The Perfect Simmer on Your Bone Broth (plus video!)

by Sarah TheHealthyHomeEconomist

perfect bone broth simmer

Many of you will be making bone broth with leftover turkey, duck, or maybe even goose in the coming days as you celebrate the holidays.

At our home, we will be roasting 2 ducks for Christmas dinner and I am more than a little excited about the incredibly flavorful gallon or so of duck stock I’m going to get from these two birds.

I talk quite a bit about the importance of homemade stock in the diet and how crucial it is to make stock yourself on a frequent basis and have some ready in your freezer at all times for quick meals as well as any illnesses that might strike your household.

For those of you just learning the ropes about homemade stock, I’ve filmed a one minute video to show you exactly what the perfect simmer should look like once you’ve brought that stock to a boil and turned down the heat.

I get a lot of questions about the perfect simmer, so instead of attempting to describe with words, I thought a visual to show you exactly what the ideal simmer looks like would be more effective.

TIP:  The longer you cook the stock, the richer the flavor will be.   Be sure to have your simmer no higher than what I show in the video so you can easily cook it for 24-48 hours and get the richest flavor possible!

Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist


Sources and More Information on Bone Broth

My Youtube playlist of over ten videos on all aspects of making bone broth

How to Make Turkey Stock

The Healthiest and Best Bone Broth

How to Make Duck Stock

How to Make Beef and Chicken Stock

How to Make Shrimp Stock

5 Reasons Why Your Stock Won’t Gel

Confused about Stock versus Bone Broth?


Comments (73)

  1. Anybody tried to use an induction cooktop to cook their stock? I had so much struggle cooking stock on my gas stove for years, it never was low enough. So, I’ve decided to buy a countertop induction cooktop. The temperature range starts at 100F. I’ve been at it for the past 4 hours and I can not find the perfect T. I started by bringing it to a boil and then I have to lower the T but I can not find which one will do the perfect simmer :( I’ll keep searching.

  2. Leslie van der Heide June 25, 2013 at 7:17 am

    I have the same question as Enid, do you add the roasting juices to the pot after you roast the beef bones? Thank you!

  3. I have 2 ridiculous questions here:
    yes, you do discard the vegies. from reading & reading I finally figured that out. It just is not clear to me what is the difference between cooking the vegies in water for stock and throwing them away, then use that vegie stock water to cook more vegies in for a more flavorful soup.
    So, that is the cost of making soup with a double purchase of vegetables.
    I still don’t know what to use the gelatin for. I did finally figure out the concept of simmering for the bone stock, but what do I do with the gelatin dripped from the roasting?
    My comment is above on Jan 2, 2013
    This is a sorry state of affairs that I cannot find anybody who knows old-time cooking enough to answer these questions.
    Next attempt at 24 hr chicken bone simmering will be in a slow-cooker, out on the balcony. If the smell is too much for the doggies in the apartment and walking by on the sidewalk I will have to give up on making stock. Simmering that long inside an apartment just does not work.

  4. Hello!
    Once the stock is complete, do you eat the leftover vegetables, or discard those with the carcass (I’m making chicken stock/sorry if this is a ridiculous question!)

  5. We just bought a Hamilton Beach slow cooker (Hamilton Beach 33967 Set ‘n Forget 6-Quart Programmable Slow Cooker) and last night we left our chicken bones to simmer at Low setting. Next morning, after 10 hours or so, we found the broth was almost at a boil (lot of bubbles). We had to quickly turn it off. According to our understanding Low setting should have just simmered (few bubbles) so we’re not sure if there is something wrong with the cooker or we’re doing something wrong. Everywhere we read about people leaving their slow cookers for 24 hours or more. So this all is quit surprising. We have no clue.
    Does anyone have any ideas? Please help.


    • Yes!! We have the same problem! With our Crock Pot 6qt slow cooker! I have to wake up in the middle of the night to turn on warm, etc. I have been in the US for a little over a year now and have yet to get a perfect simmer / gel with my stocks – even when adding in feet, etc. I always use a pastured bird from our co-ops or nearby farms.

      In Europe I was able to easily achieve great gel and simmer EVERY TIME on our stove top with a typical stock pot or my Staub cast iron dutch oven (even without using feet,etc). No one owns a crock pot there. Crock pots are very American and it must because stove/oven tamps are so high here.

      But I do believe even crock pot temps are too high, but have not been able to find any exact temperature numbers. I also believe unless you have an expensive European stove/oven with low temps, it will not be achieved on an American one…..

      Look forward to more comments on this!!!

  6. That is exactly how my beloved Abuela Elvira would simmer her chicken for soup! I have to say I’m usually in a hurry, and have boiled my stock too fast. I remember my Grandma’s soup stock smelled soooo good, and I’ve wondered how she got that wonderful taste that I’ve missed. Thanks for this. I will slow down and enjoy this so much more!

  7. I pour off the drippings from roasting the chicken, 1-2 cups. Put into the refrigerator, next day scrape off fat. There is about 1-2 cups of getatin which I heat to liquify, add a small amount of water pour into ice cube tray, keep cubes frozen in ziplock.
    I would like to know what is with the simmering for 1-2 days.

    You said simmering makes a richer flavor but why isn’t the gel straight from the roasting pan without the simmering good enough?
    Thank you.

  8. Thanks for the post, very helpful. What is the best way to remove the foam? I was thinking a very fine mesh skimmer. I get my chicken and all veggies from a WPF suggested farm, but my stock is producing lots of foam which I think are impurities. Thanks for your reply.

    • I usually just skim that foam and any black or dark stuff off with a spoon within the first half hour of simmering. Yes, these are the impurities. Sally Fallon says to throw this away, don’t give it to the dogs even! Once it gels/cools, if there’s stock in the cup you scooped it into, it will be runny, and I just put this back into the pot.

  9. I’m wondering about how high to heat the broth again after it’s been refrigerated or frozen. I think I heard somewhere along the line that we needed to boil it to get rid of any pathogenic bacteria that might have grown in the frig. Sarah, are you saying just a simmer is better? For how long? I have a son doing the GAPS diet and he drinks a lot of broth.

    thank you!

  10. I made broth that didn’t stink last night! I have been trying to find a way to make broth wihtout getting upsetting my husband with the smell. I bought a slow cooker and put it ourside under a small table and the BBQ cover. The smell still wafted around the house so much my husband still complained. Then I listened to your talk on the Real Food Summit and then looked your perfect simmer video on your website. It took me 2 hours to get it my stock pot on my electric stove low enough, and it did boil at least an hour, but once it had been simmering for awhile I noticed there was no smell (as long as I didn’t lift the lid). My husband made no comment about it when he got home and I was able to leave it on all night. It has just a very yummy mild smell and golden color. Now if it gels, it will be perfection!
    Thank you, Sarah, for saving my broth.

  11. Is this simmer shown for chicken in this video the same simmer you want for beef or fish stocks?

    I found out about your site and videos through your talk at the Real Food Summit 2012. I just started making some beef stock right now and hope to get a more gelatinous broth this time through all the help you’ve given me. Thanks Sarah!! :-)

  12. Pingback: Bone Broth: The Magical Ingredient for Your Infant’s Gastrointestinal concerns « Food For Kids Health

  13. Dear Sarah —

    Since moving back to the United States I am having a terrible time getting a good simmer for my stock. I have never had any problems with our stove we had in Europe and always produced perfect broths with great gels.

    We are in a temporary rental place now and the stove we are using seems to always be too high of a temperature or too low, thwarting any good simmers. It results in either a slow rolling boil (which produces a terrible tasting broth) or if on the lowest setting then there is no simmer at all.

    I recently tried to make a stock in a crock pot (thinking this must be why so many Americans love their crock pots) and on the low setting it was nearly boiled out by 4am, waking me up by the strong brothy smell from all condensing and boiling out. They were only small beef marrow bones that had been in there for less that 12 hours and nearly 50% of the water was boiled out.

    I use only pastured bones straight from an Amish farm co-op and a Staub cast iron dutch oven – as my Le Creuset Stock Pot seems to allow for even more boiling or burns the soup on this stove top we have now (although I never had problems using it with the Europe stove) even on the low settings. I believe the over-boiling is preventing my broths to gel nicely and also produces a murkey broth and the taste is not so great, in spite of high quality bones.

    I am sure this is just a problem with a cheap rental stove/oven, so in the meantime before we buy a house and buy our own stove, would you be able to recommend a good crock pot for simmering broths? It seems the lowest settings for crock pots is 170F – is that too high? Are there any that have lower temps?

    Also would you be able to recommend nice stove/convection oven if one were to buy one for low temperature/slow cooking?

    I look forward to your reply

    With Warm Regards

  14. Thank you so much for posting this video! I’ve been making stock for months now and could NEVER get it to gel. I’ve added feet to my chicken stock, marrow bones and knuckles to my beef broth, and even started making it in my crockpot instead of the stove… and I still never got my stock to gel. I’ve just kept plugging away, because I figured that low collagen bone broth from our pastured chickens and beef is better than no bone broth at all. But I’ve been harboring under the misconception that it should sit at a low simmer for 24 hours, not the simmer you showed in the video (my version of a slow simmer has multiple bubbles, not one lonely one). I’m so excited to make my broth this week now! I can’t wait to put it in the fridge and FINALLY get that nutrition-filled jelly that I’ve been after for the last 6 months or so! Oooh, I I’m so excited!!!

  15. Seeing the visual was helpful. It would be even more helpful if you could put a probe thermometer into the middle (depth-wise and) of the center (diameter-wise) of the pot and report what the temperature of the stock was when it was so beautifully simmering. That would help those of us who want to use a crock pot. At least for me, with a crock pot, the bubbles tend to be more toward the outer edges than the center so I be very interested in knowing what the temperature of your stock was so I can use that as a safety guide. Thanks!

  16. I make stock in the crockpot, but lift the crock on a small metal measuring cup or empty tuna can (clean!). Leave the crockpot on low and you will have the small bubble Sarah showed in the video.

    • My crockpot seems to have more of a simmer than this even when on low- Karen- what do you mean you place it on a metal can? on the inside of the crockpot? with the ceramic pot on top? Thanks!

  17. Thanks for that! So, you cook yours with the lid all the way on? I have been wondering especially as I’ve been simmering much higher than that with the lid cracked a bit and the smell has been almost too powerful for my family overnight.

  18. What if I want to reduce the stock? Should I still cook it low for a much longer time with the cover off, or can I boil it harder at that point?

  19. I have a gas stove and I won’t leave the burner on while I’m gone or sleeping so the only option I have is a crock pot. I bring everything to boil in the stock pot and then switch to the crock. I start that on high till it bubbles and then turn it down to low. Whenever I’m home, I lift the lid a few times a day which slows things down but I think it bubbles nicely on low overnight while I sleep or work. (I work midnights). I did have a gas house explosion a few years back (not due to cooking or anything that was my ‘fault’) and I wouldn’t want to experience that again. I’ll stick to the crock pot no matter what. My stock is great and my house and pets are safer! Thanks for the video.

  20. Great video! Your stove and countertop are identical to mine, though I don’t have the matching backsplash. By the way, can you get the perfect simmer in a crockpot set on low? Assuming one has previously brought the stock to a boil?

      • I think all crock pots are different. Mine are older and I have been trying to make chicken broth and mine seems to cook too low, I don’t get a simmer or gurgle at all. There are bubbles sitting on top but there is no visible bubbling. I threw away the last batch because I was afraid to eat it. I may try to do it on high next time and see if it bubbles. I usually don’t seem to have trouble cooking in it, the food gets plenty hot but for some reason broth won’t boil on low for me.

  21. wow – clearly I am cooking my stock way too high!! Thanks for that video – that’s very helpful. It would’ve been hard to understand it without the video. Merry Christmas!!!!

  22. I always make stock in my crock pot and leave it overnight so I don’t have to leave my gas stove on so long. Even on low it boils more than yours. Is there some reason this would be a problem? My stock always comes out wonderful, but maybe I’m destroying some beneficial minerals or something. I have another question unrelated to stock. I just received a gift box of pears which say “in order to maintain freshness; this fruit has been coated with food grade vegetable petroleum beeswax and or lac-resin based wax or resin.” We don’t ever buy waxed fruit, but these were a gift so we’ll probably eat them. wondering if you have any info. thanks for all your great information!

  23. I have a gas stove and no matter how low I turn the flame, it still eventually starts to leave the simmer you showed and moves to a boil. The stock pot I use too is very large, yours was much smaller, so what to do? The stock sure comes out clear and gelatinous even if it is above a gurgle. Thoughts on this and what I can do?

  24. Wow, I’m making chicken broth today for the first time and this video is very helpful! Though mine is going into the crockpot, but still I now know what to look for when its done.

  25. Thanks Sarah…. I have been on the right track. LOL I have a gas stove so don’t feel comfortable going to bed with an open flame in case it were to blow out at night for some reason. I do know that my oven is part electric as if the electric goes out the oven goes off but it goes off safely so I simmer my stock through the evening but then put it into a 225 oven over night. That seems to be working well as I get a nice rich broth when all is said and done. Do you see anything wrong with this?

  26. …question Sarah: What brand is your cookware?

    Great vid by the way. I learned this from Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything a long time ago; but it is nice to see someone in the Traditional Foods community confirm it for me.

  27. Sarah,
    The only ducks I have been able to find in the grocery stores are pumped with up to a 10% solution of water and goodness only knows what else. Where do you buy your ducks and chickens? I live in Sarasota County, Florida.

  28. Thank you for the video. I now see that I was cooking mine too low! I have a gas stove so I put it on the lowest setting on the small burner but maybe I will move it ever so slightly now to get the gurgling.

    One question for you about fish stock – I just re-watched your video on that one and am now feeling confident to try my luck at that. As luck would have it, I just found a great fish store that will give me the fish heads for free!! :-) Merry Christmas to me! The man at the store said he has snapper, but recommends the black sea bass since in his opinion, has a better flavor. Have you ever tried this type of fish for stock?

    • Merry Christmas to you indeed!

      Bass is an oily fish, I think? Double check on that. If it is oily, the snapper would be better.

      Fish stock is not only the most economical stock to make, it is also the fastest (only 4hours start to finish) AND the most nutritious! I also find it the most tasty, but that is just my personal opinion.

      I’m glad you posted this comment. I am out of fish stock right now and will put some on today – I have 2 snapper heads in the freezer.

      • Our local sea bass in California is not oily at all. It makes great fish stock. So does our local halibut and rock cod. Maybe black sea bass is??

  29. Sarah, this post is very helpful. I have been making a lot of chicken stock lately and I never knew what temperature to cook it at. Now I know what the simmer should look like. It looks like I have been cooking mine at too high a temperature.

    Lavina @ Lavina’s Healthy Home’s last post: Grain-Free Almond Snowball Cookies

    • Why is it important to cook it low for at least 24 hours? I have been cooking it only 2 hours. Thanks Also do you add anything else to the water and bones?

  30. Great video. I simmer stock just like you do, and feel totally comfortable with leaving it on the stove.

    Duck carcasses make great stock, which is considered to be very healing and restorative in traditional Chinese medicine.

    This year, we will have Goose stock, made from the remains of the Christmas Goose.

    • Also, if you are going out and don’t want to leave it on, just shut the heat off. It will sit staying very hot for several hours. Then just turn it back on and simmer away.

    • I have used a crock pot and put it on high at first and then low but even on low it is a small boil…I guess it’s back to a stock pot? What if I put the crock pot on warm??? I’d love your opinion


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