After you've slow-roasted your turkey and picked the bones clean, it's time to make turkey bone broth. Deeply savory with an amber-brown color, it's just about one of the easiest broth recipes you can make. Onions and herbs amplify that flavor. In this version, we've included guidance for making it on the stove, in an electric pressure cooker such as the InstantPot, or in your slow cooker.
What is it?
Bone broth is the liquid that results from simmering bones and joints of meat over time. This version is made from leftover roasted turkey bones, and it has a deeply savory flavor that's enhanced by onion, garic, herbs, and just the right amount of wine (or lemon) for acidity.
Traditionally broths are sipped on their own as a restorative food, but you can also use turkey bone broth as the foundation for other dishes such as gravy, soups, and stews. It's excellent as the base for this Turkey and Wild Rice Soup and for this sprouted lentil soup with smoked turkey.
What's in it?
At its simplest, turkey bone broth needs only two ingredients: 1) the leftover frame of a roast turkey, and 2) water. But, you can enhance the flavor by adding alliums, such as garlic and onion, wine or lemon, and fresh or dried herbs. The additional ingredients, while not strictly necessary, improve the broth's flavor if added judiciously and at the right time.
- Turkey bones leftover from roasting a turkey. Reserve as many bones, as much of the leftover skin, and any pan drippings for the broth.
- Yellow onion and garlic give the broth a deeper flavor, with light sweet notes that balance the rich umami flavor left by the turkey.
- Wine balances out the savory notes of broth with a slight hint of acidity. That acidity also helps to breakdown the protein in the connective tissue of the turkey's frame, producing a silky broth that gels when cold.
- Herbs give the broth a little brightness.
Tips for making good broth
If you can boil water, you can make bone broth. It's painlessly simple and a foundational culinary technique that can help build confidence in the kitchen (while keeping your fridge full of delicious and nourishing foods). But, there are a few things you need to keep in mind to make sure it consistently comes out good every time you make it.
- Use the leftover frame of a roasted turkey. Roasting enhances the development of flavor, especially the savory flavors. If you're using raw bones in this recipe, roast them at 400 F for about 30 minutes first.
- Let it come to a boil, then immediately turn down the heat when you're cooking this recipe on the stove. Rapid and prolonged boiling can damage the proteins and emulsify the broth, resulting in a greasy texture, off-flavors, and a bone broth that doesn't gel.
- Onions and garlic work well, but avoid adding other vegetables. Carrots and other sweet root vegetables can make the broth taste too sweet, while cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli can make it taste bitter.
- Add just enough water to cover the bird by an inch or two. The amount you add will depend on the size of your stockpot but is typically about 3 quarts. For an InstantPot or slow cooker, pour in enough water to meet the max fill line.
- Add herbs toward the end of cooking. Their flavor will taste brighter, cleaner, without overpowering the broth. For the stovetop and slow cooker methods, that means you should add them in the last 20 to 30 minutes. If you're using n InstantPot or another electric pressure cooker, allow the turkey bones and other ingredients to cook, let the pressure release naturally, and then toss in the herbs and pressure cook again for a few minutes before straining.
- Salt your broth at the very end. As the broth cooks, its liquid will evaporate and concentrate the flavor of salt. So, if you add salt too early in the process, your turkey bone broth runs the risk of being too salty. Instead, add it to taste at the very end or right before you serve it.
- To degrease the broth, transfer it to a jar and let it rest in the fridge until the fat rises and the broth gels. When you're ready to serve it, gently lift the fat cap off the gelled liquid and discard it.
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Make it plain. Made with only turkey bones and water, your broth will taste plain, but it will be versatile. And that means you can add seasonings when you're ready to cook, making it super versatile.
Swap the wine for lemon juice. While some people will add apple cider vinegar to their homemade broth, it can make your broth taste vinegary. Instead, wine gives better flavor. You can also skip the wine and add the juice of half a lemon which gives just the right amount of acidity, without the addition of alcohol.
Try different herbs and spices. While this version of turkey bone broth gets its flavor from onion, garlic, and herbs, you can also try other variations, too. Garlic, ginger, green onions, and chiles are nice. Black peppercorns and bay leaf also make a nice addition.
You can add a squeeze of lemon in place of the wine.
Keep the broth at a bare simmer over low heat for about 6 hours.
Bone broth that doesn't gel has usually been cooked at too high a temperature, for too long, or has too much water. Read more why your broth doesn't gel here.
You can sip turkey broth plain with a little sea salt and chopped fresh herbs, or use it as the base for other dishes, such as Turkey and Wild Rice Soup.