So you’ve heard that bone broth can support digestive health, or boost the immune system or make for flawless skin. While bone broth is anything but new, it has certainly skyrocketed in popularity in the last ten years.
Bone broth is a savoury elixir with elusive umami notes owing to its high protein content and long, slow cooking time.
While a good bone broth is both easy and cheap to make on its own at home, it’s also time-intensive and a labour of love. You’ll need a big enough stockpot and plenty of time to source good-quality grass-fed beef or pasture-raised chicken bones, lovingly roast them and then simmer them on the stove for upwards of a day.
When it comes to how to prepare healthy soup from scratch truly, however, the majority of folks would not have a clue where to begin. We have a wide range of bone broth benefits at Bone Broth
Let’s be very clear about the dangers of store-bought tetra pak broth, canned soup or stock, and bouillon cubes. They are never healthy options, even when organic. Most do not realize as these processed foods are loaded with neurotoxic MSG and artificial flavours with little to no redeeming nutritional benefit. Watch out for the packaging too, which presents its own laundry list of endocrine-disrupting toxins.
The rise of agribusiness is responsible for this decline in food quality. Since the 1950s, the trend has caused the consumer to gradually lose contact with a local butcher who would sell them a variety of bony leftovers. Our thrifty grandparents and great-grandparents used them to make nutritious stocks and soups. They are typically tossed in the trash today!
Almost all culinary traditions from around the world include meat or fish stocks. Shockingly, most American kitchens are missing a basic stockpot, considered essential equipment just two generations ago!
Dr. Francis Pottenger MD promoted the stockpot as the most important piece of equipment in the kitchen. He advocated liberal use of homemade stock because it attracts digestive juices to itself in a manner similar to raw foods. Foods that attract digestive juices are much more easily digested and assimilated by the body.
The homemade stock also contains natural gelatin which not only aids digestion but assists with the healing of many chronic intestinal disorders such as colitis, Crohn’s disease, Colitis, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, and others.
Not everyone can (or wants to) devote a day to tending a pot of simmering bones. But, fortunately for you, there’s plenty packaged, store-bought bone broth brands that are almost as good as homemade.
So here’s our take on what to look for when buying bone broth, how to find the best brands and how to skip the imposters.
Kettle & Fire Chicken Bone Broth
Kettle & Fire chicken bone broth takes our top spot thanks to its exceptional taste, nutritional content, and value. Made of all organic, non-GMO ingredients, this broth is also antibiotic-free, gluten-free, dairy-free, and soy-free. It’s packed with a ton of veggies, including roasted poblano peppers, green peppers, scallions, carrots, and garlic, and is slow-simmered for 20 hours, giving it a rich, home-cooked flavour. It has a long shelf life and doesn’t require refrigeration so that you can stock up!
Kitchen Accomplice Chicken Bone Broth
Made from organic, non-GMO ingredients, this Kitchen Accomplice chicken bone broth is loaded with protein, antioxidants, and minerals. For an everyday drink, you simply add four teaspoons of the bone broth concentrate to a cup of hot water. You can also use it to add more delicious flavour and nutrients to cooking stock or rice. This bone broth can keep for 18 months in the pantry or six months in the fridge after opening, so it’s a good choice if you don’t use bone broth on a regular basis.
Kitchen Basics Original Chicken Bone Broth
Another convenient and affordable option, this Kitchen Basics chicken bone broth is a low-cal, healthy way to get some extra protein in your diet. It has a clean and light aroma and tastes delicious on its own. It’s also an ideal ingredient to use to sauté vegetables or add to pasta or rice dishes. The handy 8-ounce boxes (it comes with a pack of 12) is perfect if you’re looking for pre-packaged, individual servings of bone broth. Users appreciate the frustration-free, perforated packaging that makes it easy to just open, pour, heat, and sip.
LonoLife Grass-Fed Beef Broth Powder Protein
These beef bone broth powder sticks from LonoLife are an easy, convenient, and tasty way to add more protein to your diet, even when you’re on the go. Made from grass-fed, pasture-raised cattle, fresh veggies, and savoury herbs and spices, the powder is packed with collagen, nutrients, and essential amino acids. What you won’t get in this powder are any artificial colours or flavours, dairy, gluten, or added sugar. Just add the powder to hot water, stir, and enjoy a satisfying, protein-rich snack.
Swanson Chicken Bone Broth
Swanson chicken Bone Broth is not the most gourmet of our picks, but it’s much more rich and flavorful than expected at such a low price point. While you may prefer other bone broths for drinking alone, this one is great for cooking and is easy to find at most supermarkets. Use it in place of water when making rice, lentils, pasta, or mashed potatoes, or to add some slow-cooked flavour and richness to homemade soups, stir-frys, and other recipes. Looking for bone broth benefits ? Look no further! Bone Broth has you covered.
Osso Good Organic Chicken Bone Broth
Packed with nutrient-dense, organic ingredients, Osso Good organic chicken bone broth is gluten-free, dairy-free, and doesn’t contain any artificial flavours or added salt. It’s also paleo-friendly, and Whole30 approved if you’re following one of those diets.
Most bone broths come shelf-stable and are watery like traditional stock or broth, but Osso Good bone broth has to remain either refrigerated or frozen. When it’s thawed, it’s thick and viscous, indicative of its naturally-occurring high gelatin content.
Precision Natural Bone Broth Protein Powder
This bone broth powder from Precision Natural is packed with nutrients, including calcium, glucosamine, magnesium, potassium, and it’s also paleo and keto diet-friendly. Unlike some other traditional liquid bone broths, it’s a concentrated powder, so you just put some in a cup and then mix it with water using a wisp. If you don’t want to consume it in a drink, you can sprinkle it on your meal. It’s a great option if you want to bring some bone broth to work or on the road and don’t want to deal with messy liquids.
The Flavor Chef Organic Chicken Bone Broth
Bone broth may help reverse digestive issues such as acid reflux or GERD, in large part due to its glycine content. Made from all organic, non-GMO ingredients, this broth from The Flavor Chef is high in glycine and free of gluten, dairy, artificial colours, and flavours. It’s slowly simmered for up to 24 hours, which results in a highly-gelatinous, rich, full-bodied flavour that can enhance the taste of soups, stews, rice, quinoa, sauces, gravy, and other recipes.
Nutrients in Beef Bone Broth vs. Chicken Bone Broth
You really can’t go wrong when it comes to any kind of bone broth. As we covered before, all bones and connective tissue contain essential nutrients with every sip. With that said, here are the differences in the nutrient profiles of beef bone broth and chicken bone broth.
Chicken bone broth has a higher omega-6 ratio than beef bone broth.
Our bodies cannot make omega-3 or omega-6 essential fatty acids, so we must obtain them from our diets. You see, while we need both, omega-3 helps reduce inflammation, and omega-6 promotes systemic inflammation when consumed in excess.
In today’s Western diet, we consume omega-6 essential fatty acids through the corn, soybean, and vegetable oils (which are found in deep-fried foods, fast foods and processed foods). Research shows we’re getting nearly five times the amount of omega-6 essential fatty acids in our diets than our ancestors did (3).
Now, going back to chicken bone broth: Poultry has a higher omega-6 content than cattle, so bone broth made from beef (especially from grass-fed bones) may be a better option if you’re watching your omega-3/6 intake.
Chicken bone broth has a higher protein content.
Yes, chicken bone broth is slightly higher in protein than beef bone broth — as long as you add the feet.
Chicken bones may be less dense than heavy beef bones, and they do contain less collagen, but the magic of chicken bone broth is all in the feet. Yes, chicken feet contain collagen (more so than beef bones), which yields a bone broth higher in protein.
If your bone broth doesn’t gel (which indicates the presence of gelatin and, therefore, a bone broth with more collagen) despite the type of bones you’ve used, a simple, quick fix to make your bone broth more gelatinous is to add a few extra chicken feet.
Beef bone broth is higher in minerals.
Beef bones are larger and heavier than chicken bones, which naturally will provide a higher concentration of minerals such as calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and sulphur, which have been shown to promote higher energy levels. Bone Broth has a wide range of best bone broth benefits in Melbourne
So, is Beef or Chicken Bone Broth Better?
Truthfully, the “better” option will come down to the individual. Of course, taste preference is a big factor, because it must be enjoyable for you to want to drink it in the first place.
Beyond taste preference, you may want to choose chicken bone broth if you’re looking to get more protein in your diet. Beef bone broth may be the ideal choice if you’re watching your omega-6/3 intake. But, hey, there’s no rule that says you can’t combine both chicken and beef bones and get the best of both worlds.
Regardless of the variety of bone broth you choose, it’s a win-win for your body.
Make Fish Broth with Non-Oily Fish
Bone broth made from fish should be made with a non-oily species like snapper or rockfish. Classical cooking texts do not recommend making fish stock with oily fish like salmon. This is possible because the smell can be overwhelming. In addition, the plentiful amounts of unsaturated fish oils become rancid during the hours-long simmering process.
If you live anywhere near the coast, you should be able to find a good fish merchant who will save the fish carcasses and heads for you if you ask. They should even be free as they are normally thrown away, but even if there’s a charge, it should be minimal.
Fish stock is one of the top five necessary cooking skills to teach your children before they leave home. It’s so easy to make. In fact, it’s the fastest of all bone broths. What’s more, fish heads are cheap and easy to find in most major metropolitan areas.
Most Budget-Friendly Stock Too!
I recently taught my teenage son how to make a super-fast bone broth from fish heads. He couldn’t believe how easy it was. Make it once, and you won’t forget!
It’s also great for a young adult on a limited budget with limited space. Because you can make a pot in just a few hours, you can make it as needed rather than making huge batches and freezing large quantities. Just a dollar or two can make a gallon of stock in a hurry.
This compares with a pot of chicken stock which takes 24 hours to make with quality pastured chicken very expensive and sometimes hard to find. Beef bone broth takes even longer with quality grass-fed bones, also a typically expensive purchase.
What to avoid when buying bone broth?
The best bone broth brands replicate not only the traditional, long slow simmer of making broth at home, but they also use the same ingredients you might use at home. That way when you purchase a store-bought bone broth, you’re getting a broth that is as close to homemade as possible.
So look for bone broth brands that contain the same ingredients you’d use at home: bones, vegetables, herbs and spices as well as an acidic ingredient like lactic acid (found in yogurt, kefir, whey and fermented vegetables), vinegar or wine. It’s that acidic ingredient that helps release collagen from connective tissue, giving your bone broth plenty of protein and a great gel.
Bone broths should be free from fillers and additives such as sugar, hydrolyzed proteins, yeast extract and maltodextrin.
To cut corners and to enhance the flavour of their broth, some bone broth brands will add fillers and additives to their broth. You’ll see sugar, hydrolyzed proteins, yeast extract, disodium inosinate, disodium guanylate and maltodextrin on the nutrition labels of cheap brands.
When you see these ingredients on a package of bone broth, you know that the manufacturer skimped and cut corners rather than preparing bone broth the way you would at home. They took those short cuts hoping to replicate the flavour of real bone broth without investing in the time, quality of ingredients it takes to make the real thing.
Additives, fillers and flavour enhancers are a certain red flag
Broth makers add sugar to their commercially prepared bone broth to enhance its flavour. Sugar is not traditionally added to homemade broths. Still, some homemade broths have subtle sweet because you’ve tossed in onion, or some carrots which will sweeten the broth ever so slightly and give it a wonderful, rich flavour. Cheap bone broth brands add sugar to their broths to provide that sweetness without investing in good quality ingredients or better production methods. The addition of sugar also increases the glycemic load of broth.
I mean, really, who needs more sugar?
Hydrolyzed proteins, yeast extract, disodium inosinate and disodium guanylate are all flavour enhancers added to poor quality, commercial bone broths as well as many bone broth powders. They are present in many packaged foods and give foods a savoury flavour with notes of umami. These additives are high in glutamate, which is related to glutamine, an amino acid that is heavily present in bone broth and that gives good broth it’s rich, elusively savoury flavour.
What to look for when buying bone broth?
There are dozens of commercially prepared packaged bone broths available at health foods stores and online. While most are dull in flavour or lacking in protein, you can still buy good quality bone broths, as long as you know what to look for.
When buying bone broth, you want to find something as close to homemade as possible.
- They should make it with wholesome, real food ingredients like those you’d find in your own kitchen.
- They should make it without additives, colouring or flavour enhancers.
- They should choose grass-fed beef bones, pasture-raised or free-range poultry bones.
- They should simmer or be pressure cooked long enough to extract plenty of protein and good flavour.
Bone broths should simmer long enough, but not too long
To make a deeply flavorful broth that’s also rich in protein and other nutrients, you should simmer broths over low heat for an extended period of time. Traditionally, this is a long and slow process, although pressure cooking also creates a flavorful, protein-rich bone broth.
This long and slow process allows for the bones and connective tissue to fully release their nutrients, giving you a lusciously rich bone broth that’s full of collagen – a matrix of proteins that support bone, joint, gut and skin health while also supporting optimal blood sugar regulation.
Since collagen is best extracted by long, slow cooking, look for brands that replicate the process of making a traditional home-cooked bone broth. The bone broth brands that do prepare their broths the traditional way, though long slow cooking, will usually list how long they simmer bones on their website or their packaging.
Bone broths should cook long enough to release plenty of protein, but not so long that they begin to taste dull and overcooked. Simmering bone broths too long can also break down their gelatin, and dramatically increase its glutamine content. Glutamine is the third most abundant amino acid in bone broth. It helps your body build new proteins, and it also supports gut and brain health; however, if you’re particularly sensitive to MSG (most people are not), foods that are very rich in glutamine might exacerbate your symptoms.
To get the best flavour and plenty of protein, look for a bone broth company that simmers their chicken broth at least 8 hours and their beef bone broth at least 12 hours. There’s not much benefit to simmering bone broth longer than 24 hours for chicken broth or 72 hours for beef bone broth either in terms of protein extraction or flavour.
Bone broths should be made from grass-fed beef bones, pasture-raised or organic free-range chicken and pork bones.
Animals that live on pasture offer more nutrient-dense meat, milk and bones. Not only does this influence the flavour of bone broth to a small degree, but it makes for more nutritious broth, too. While all bone broth, including bone broths made from animals held in feedlots, should be rich in protein, protein is not all that is extracted when making bone broth.
Simmering bones for several hours not only extract protein from their connective tissues, but small amounts of minerals, and, potentially, trace amounts of heavy metals like lead and cadmium (source). Since heavy metals are ever-present in our environment, even organic foods can contain very small, trace amounts; however, conventionally produced foods typically have higher amounts of heavy metals like lead and cadmium. While it is not possible to completely avoid their presence, it is possible to minimize it by choosing foods less likely to contain them, and that means choosing organic and grass-fed or pasture-raised when at all possible. Check out our Melbourne best bone broth benefits here.
Bone broths should have a high protein content
The best bone broths are rich in gelatin, which is extracted from collagen found in the connective tissues of joints and bones. Gelatin is an easy protein to digest, and it supports gut, skin, bone and joint health. Gelatin is also responsible for the silky mouthfeel of bone broths, and it gives them a bouncy, gelled structure once they cool.
The high protein content is a sign of good quality bone broth. Since protein increases when bone broth is slowly simmered over several hours, high protein content in broth indicates that the company that produced it took their time and didn’t cut corners. High protein content also shows that the company didn’t skimp on the volume of bones they used in relation to water. Using too few bones produces a weak, dull broth that offers little nutrition compared to its competitors.
Look for a bone broth that offers at least 10 grams of protein per 8-ounce (1 cup) serving.
What’s the best bone broth brand?
Strapped for time? Just don’t want to make your own? It’s nice to have some good broth on hand, just in case you need it. You can find bone broths that are almost as good as homemade online.
While nothing beats the richness, flavour and good nutrition of a homemade broth, there are a few brands on the market that use the same techniques and quality of ingredients that you would use at home – without taking shortcuts or using cheap additives and flavour enhancers.
There are now companies that are making authentic bone broth for sale. While the broth itself is fine, most are packed in plastic or aseptic tetra packs. This is problematic from my perspective as this type of packaging has the potential to leech toxins into the bone broth. This is especially true with aseptic tetra packs where the broth is boiling when it is poured into the plastic-lined cartons. All plastic leeches when exposed to high heat, even so-called “non-leaching” plastics.
The only bone broth I will purchase is Epic Bone Broth safely packaged in medium-sized glass jars that are shelf-stable for many months. Epic offers authentic bone broth in chicken, beef, turkey, and bison. This broth is a good option for travelling or college dorm rooms.