Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Slow Cooker Chicken Bone Broth

Learn how to make a rich, nutritious & delicious chicken bone broth (that gels) in your slow cooker. It's super easy! Every time you grab a rotisserie chicken from the store or roast a whole chicken (or turkey), save the carcass for making a batch of this inexpensive & healthy broth. It makes the best base for soups, stews, rice, beans, sauces, side dishes, and more! (gluten-free, paleo & whole30 friendly)

Slow Cooker Chicken Bone Broth (Easy Recipe)

For years, I've made my chicken bone broth on the stove. Now I'm a slow cooker convert. It's the most hands-off, set it and forget it way to make broth.

I don't know about you, but I enjoy not having to lift up the lid every 45-60 minutes to see if the liquid's boiling like a cauldron or barely simmering. Electric stovetops can be finicky like that.

And since I've switched methods, I've also discovered the elusive secret to getting chicken broth to gel

It doesn't require adding chicken feet (although I'm sure that helps), making sure the broth never comes to a full boil (I've read that on so many sites) or whispering sweet nothings to it as you stand by its side for the full cook-time.

Nope! All you need to do is add twice the amount of bones

Apparently, I've been too frugal with my leftover chicken carcasses over the years. I only used the bones & skin from one whole cooked chicken (or a portion of the turkey carcass after Thanksgiving) in each batch. That's perfectly fine if you want delicious & nutritious broth for homemade soups like chicken tortilla soup & other recipes. 

But if you want it packed with enough skin & gut-loving collagen to make it gel? You need the bones & skin from TWO chickens (at least 3 pounds). 

It makes sense that you'd need a higher concentration of bones in order to get the gelatin effect. You'll still get some collagen in the less concentrated version, but it won't gel because it's more diluted. 

Now that you know the secret, make sure to tell all your friends & family so they can make magical gelling broth, too.

How to Make Slow Cooker Chicken Bone Broth

Ingredients For Chicken Bone Broth

This is what I use to make a basic all-purpose chicken broth that you can use in pretty much any dish. Or even sip on warm (with some salt & pepper) when you need a nutritious snack! However, if you want a more delicate broth with a stronger chicken flavor, I recommend using raw bone-in, skin-on chicken instead. I make a broth like that on the stove in about 2 hours or less for classic chicken noodle soup and Asian recipes like wonton soup or kimchi chicken ramen.

  • Cooked Chicken Bones + Skin: Whenever I get a whole rotisserie chicken from the store, roast a whole chicken at home, or roast some chicken leg quarters or thighs, I save the leftover bones + skin (there's usually some meat still clinging to it) and store them in ziplock bags in the freezer until I have enough to make homemade broth.
  • Onion: Any onion will do (I use yellow or sweet) although red may color the broth a bit. If you want your broth to have a deeper color, include the onion peel, as well. 
  • Celery: This is an excellent way to use up celery that's no longer crisp (TIP: to prevent that use the aluminum foil technique from my kitchen hacks post). I usually add the leaves, as well, if I have extra on hand. 
  • Carrot: No need to peel the carrots, just give them a good wash first and break them up into bigger chunks. 
  • Garlic: I smash the cloves (to activate the allicin), remove the peels, then stick them in whole.  
  • Salt: I typically add at least 1 tablespoon (sometimes 2) because 99% of the time I'm using it as a base for savory soups, which need a good amount of salt in them. For years I used to make unsalted broth but I found I'd have to overcompensate at the end of the recipe by adding a lot more to get it to taste right. If you prefer, you can omit it. 
  • Purified Water: If your tap water tastes "off" (which I'm sure it does for most folks unless you live in the mountains), I recommend using purified water. My favorite filtration method is reverse osmosis and I buy gallon jugs of it to use in recipes like this.
  • Dried Bay Leaves (optional): This adds a VERY subtle aromatic element to the broth. It's a classic chicken broth & soup ingredient, so I always keep a bag on hand. If you don't have any right now, you're totally fine leaving it out.
  • Apple Cider Vinegar (optional): Adding 1-2 tablespoons of vinegar (acidic element) helps to pull the nutrients out of the bones. I do it for good measure and since you're only adding a bit, you can't taste it at the end.

Money-Saving Tip: Anytime you're using fresh onion, carrot, celery, or garlic for recipes, save the peels and scraps and store them in a ziplock bag in the freezer. Once you have a full bag, you can use the scraps in place of whole fresh veggies in your homemade broth (or do half scraps and half whole veggies). 

Making Homemade Slow Cooker Chicken Bone Broth

How to Make Chicken Bone Broth in a Slow Cooker or Crock-Pot

  1. Add the Ingredients to a 6-Quart Slow Cooker: If your chicken bones/skin & veggies are frozen, you can stick them straight into the slow cooker - no need to thaw first. However, frozen ingredients will extend the cooking time by about an hour since it will take longer for the liquid to heat up. 
  2. Cook on High: Even on the high setting, the slow cooker takes several hours to reach a simmer (usually 2-3 depending on the size of your crock-pot, how full it is & if your ingredients are frozen). Using this setting (instead of low) helps to speed things up, so the broth takes 5 hours instead of 10. Perfect for night owls like me. If you don't mind a longer cook-time or will be gone all day, the low setting is perfectly fine.
  3. Strain, Cool & Refrigerate: Remove the big pieces of solids (bones, skin, veggies) with a spider tool or slotted spoon, then strain the broth through a colander (fine mesh works well) to remove the smaller solids. For a super clean broth, strain again through a cheesecloth (I rarely do this). Cool the broth on the counter for an hour or so then cover and place in the refrigerator overnight.
  4. Skim Off Solidified Fat (Optional): The next day, there will be a layer of solidified chicken fat (schmaltz) on top. Keep it or remove it - it's totally up to you! I usually break it into small chunks and keep it in my broth when I'm portioning it out to freeze. It adds extra flavor to recipes (especially soups), so I enjoy it! However, you can always scoop the chicken fat out, place it into an airtight container in the fridge, and use it for sauteing/roasting veggies or cooking eggs. 
  5. Portion into Containers: Unless you're planning to use the whole batch within 3-4 days, portion the broth into jars or ziplock bags (making sure to leave at least an inch at the top for expansion) and place in the freezer for storage. I typically measure 2 cups of broth into a quart-sized freezer bag and lay them flat so they take up less space and thaw more quickly. 

Homemade Crock-Pot Chicken Bone Broth (Easy Recipe)

Frequently Asked Questions

How long should I cook chicken bone broth?

You're going to get various answers to this one! Once the broth is simmering (remember, it takes longer to reach this point in a slow cooker than on the stovetop), some folks cook it for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, others go 4-6 hours, while some do 8-12+ hours.

I think chicken bone broth tastes best when it has been cooked for 2-4 hours. The longer cook time (6+ hours) makes the flavor more intense, in a way that's hard to describe. It's like it has less chicken flavor & more bone flavor? It's not bad by any means, but I definitely don't prefer it.

Is it okay if my broth turned cloudy?

Yes! Getting a clear broth requires different preparation techniques, so it's normal for a basic bone broth like this to be cloudy (it's not bad). All that matters is that the broth tastes good. If you want a crystal clear broth for presentation reasons, look for a recipe for chicken consommé, which is clarified stock.

Why did my bone broth not gel?

You either didn't add enough bones or you added too much water. There's nothing wrong with broth that doesn't gel. It's still delicious & nutritious. However, if you want it to gel, I've found that using at least 3 lbs. of bones (approximately 2 whole rotisserie chicken carcasses) per 12 cups of water achieves that effect. 

If you have a smaller slow cooker or pot, use 1 1/2 lbs of bones and only 6 cups of water per batch. And, as I mentioned above, you can do a shorter cook time like I do (2-3 hours depending on how quickly your slow cooker reaches a simmer) and still have your broth gel. 

Can I use rotisserie chicken bones?

Yes! I buy whole rotisserie chicken quite often for quick meals and so it's what I use most often for bone broth. I shred the meat for recipes like chicken hummus naan wraps, Mediterranean salad, buffalo chicken cobb salad, stir fry, and soups, then save the carcass for making broth. don't have to clean the bones. If there's still meat clinging to them - good! That will add extra flavor. Whether you leave the skin on is your choice (I do). 

TIP: Make sure whatever cooked bones you use (homemade or store-bought) don't have a bunch of strong seasonings or sauces on them that would overpower the broth. 

Will vegetable scraps work?

Totally! Just make sure you have a good amount of onion, carrot, and celery scraps so you're adding enough aromatics to flavor the broth. I keep a bag in my freezer, add to it every time I use those veggies, and wait until it's full before using it for chicken broth. For garlic, I always add fresh cloves, although I'll also throw in the peels. 

Can I use the slow cooker to make turkey broth?

Absolutely! If you have a leftover turkey carcass from roasting, smoking, or frying one, save the bones to make a homemade turkey broth the same way as you would chicken. The only difference is the size. Turkeys are a lot bigger, so you may need to make two or more batches to use up all the bones (especially if you have a smaller crock-pot).    

How long will bone broth last in the fridge?

Consume it within 4-5 days, or freeze it for later. It will last at least six months in the freezer, although it will taste best if used within 3 months. 

How to Make Crock-Pot Chicken Bone Broth (Easy & Gels))

Recipe Ideas For Using Homemade Bone Broth

You can use bone broth as a replacement for water (and often alcohol) in loads of savory recipes for more flavor & nutrition. Rice, beans, soups, stews, side dishes, sauces (like gravy), casseroles - too many to name!

Here are a few of my favorite recipes if you need ideas:

chicken broth, bone broth, chicken stock, slow cooker, crock-pot
Yield: 12 cups (or 3 quarts)
Author: Elaina Newton - The Rising Spoon
Slow Cooker Chicken Bone Broth

Slow Cooker Chicken Bone Broth

Prep time: 10 MinCook time: 5 H & 30 MTotal time: 5 H & 40 M
Learn how to make a rich, nutritious & delicious chicken bone broth (that gels) in your slow cooker. It's super easy! Every time you grab a rotisserie chicken from the store or roast a whole chicken (or turkey), save the carcass for making a batch of this inexpensive & healthy broth. It makes the best base for soups, stews, rice, beans, casseroles, and more! (gluten-free, paleo & whole30 friendly)


  • 3 lbs. of cooked chicken bones (from 2 whole rotisserie chicken carcasses - a roasted turkey works, too)
  • 1 medium onion, quartered (leave the peel on for extra color)
  • 3 carrots, cut in half or thirds
  • 3 stalks of celery, cut into thirds
  • 6 cloves of garlic, peeled & smashed
  • 3 dried bay leaves
  • 1-2 tablespoons of sea salt (like this)
  • 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar (like this)
  • 12 cups of purified water


  1. Add all ingredients except the water to a 6-quart slow cooker. Pour 12 cups of purified water over the cooked chicken bones & veggies, or until the water is a couple of inches from the top of the ceramic insert.
  2. Cover with the lid and cook on the high setting for 5 1/2 hours or until the broth is golden & fragrant. (It should take 2-3 hours for the broth to reach a simmer.)
  3. Strain the broth into another pot through a fine-mesh sieve or colander covered in cheesecloth. Discard the solids and let the strained broth cool on the counter. Transfer to jars or a big pitcher to store in the refrigerator overnight. 
  4. The next day, the broth should have a layer of solidified chicken fat (schmaltz) on top and (if you used enough bones) will be slightly jiggly from the gelatin content (if it's not, no worries). If desired, scoop off the fat and use it in other recipes in place of cooking oil.
  5. Consume the chicken bone broth within 4-5 days OR portion into airtight containers (leaving a few inches for expansion) and freeze for up to 6 months.


HALF THE BONES: If you only have one whole chicken carcass on hand (about 1 1/2 lbs of bones) and want to make broth, go ahead with the recipe using the same measurements for everything else. It will yield a delicious broth that's perfect in a variety of recipes. The only difference is it won't gel.

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Elaina @ The Rising Spoon You saved to The Rising Spoon Posts Learn how to make a nutritious homemade chicken bone broth (that gels) in your slow cooker or crock pot. It's super easy! Every time you grab a rotisserie chicken from the store or roast a whole chicken (or turkey), save the carcass for making a batch of this inexpensive & healthy broth. Wondering how to use it? It makes the best base for soups, stews, rice, beans, sauces (gravy), side dishes (stuffing & mashed potatoes), casseroles, and more! (gluten-free, paleo & whole30 friendly)

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