might not be as rich as a therapeutic broth.
Yes, it is! It is one of the richest sources of glycine and glutamine, two amino acids that are essential for gut health and detoxification pathways. You can use it therapeutically for gut healing. It's also a great source of both potassium and chromium.
Most of the options available on supermarket shelves are perfectly fine for cooking, but lack the flavor and nutrients of a homemade bone broth. Many do not provide enough nutrition to be considered a therapeutic food. If you don't have time to make your own chicken bone stock, these are my favorite store bought brands to use that have good flavor and therapeutic benefits: Brodo Broth (order online, or at their NYC stores), Bonafide Provisions (frozen section), Kettle & Fire Organic Bone Broth, and FOND Low FODMAP Organic/Regenerative Bone Broths.
Vegetarian or vegan broths will not contain high levels of glycine or glutamine, however they are excellent sources of minerals (sometimes better sources), and can be used therapeutically. Here are some recipes & brands to try.
Nourishing Homemade Vegetable Broth, Rebecca Katz's Magic Mineral Broth, Kettle & Fire Organic Vegetable Broth, and Bonafide Provisions Organic Vegetable Broth.
More Helpful Resources on Bone Broth and Health
- Nutrition Report on Bone Broth by Jill Sheppard Davenport, MS, CNS, LDN & Dr. Kara N. Fitzgerald. (This links to their Jill's blog post - enter your email address at the end to be sent the full report with nutritional data.)
- Better Broths & Healing Tonics (book & cookbook) by Dr. Kara N. Fitzgerald and Jill Sheppard Davenport, MS, CNS, LDN
- The Bone Broth Miracle Diet by Erin Skinner, MS, RDN
More Recipes to Use Chicken Bone Broth
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Easy Homemade Chicken Stock (Slow Cooker or Stove Top)
- Slow cooker
- 2 pounds chicken bones, ideally from organically raised chickens bones, skin, etc. from chicken (We started with a 4-pound chicken, roasted it, then removed all the meat, and also added bones we had stored in the freezer from drumsticks.)
- 6-7 cups water about 1.5 liters, just enough to barely cover the bones
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 2 chicken feet (fully cleaned, raw) can be added to ensure broth gels properly
- 4 chicken wings (raw or cooked) can be added to ensure broth gels properly
- 2 teaspoons salt*
- Place bones in slow cooker. Add water, but ensure bones are just covered. It is better to have a few bones poking out than to add to much water. Pour in the apple cider vinegar. (Add any additional ingredients like onion, carrot, celery, or chicken feet/wings here as well.)
- Set slow cooker to low and cook for 12-24 hours. I typically cook mine for 20 hours.If at any point you notice foam or scum rising to the top, you can skim this off.
- *Alternative stove top option: Add bones, water and vinegar to large pot. Let rest 30 minutes, then bring to a boil. Boil for 10 minutes, then cover and reduce to a low simmer. Simmer on very low heat for 12-24 hours.
- Strain stock through fine sieve or mesh strainer. Store in the fridge for 1 week or the freezer for 3-6 months. You can scrape off the fat that settles on the top if you want but it's not necessary.
- *I keep my stock unsalted until it’s time to use it. This way I can use it in more recipes and control the salt level as I go.
This post was originally published in January of 2014. It has been updated to include more specific step-by-step instructions, updated photos, and better information about the therapeutic use of broth. Thanks for being here!