Ever wondered what the best bone broth is? We put our tastebuds to work, trying a sampling of chicken broth!
With the ever-increasing interest in bone broth, and a number of bone broth makers popping up all across the country, we rounded up a selection of traditional foods enthusiasts and home broth makers to taste some of the new bone broths that are hitting the market. So our testers sipped and sipped their way through seven different broths including one homemade, one found at nearly any grocery store, and the rest available for purchase online. We asked them about how the chickens that make their broth were raised, what went into the broth, how long it simmered away, and then our judges evaluated each broth for visible gelatin, flavor, mouthfeel and color.
Bone broths differed wildly in terms of visible gelatin content, general flavor and color. Some broths were a milky white, others a coffee brown, and others a golden yellow. Testers tasted them without any additions, though they were offered salt at the table for those who wanted to season their broth after having tasted it unseasoned first. We didn’t let the judges know which broth they were tasting, where it came from, or which ingredients were included.
Bone broth is blessedly easy and inexpensive to make at home (find recipes here, here, here and in my cookbook here), but for those of you who have neither the time or inclination to make your own at home, I think you’ll find some solid options within the bone broth makers who were thoughtful enough to participate below.
Far and away, homemade bone broth was the most popular with our judges in every aspect: visible gelatin, flavor and mouthfeel. Among the commercial bone broths, Grow and Behold’s Bone Broth ranked the highest overall, owing no doubt to both its flavor and the fact that the cold broth was the most gelatinous of the commercial broths. KOL Foods broth ranked the highest in flavor among the commercial broths our judges tried. A surprising takeaway from the taste test was that the less the broth included in its ingredient list, the higher the broth was rated by the judges. Those broths that were just bones and water rated the best, while those that were flavored with vegetables and herbs ranked lower.
1. Homemade Roasted Chicken Bone Broth
2. Grow and Behold
3. KOL Foods
4. Real Bone Broth from Wise Choice Market
5. Bare Bones Broth
6. The Flavor Chef / Brothery
7. Pacific Foods Organic Free-Range Chicken Broth
Takeaways: How to Make the Best Broth
So if you’re a home broth maker, a new broth maker, or a broth maker looking to make it available for retail sale, here’s our panels tips for you. Where you source your chicken and bones matters, and all our bone broth makers used free-range, pasture-raised birds. Bone broths with the fewest ingredients ranked the best, so keep it to just bones and water. You can flavor your soup, and you can flavor your broth once you’re ready to serve it. Don’t salt your broth. Salt preference is personal, and when broth reduces it can make your broth taste too salty. Lastly, while gelatin matters and broths that aren’t particularly gelatinous may still contain plenty of protein, a solid gel gives broth a beautiful texture and mouthfeel.
How We Tested the Broth
Eight people participated in the test, all home broth makers, including two chapter leaders from the Weston A Price Foundation, one of the biggest advocates for bone broth (find a local chapter here). They evaluated the cold broth for visible signs of gelatin (1-10 scale) and color, and they evaluated the warm broth for flavor (1-10 scale), and mouthfeel (1-10 scale). They also provided notes on aroma, flavor and color. They did not know in advance which broth they were tasting, where it came from, or its ingredients. Broths were served by random draw.
Scoring the Results
Once the results were in, we scored them by first evaluating the results for gelatin, flavor and mouthfeel. We discarded the highest rating and the lowest rating in each category for each broth, and then took an average of the remaining values to arrive at the final score in each category. For the overall score, we averaged the cores for visible gelatin, flavor and mouthfeel (weighing the score for flavor as 3 times the value of the other scores).
And just so you know …
We asked all participants (except Pacific Foods, which was a last-minute addition that we purchased), to send at least 1 quart of chicken bone broth for this test. As I’ve worked in this space for a long time, I have relationships with a few of the broth makers including Wise Choice Market (former client), KOL Foods and the Flavor Chef/Brothery (we’re registered as an affiliate for these two programs, but don’t actively promoted them nor have we ever received any payment from them). No affiliate links or sponsored links were used in this post.
What would you like to see us test next?
What would you like us to taste test next? Sauerkraut? Butter? Yogurt? Drop a line in the comments to let us know or send me a tweet at @jennymcgruther.