Last updated on May 5th, 2017
Brrr! Last Friday, temperatures here plunged to 47°F. To celebrate autumn’s refreshing return, I did what any sensible omnivore would do: I made beef stock.
According to reports I’ve read (here’s one; here’s another), homemade beef stock offers myriad health benefits. It aids digestion, inhibits infection, fights inflammation, and reduces joint pain. And that’s not all, folks! Gelatin in the stock promotes healthy hair and nail growth. Commercially-produced stocks contain no gelatin whatsoever. Not the brands I’ve encountered, anyway.
Health benefits aside, beef stock is a cook’s treasure. You can’t make real French Onion Soup without it. It’s a must-have for winter stews and gravies, too. A cup of hot, nutritious stock will warm your soul during a blizzard.
And speaking of blizzards! Don’t wait until the snow flies to make your stock. Make it in late summer or early autumn, when you can flavor it up with fresh herbs and veggies from the garden. Got a glut of cherry tomatoes? Toss ’em into your stock pot.
Here’s my basic recipe:
First, put some meaty beef bones in a roasting pan. Oxtail bones, which most of us can find at the supermarket, are terrific for stock. For today’s batch, I used 5 pounds of bones, and ended up with 3 quarts of stock.
Add some peeled, roughly-chopped carrots…
And 1 or 2 peeled onions, quartered.
Put the roasting pan on the center rack of a preheated 450° oven, and cook until the bones are beautifully browned — about 30 minutes.
Then dump the works into a stock pot…
And add enough cold water to cover the ingredients by 2 inches.
Oh. If you have lots of stuck-on bits in your roasting pan (I did not), then you’ll want to deglaze it. To do this, pour some boiling water into the pan, and scrape the bottom with a wooden spatula. Add this flavor-rich deglazing “sauce” to the stock pot.
Now run out to the garden, and obtain a large, ripe tomato. Roughly chop the tomato, and toss it into the stock pot.
Grab some fresh herbs, too. Parsley and thyme are always welcome in beef stock. For no particular reason, I tied my herbs with cotton string.
If you’re like me, you’ll suddenly remember that you have lovage in your garden. Add a few stems to the pot. Loveage will contribute a nice celery flavor.
A note about salt and pepper. Most cooks add peppercorns and salt to their beef stock, but I never do. Instead, I add these seasonings as required for specific recipes in which the stock will be used. Furthermore, salt isn’t good for dogs. Lily the Beagle enjoys beef stock as much as I do.
Simmering the stock. Bring the pot to a boil over high heat. Then reduce the heat, partially cover the pot, and let simmer until the bones and veggies release their essences, and your whole house is enveloped in glorious perfume — about 4 hours. Do check the pot from time to time as it simmers — you might need to add a little boiling water just to keep the ingredients covered.
Can you make beef stock in a crock pot? Yes, I suppose you could. But I don’t have a method for you. Crock pot food always tastes a little “off” to me. Straining the stock. Strain the stock through a wire-mesh sieve set over a large bowl. (Since I made lots of stock, I performed this job in two batches.)
And just for the weirdness of it, bite into a carrot. It should have no flavor whatsoever. All of its flavor has gone into the stock! Feed the remaining carrots to your dog, your chickens, or your husband.
Meanwhile, the stock will be fragrant, delicious, and uniquely your own. As mentioned earlier, I achieved 3 full quarts of stock from my 5 pounds of bones.
If you’d like to degrease the stock — and you certainly don’t have to — just let it cool to room temperature. Then cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for several hours or overnight. After the fat rises and solidifies, you can easily scrape it off with a spatula or skimmer.
Storing the stock. When sealed in zip-lock bags, plastic tubs or glass jars, homemade beef stock will stay fresh and wonderful in the fridge for up to 3 days. For longer storage, freeze it. If you freeze your stock in glass jars, be sure to allow 1 inch of headroom. Otherwise, the jars will break as the stock freezes and expands.
Is homemade stock important to you? You can let me know by leaving a comment. As always, I love hearing from you!
Hungry for more? Get my email updates.
Here’s a printable version of the above. Feel free to increase, decrease, and amend the ingredients as desired.
Beef stock is easy to make, and you can make it uniquely your own by adding fresh herbs and vegetables from your home garden or farmers' market. Feel free to increase or decrease ingredients as desired. Omit salt and pepper from the stock, as you can always add these seasonings as required for the soups, stews, and gravies in which the stock will be used.
- 5 pounds meaty beef bones (see note below)
- 3-5 fat carrots, peeled and cut into 3-inch pieces
- 1 large onion, peeled and quartered
- 1 large, ripe tomato, quartered
- Fresh herbs, such as parsley and thyme-- 8-10 stems of each, or to taste
- Center the oven rack; preheat the oven to 450°F. Arrange the bones, carrots, and onion in a heavy roasting pan, and bake until the meat is beautifully browned -- about 30 minutes. Transfer the bones and veggies to a 12-quart stock pot. Then add the tomato and herbs, and enough water to cover the ingredients by 2 inches. Bring to a boil over high heat. Then lower the heat, partially cover the pot, and let simmer until fragrant -- usually 4 hours.
- Strain the contents of the pot through a wire mesh sieve set over a large bowl (you may need to do this in batches). If you wish to degrease the stock, first let it come to room temperature. Then cover and refrigerate for several hours or overnight. When the fat rises and solidifies, scrape it off with a spatula.
- Store the stock in air-tight bags or tubs. Refrigerated stock will keep for up to 3 days. For longer storage (at least 3 months), freeze it. .
NOTE: Beef bones, meaty or otherwise, are available at most supermarkets. Oxtail bones are particularly nice for stock.
Mary G says
the first time we made beef broth my husband and I sat at the kitchen table and dunked homemade bread into warm broth and called it dinner.
Around here soup bones cost almost as much a chuck! So I save my beef bones from various cuts in the freezer, then make stock when I have a good mess of them.
Lynne F. says
Kevin, your emails are the BEST ones I get ever! And, YES! I make all of my stocks from “scratch,” purely because I have the time now that I’m retired, and don’t like all the additives from commercially produced stock. Same goes for nearly everything I prepare . . . sauces, soups, stews, casseroles; spice mixes, seasoning mixes, dry mixes for cornbreads, etc., all made from fresh ingredients from our local produce/fruit stand (year round in Florida!). The best part: everything homemade keeps us healthier and more alert without all the unseen stuff from prepared mixes! Thanks for being there with all of your wonderful tips, recipes, photos, antics . . . looking forward to the next one!
Thank you so much! I live making my own soups, but hate seasoning my fresh, organic ingredients with someone else’s stock when my broth tastes thin! I’m curious; I keep hearing about “bone broth”; surely this is the same thing?
Kevin Lee Jacobs says
Hi Angie – Yes, beef broth is also known as “bone broth.” Enjoy!
Kevin, I make stick similarly to your method, with one exception. I roast not only the meaty bones, but all the vegetables, too. I use double the amount you list, roast them until carmelized, then simmer them all. The roasting process gives the stock a much deeper and slightly more complex flavor. Another tip is to leave the (clean) onion skins on when you roast-then-simmer. The skins darken considerably while roasting, giving the final stock a lovely dark color.
You’ve inspired me to use the upcoming stormy weather days to fill my freezer with goods beef stock for fall meals.
Always right on point, Kevin. Thx for the recipe for your beef stock.
Lisa Williams says
Love fresh stock. I do use a crock pot after the roasting time. I leave it on low up to 12-18 hours. Gelatinous and delicious!
Barb Milburn says
Love oxtail, Kevin, and all of that glorious gelatin! I agree about the crockpot taste being a bit off, however, when I make chicken bone broth, I use the crockpot and allow the bones to, pretty much, disintegrate. Takes a couple of days, but worth the time.
Time to make some beef stock!!! Thank you!
Kevin Lee Jacobs says
Hi Tracy – Great idea to leave the onion skins on when roasting. Love the dark color they lend to stock. Thanks!
Adding apple cider vinegar helps to remove minerals from bones for added nutrition. I make chicken and beef broth all year round. So comforting to drink when you are sick.
Patricia Panuccio says
I love that you left the salt till later. I have had to adjust all recipes for my husband’s low salt diet. I have learned that salt is only for taste and once you use less or none your taste adjusts.
Thanks, Kevin. I’m heading towards summer in my hemisphere, but and cold and miserably wet day today had me yearning to make this immediately. I regularly make chicken stock from the bones of bought barbecued chicken and home roasted chicken.
Alyce Grover says
This is a terrific method and more flavorful than crock pot. You can make good roast chicken stock using this method too. Just take the chicken meat you want off the bones and boil the rest on low.
BTW, our vet said to to add this kind of stock minus the onions for our dogs’ suppers. They love it. I add onions later when I do a recipe and get more onion flavor.
Good morning, Kevin great recipe here! I’m following along with your readers’ comments, too. I also add apple cider vinegar to the bones and I feel so victorious when I’ve made a batch that is gelatinous. My cat and dog both have bone broth added (no onions) to their daily meals, and I enjoy a small cup of heated broth in the morning.
Lovely beef stock. Just wondering if you have an equally wonderful chicken stock recipe. Appreciate all the gardening and cooking information. You have made our eating habits more delicious.
Sandy Martinez says
Good morning Kevin. And good morning to everyone!
thank you!! Have a great day! Love, Sandy
Kevin Lee Jacobs says
Hi Fran – My chicken stock recipe is similar to my beef stock recipe. You can see it here: My Best Chicken Stock.
Beverly, zone 6, eastern PA says
I know nothing about this process! I never even tried. I feel inadequate. But… Kevin to the rescue. Thanks sweetie.
I do make my own Chicken Stock.. but never thought about making a beef based one. A new addition to my freezer this year FOR SURE! Thank you for the recipe.
Lori Schmidt says
I don’t eat meat so although I am sure this is wonderful I would love to hear how you would go about making a good vegetable stock to can or freeze. Thanks!!
Mary Margrave says
Just a brief comment about skimming off the wonderful healthful fat from the broth. The broth replete with the fat in the stock is how this fabulous beverage becomes a healing and totally healthful winter drink. I personally do not peel most vegetables I add to my stock. I use in addition to Kevin’s list celery, garlic a small parsnip. Of course I do peel onion.ns and garlic. I make my own dog food from the leavings by stripping the bones clean and food processing the leavings in the food processor and mix it with some cooked brown rice, then bottle in pint jars and freeze. The dogs love this.
I don’t add salt either. Herbs give plent of flavour, and one can add salt at the table, to taste.
My chief helper in making a thick, rich broth is VINEGAR. Adding a tablespoon or two of vinegar helps to dissolve the calcium from the bones into the stock… And it becomes very thick and rich. When i make stock from chicken or turkey, the bones are very soft when i am done. For beev, lamb, or pork, they get a little crumbly. I love making bone broth!
Kim R says
Yes, I make my own stock. I do add a bit of Apple Cider Vinegar to mine. Supposedly it helps leach more benefits out of the bones. Not sure if that’s true. I don’t add salt or pepper either. I was wondering if you ever pressure can your stock? Would it affect the flavor and nutrition, I wonder? I have never added a tomato, I’ll try it!
Susan McRae says
wonderful… we just got a quarter share of beef. It included short ribs. I’m going to use those! thanks.
Caro in Canada says
I’m pretty obsessed with making chicken stock these days. Husband sometimes spatchcocks two, and smokes with applewood. The smoky meat is really good in a soup that include a few green lentils and brown and wild rice. Thank you for this, Kevin — I am going to get some beef bones this week! Happy Fall!
Looks awesome!!! You’ve probably seen this, but I have to share! http://www.emmabridgewater.co.uk/en/uk/new-arrivals/silver-fox-12-pint-mug/invt/1fox010002
Thanks for the beef stock recipe. I’ve made vegetable & chicken stock for years & freeze for winter soups & all recipes that require stock. I tend to not peel any of the vegetables, including the garlic & onions. I hate to remove the nutrients contained in the peels & skins & just scrub the dirt off thoroughly. I freeze in plastic containers in measured amounts that relate to recipes I’ll be using the stock in. To make vegetable stock, I start a gallon size Ziploc bag in the freezer & begin saving all vegetable cuttings…onion skins, celery leaves, carrot peelings, squash & bean tips….most any vegetable part that would normally go in the compost. When I have three full bags it’s time to make the stock.
Yes, it’s important. I’ve been making it now for several years and can taste and feel a noticeable difference in my joints. I cook mine for 24 hours and after de-fattting it, it is at thick as jello. I freeze it in 1,2,&4 cup portions to use as whatever I am making. I also do this with chicken bones and carcasses. I freeze them till I get about 5lbs and do it in a crock pot for 24 hrs. also. Have both in my freezer all year. Delicious and very satisfying to make. Thank you for talking about this. One should really try making it.
I might add, I buy really good bones from my butcher, knuckle, marrow etc., and try to use organic chicken bones when I can.
Linda A says
Thanks for taking us through this, Kevin. Maybe in a few more weeks I’ll
47 degrees there? Seriously?
Having a bit of Indian Summer here – 87 right now; supposed to hit 92 later (Northern
But, I’ve made roasted heirloom tomatoes that are in the freezer, thanks to you.
And likely we’ll still have good veggies in a couple of weeks to throw in your beef stock.
Needs to cool down here first before I attempt it!
Homemade stock is VERY important to me. Commercial stocks are worthless! But, unlike you, I am not so crazy about the aroma of beef stock lingering in the house. So, best I make some soon, while the windows can still be open!
Making chicken stock is a staple in my kitchen! I’ve not had much luck with beef stock, but am inspired to try again with your recipe & instructions. I make a big pot of chicken stock every couple of weeks though. No better smell in the kitchen than stock simmering on the stove!
I first soak the bones in a wine/water mix to help leach out the minerals in the bones. then I brown in the oven with root veggies then simmer all day, and finally, freeze for future soups and sauces.
Lynn Bean says
When I make stock, I strain the liquid into a metal bowl then place plastic wrap directly on the surface of the liquid. Refrigerate overnight. Next morning, run a hot damp cloth around the outside of the bowl (to just melt the fat that’s clinging to the side of the bowl) then peel off the plastic wrap. The fat comes away with the plastic wrap, leaving beautiful clean stock in the bowl.
Also, I usually make stock in the pressure cooker. Done in an hour, but if you leave it for an hour and a half, you get the most amazing rich stock that you’ll ever taste. Delicious and easy too.
Thanks for the great recipe.
I look forward to receiving your e-mails. It is like reading a good magazine.
I love the recipes, gardening , decorating and entertaining ideas. Also your pictures and commentaries. Thank you for all the pleasure I receive
I noticed that no one mentions celery. Is there a reason for not including celery? Isn’t it one of the basic ‘aromatics’?
Kevin Lee Jacobs says
Hi CarolS – I used loveage instead of celery. The herb tastes like celery…on steroids!
Anne Pollock says
And to store your soup in the freezer:
Freeze your soup in freezer bags. Move a freezer shelf up for a narrow area to lay food flat to freeze and open a wider shelf below to store frozen food like books on a shelf. This saves freezer space and helps food defrost faster. Write the contents along the side as well.
Mary Jouver says
Love this recipe Kevin! After a health challenge, trying to do more scratch cooking and your recipes are wonderful! Question…Do you give the cooked bones to Lily to gnaw on?
Wow sounds like rather a lot of work (and time to prep) – but I bet there’s no comparison with cubes or packets of powde 🙂 So thanks for the inspiring recipes — will have to try! And its virtues are yes so well know now!!!
We just love scallops !! So that sounds a great recipe to try; so do your roulades. Mmmm all ++