Store-Bought vs. Homemade Bone Broth: Which is Better?

If I had a dollar for everytime someone told me I should be making my own Chicken Broth from kitchen scraps, I could buy the high-quality stuff from the store every time. But who can blame these well-intentioned advisors? It makes sense -- presumably, you already have the ingredients on hand, it’s a nourishing way to punch up the flavor on your stews and soups, you save a few dollars at the grocery store, and the list goes on.


As a busy working mom of a toddler, the thought of finding a peaceful half hour to chop veggies before perching myself next to a hot, simmering pot all day can feel near impossible, but as an avid consumer of bone broth, I felt the need to put this theory to the test: Is homemade bone broth better, cheaper, or tastier than the store-bought alternative?

Which Bones are Best?

For my mini-experiment, the first decision I had to make was what meat to use. Depending on the viscosity you prefer, you may choose to use a different source of bones. Chicken feet will give you a very gelatinous, almost jelly-like broth. Wings are full of cartilage and collagen, which also provide texture and nutrition. I decided to use leftover rotisserie chicken for a few reasons:

1) The pre-roasted bones give the broth depth of flavor without having to spend the time roasting the meat ahead of time.

2) It cuts down on food waste. Normally, I would end up tossing the chicken bones after eating the meat. By simmering the bones, I’m getting some serious bang for my buck.

3) It’s convenient. A rotisserie chicken is something I often have on-hand and saves me an extra trip to the store. Asian markets and butchers are an excellent place to start if you're on the hunt for specific parts of the bird, but as a mom with young kids, separate trips to specialty stores are not in my near future.

4) The viscosity is just right. Using the whole bird results in a well-rounded viscosity (not too thin, not too thick).

How to Make Bone Broth Using Rotisserie Chicken

I simmered the bones from two rotisserie chickens with a few of my favorite aromatics to achieve that lip-smacking, irresistibly smooth bone broth flavor. I opted for baby carrots to cut down on chopping/peeling time and stuck to easy, kitchen staples that I would have around the house on any given day.

This result was a deeply flavorful chicken broth without any strong or polarizing flavors -- I found it to be a wonderful base that can be used as an ingredient in any soup, stew, sauce, etc. There was a nice layer of fat/collagen on the top that mixed well when heated.

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Ingredients:

  • 2 rotisserie chicken leftovers

  • 1 onion (roughly chopped)

  • 1 cup of baby carrots

  • 1 bay leaf

  • 3 stalks of celery with leaves (roughly chopped)

  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar

  • 2 tsp sea salt

  • 4 cloves of garlic (peeled)

Instructions:

  1. Place the bones and scraps from rotisserie chickens in a 16-quart stockpot.

  2. Add onion, celery, baby carrots, bay leaf, apple cider vinegar, sea salt and garlic to stockpot.

  3. Fill stockpot with water (ensure ingredients are fully submerged).

  4. Cover and bring to a boil.

  5. Reduce to a slow simmer for at least 6 hours (simmer longer for a stronger flavor).

  6. Pour broth through a strainer. Discard the solids. Enjoy warm broth, or save liquid in an airtight container for up to 5 days.

Yields ~3 quarts of broth

You can feel free to toss in additional ingredients to the stockpot based on your preference or end use. For example, if I was planning on using the broth in a curry, I would suggest adding turmeric root. Or if you wanted a nice ramen base, you could throw in some fresh ginger. The world is your oyster.

The verdict:

On the days when you are short on time or energy, buy it. There are some great store-bought options out there that will be very comparable to what you can make at home. If you have the time, slow-simmering your own broth is the way to go.

If you do choose to buy, just be on the lookout for high-quality ingredients -- is the package certified organic? Is the meat antibiotic-free and free range? Is the product fresh? (Shelf stable bone broth in a cardboard container is not the same as a fresh store-bought broth. Always look for refrigerated or frozen bone broth).

Whether you decide to self-simmer or make a visit to the store, you’ll be left with a nourishing, flavorful kitchen staple. Happy sipping!