How to Make “Brown” Beef Bone Stock

finished beef bone stockWhen I told my oldest son I was roasting some bones in the oven he looked at me sternly for a few seconds before exclaiming, “Mom, you just keep getting weirder and weirder!” I suppose from the perspective of a 10 year old, the idea of roasting bones, then “painting” them with tomato paste (a bit of a macabre-looking scene to be sure) and then simmering them in a cauldron, um, I mean crock pot, sounds a bit bizarre. But in spite of appearances, there is a method to my (seeming) madness.

In the post How to Make Chicken Stock in Five Minutes I touched on some of the health benefits of eating bone stock. It’s a great “whole” food few of us incorporate into our modern diets. Health benefits are one thing, but when you experience the exquisite flavor of real “brown” beef bone stock you will understand just how worthwhile it is to make it yourself. Store bought stock will never have the same rich flavor and certainly not provide you with the full health benefits.

This recipe is based on one from Emeril Lagasse. I have tweaked the quantities, eliminated the wine and thyme, increased the cooking time and included vinegar to pull the minerals out of the bones for maximum health benefit. You could make bone stock without roasting the bones but it would not have quite the same rich flavor. The process of browning the bones makes for a sophisticated flavor that is beyond compare. This is a classic method chefs use to obtain maximum flavor from bones for use in stocks and sauces.

The recipe makes a fairly significant amount of mineral rich, delicious bone stock which means the invested time and money is well worth it.


beef and veal bones for stock

Beef and veal bones for stock

  • 5 pounds beef and veal bones (preferably including some joints)
  • 6 ounce can tomato paste
  • 1 onion, roughly chopped
  • 2-3 carrots, cut into chunks
  • 2-3 stalks of celery, cut into chunks
  • 1/3 cup cider vinegar
  • 4 Bay leaves
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 10-15 peppercorns
  • 12 cups of cold water
  • Celtic sea salt (added at the end of the process)


  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Place the bones on a roasting pan and roast for 30 minutes, flip them over and roast for another 30 minutes.roasting bones for stock
  3. Remove from the oven and brush hot bones on all sides with the tomato paste.painting roasted bones
  4. Add the onion, carrots and celery to the roasting pan and roast for a final 30 minutes.

    Before and After

  5. Add the roasted bones and vegetables to a large crock pot (or stock pot).adding roasted bones to crock pot
  6. Place the pan on the stove and deglaze with the vinegar, scraping the bottom of the pan for browned particles.

    deglaze pan with vinegar

    Deglazing the pan with vinegar

  7. Pour some of the water into pan to further deglaze it and then pour the resulting liquid into the crock pot along with the remainder of the 12 cups of cold water.
  8. Add the Bay leaves, garlic and peppercorns to the pot.
  9. Cover and cook on low heat for at least 24 hours and up to 72 hours.

    before and after stock

    Before and After Beef Bone Stock

  10. Remove from the heat and skim off any fat that has risen to the surface.
  11. Strain the liquid and discard the bones and other ingredients.
  12. Add the celtic sea salt to taste. (I used 1 tablespoon for the entire batch)
  13. Pour the beef bone stock into glass jars.beef bone stock
  14. Store in glass jars in the refrigerator for 3 days or freeze it. Just be sure you do not freeze in the ball mason jars. (I use Pyrex)

I made three batches of beef stew with this stock. It was concentrated enough that I diluted it by half with water for the recipe. That just goes to show how rich it was (after 48 hours). You could also reduce the beef bone stock further by cooking it down on the stovetop for more compact storage. If you are sensitive to tomatoes you can leave it out of the recipe.

Making your own beef bone stock will truly raise the caliber of any recipe you use it in. When I made my beef stew I found that I only needed to add some fresh thyme and a little salt and pepper along with the meat and veggies and I had a truly restaurant quality final product. It was also good to know that I was feeding my family and myself some really nutritious food.

Happy bone roasting!

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48 thoughts on “How to Make “Brown” Beef Bone Stock

  1. Pingback: YOUR Bone Broth Recipe | Mark's Daily Apple Health and Fitness Forum page 3

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  3. Thank you for this great recipe. The pictures are immensely helpful. I’ve made my own broth on the stove before, but this looks WAY easier!

  4. Hi there. This is the only bone stock/broth recipe I’ve found that makes it look, taste and smell tasty. Thank you!!!!

    My question is about the Ball Mason Jars – why can’t you freeze with them?


    • Hi Kerry, I put that comment in there because a few people let me know they had the mason jars explode on them in the freezer. I have since learned that the wide mouthed jars, up to 16 ounces, are fine but the larger ones are not. Supposedly there are plastic lids you can get that work in the freezer a little better than the two piece metal ones but I’ve never actually used those. Oh, and leave plenty of room at the top for expansion when the liquid freezes.

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  7. If you have this on low and it is simmering, do you continually add water so that the whole thing doesn’t cook down to nothing? 24 hours or more seems like a long time with adding any additional liquid. Thanks!


    • Tami,
      I cook mine in a crock pot so I don’t have to worry about adding more liquid. If you are doing it on the stovetop you definitely need to cover it tightly and cook very low. If it is covered well enough there shouldn’t be too much need to add extra liquid. But I could see how over such a long time there would be a loss of moisture. You should definitely add more liquid if it looks like it is cooking down too much. YOu would want the bones to stay covered by water the entire cooking time. The stock will be very, very concentrated at the end of the process. Before adding it to recipes you may wish to add more water depending on how rich you like the flavor
      I hope that helps.

  8. This is my no-fail recipe! I love this way to make broth and post this link in the MDA forum often so thank you, again.

    Here’s another question for you. My crockpot seems to run high… the low setting is about 225 which is what they claim their high setting is supposed to be. From what I’ve read, this is common with newer crockpots. Could this high temp be ruining the nutrients or denaturing the protein?

    • Great. I’m glad you like it. Thanks for posting it in the MDA forum. I am not an expert but I do believe, at least with some crockpots, the low temp ends up being just as high as the high temp. The difference is it takes longer on low to reach the max temp than on high. So it might take 3 hours to reach 225 on the high setting and 7 hours to reach 225 on the low setting. If you are cooking broth for 24 hours or more it could end up being the same temp for the majority of the time. I am not sure if this temp ruins the nutrients but I would doubt it. Some people argue it takes a higher temp to get more of the nutrients out of the bones. Again, I am not an expert on this point so you might want to research further if you are concerned. I would love to know what you find out.

  9. I have this sitting in my crockpot now! I can’t wait to taste this – of course I have folks asking me what I am doing… I guess making homemade stuff is… not the done thing anymore. Such a shame. Having a boyfriend that has severe reactions to MSG led me to seek out this recipe and make it. Paleo makes it even better. I don’t think it can get better then this!
    Thank you!!

    • Lisa,
      My mother has terrible migraines if she even looks at MSG so I totally understand the desire to avoid it – and it’s in SO much, especially commercially available broths. I hope you and your boyfriend enjoy this bone broth!

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  15. First, let me say I LOVE your blog! My blog wants to be your blog when it grows up. I hate to burst it’s bubble, but….I just don’t know that many poems or awesome recipes.

    I am anxious to try your broth recipes. My husband says the smell of my bone broth cooking in the house makes him nauseous. I must not be doing it right. I kind of took a hiatus from making it for that reason, but I need to get back to it. Lord knows I need the collagen!

    • Maggie, Wow, thanks for the compliments! I have some somewhat bad news about the bone broth – I have had the same experience. It is typically fine for about 24 hours then beyond that the smell is less and less appetizing. On the other hand, the longer cooking time is required to get the max out of the bones. The good news is the bone broth recipe does yield a very rich and concentrated stock that will go a long way so you won’t have to make it that often. Thanks for your comment! Lea

  16. I have my 3rd batch in the cooker as I type. It is yummy. I use it as a daily tonic, and as needed in recipes, I have just order half a cow and the butcher tried to trade me yucky sausages for my bones, he thought he was doing the right thing, I told him to back off from my bones!!!! What I don’t use the dog will.

    This was the recipe that lead me to your website and I have never looked back. I look forward each week to your email and recipe. I seem to be always trying them out and I can’t say I have been disappointed yet!!

    Thanks Lea, your trouble and effort are welcomed very much at this end.

  17. Hi there, wonderful recipe. I’m making it right now in the blizzard. Would you be able to share your recipe for beef stew?

    • Hi Crystal,
      That’s a good idea for a next recipe. You could take a look at my version of Julia Child’s Boeuf Bourguignon here on the site.

      • That’s wonderful. I think I have all the ingredients to make that happen. Your blog is awesome. thanks for the inspiration.

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  19. This is a great recipe and you did a great job walking newbies through step-by-step. My question is about you’re reason for adding salt after cooking it? I’ve seen posts that have had said to add it before cooking and some that said to “only add it after”, which made me think there was a specific reason it shouldn’t be cooked in the broth. Thanks in advance

    • Thanks Jenn,
      The main reason I add salt later is I use higher quality celtic sea salt or Himalayan salt and I don’t like for it to go to waste when all the bones and other ingredients are strained out. If I had been making another recipe where I do want the meat and veggies to be properly flavored, I would add the salt closer to the beginning. But since we’re throwing all that stuff out anyway it seems like a waste. I don’t think you need it in there to help draw out the minerals from the bones since the vinegar does that job. If you add salt at the beginning I think that’s perfectly fine – it’s really a personal preference. Or if there is a compelling reason to add it at the beginning I’d be interested in learning why. I hope that helps!

      • Hi,
        I just made my first beef bone broth. I didn’t use tomatoe sauce though or veggies. Just seasoning and ACV. It is not dark brown though. Does that mean it is not nutritious? I cooked in crock pot for 30 hours. I am wanting to drink daily for healing purposes. I’m hoping it’s still good to drink.

        • Hi Lylah,
          Yes, your broth will still be nutritious. It might not have the same flavor as it would if you use the veggies and tomato paste, but it should still be good to drink and for making soups and things.
          Best, Lea

  20. Hi and thank you for posting this recipe. It looks delicious! Just a quick question though: I have been reading a lot about how browning meat is unhealthy and how steaming, boiling etc is better than frying or barbequing and even the browning when roasting (although I know it is yummy!). I am used to making chicken soup from scratch and use a long boil to get as much goodness out of the chicken bones as possible, but have never made beef stock. I was thinking of boiling the beef bones like I do the chicken bones, but the thought of it was quite unappealing. Your recipe makes a beef broth sound delicious, but I’m just concerned about the health aspect of the browned meat versus just boiling. I’m interested in making beef stock for my health (want to start the GAPS diet for an autoimmune condition
    and want to get prepared), so I just want to verify that browning the meat in the oven doesn’t add any unhealthy aspect to it. Thanks so much!

  21. Thanks for the recipe, it looks delicious. I’ve seen several recipes for this though and they all omit one step, which is to remove the marrow from the bones after roasting. If you’re just going to skim off the fat anyways, why include the marrow in the soup? The roasted marrow is a delicacy and is great on toast, a nut picker works pretty well to loosen the marrow from the bone and then it should just pop out. It’s super rich and you don’t really need more than one or two pieces of marrow per person but it’s super delish, it actually feels like it gets you a little high. You definitely know the meaning of the word ‘sated’ after eating roasted marrow, it’s a caveman-like feeling. Fresh parsley salad is a common accompaniment. Also, if you don’t remove the marrow to eat beforehand, definitely save the fat that you skim and fry some par-boiled potatoes in it for some serious home fries, you will thank me later.

    PS- They do make mason jars for freezing, they’re two cups with a wide mouth lid so there’s room for liquid to expand. I think they might be a little thicker than regular mason jars too.

    • Great comment, John. Thanks. You’re right about the marrow. It almost floats out of the bones during the process. I know marrow is highly nutritious and a delicacy. I have had a bit of a mental block about it but am over that now. We usually throw out the fat if the bones are not from grass-fed animals. But tallow fried potatoes sound divine!

  22. Yeah, if you poke around the marrow after roasting with a skewer or something the marrow itself comes out in a little blob but there’s also lots of liquid marrow that kind of gets sealed away inside the bone that comes out with it too. Save the liquid fat and fry some potato wedges in it that have been par-boiled for about 5-10 minutes, or until they are about halfway done. Season with a little salt immediately after taking them out of the oil. The outside is crispy like you wouldn’t believe and the inside is soft and fluffy, it’s great! The oil can also be reused many times too- just filter out any leftover potato bits with a cheesecloth or similar and pour the cooled oil into a glass and put the glass in the fridge. It keeps for a long time without going bad.

  23. I am trying really hard to like this. I followed your directions to a “t”. What is it supposed to taste like? It has an almost metal taste to me. It also tasted like grease so I skimmed off as much fat as possible but it just has a weird taste. Is it not supposed to taste beefy? This is my 2nd time making bone broth and I threw the first batch out.
    Any help is appreciated. Love your site!

    • Hi Ann,
      I’m sorry you are having trouble with this. You should definitely skim the fat off the top as much as possible. Before taste-testing you should then strain everything out and add the salt. If you really want to get rid of all the fat you can refrigerate it for a while then pull the congealed fat off. If you are using good bones and following the process I’m not sure why there would be a metal taste. It definitely does not resemble the final product if taste-tested before finishing the process so maybe that’s part of the problem? I’ve honestly only ever ended up with really rich, delicious stock from this recipe so I’m not sure what to tell you. I’m so glad you like the site otherwise! Good luck.
      Best, Lea

      • Well maybe the fat was the problem. I like the fat in meat so I don’t have a problem with it. I took your advice and I’ll wait until it’s cooled enough to remove more fat. While I was at work and it was cooking it in the crock pot my husband moved it to the garage because he couldn’t stand the smell. Lol! I thought it smelled like meat and vegetables.
        I ended up adding some to today’s beef stew recipe but also added some organic beef broth. If hubby gets any hint of the smell he won’t eat it.
        We shall see.
        Thanks for the response.
        P.S. The butcher told me oxtail makes the best broth. Have you tried that yet?

        I am trying really hard to like this. I followed your directions to a “t”. What is it supposed to taste like? It has an almost metal taste to me. It also tasted like grease so I skimmed off as much fat as possible but it just has a weird taste. Is it not supposed to taste beefy? This is my 2nd time making bone broth and I threw the first batch out.
        Any help is appreciated. Love your site!

        • I laughed out loud at your hubby moving it to the garage. It’s true that bone broth actually does NOT smell good after it has been cooking for several hours. And it doesn’t taste good until you get rid of the fat, bones and veggies and add the salt. I haven’t tried oxtails for stock but love osso bucco. Bone stock can also be made in a pressure cooker and I haven’t tried it yet but I bet it would cut down on the smell because of the shorter cooking time.

  24. I would be interested in knowing how to do this in a pressure cooker. I have made chicken bone broth (all the time in a crockpot). I don’t like the smell of it cooking but love the final product.
    Thank you for the detailed instructions for beef broth. Also I have heard that you can grind and can the bones remains of beef broth for dog food.

    • Sorry for the delay in responding. I put your comment aside because I wanted to try out the pressure cooker version. Yes, you can do this in the pressure cooker. Just make sure you only fill the pot to 2/3rds full. Heat on high until the button pops out then lower the heat to the lowest setting and let it cook for about 45 minutes. Remove from heat and let it cool off naturally until the pressure is released (about 15 minutes). I agree with the problem with the smell so this is a great alternative.
      Good luck!

  25. Actually, I have been freezing my stock in canning jars for many years without trouble.
    The very best jars to use are the 3 cup, straight sided jars which used to, in fact, be called “freezer jars” decades ago when they first came out. Now they are being re-introduced as jars for canning asparagus, green beans, etc. I also use wide mouth quart jars with no problem at all. Allow for a lot of head space, pour your hot broth in your jars, and refrigerate until cool before moving to the freezer. They are awesome! Thanks for the great recipe!

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