How to Make Multiple Batches of Broth From the Same Bones

Homemade Chicken Broth

Homemade bone broth is a superfood.  Making your own broth is one of the easiest, least expensive and most nutritious ways to boost your Real Food intake.

Have you tried it?  The process might seem a bit intimidating at first, but once you get the hang of it it’s really not a big deal.

Read more about the start of my broth journey here: Homemade Chicken Broth, What That “Free Range” Label Really Means, and My Complicated Relationship with Sally Fallon.

I can’t even remember the last time I bought broth of any kind–I’ve always got homemade broth in the freezer or a batch of broth cooking in the crock pot (or both!).

Once I got into the groove of producing a steady supply of homemade broth, I began to wonder if I could re-use the same bones to make multiple batches of broth.  I was hooked on the benefits of homemade broth, using it for so many things that we were running out of the stuff.

So I poked around on the internet a bit and discovered that others were in fact doing that very thing!

Now I routinely make three batches of broth from each set of bones–chicken or beef.  I use the first and second batches for soup and the last batch to cook rice.

In the picture below, you can see the difference from the first batch (on the left) to the second (in the middle) and third (on the right).  The third batch has less fat on top, and is lighter in color.  But it’s still a great way to add extra nutrients to something you’d generally cook in water, like rice, beans, etc.

Here’s my basic process, updated a bit from my original Homemade Chicken Broth.

Homemade Bone Broth (x3)

I usually start by cooking one or two chickens in the crock pot with this simple recipe.

Ingredients

  • Chicken carcass (bones, skins, fat, etc. of at least one whole chicken) OR Beef bones (with fat, leftover meat, etc.)  NOTE: For maximum benefit (and gelatin content), use bones from organic, pasture-raised animals.  I have never tried making broth from grocery store bones.  Also, chicken feet are a great source of gelatin and other nutrients!  If possible, toss about 4 feet into your broth pot.
  • Apple Cider Vinegar
  • Cold water
  • Bag of frozen carrots, celery & onions OR fresh equivalent
  • Fresh parsley–I keep mine in the freezer
  • Black peppercorns
  • Unrefined sea salt

Tools

Instructions

  1. (I start by cooking a whole chicken in the crockpot or steak or roast, etc.)
  2. Place leftover bones, skin, fat and any little pieces of meat still on the bones in a large crockpot.  (Or large pot on the stove top.) Add chicken feet if possible.
  3. Add about 2 TB ACV.
  4. Cover with cold water.
  5. Allow bones, vinegar and water to rest at room temperature for about one hour.
    Bones, Vinegar & Water
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  6. Add vegetables.  (Celery, onion & carrots work well.  You can use fresh, if you’ve got it on hand.  Frozen bags of mirepoix are great in a pinch.)
    Add the veggies
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  7. Cook 12-48 hours on low.  (If cooking on the stove top, the longer it cooks, the more it will reduce into more of a stock-like consistency).
  8. I like to turn off the crock pot and remove the lid 30 minutes to an hour prior to when I’ll actually be straining the broth.
  9. Skim the gunk off the top, then allow to cool.
  10. While the broth is still hot, I add a handful of fresh parsley (from the freezer) and about 5 black peppercorns.  This is a good time to add unrefined sea salt, too.
  11. When the broth is cooled, strain it into a large bowl.  (I like to use my big 8-cup Pyrex measuring cup for this.)  
    Straining beef broth
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    I balance the strainer over the Pyrex cup, which works perfectly.  Then ladle the broth through the strainer into the cup.  When the cup is full, I transfer the strainer to the crock pot and pour the strained broth into my jars. 
    Broth!
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Note: If you happen to be making soup, you can strain the broth directly into the soup pot.  No storing necessary!  (See picture below: adding broth directly to the soup pot for White Chicken Chili.)

Adding broth from the crock pot to the soup pot
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Adding broth from the crock pot to the soup pot

Storing / Freezing the Broth

Update: I finally wrote an entire post about freezing foods & liquids in glass jars. Here it is: How to Freeze Food in Glass Jars.

  1. I like to mark my jars with C1, C2 and C3 for subsequent batches of chicken broth, and B1, B2 and B3 for beef broth.  I write directly on the glass with a Sharpie.
  2. Fill jars with strained broth, and keep in the fridge for a few days, or in the freezer for much longer.  If you freeze broth in glass jars, be sure to leave plenty of head room at the top of each jar to allow for expansion in the freezer.

    Second Batch of Beef Broth
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    Second batch of beef broth, ready for the freezer

  3. (Apparently, purists will cool the broth in the fridge and then skim the yellow fat off the top.  You can do this, but it’s not necessary.  The fat is actually good for you, and will melt back into the broth once it’s reheated.  I think the reason for skimming off the fat is to make a clearer, more culinary-grade broth.  I do not skim off the fat).

Multiple Batches of Broth

For multiple batches of broth, simply repeat the process!  The bones and veggies go back into the crock pot, along with vinegar and cold water.  I also add a new set of veggies for each new batch of broth.

Chicken broth, ready for the freezer
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Chicken broth, ready for the freezer

Discarding the Bones

Feed the remains to your animals!

If you happen to have backyard chickens, like we do, you can actually feed your “broth remains” to them.  Now that we have dogs again, they typically get first dibs on the bones, and the rest goes to the chickens.

If you have no animals, broth remains can also be composted.

As a last resort, you can toss the remains.  Use two plastic grocery sacks, placed one inside the other (double-bagged).  Rest the bags on the counter, spreading the handles to create a nice, round opening.  Then quickly insert the strainer full of cooked bones, etc. and dump.  Tie up the handles into several knots, and place in a trashcan far away like the basement or garage.

Thawing Broth

Again, more details now provided in this post: How to Freeze Food in Glass Jars.

To thaw the broth, I usually get out the required number of jars before going to bed, leaving them on the counter until morning.  It does require a bit of planning ahead, but it’s totally doable.  If I’ve forgotten to thaw broth overnight but remember the next day with a few hours to spare, I position the frozen jars next to a hot pot on the stovetop, or on top of the stovetop while the oven is on.

Chicken Tortilla Soup {Crockpot} | Yankee Homestead
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Favorite Soup Recipes

The last four listed below are my favorites!

How to Make Multiple Batches of Bone Broth from the Same Bones | Yankee Homestead
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Homemade Chicken Broth
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Kathleen Henderson

Kathleen Henderson

Let's get real! I’m Kathleen Henderson, your Natural Living Mentor. I’m on a mission to help families see the joy in real food, while finding natural remedies and creating a nontoxic home. Learn more about my story >>

34 Comments

  1. Avatar Joanna Neal on 02/16/2017 at 6:50 pm

    So glad I have you as a resource! I just put my first bones in the crockpot (I used beef bones from whiffle tree farm in warrenton with the marrow and meat still intact). I would like to cook it for 24+ hours, do you think it’s safe to leave the crockpot on low while I sleep?

    • Kathleen Kathleen on 02/16/2017 at 8:37 pm

      Yay for you, Joanna! You can absolutely make broth overnight in the crockpot. I always do it that way. 🙂

  2. Avatar Jessica on 05/24/2017 at 11:50 am

    I am learning how to feed my family more real food and this website is always my first stop. I knew you’d have a bone broth recipe! Trying this soon.

    • Kathleen Kathleen on 05/30/2017 at 10:59 am

      Let me know how it goes, Jessica! 🙂

  3. Avatar Cheryl on 09/04/2017 at 3:05 pm

    Isn’t the off white layer on top fat and not gelatin? Do you skim off the fat?

    • Kathleen Kathleen on 09/11/2017 at 8:02 pm

      I don’t skim it off, Cheryl, but you definitely can if you like.

  4. Avatar Kathy on 09/22/2017 at 12:31 pm

    I made a second batch of broth with the same bones, new veggies and chicken feet…Left it in the frig before straining for 2 days and it did not gel…Is it still safe to drink…?

    • Kathleen Kathleen on 09/25/2017 at 7:16 pm

      Hmmm, I’ve never placed un-strained broth in the fridge and wouldn’t recommend the practice. Personally I’d HATE to waste homemade broth, though, so you might consider reheating your broth, this time straining and then refrigerating.

      Other common reasons why broth doesn’t gel:
      1) not enough bones were used
      2) too much water was used
      3) grocery store chickens were used (instead of pastured birds)

      Also note that second and third batches of broth from the same bones will contain progressively less gelatin than the first batch. That’s why I often add new chicken feet to my second and third batches of broth.

  5. Avatar Cindy Leach on 12/14/2017 at 2:14 pm

    Kathleen, I made a second batch of bone broth using previously used beef bones and added four goose feet to the pot put on low for 48 hours and it did not gel. Can you enlighten me as to why ? Thank you, Cindy.

    • Kathleen Kathleen on 06/18/2018 at 8:34 pm

      Hmmm, I’m not sure. Each subsequent batch will have less gelatin, but there should still be some in every batch. Especially if you added fresh feet.

      Common reasons why broth doesn’t gel:
      1) not enough bones were used
      2) too much water was used
      3) grocery store chickens/bones were used (instead of pastured)

  6. Avatar Insecure Housewife on 10/17/2018 at 8:35 pm

    I need to remember this next time that I make bone broth. I have always tossed the bones after the first batch, so now I will keep them for multiple batches.

    • Kathleen Kathleen on 10/22/2018 at 6:18 pm

      Yes! Stretch those bones even further. (y)

      • Avatar karen on 09/05/2019 at 8:15 pm

        how do you store used bones for future batches?

        • Kathleen Kathleen on 09/16/2019 at 7:23 pm

          I usually make 2nd & 3rd batches of broth immediately, so that no bone storage is required. But if you have only a few bones and need to save them up until you have enough for a batch of broth, you can toss them in a freezer bag and store them in the freezer.

  7. Avatar Danielle Lin on 11/05/2018 at 8:50 pm

    You mentioned giving the used broth bones to your dogs. Does that mean beef only? I’m always afraid chicken bones will splinter but wonder if the long slow cooking changes that. Any thoughts?

    • Kathleen Kathleen on 01/02/2020 at 7:25 pm

      We’ve given cooked chicken bones to our dogs for years. After all that cooking, the bones do soften. It’s your call, but we’ve never had a problem.

  8. Avatar Amy Campbell on 12/12/2018 at 5:17 am

    Is it helpful or more flavorful to ROAST the beef bones again before each subsequent batch? It has made a HUGE difference in flavor of my broth!

    I’ve noticed that almost all the fat gets left on the cookie sheet at the first roasting – and scrape some of the fat and caramelized meat bits up and add back to the broth. With a teaspoon of fat per serving, I am not hungry again for 5-6 hours, instead of 1-2 hours with no fat. Maybe I will keep some from the first batch to distribute to the 2nd and 3rd batch.

    • Kathleen Kathleen on 01/02/2020 at 7:22 pm

      Yes, it’s definitely recommended to roast raw beef bones first.

  9. Avatar Noni on 03/11/2019 at 12:35 am

    You shouldn’t give any cooked bones to dogs ever. It splinters and could be very harmful!

    • Kathleen Kathleen on 03/13/2019 at 5:42 pm

      We’ve done it for many years, Noni, with several different dogs, and had zero problems. Probably not advisable for tiny dogs, but our large dogs all eat cooked bones regularly and love them.

      • Avatar Patrick on 05/07/2019 at 1:04 am

        Similar arguments Anti-Vaxers use. Follow the Wisdom of Many, Don’t do IT!

      • Avatar Retha Tallent on 01/02/2020 at 6:52 pm

        I do too, Kathleen. One the bones are boiled the bones are softer. I especially like large bones like ham bones, and the bones in center cut country ham.

  10. Avatar Patrick on 05/07/2019 at 1:02 am

    Ummm Do NOT give you dogs cooked bones. It is well known that this could be very bad for them. Google is your friend.

  11. Avatar gwen shellhaas on 05/18/2019 at 9:16 pm

    Thanks for this post. Just made some broth and want to re-use my bones. Do you keep meat on them or clean them all off?

    • Kathleen Kathleen on 05/21/2019 at 6:26 pm

      Keep the meat on there, Gwen. Just leave everything as is, add more vinegar, water, and veggies and cook again.

  12. Avatar kenviro1994 on 07/06/2019 at 2:44 pm

    My first batch of chicken broth is nice and gelatinous. Using the same set of bones, my second batch of broth tends to rather thin and not even a bit gelatinous at all. Do you know why?

    • Kathleen Kathleen on 07/06/2019 at 11:30 pm

      Hmmm, the second and third batches of broth are always less gelatinous than the first, but my second batch usually has some gelatin. Are you starting with pastured chickens, and including chicken feet? Both of those increase gelatin.

      • Avatar bigtim2000 on 07/10/2019 at 11:41 pm

        They chickens may not have been pastured but the broth does have chicken feet from the first batch.

  13. Avatar Kit on 03/03/2020 at 6:46 pm

    I made broth in my Instant Pot overnight and drank a cup of the strained liquid for breakfast. It was fabulous and kept me satisfied all morning. Do you have any figures on the nutritional content, especially protein?

    • Kathleen Kathleen on 03/04/2020 at 12:08 am

      Nope! I just know it’s full of nutritional goodness. 🙂

  14. Avatar Naureen on 06/15/2020 at 4:53 am

    I made a batch of chicken bone broth in the instant pot. It was late and I put the bones/vegis (after straining the broth) in the fridge. Is there any reason To not use those bones for a second batch of broth? Should it only be done if making that second batch immediately? Thanks!

    • Kathleen Kathleen on 06/15/2020 at 5:50 pm

      I say go for it, Naureen!

  15. Avatar Pam on 06/18/2020 at 6:23 pm

    If you use more apple cider vinegar you will get more gel. Try using 1/4 cup next time.

    • Kathleen Kathleen on 06/18/2020 at 7:48 pm

      In the past, when I’ve used more vinegar, I’ve noticed a more vinegary taste. Have you noticed this, Pam, when you use 1/4 cup vinegar?

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