Back to…Cooking School: How to Make Brown Stock

Before we get started, though, let me just clarify one thing. I see a lot of recipes and methods for “Bone Broth”. What is the difference between ‘bone broth’ and ‘stock’, you ask? Is there a difference? Yes, indeed.

Sure, both are made by simmering bones and mildly aromatic vegetables in water for a lengthy period of time, but a true bone broth is made with meat as well as bones, and often contains extra flavorings such as garlic or turnip. A stock is more ‘bare bones’ (pun intended!) containing not much more than bones, water, and mirepoix.

Think of it this way: the term ‘broth’ implies it could be a dish, while ‘stock’ is clearly just an ingredient. Hope that helps. We’re going to learn how to make a brown stock today.

Brown Stock 101

I use this stock the most in my kitchen, putting it to good use in soups, stews, sauces, risottos, or pastas.

You can make it with chicken, veal, beef, duck or wild game bones, all of which are roasted beforehand to give that rich, dark color to the stock. In this recipe, I use veal bones, as that is what I received from my butcher along with the side of young beef we recently purchased.

  • 15 lbs beef or veal bones, in 3-5 inch pieces
  • 3 gallons cold water, approximately
  • 2 large onions, peeled
  • 2 sticks of celery, washed
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon whole black peppercorn
  • handful of fresh parsley OR
  • 2 springs of fresh thyme
  • 2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste (optional)

Preheat oven to 350° F.

Rinse & Roast

Rinse the bones under cold water, pat dry, and place them in a oiled roasting pan. If desired, brush them quickly with tomato paste (this adds more color and flavor to the stock).

Roast the bones, turning occasionally with a sturdy pair of tongs, until the bones caramelize, approximately one hour.  Do not let them burn, or your stock will be bitter.

Meanwhile, prepare your mirepoix. Roughly chop the onion, celery and carrots, place them in another oiled roasting pan or sheet, and roast alongside the bones until lightly caramelized.

Remove bones from oven and transfer to a large stock pot. Add a few cups of cold water to the roasting pan to deglaze it, and use a solid spatula to lift off the remaining food particles on the bottom of the pan and all the flavor they bring. Add mixture to the pot with the bones.

Simmer & Stew

Add roasted mirepoix, herbs, pepper corns, vinegar and bay leaves to the pot of bones. Fill pot up with cold water until the ingredients are just barely submerged and place on stove burner.

Bring stock to a boiland reduce heat immediately. Simmer slowly for 8-12 hours, occasionally skimming excess oil or scum off the top. You don’t need to babysit it much, just make sure it is at a temperature where it will will simmer, but not boil.

When you need to get to bed, or need your large pot for other tasks, turn off the stock and prepare to strain it.

Sieve & Strain

Using a sturdy Spider Skimmer, dip into the large pot and fish out the bones. Allow them to drain a bit and then toss them in the garbage. (I usually haul my garbage bin right over to the stove, to make things easier.) When you have fished out all the large ingredients, strain the broth through a fine sieve into a sturdy bucket, or another pot.

If you have the time and patience, strain the stock a second time through a cheesecloth to further remove impurities.

Chill & Store

Place the pot into your sink, run some cold water around it to help speed up the cooling process. When it is at room temperature, divide among sanitized covered containers for storage. Mason jars work well for freezing, but be sure to leave at least 1 inch of head space to allow for expansion.

Don’t worry if a thin layer of fat forms at the top of your containers. This helps preserve the stock and can easily be removed with a spoon before using.
Stock can be stored for up to one week in the refrigerator or frozen for 3-4 months.

Do you use stock at home?

About Aimee

Cooking has always been Aimée's preferred recreational activity, creative outlet, and source of relaxation. After nearly ten years in the professional cooking industry, she went from restaurant to RSS by trading her tongs and clogs for cookie cutters and a laptop, serving as editor here at Simple Bites. Her first book, Brown Eggs and Jam Jars - Family Recipes from the Kitchen of Simple Bites, was published in February 2015.

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  1. Stocks like this are also loaded with nutrients. Whenever I make a stock like this I add a few tablespoons of ACV and let it sit with the bones for about 30 minutes. The acidity draws the calcium, magnesium, and gelatin out of the bones. These minerals are easily absorbed by the body and the gelatin is great for joint pain. It’s also really great for digestion.

    Can you tell we use a lot of stock? 😉

  2. alison @ Ingredients, Inc. says

    I hope you are also teaching cooking classes w/all this wonderful informative information! Love it!

  3. Stock is so important and can really transform a recipe when made at home. You have re-inspired me to take a Saturday this fall to stock my freezer!

  4. What a wonderful (and thorough) post. Hopefully it will encourage people to make their own stocks instead of purchasing the terrible store bought stuff!

  5. Wow! I feel like a bit of a novice in the kitchen and this post really clarified stock in my mind. It was interesting to read and left me a bit red in the face when I think about the “chicken stock” sitting in my freezer that I made without the onion, celery & carrots.

    Thank you so much! {And it was really easy to read, you have a lovely style.}

  6. linda murray says

    The hotel that I use to work at use to do this over night in a huge pot they would cook it all night long all the veggies, bones, and spices it would reduce to just a very thick stock that they would use for many things, like soups and sauces… thanks for the inspiration… I just made some chicken stock today I guess with the cold weather upon us I feel the need for chicken soup… sure do want to try this…. Linda

  7. I’ve always wanted to make stock, but thought it was to difficult. This cleared everything up for me. Thanks! I think I might make some stock out of deer bones once hunting season begins.

  8. I used to be a chicken stock making fool! I remember one time I was running late and told my husband to throw some chicken in the oven for dinner. I should have clarified b/c he threw my reserved stock bones into the oven instead of the meaty bird. He’s not a moron in the kitchen, I guess he was just not paying attention. Needless to say, I came home to roasted bones for dinner, which made for a good stock. 🙂

  9. For defatting a stock, I love my broth separator.

    After I roast a chicken, I take the carcass and skin (already roasted, so convenient!) and cover them with water, adding a few onions and bay leaves. Simmering them overnight makes a delicious dark stock.

  10. Love this post. Seeing the pictures reminds me of my grandma’s house. I can just smell the veggies and bones roasting! I make my own chicken stock, which I use almost exclusively. Don’t know why I never make (and, hence, use) brown stock but, as always, you’ve inspired me. Weekend project!

  11. I Google for stock making, and here I am. I wish I would of done it a few years back as we don’t need to make baby food any longer. What a neat site you have. Anyhow your method for making stock is well written and seems easy to follow. I shall give it a try tomorrow. Thanks for sharing.

    Cheers, Lee

  12. Pam @ Kitchen Cookware world says


    I make vegetable stock often at home, but sometimes I am too lazy and buy the stock or bullion from the whole foods or trader joes. However, using my own stock in rice or other recipe has always worked out to best! I should do it more often.

  13. I have wanted to make stock ever since I saw this post (when it was first published). I’ve been making chicken stock but haven’t found a source for beef bones until today. I stopped by a new-found meat market for a roast for tonight and asked about soup bones. I walked out with free beef knuckles. I’ve got the bones in the oven now! Hoping it turns out well! 🙂

  14. Have you thought of just canning the stock directly once it’s done boiling rather than cooling it down and then freezing? I’m thinking that what I’m going to do as it’d last a whole lot longer…plus, I have like ZERO freezer space in my itty bitty apartment. 😛

  15. Hi there, Carole’s Chatter is collecting veal dishes today. This is a nice one. I do hope you pop over and link in. This is the link . Cheers

  16. I looove making stock! Unfortunately I don’t get time to do it often enough. I use it up so quickly after making it … I’m the cook in our house (my wife can cook pasta and do scrambled eggs :D) but since we moved off island there’s not really enough time to do it any more. The weekend time I would use for this is now used for making jams so we can at least enjoy those. Haven’t bought any for almost two years now but running dangerously low. Need to find a weekend for making jam soon.

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