Recipe: Slow Cooker Chicken Bone Broth

Soups + Stew Recipes

By: Deborah Murphy, MS, RD, LDN


Bone broth has become a trendy superfood; luckily you don’t have to dish out the cash for expensive bone broth at the grocery store as it is super easy to make! This slow cooker chicken bone broth is our favorite way to make bone broth.

Is there anything so comforting as flavorful, homemade bone broth? Not only is bone broth budget friendly (it can be made from just about any leftover bones or vegetable scraps you have) and helps manage any food waste, but it may also offer some health benefits as well. Plus, this slow cooker recipe for bone broth couldn’t be any easier!

This recipe uses the slow cooker or crock pot to cook the bones for a long time. The long cooking time and the addition of some vinegar are key to extracting more nutrients like calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, and collagen from the bones into the broth. Some of the potential health benefits of bone broth include: improved skin elasticity, gut health support, and relief from joint pain.

What is Bone Broth?

Although it recently became quite popular in the United States, it has been a cooking staple in other cultures for centuries. A basic bone broth consists of animal carcass bones (and sometimes skin, feet, and connective tissue like tendons, and cartilage) boiled in water. Usually the cooking time for bone broth is anywhere from 4 hours to 24 hours to allow more nutrients to be extracted from the bones.

Bone Broth vs Stock

Although broth and stock are often used interchangeably, there is a slight difference between the two. Both are made by cooking animal bones (and sometimes meat and vegetables) in water. However, the key difference is that the cooking time for bone broth is much longer than stock. The longer cooking time allows more nutrients to be released from the bones into the broth so bone broth is often higher in protein and other nutrients than a cooking stock. For example, one serving of bone broth can provide anywhere from 10-20 grams of protein, while a serving of stock has just 1 gram of protein.

Ingredients You’ll Need

  • Chicken bones: you’ll need the leftover chicken carcass from one whole roasted chicken for this slow cooker chicken bone broth recipe. We like to use the leftover bones from a store-bought rotisserie chicken. (Turkey bones would work too if you have leftovers from Thanksgiving.) If you have them or are feeling adventurous, you can include chicken feet as well; just make sure you do not include any organ meat. Make beef bone broth by swapping chicken bones with beef bones.
  • Vegetables (Onion, Carrot, Celery): add a few vegetables for an even more flavorful bone broth. This trio of vegetables (onion, carrot, celery) is a classic. If you have any saved veggie scraps from cooking, you can use those. 
  • Herbs (Garlic, Bay Leaf, Thyme): add even more flavor to your finished broth by including some herbs and spices. We like to include some fresh garlic, dried bay leaves, and some dried thyme plus some black pepper and salt. You could also try making this with dried oregano or Italian seasoning. Some people like to add some fresh ginger, turmeric, or cayenne pepper. Really, the seasoning options are totally up to you and your preferences!
  • Apple Cider Vinegar: adding just a couple tablespoons of apple cider vinegar (or any vinegar) helps break down the bones and release more nutrients into the cooking liquid or broth.

How to Make Slow Cooker Chicken Bone Broth

dual image of slow cooker chicken broth ingredients in slow cooker pot, and drained both on white countertop
  • Simmer ingredients in crockpot: Add all of the ingredients (chicken bones, vegetables, herbs, apple cider vinegar) to a large slow cooker. Cover with filtered water. Cook on high for 1 hour and then set to LOW to cook for another 12 hours but up to 16 hours.
  • Strain: Strain the broth through a fine mesh strainer into a second pot. (I usually do this over the sink.) Discard any leftover solids. If you want to remove any small pieces, you can also strain it through a piece of cheesecloth as well. Cool to room temperature and then transfer to jars to store in the fridge overnight. The following day, there may be a layer of fat on top of the homemade broth. Skim this off and discard. 
  • Store: Store in the fridge for 3-4 days or transfer to storage containers, ice cube trays, or souper cubes to store in the freezer for up to 3-6 months.

Ways to Use Chicken Bone Broth

Now that you’ve got a batch of bone broth cooking in the crockpot, you may be wondering how to use this delicious chicken bone broth. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Warm up a cup of bone broth and sip like a cup of tea.
  • Cook whole grains like rice, quinoa, or farro in bone broth for extra flavor and protein
  • Use bone broth instead of stock in homemade soups and stews. (It’s especially good in chicken soup.)
  • Add bone broth to the skillet when sauteeing veggies for extra flavor and moisture.
  • Use bone broth instead of water when making beans.

Storage

  • Fridge: homemade chicken bone broth can be stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container or glass jars for up to 3-4 days. We like to store it in large mason jars. 
  • Freezer: for longer storage, transfer the broth to storage containers and keep in the freezer for up to 3 months. Silicone ice cube trays are great for storing frozen broth since you can just pop out a couple of cubes as you need them. Try to avoid freezing in glass.
slow cooker chicken broth in clear mason jar on counter with ingredients arranged around it

How long should you cook chicken bone broth in a slow cooker?

Long cooking times are best for bone broth. Aim to cook the bone broth for at least 8-12 hours. Since we don’t like to have a pot cooking on the stove that long, the slow cooker is our favorite way to make bone broth!

Can you overcook bone broth in a slow cooker?

Yes, cooking for more than 24 hours, the flavor starts to get bitter. Set a timer so you don’t forget about your bone broth!



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    Total Time: 15 minutes

    Yield: 4 serving(s)

    Ingredients

    • 1 chicken carcass from a 4-5 lb roasted chicken
    • 1 medium onion, peeled and cut into quarters
    • 2 medium carrots, peeled or scrubbed and cut into large chunks
    • 3 stalks celery, washed and cut into large chunks
    • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
    • 1 bay leaf
    • 1-2 sprigs of fresh thyme and rosemary
    • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
    • 1 teaspoon sea salt (taste finished broth and add more if needed)
    • 5-6 whole black peppercorns
    • 8 cups water (more as needed to cover your chicken/veggies)

    Directions

    1. Add everything to a large slow cooker, cover with water and cook on high for 1 hour, then reduce to low and cook for at least 12 hours but up to 14-16 hours. The bones will soften if you cook it long enough.
    2. Strain everything through a fine mesh strainer and discard the solids. (You can also strain a second time through a piece of cheesecloth to remove any remaining solids.) Season with salt and pepper. Recipe makes about 8 cups of bone broth.
    3. Store in the refrigerator for 3-4 days or the freezer for up to 3 months.

    Nutrition Information Per Serving

    Serving Size: 1 cup of broth

    Calories: 53

    Protein: 5 gram(s)

    Fat: 3 gram(s)

    Carbohydrates: 1 gram(s)

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    3 Comments


    on Reply

    I add lemongrass, ginger, parsley, and near the end of cooking a bunch of lime leaves (from Asian market). I use an Amish/organic whole chicken, remove as much meat as possible (excellent for chicken dinner!) I cut the longer bones in half, including the back bone, the knuckles and add all to the pot. This exposes as much marrow as possible. I start on the stove and transfer to crockpot and simmer for 48 hours. Drain through a strainer and pour into clean jars. My recipe is based on Hmong bone broth that women have with rice in the post partum phase of childbirth.


    on Reply

    Yes! My question is if we don't want to make our own bone broth, what and how do we go about getting the best bone broth when we buy it?? Health Food stores and they always carry so many brands I get lost looking for the correct one! Please HELP in assisting me with this! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, Linda Goodman


      on Reply

      Hi Linda! I have not purchased bone broth before, but I've heard that Pacific Naturals is a good (and widely available) brand. I've purchased Pacific Naturals with other products and always like it!




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