Homemade Beef Broth

Warm liquid splashes into a bowl, simmering with bits of melted fat as I strain my beef broth. This nutrient dense, life promoting broth has numerous benefits, both for health and for culinary application.

The above broth was made into the simplest of soups. I sauteed an onion in a pan, added diced carrots and later zucchini and pureed it into a silky “creamless” creamy soup. When fed to my “mother’s helper”, I felt slightly embarrassed to feed her such a basic soup. But halfway through her bowl, she asked about the recipe, saying that it was “so good!”. The secret, I told her, was the broth. When you have a rich broth as a base, it makes everything good.

I have already shared a delicious chicken broth recipe, now it’s time to share my beef broth recipe.

Once again, think of this recipe as a guideline. Broths and stocks are very changeable. You can use what you have on hand, and there are different ways to get a good broth. For example some recipes call for very specific bones, and some meat as well. My recipe is a bones only recipe for frugality and simplicity, but it tastes good too.

Sometimes when I am especially busy I simply roast the bones, cover with water, and cook for 12-24 hours. It can be that simple. But the following recipe is just a little more well rounded. I personally do it both the simple way, and the following way.

By the way, I have been reusing my bones in broths. I do find that the taste is not as good in subsequent batches. However, sometimes what I do is add new bones to the old bones for a more flavorful broth.

Homemade Beef Broth/Stock

    3-5 pounds of bones, especially good are marrow bones. Ask your butcher to cut to expose the marrow, if possible. I have been using a lot of knuckle bones lately*
    2 carrots, peeled and cut in half
    2 celery sticks, cut in half
    1-3 garlic cloves, peeled
    1 onion, peeled and quartered
    1-2 bay leaves
    15 black peppercorns
    1/4 cup of apple cider vinegar, optional *

1. Preheat the oven to 400F. Place all of the ingredients, sans the bay leaves, peppercorns and apple cider vinegar in a oven proof pot. If you’d like, melt some ghee, or fat of choice to drizzle over the bones and vegetables for better roasting (I usually skip this step). Cook for 30-45 minutes, flipping the bones and vegetables if needed, until starting to brown. Remove from oven and cool until warm.

2. Cover the bones with water, 1-2 inches above the bones. Add the bay leaves, apple cider vinegar, optional, and peppercorns. Bring to a low simmer and skim off any scum that comes to the surface. Simmer for 12-48 hours (three hours is the minimum for taste, but nutrition and depth of flavor will improve at the longer times).

3. Strain into a heat safe bowl, cool, and refrigerate. There will be a layer of fat on the top which you can leave or skim off once refrigerated according to desire.

4. Once well cooled in the refrigerator, if you didn’t water your broth down too much, you should have a gelatin rich, nutritious broth. This is what it will look like when cold. (Strange, but beautiful in it’s own way).  Enjoy!

* My butcher pointed out that many of the knuckle bones have marrow in them as well. In fact, he felt that this marrow was even easier to get out in a broth. Knuckle bones are about half the cost of marrow bones. I’ve been using mostly knuckle bones and getting great results.

*The apple cider vinegar helps draw out minerals, like calcium from the bones. It does change the taste a little, so keep that in mind.

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I love beautiful and simple food that is nourishing to the body and the soul. I wrote Fresh: Nourishing Salads for All Seasons and Ladled: Nourishing Soups for All Seasons as another outlet of sharing this love of mine. I also love sharing practical tips on how to make a real food diet work on a real life budget. Find me online elsewhere by clicking on the icons below!

Comments

  1. dani says

    I have made homemade chicken and turkey broths/stocks for a long time and I’m just branching out into making beef. One thing my mom taught me was to leave the skins on the yellow onions, mainly to get a deeper, golden color in the poultry broth. Are there any health benefits/risks to using the skins like this?

    • KimiHarris says

      Dani,

      I’ve done that as well. My only warning is not to use that method when using non-organic onions or when cooking a long time. When you do the long simmered stocks, it makes it bitter when left in too long. :-)

    • says

      My mom also told me to do this. I just wash the onion and leave them on. Apparently they skim some of the fat from the soup if that’s what you’re going for. Hadn’t heard of making it a deeper color, but that makes sense too!

      • Viktoria says

        I’m just reading the book “Eating on the Wild Side” and author states that “the high concentration of bionutrients in onion skins makes them the most nutritious part of the vegetable.” He recommends saving them adding to soup stock to enrich broth with flavor and bionutrients. The skin of yellow onions will give broth a golden yellow color. He says you can also crunch the skins and wrap them in cheesecloth or put them in a netted bag or a large tea ball and them to soups, stes, or pot roasts. That way, they’ll be easy to remove before serving.

        The other tid bit I learned is that shallots have six times more phytonutrients than a typical onion so I’m thinking of actually using them instead (didn’t seem that much pricier at the farmers market but then I didn’t compare lb for lb).

  2. Nicky says

    I have been making lamb stock (just because I’ve been getting a great deal on lamb bones at the local market) and thought this info might be useful to add….I read on the internet that a chef called Michael Ruhlman (http://blog.ruhlman.com/ruhlmancom/2007/11/thanksgiving-th.html) recommends cooking stocks in a low heat overnight in the oven at 180F (he says 4-6 hours but I just extend longer to 12-16 hours). He also says it’s important to bring the bones to simmer from cold water and to add the veges for one hour at the end of the whole process to improve the flavour – not for the whole time which is what I have usually done.

    To make it into a soup, I have been frying onions in ghee for quite a while to caramelise them, then adding the stock + a star anise or 2, some green spring vegetables (I’m in NZ), grated carrot and simmering til the veges are cooked. Then I add a squeeze of lemon, salt & pepper and it’s quite tasty. I haven’t pureed it but that would probably be a nice option too. A big bowl makes quite a satisfying meal.

    Thanks Kimi for all the posts on stocks, it has been so insightful!

    • KimiHarris says

      Hi Nickey,

      One other interesting thing I stumbled upon earlier this week. One ND was saying on her blog that when you add the vegetables early in the broth making process, it actually helps draw out the minerals from the bones. When you add them later, the minerals and vitamins from the vegetables are actually left in the broth. Both are good, just do different things. I don’t know what she was basing this off of, but it was interesting to read!

      • Lisa says

        Like Kimi mentioned, my conventional crockpots ran much too hot and the stock would boil over or evaporate very quickly. When I replaced my old crocks with the lead free zisha crocks, made from high-mineral purple zisha clay (http://www.amazon.com/SPT-SC-5355-Zisha-Slow-Cooker/dp/B0036704M8/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1320839556&sr=8-1) I have had fabulous success with making stock–and everything else in it. The clay heats very evenly and the level of liquid in the stock stayed nearly the same for days.

        • jenny says

          Thank You Lisa
          I have been searching for a crockpot that is lead free and for some reason I was having A LOT of trouble finding good info. Thanks for telling us about these crocks – one of these will be on my Christmas List for sure!!

          And Thanks Kimi for the timely beef broth recipe I just wrapped my side of beef last weekend with the farmer and a very knowlegable butcher – I made sure to get the meaty soup bones and to have him cut the others to expose the marrow – now with your recipe/instructions I am all set!!

          Happy cooking everyone

  3. says

    Thanks for this post, Kimi. I’ve only recently started doing beef bone broth so this is helpful. For whatever reason, I didn’t add veggies to mine! Maybe that would make it smell better; I’ve noticed a distinct smell with the beef broth…it isn’t as pleasant to me as the chicken broth is. Maybe that is just me though too. Also, I noticed after a few days in the fridge, if I still have any left, it looses some color. Mine has all been done via the crock pot this far since it’s easier when I am at work.

  4. says

    Where I live in central Nebraska, my butcher gets big, meaty beef shanks and you can only get them during the fall/winter here, so I stock up and freeze them, I get a great deal on them. Here, they are the only “cheap” meat you can find around here.
    I roast these shanks with some onion, bay leaf, and I just peel some veggies, (potato, carrot, parsnip with a potato peeler and let the veggie peels just melt into the broth and meat.
    The meat falls off of the shank bones, I then freeze the bones for more broth and add fresh bones.
    Thank you for sharing your broth recipe. I enjoy your food knowledge very much.

  5. Shelby Winters says

    I can’t wait to try this! I make my own out of chicken everytime I roast one. I do it in my crock pot and it is so delicious! I freeze it to use in recipes later. I had to buy some for a recipe when we were out of town, and it really does not compare to the homemade stuff!

  6. soulla says

    Why do you roast the bones beforehand? Does this add anything to the process nutritionally or otherwise? I usually skip this step and still obtain a rich gelatinous flavoursome broth.

  7. says

    Hi Kimi, Great post. I just made a batch of chicken broth and it’s time to make beef, so this comes just in time. Thanks for sharing it. I love the tip about simmering it for 12 to 48 hours for better nutrition. I usually only do 5, so this was helpful!

  8. Molly M says

    I often used to do my broth in a crock pot, but now I go through so much broth, I find 6 quarts to be too small. I recently bought an electric burner, and I LOVE it. The low settings are low so i can have the broth barely bubbling all night without worrying about burning down the house :)

    • Debbie says

      Just wondering what brand/model electric burner you bought? I am looking to make stock out in my garage! thanks much for your help!

  9. Valerie Josephson says

    as to the crock pot question, I always make my stocks in a crock pot. then I don’t have to watch it. I usually let them go for about 24 hours but since it’s simmering in the crock pot it’s a little less precise. I often make chicken stock with chicken necks, or the leftover chicken carcass from dinner, add a few vegetables, parsley stalks, some peppercorns etc. and fill the crock with water then simmer until you have the time to do something with it. I do the same with beef bones. I think the stock makes everything taste better and when I do it in the crockpot it doesn’t feel like I have to think about it very much and I like that.

  10. Natalie says

    Wow, that’s some serioulys beautiful and gelatinous broth! Kimi, where do you get your bones, I’m looking for a source around OR or WA??? I can’t find any at a decent price! ;(

    • KimiHarris says

      New Seasons Market! They are opening some in WA and have many stores is OR. I get their knuckle bones for $1.59 a pound. You probably need to special order them, but they will gladly.

  11. trish says

    Is it ok to just use knuckle bones? I just ordered a bag from the farm and wasn’t sure if it had to be a mix, or if all knuckle would be ok?

  12. Jessica says

    Okay, here’s a crazy question…My son recently got a deer while hunting. Anyone ever made deer stock? Beef bones are SO expensive here, and the beef broth in the store is too. I’m so excited to possibly have a “beef” type of stock for free! We saved lots of the bones and have them frozen right now. Going to split them open to get more of the marrow and minerals.

    • Natalie says

      Yep, I did! My brother in law hunts and so I was given a leg and some additional bones. I had them cut into smaller pieces and made stock. Deer stock was just as great as beef or chicken!

  13. says

    I’ve been making similar bone broths for friends going through cancer treatment. It’s so nourishing and satisfying, also a great source of hydration and minerals for those with little appetite.

  14. Elle says

    I just made this! Didn’t roast it first I hope thats okay. Its just for soup. I noticed the marrow came out in little blubs. What do you do with them? puree and add back in? toss or use in something else? Can you eat it?

  15. Paula says

    Hi Kimi,

    I’m also interested in the “roasting” issue. To roast or not to roast? Is this more of a taste issue or does it affect the nutriotional value of the stock as well?

    Thanks,

    Paula

  16. Paula says

    Hi Kimi,

    Another question. I apologize for my ignorance, but what exactly are knuckle bones? When I think of knuckles, I think of my finger joints, the phalanges. When we are talking about cattle, what does it mean?

    Thanks,

    Paula

  17. jen says

    Well, I am fascinated with all of this. I just stumbled onto your blog accidentally & man am I glad because I had heard beef broth is very healthy & I just got beef bones TODAY to try. :) Can someone please enlightened me about the lead in crockpot? I have never heard such a thing, but am very concerned. Might need a “lead free” crock pot for christmas? Can someone please fill me in? Thanks in advance :)

  18. Naya says

    great info! I was wondering if you would tell me your thoughts on skipping the roasting-the bones-in-the-oven part. I have 3 lbs of beef shank soup bones with the meat still on them and raw. Would I be able to make the broth using the above ingredients with the raw meat and bones just thrown in with them and boiled for a few hours?? Thanks for your help!

  19. Naya says

    great info! I was wondering if you would tell me your thoughts on skipping the roasting-the bones-in-the-oven part. I have 3 lbs of beef shank soup bones with the meat still on them and raw. Would I be able to make the broth using the above ingredients with the raw meat and bones just thrown in with them and boiled for a few hours?? Thanks for your help!

  20. Naya says

    great info! I was wondering if you would tell me your thoughts on skipping the roasting-the bones-in-the-oven part. I have 3 lbs of beef shank soup bones with the meat still on them and raw. Would I be able to make the broth using the above ingredients with the raw meat and bones just thrown in with them and boiled for a few hours?? Thanks for your help!

  21. Claire Yunger says

    Hello,
    I just made my first batch. Do you keep the fat in the broth, do you store it for future use (which) or do you discard it?
    The kitchen smells so good. I am using the broth for a cabbage soup.
    Thank you,
    Claire

  22. Linda says

    To Claire,
    Whether doing chicken or beef I leave the fat if I’m canning the broth but if I use it now I scrape most, not all, of it off. We have a farm and many cats in the barn and I add water to the fat and mix it with the dry cat food. That’s why I leave the fat on when I can it so that when I open a quart there’s a little fat that I can share with the cats or dogs. Beef bones usually make a lot of fat and after the bones are strained out, I let the broth cool over night and the fat (actually tallow) will solidify on the top. For years I made soap from that but haven’t done it in a while. I don’t think it’s a great thing to eat as it coats your mouth in a bad way and is the fat we should avoid. That’s the beauty of doing things from scratch, you can cook and not question what else is in it. Cabbage soup sounds so good. I use beef broth for the base of tomato soup. Can’t get anything like it out of a store can….

  23. Fleur says

    I’m still wondering about the reason for roasting the bones — no-one has replied on that in this or the reusing bones thread. Is it to bake off some of the fat?
    I’ve just made a heavenly looking beef broth and plan to use the fat for frying eggs, onions etc and then freeze what I can’t use in a few days. I didn’t roast the bones first, but it looks awesome just the same.
    Thanks for your reply!

  24. Fleur says

    PS if you are wondering why I’m posting in the middle of the night — I’m in Melbourne, Australia, so it’s not that late here :)

  25. Phyllis Lough-Williams says

    From what I have gathered reading many blogs is that the roasting of the bones is more for flavor. It has been said that without roasting them the broth smells and tastes badly. I am making mine for the very first time and I decided to roast them. My house smells amazingly yummy;).

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