How To Make Beef Broth And Use It Well

Now that I’ve rambled about how a good broth can help us adjust our palette away from the Standard American Diet towards Real Food, as well as given a bit of the culinary history of broth and it’s nutritional benefit, I figured it was time to talk about how to make beef broth.

Making broth is surprisingly simple. If you search online, you’ll find a great many recipes out there for how to make beef broth. What you need to know is this: broth can be as simple or as complicated as you want it to be, depending on your goals.

How To Make Beef Broth

Start with cow bones. Any bones will do.

Now, some folks will vilify me for this. After all, the kind of bone you use will determine the nutrient-density of the broth as well as the flavor. For the most nutrient-dense and flavorful broth, you want meaty bones with thick marrow (sometimes marketed as “soup bones” by butchers) mixed in with some cut up hooves, knuckles, or skull.

The hooves, knuckles, and skull will help produce the most gelatin-rich broth that’s full of other good stuff for your joints (like glucosamine and chondroitin). The meaty bones will produce the hearty flavor you love in a good beef broth. But the truth is, just about any bones will provide a lot of healthful minerals (like calcium, magnesium, phosphorous, etc.). So, even if you can’t get your hands on these super nutrient-dense or flavorful bones, don’t fret!

Now, to begin!

Put the meaty bones in a roasting pan in a 350 degree oven until brown. The roasting will create the irresistible flavor and color you expect in a good broth. If you’re using the meaty bones from a roast you’ve already cooked (like a shoulder roast), then feel free to skip this step. Those bones have already experienced the flavor-inducing Maillard reaction necessary for a good broth.

Next put the roasted bones together with the rest of the bones in a stock pot and cover with water. Add a couple of tablespoons of vinegar or lemon juice. The added vinegar or lemon juice will help to draw minerals out of the bones, as well as contribute a subtle flavor that I completely adore in a good broth.

Bring the pot to a boil on the stove top, then reduce heat to maintain a gentle simmer. Eventually, scum will start rising to the top of the broth. Gently scoop this off and discard it. The rising scum contains many unsavory things, and your broth will be prettier and taste better without it.

Let boil for at least 24 hours, adding water as needed. The larger the animal, the longer you’ll want to cook the broth to get the most nutrients out of the bones. With an animal as large as a cow, that means a full day! With an animal as small as a chicken, you can probably get away with 6-8 hours. Fish only need a couple of hours.

If you want to, add vegetables and salt a few hours before you finish. I never cut up fresh vegetables to add to broth. If I have scraps on hand, or vegetables that need a quick end because they’re “starting to turn,” then I use them. If not, I don’t fret. I always add salt to my broths. That’s just a preference of mine. You may choose to do otherwise.

When finished, let the broth cool to room temperature, pick out the large bones, then strain the broth through a wire mesh strainer. Optionally, after the broth is strained you can “condense” it by pouring the strained broth back into your pot and bringing it to a boil to let it reduce further. If using the broth right away (as in a soup), I don’t condense it. If making it to use in later culinary delights, then I do. Again, it’s just a preference. You do what works for you!

Let the broth cool further in a refrigerator or otherwise cold place. After it’s cooled completely, skim the fat off the top and save it for later. That fat is a tasty beef tallow, and you can use it in cooking later. If you don’t want to do this step and *want* an oily broth, then skip it. It won’t hurt anything, but it may make using the broth in some recipes difficult later.

I store condensed broth two ways: first in quart sized freezer storage bags that can lay flat in my freezer. And second, in ice cube trays! The ice cubes of condensed broth are handy for when I just need a smidgen of flavor added to something (steamed rice, veggies, etc.).

How To Use Beef Broth

Now that know how to make beef broth, you’ll want to know how to use it. Here’s my list of favorites:

  • Soup ~ This almost goes without saying. Beef broth makes a good base for many soups and stews from cuisines around the world (French Onion Soup, Vietnamese Pho, even plain old Vegetable Soup).
  • Drink ~ Drinking plain broth is both tasty and good for you! Drink a cup of it instead of hot tea, and you’ll see what I mean.
  • Sauces ~ Reduced broth gets used to make flavorful sauces from around the world (barbecue sauce, Thai red curry sauce, Chinese ginger sauce, au jus, and more).
  • Gravies ~ Yum. Who doesn’t love a nice brown gravy poured over their roast beef or hash?
  • Extra flavor ~ Steam your vegetables in broth. Steam your rice in broth. Get creative!

Over the next little while, I’ll be posting some of my favorite recipes made using beef broth. Any votes on which ones you’re dying for me to share?

What if I don’t have the time to make beef broth?

You can buy “homemade” beef broth from those using the bones of grass-fed cattle online! It’s shipped frozen and tastes divine.

(Where to buy beef broth.)

(photo by Island Vittles)


  1. Jennifer Lachman says

    I could really use a recipie for beef gravy that does not use white flour or corn starch, if it is possible to make gravy without those things.

    • Alex says

      jenn…you can make a light gravy that is thickened quite nicely using the japanese herb Kuzu–you can get it at any good health food store or oriental market–it is not a gluten product, but created out of the lowly vine Kudzu…you use about a table spoon in a tiny bit of cold water–you can make your gravy REALLY thick using more–the nice thing about kuzu is it doesnt separate after cooling like some flour based gravies do–if you cant use kuzu you can try arrowroot–but i think the kuzu works the best–experiment and see!!!

      P.s. thanks Kris for this wonderful beef broth recipe–i went to the butcher today and got my marrow bones–and the next lady in line got some too–i asked her if she was making stock==she said no, she was getting them for her dogs–as i walked out i thought–her loss! ūüėČ

  2. Katie says

    You must have read my mind! I was thinking of contacting my local farmers to find some beef bones to use for stock! I’m just wondering, do you think you could cook it in a crock pot for 24 hours rather than on the stove? Would you achieve the same results?


    • says

      I’ve used the crock pot before with great success. It will take longer since you count the 24 hours from the time it starts boiling. You could potentially boil it on the stove and transfer it, but the elevated risk of injury doing it that way would keep me from trying it by myself.

  3. Jennifer says

    Thanks for the ideas on using the broth. Can you tell me – how long can broth be refrigerated for (safely)? I tend to be better about using what I make if I have it readily available (don’t have to plan time to thaw, which I would since I freeze in canning jars). But sometimes I don’t have the time to use the broth until a few days to a week later. Is there a way to distinguish “good” broth from “bad”?

    Thanks! I really love your blog!

    • says

      Jennifer — I’d say refrigerated broth is good for up to a week, but I wouldn’t risk using it past that point. If I thought it would take me longer to use it, I’d just freeze it.

  4. Angelia says

    I think if you boil it on the stove first and skim it then move it into the crock pot for the duration on low you should be good. I would leave it a little longer in the crock.

    Really good article…although I haven’t seen one that wasn’t good. :)

  5. Rachel Wisdom says

    This is a timely post since my mom just gave me about 15-20 lbs of bones from their last steer (trying to clean out the freezer for the next one). I made my first batch last week, and observed that I never got the scum on the top that so many of the instructions describe. Why would that be? I see now that I didn’t cook it long enough (9 hours), because I didn’t want to leave the stove on overnight. Is that the reason?

  6. Marly says

    Thank you for this recipe. I make chicken stock all the time, but I’ve never tried beef stock. I’m off now to go hunt down some cow sculls. Wish me luck

  7. says

    We always buy meaty raw bones, filled with marrow for the dog and I often have the urge to toss a few of them in a pot to make stock. I make chicken stock each week for everyone else, but I can’t drink it because I get a reaction from the fluoride contained in the bones. I use the organic chicken from Bell and Evans that they sell at Whole Foods. I’m hoping once I find a local farmer for pastured chickens, I won’t have to worry about the fluoride in the stock. Until then, I think I will try my hand at beef stock. I’m curious to find out if the cow bones contain as much fluoride as the chicken bones do.
    .-= Melissa @Cellulite Investigation¬īs last blog post …A Cellulite Success Story from Eat Fat, Lose Fat =-.

  8. Jack says

    A few years ago, before I was truly primal, I made a similar pair of huaraches out of vibram. But it’s not REALLY primal. I had a few pair made with leather that I tanned, but now I make a similar huarache but I make the sole out of woven grass. If you’re wearing anything else, then you’re not really getting the full experience of walking in footwear that we evolved to wear.

    This comment was originally posted on Mark’s Daily Apple

  9. says

    Haha I feel like a complete idiot. But, I don’t mind feeling that way once in a while

    I think I may have to try the orange tinted glasses out. I am using the F.lux for the first time… AMAZING!

    Everyone here reading this comment… download F.lux NOW! That’s an order! Lol.

    I have my computer on and a nite lite in my bedroom right now… should get a good night’s sleep!

    This comment was originally posted on Mark’s Daily Apple

  10. piano-doctor-lady says

    I am so flattered, Mark, that you chose my reply for “reply of the week”. It is that much better when I see so many others trying the f.lux and having it work for them just like it did for me.

    Old Swedish saying someone told me a long, long time ago: ‘”Oh I’m so tired, if only I could go to bed!” said the old woman as she sat on the edge of the bed.’ Fiddling with the computer hour after hour till 1 a.m. feels just like that — and the more tired I was the longer I would do it.

    I loved the TED speech about the two kinds of memory — one of those ideas which is obvious when one thinks about it, but without the speech one would never have thought about it.

    I’m going to make some huaraches. Watched the videos, read and saved the directions. Sent the link to my sister. She’s just getting into Primal Blueprint, which I sent her after she broke her wrist. She is very impressed with it, agrees with so much of it. We’ve been trying different kinds of paleo for a long time. We like this version a lot.

    This comment was originally posted on Mark’s Daily Apple

  11. piano-doctor-lady says

    Tara, in the kitchen I have a recessed light fixture with three sets of fluorescents (six 4-foot bulbs) and a plastic baffle underneath. When I moved in these were not all the same color, and they hummed. I replaced the three balasts with digital ones, and bought daylight bulbs for them. In the dim rainy winter mornings I turn on that light, and the kitchen looks like bright daylight, as if it were a skylight instead of fluorescent bulbs. In the evening, I use yellower lights and don’t turn on the overhead. I think it does do some good, to keep from feeling down in the wintertime for lack of morning sunshine.

    This comment was originally posted on Mark’s Daily Apple

  12. Cullen D. says

    F.lux is pure cool. It makes my whole room more comfortable at night. It just seems warmer. Being in college sometimes prevents me getting to bed before midnight anyway, but this definitely helps me give it the old… COLLEGE TRY? Couldn’t resist.

    This comment was originally posted on Mark’s Daily Apple

  13. evolution says

    I didn’t notice much effect from F.lux

    I would love to see all these ideas synthesised into one article/post regarding artificial lights, melatonin, circadian rhythm, glasses, etc.

    Is there one about that anyone knows of?

    This comment was originally posted on Mark’s Daily Apple

  14. Pat says

    Jamie Oliver is BRILLIANT.

    I really think that everyone should share this video with at least one person and ideally as many as possible because there are some really AWFUL truths (and I’m sorry for the rant, I’m just passionate about food):

    1.) the foods in schools are determined by accountants (hell, if they didn’t use them as a cash source you wouldnt see vending machines…) This means cheap rubbish gets served to kids. My wife ran a breakfast program in a school for a while – and until she got there and changed things (and secured a little extra funding) the kids were served orange tang, white bread, and cheese whiz because that is what was “in the budget”. THAT’S NOT A BREAKFAST. There isn’t anything nutrtrionally present except for sugar. No wonder the kids have a hard time concentrating in class…

    2.) Food labels are really effing hard to read and interpret. Fat free, no trans fats, sugar free, carb free… All that junk and usually some chemical that you can’t pronounce is added to make up for it. People aren’t interested, educated, or taught what all this means. What ever happened to fresh, natural food? It’s been slowly replaced in the stores. When you walk into older stores in the city I live in (ones that were built like 2 decades ago) you walk in and they have large produce sections, in store butchers, large delis, big fresh bakeries, a reasonably sized dairy section, with everything else in the middle. The newer ones (built in the last 5 years or so) are a different story – there is a small meat section, a deli, and produce section relegated to a relatively small secton of the store – three or four frozen food aisles packed with convenience dinners, SEVERAL aisles of junk food (one for chips, one for pop, one for cookies… seriously?) sugary snacks at the end of each aisle. Bulk sections which were once full of baking goods, nuts, dried fruits…etc are now stuffed with jellybeans, chewy candys, hard candies, salt water taffees… No wonder people aren’t able to make good choices.

    3.) “Lunch foods” are TERRIBLE – Parents have this misconception that it all has to come from a box (see above) for the kids to want to eat it. The most shocking story I’ve ever heard was from my mother-in-law and here’s how it goes: She’s shopping in the grocery store and this family has a cart full of “lunch things” (pop tarts, lunchables, dunkaroos, fruit roll ups…etc) and this kid asks for apples in her lunch – and the mom says “no”. This kid wanted apples in her lunch SO bad, she started to cry. Can you imagine seeing a kid begging for fresh fruit and veggies instead of junk – it breaks my heart to know that she was denied this BASIC NEED.

    4 – People also have no concept of where food comes from anymore. (I would like to just state that it is only kids, but can’t actually do that – you’ll see why in my story…) Ask a kid today where food comes from – milk comes from the store, veggies come from the store, eggs, come from the store – there is no concept of milk comes from a cow/goat/sheep/buffalo, there is no concept of veggies and fruits are grown in the ground or from trees, there is no idea that eggs come from a chicken. It’s a generalization, but its kind of sad and like I said it really doesn’t stop with “kids”. When I was in university a couple years ago, my wife and & were talking with a bunch of friends about my wife’s family farm in Saskatchewan. One of our friends, while eating a burger & some potatoes for dinner, interjected, “WHoa whoa whoa, people don’t actually still farm, do they?” She was so astounded that my wife’s family grew oats and raised sheep for a living. She was even furhter astounded when she found that my wife’s uncle raised cows, and grain pasture as well. Anyways, she’s going to be a doctor one day (shes currently in med school now) and I hope that she remembers food is primarily grown and raised when she has to tell someone how to eat healthy one day…

    5 – Gardens. I read somewhere on here about the cube garden being used as a teaching tool. I believe there is a program (I want to say united nations funded, but can’t remember) where you can purchase, for schools, planter boxes to grow local area produce in to teach about food production, sustainability, and responsibility. I think it’s a brilliant program. But why rely on a school program – grow your own. Tear up some yard, grow a container garden on a balcony, use a bright window of your house to grow food. Anything, really. I met a dietician once who had never eaten garden fresh veggies because she’d always lived in appartments. That was a shame really, so we taught her how to grow veggies in containers on her balcony. She raves about them.

    I know its a bit of a rant, but I feel extremely passionately that jamie oliver is on to something and people need to be taught. Please share the video if you can (post to facebook…etc) and open up some eyes.

    This comment was originally posted on Mark’s Daily Apple

  15. misterbulgarin says

    I’ve been using flux and it’s helped I think. The nights I spent on the PC before bed definately had me more sleepy. I think on saturday it was 10:45 and I just went to bed….wow.

    This comment was originally posted on Mark’s Daily Apple

  16. hypnotikk says

    f.lux seemed to work well, but it’s a resource hog on my laptop, so I had to uninstall it. I’ll try it on my desktop to see what happens.

    This comment was originally posted on Mark’s Daily Apple

  17. Alison says

    What does your broth smell like when it’s done? I’ve tried making broth in this way, the NT way, and both times it came out with a distinct smell which wasn’t gross or rancid but definitely not “brothy.”

    Am I doing something wrong or do I just need to retrain my nose?

    • says

      Alison — It smells like a mouthwatering pot roast. Maybe you’re not cooking it long enough? I ask because when it first starts cooking (for the first 12-20 hours), it smells kinda bad to me too. (Too much like blood.) But somewhere between 24 and 48 hours, it starts smelling AMAZING.

      • Alison says

        You might be on to something! I have only been cooking it for about 16 hours and it has a distinctly metallic smell.

        Alright then, we’ll leave it on the simmer for longer this time. :o)

  18. says

    Hi Mark,

    I have a question that maybe you can help me out with.
    My left leg is approx 1,3 cm shorter than my right leg. This causes an imbalance and for the last 1-2 years my lower back has been stiff/aching.

    I wear an extra sole (0,9cm) in my left shoe to offset the imbalance a bit.

    Say i would go for more primal footwear, do you know any tips/shoes i could use keeping my imbalance in mind?


    This comment was originally posted on Mark’s Daily Apple

  19. says

    Thank you!!! I just wanted to make a nutrient-rich stock out of the bones of the beef for my tamales. I didn’t need it to be gourmet or anything. No one else would say whether it will be ruined if my bones were already cooked, not by roasting, or if I could try it without roasting them. I didn’t need “the best broth”. I just want it to be broth!

  20. Gina says

    I just started reading and subscribed a few days ago; I’m so excited and have a lot to learn! My question is about the fat (the tallow) that you suggest to save for later. What do you save fat in and how do you store it? And how long does it last? Our family is completely new to primal/paleo eating, so please forgive me if this is usually known or otherwise obvious.

    • KristenM says

      I save the tallow in mason jars in my fridge. You use it to replace modern, refined vegetable oils in your cooking. So, instead of frying those french fries in canola oil, opt for the beef tallow instead. It’s has a high-smoke point and resists oxidation well, so it’s great to cook with (especially at higher temperatures like frying). It will last for years.

      • Gina says

        Thanks so much for the super fast response! Found a butcher very nearby and planning on going to get some bones this weekend!

  21. Emily says

    How do you get the fat (tallow) off the surface of the refrigerated broth? I know this is probably a dumb question, but I am looking for methods.

  22. says

    Hi, thanks for the stock recipe. I am making stock from beef bones for the first time. Once it’s done enough and I’m taking all the bits out, would it be ok to feed the meat (minus bones) to the dog? Also I want to make soup, can you post a link to a good soup recipe using “our” stock please? Thanks :)

  23. Kathryn B says

    So excited about making a big batch of stock! I do not have any room in my freezer and so I canned it in a pressure cooker. does anyone know if this process takes the nutritional value out of the broth? Obviously it does for any veggies and such but I was not sure about stocks.

  24. more zandolis says

    I’ve been reading up on the value of organ meats & bone marrow for teeth – strengthening and even potentially cavity reducing/repairing when done right & when sugar (even dried fruit) is completely removed. Very interesting … while I am almost going vegetarian, I will try to keep some of this nutrient-dense stuff in our diet!

  25. No√ęl Sumstine says

    We made some beef broth from bones from a 1/2 organic grass fed steer we bought this last fall. It has a yucky, fatty odor and flavor. It is just repulsive. We kept it because we thought we might alter it somehow with herbs. This is the first batch we have made from this animal and unless we can remedy the yuck factor our dog is going to be very happy with the extra bone treats.

  26. southerngirl says

    If I decide to continue cooking the beef broth down in the crock pot after it’s been strained, what is my goal reduce it by 20%, 50% or what? Should I not sit the crock pot lid completely flat so that evaporation can continue?????? Love you recipes!!! Keep up the good job.

  27. Teressa says

    I’ve never made bone broth before but just got some bones to try it out. Ithe bones have some remnants of meat on them. Is this ok or do I need to scrape them clean before starting?

  28. Ann Jambor says

    I just made my first batch of bone broth this weekend. It turned out extremely gelatinous (after it cooled) and not liquid-y at all. What did I do wrong? Is it just extremely condensed?

      • lisa says

        That was my question as well…I made my first batch yesterday. I put them in mason jars and in the fridge for a day there is the white layer of fat and then the rest is the darker broth but it’s hardened and gelatinous also. That’s right? I’ve been a vegetarian for years but am having adrenal fatigue issues so am starting something new to see how it makes me feel. Wish me luck!! :)

  29. Russell says

    Thanks Kristen for all the info on Bone Broths. Question – can the bones be used again to make another batch of bone broth, or should they be tossed (or given the my mutts) after the first use?

  30. Kevin The Elder says

    Helpful hint. Before putting into the fridge to cool, let me offer this suggestion that I just made up and found it works perfectly to skim off the fat. Place a paper towel atop the broth, making sure that the towel overlaps the sides of the pot. Then put the pot into the fridge and wait 24 hours, Upon taking it out, you should find all of the hardened fat INSIDE the paper towel and it’s just a matter of gently pulling that out.

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