The first time I learned about bone broth was when my roommate came home with a new Crock-Pot and bag of beef marrow bones ready to make a fresh batch. Excited to experience the health benefits, she quickly put the beef bones in the Crock-Pot with some water and let it simmer away for the day. Unfortunately, it tasted pretty terrible. We added some vegetables to the pot and let it simmer some more. Thankfully, it tasted significantly better.
Since then, I was curious about what bone broth was. I noticed that at the stores, a small carton (~2 cups) can easily cost $8. I thought that was expensive since you can buy all the bones and vegetables for (typically) under $15 and have at least 12 cups of this healthy and amazing broth.
Key Differences from Chicken and Beef Broth
Bone broth is very similar to chicken/beef broth in my opinion. The major differences are:
- It’s especially important to pick meat with lots of bones because they contain collagen/gelatin — leave the chicken breast behind for another dish.
- Extended cook time! You want it to simmer away for at least 8+ hours to get all the nutrients. I've heard people simmer it for up to 24 hours!
Once the broth has cooled, it will be more gelatinous than regular broth. Jake loves having a cup of this broth most nights. We love using this as a base for other soups, such as our potato leek soup and our creamy roasted tomato basil soup.
We’ve also used our homemade bone broth to make mushroom risotto (sometimes we even add the marrow from the bones to make it extra yummy), or red enchilada sauce.
If you simmer the broth for long enough (ours was simmered for 9 hours total) it will have almost a jello-like consistency when chilled in the refrigerator:
What You Need
For this recipe, I use a combination of chicken and beef bones. To save money, I buy a whole chicken from our local butcher and ask him to cut it up into 8 pieces. If you do this, make sure to ask for the chicken back. I put aside the 2 chicken breasts to use for another meal and kept the 2 thighs, 2 drumsticks, and 2 wings for the broth. I also added a beef shank bone (with marrow) and 2 beef oxtail pieces. This is plenty of meat for an 8-quart soup pot. I like to roast the meat before placing it in the soup for extra flavor, but you definitely don't have to.
Another way to make homemade bone broth an even better deal is to buy the meat when it’s on sale and freeze it (raw) until you are ready to make the broth. I try to use the meat and bones within 3-4 months of buying them.
Freezing Bone Broth
We love freezing bone broth in our 1-cup Souper Cubes trays. This lets us easily reheat a cup for a warm bowl of soup or use the exact amount we need for a recipe.
To freeze broth in Souper Cubes trays,
- Ladle strained broth directly into the tray. It’s okay if the broth is hot. Our silicone trays are food-safe up to 415F.
- Place the lid on top of the tray.
- Once cool, freeze overnight.
We try to freeze our broth within 3-4 days of making it. Make sure your broth has cooled before placing it in the freezer. Otherwise, you’ll warm up the surrounding foods in the freezer.
Bone broth can last in the freezer for 3-4 months if it remains frozen in your Souper Cubes tray or if you transfer it to a freezer-safe bag. For longer storage (4+ months), we recommend vacuum sealing your frozen bone broth to reduce exposure to air in the freezer, sealing in the delicious flavor.
Reheating Frozen Bone Broth
Reheating frozen bone broth is easy.
If you’ve kept your broth frozen in Souper Cubes trays, bring out the tray and let it sit on the counter for 4-5 minutes. This lets the lid warm up and expand just enough to make it easy to take off. Then push out the cubes from the tray.
If I’m reheating 1-2 cups of frozen broth, I will typically use the microwave and place it in a mug or bowl. In our microwave, it takes about 3.5 minutes to reheat from frozen. If I am reheating a larger quantity of frozen bone broth (3+ cups), I often use a pot on the stove. Make sure to start off on a low heat until at least half a cup thaws and melts, then bring up the heat to medium-high.
How to Make Oxtail Bone Broth
I recommend starting this in the morning when you'll be home throughout the day. Scroll below to see our homemade bone broth. Alternatively, you can also use a Crock-Pot.
Optional: Roast bones in 450º F for 20-30 minutes
This step is completely optional. You can also just put them directly in the pot with vegetables and the bone broth will still be delicious. I know some people love putting chicken feet in but I haven't tried it yet!
Step 1: Prepare vegetables
Chop up your desired vegetables and place them in your large pot with your oxtail bones.
Step 2: Place everything in a large stockpot and fill with water
Use enough water to cover the bones completely.
Step 3: Partially cover the pot with a lid. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer for 8+ hours
For the first half-hour, there will likely be foam on the top of the broth as it simmers. This is okay. Just skim it off with a spoon.
After simmering for 3-4 hours, the vegetables and chicken would have given all of their flavor. I typically use tongs to strain out the vegetables and will shred the chicken meat in a separate bowl. To save time, you can use an electric mixer to shred the meat. If there are any large bones, I throw them back in the pot. I freeze the shredded chicken in a Souper Cubes™ tray to have for other meals (i.e. pozole verde with chicken, chicken noodle soup, or red enchilada sauce).
Step 4: Enjoy your oxtail bone broth!
After simmering for 8+ hours, your bone broth is ready to enjoy! If you'd like to simmer it for more than a day but don't have a Crockpot, let the soup cool completely and place it in the refrigerator overnight. Cook it again tomorrow throughout the day.
Jake likes to have his straight or with Hawaij (a Yeminite spice mix). I prefer a more traditional chicken noodle soup.
Step 5: Freeze leftovers to enjoy later!
You don’t need to use your broth right away! It’s totally fine to freeze the broth for a while and defrost whenever you want some warm, healthy goodness.