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How to Make Bone Broth in the Slow Cooker

The Benefits of Bone Broth

 If you don’t know about the health benefits of bone broth by now, you haven’t been paying attention.  In fact, drinking bone broth has become down right trendy. Bone broth is delicious, comforting and incredibly nutritious.  

Now, I’m not talking about that tetra pak of salty liquid or those msg cubes that you can find at your local grocery store.  That’s not bone broth and it’s not good for you.  I’m talking about the amazing, flavorful liquid that is made from slowly cooking bones and scraps of meat in water for a day or two.  

Yes, that’s right.  At least a day or two.

Good broth takes time.  It’s the ultimate slow food.  But, oh is it worth it!

Broth can heal the gut.  Broth can help joints to regenerate.  Broth can keep your skin from wrinkling prematurely.  It’s a perfectly gentle, perfectly nutritious food/drink.

How to Make Bone Broth

So, how is a busy cook like you supposed to keep bone broth on hand when it takes so much time to make?  Well, fortunately, bone broth is a set-it-and-forget-it creation.  You can simply fill a stock pot with water, put it on the stove and let it do its thing at a very low temp for a day or so.  Really!  It’s that easy.  But, if you’re like me and you don’t fancy the idea of leaving your stove on while you’re at work or otherwise away from home, there is an even easier way to make delicious, nutritious bone broth.

How to Make Bone Broth in the Slow Cooker

I started using the slow cooker to make bone broth a couple of years ago.  At first, it didn’t seem to be of the same quality as the bone broth made on the stove in a stock pot.  It didn’t gel as well and the second batch always had a funny, slightly-off flavor.  

I soon realized that the slow cooker, even set to low, was simply too hot for making bone broth.  When the bones are cooked at a too high temperature, the collagen breaks down and the broth doesn’t gel as well.  I’m not sure that’s the end of the world, but I want my broth to gel regardless.  In addition, after the second or third round of broth making from the same carcass, the broth was getting a burned flavor. Yuck!

I’ve found the trick is to set the slow cooker to warm.  Believe it or not, the warm temp is high enough to properly make bone broth.

Here’s how I do it:

1.  Cook a whole chicken in the slow cooker on low for 6-8 hours.  

2.  Pick the meat off of the bones to serve (or freez for later meals) and leave the rest of the chicken (giblets, skin and all) in the slow cooker.  Add enough filtered water to cover the bones.  (I use about 4 quarts of water, depending on the size of the chicken.)

3.  Turn the slow cooker to warm, replace the lid and simmer for at least 24 hours. (Mine often goes 36 hours.)

4.  Remove the chicken by scooping it into a strainer that is placed over a large bowl or pot.  The broth will be captured in the bowl or pot below the strainer.


5.  Let it cool and put in containers to refrigerate or freezer OR add salt or seasonings and drink right away.

6.  Return the chicken in the strainer to the slow cooker, add 3-4 quarts of water and repeat the process once or twice again.  (I usually make 2-3 batches from one whole chicken carcass.)

For the last two batches, I sometimes add grass-fed gelatin to make them as gel-like as the first batch.

That’s it!  Now go make some broth and drink your way to wellness!

By the way, if are you worried about lead in slow cookers, check this out.

Looking for a tasty bone broth recipe to make on the stove top?  Check out this bone broth recipe from my friend Heather at Kula Mama.