This crockpot beef bone broth is a fantastic base for rich soup recipes or simply sipping for better health. It’s incredibly easy to make, and with this recipe, you’ll learn all the tips to make sure it’s made right. No weak flavors, no over or underdoing it and no impurities left behind. It can also be made in the Instant Pot!
I use this broth in my richest recipes because it’s so flavorful and cozy. Perfect for Beef Bourguignon and French onion soup. It’s also perfect for sipping if you want to ward off a cold or improve your overall health. It just takes a bit of time, and it can be frozen for months so you’ll never waste a drop.
beef bones – You just need simple knuckle and neck bones. Don’t pick up expensive marrow bones. They don’t have as much collagen and that lovely marrow will just melt and mix with the other fats to be removed.
red onion – You can also use yellow onion, or none at all. If you don’t intend for the broth to be used on its own for sipping, you don’t have to add any extra flavors, and simply add them when it’s time to use the broth in a soup recipe.
garlic – Just like onion, you don’t necessarily have to add it to the broth unless you want to serve it on its own. But if you do want to add it, feel free to just wash the full head, slice it in half, and throw the whole thing in, papery outside and all.
sea salt – You can also use kosher salt.
apple cider vinegar – You can also use standard white or rice vinegar, but not balsamic.
water – Noth’n fancy.
How to Make Crockpot Bone Broth – Step by Step
1. First, place 2 pounds of bones in a pot of water and boil them for 15 minutes to remove the impurities before placing them in your crockpot. Slice a small-medium-sized onion and head of garlic in half. Add boiled bones, chopped onion, chopped garlic, 1 tbsp. salt and 1 tbsp. of apple cider vinegar to a 4-quart crockpot.
2. Add 8 cups of water (or enough to cover the bones), but leave a little space at the top for your broth to simmer. You don’t want it to over-flow as it heats and bubbles a bit. Simmer on LOW for 48 hours. If you’re using an Instant Pot, set it to Slow Cook and MEDIUM for 48 hours.
NOTE: Check the water level after 24 hours. Depending on how much has steamed off, you may want to add another cup or 2 of water. Some crockpots have looser lids that allow too much liquid to evaporate. Add just enough to bring the water level back to where it was 24 hours ago if it’s evaporated below the bones.
3. When your broth is done simmering, remove the bones and boiled vegetables.
4. Strain the broth through a mesh strainer to remove any other bits left behind.
5. Place broth in a refrigerator to cool for at least 4 hours. The layer of fat will harden on the top.
6. After the fat has hardened, remove the layer with a spoon. You can discard the fat or use it to cook with.
You’re going to let it simmer for 2 whole days. Not 8 hours, not 24, but a full 48. You can technically make a broth in just 1 day, but if you came for easy and mediocre, you came to the wrong blog. Here at She Keeps a Lovely Home, we’re all about easy but fancy (and full of flavor!)
It’s SO much better when you let it simmer for 48 hours. It will be so much richer and more flavorful. You’ll also notice that your broth will “gel” when cooled which means you’ve pulled all that highly nutritious collagen out of the bones when you let it go for a full 2 days.
My broth would never gel when I skipped a day. No gel = mediocre broth. Less flavor, less nutritious, less fancy.
Unfortunately, that pressure cook function won’t speed up the process. It will just leave you with a flavorless broth if you try to cut down on time (in my experience).
You really need to let it take its time to get that rich, jiggly, collagen-rich consistency, so you’re going to do almost exactly as you would in your crockpot – allowing it to simmer for 48 hours, but you’re going to set the Instant Pot to “Slow Cook” on “Medium” not Low.
The medium setting on the instant pot is about the same as the low setting on most crockpots. Most Instant Pots can’t be set to slow cook for more than 24 hours though, so you’ll just have to reset it after 24 hours to go for another day.
This “bone broth” you’re going to make is actually “beef stock.” “Beef broth” is made with both meat and bones and simmered on high for a short amount of time. “Beef stock” is made with only bones and simmered for a long time. So, that “stock” you buy in boxes in the food store is actually mislabeled. It isn’t stock at all, but broth, because it’s often made with a mix of bones and meat, it’s thinner and not slowly simmered.
When the world of super-foodies realized just how healthy beef stock was – which again, by definition, is slow-cooked beef bones – they wanted to delineate between the standard, store-bought, intensely boiled, quickly made (and mislabeled) “stock” that you buy in stores.
So this bunch of folks essentially branded true “beef stock” as “bone broth” since it’s a term that was not commonly used for store-bought (mislabeled) beef “stock.” Quite confusing.
This recipe is not for over-salted, heat-blasted, preservative-filled beef stock, however. It’s for utterly nutritious, extra fancy (and technically mislabeled) “bone broth.”
If you want to remove impurities, yes. It’s also an essential step if you want to save the fat that rises to the top to cook with later. If you don’t boil the bones, the impurities rise and stay in the fat, making it not so “clean” to cook with.
It’s not 100% necessary, but it’s a great idea. Some chefs say the bones should be dark brown before going into the pot, but I find popping them in the oven for 40-45 minutes at 450 F. gives my broth a deep, rich flavor, and a deep, dark color.
Bone broth will only last nicely in the fridge for about 4-5 days, but you can freeze it in glass or Tupperware and it will be perfect for months!
A Few Tips
1. You don’t need expensive marrow bones.
Contrary to popular opinion, the best bones to use for beef broth are actually neck and knucklebones, not marrow bones. Marrow bones are mostly fat, and that fat simply rises to the top and is scooped off when the broth is done.
They’re also much more expensive compared to neck and knucklebones which are just as flavorful and provide that nice collagen thickness to your broth.
3. Don’t use a lot of “flavoring.”
It’s not necessary to throw lots of different kinds of vegetables and seasonings into the pot. You’re simply making broth. It’s flavorful enough as it is, and if you intend to make a soup with it, you can always add those ingredients at a later time.
It’s best to make as much room for bones and water in the pot as possible. A simple sliced onion and head of garlic, cut in half, is all you need to give it a little dimension – and make your kitchen smell delicious while it simmers.
You don’t even have to take the onion and garlic out of their skins, but just remember to wash them before you put them in the pot.
I use this bone broth to make this incredibly rich, irresistible French onion soup! Once the broth is done, it’s the EASIEST recipe!
A Few More Cozy Winter Recipes
Crockpot Bone Broth
- 4 quart crockpot
- mesh strainer
- large glass container
- sharp knife and cutting board
- 2 pounds beef knuckle and/or neck bones
- 1 small-medium red onion – chopped in half
- 1 head garlic – chopped in half
- 1 tbsp. sea salt
- 1 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
- 2 quarts water – or enough to cover bones
- First, place 2 pounds of bones in a pot of water and boil them for 15 minutes to remove the impurities. Then, bake bones on a foil-lined baking tray at 450 F. for 40-45 minutes.
- Once bones are baked, slice 1 small/medium-sized onion and 1 head of garlic in half. Add bones, chopped onion, chopped garlic, 1 tbsp. salt and 1 tbsp. of apple cider vinegar to a 4 quart crock pot.
- Add enough water to cover the bones, but leave a little space at the top for your broth to simmer. You don’t want it to over-flow as it heats and bubbles a bit. Simmer on LOW for 48 hours (If using the Instant Pot, set to Slow Cook and set to MEDIUM for 48 hours).
- NOTE: Check the water level after 24 hours. Depending on how much has steamed off, you may want to add another cup or 2 of water. Some crockpots have loser lids that allow too much liquid to evaporate. Add just enough to bring the water level back to where it was 24 hours ago if it's evaoprated below the bones.
- When your broth is done simmering, remove the bones and boiled vegetables.
- Strain the broth through a mesh strainer to remove any other bits left behind.
- Place broth in a refrigerator to cool for at least 4-5 hours. The layer of fat will harden on the top.
- After the fat has hardened, remove the layer with a spoon. Either discard the fat, or use it to cook with later, as long as you made sure to follow step 1 and purified the bones first.