This turkey bone broth recipe is completely foolproof. No fancy gadgets, no off the wall ingredients, and no turkey stock pretending to be a beautiful, gelatinous bone broth. This is the real deal, bursting with flavor and nutrition.
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What's the difference between bone broth, broth, and stock?
You've probably seen the terms broth and stock used interchangeably, but the components in which they are prepared are different. Broths are typically made by boiling meats in water, while stocks are traditionally made from by simmering bones in water. They are similar, but broths are meat based, stocks are bone based. In either case, the result is a liquid flavored by the meat or bones to use for cooking.
So how is bone broth different? With bone broth, the end game is not only to produce a batch of cooking liquid but to leach as much of the nutrients from the bones during the cooking process. For that reason, slow simmering bones along with small pieces of meat over a long period of time are preferred to short cooking times to release more collagen and amino acids into the bone broth. The result is a nutrient-dense gelatinous bone broth that can be enjoyed by itself, or as a base for nourishing soups, stews, gravies, and sauces.
Turkey broths and stocks finish within two to three hours of simmering; however, this turkey bone broth recipe is simmered for 24 hours to maximize the flavor and nutrients leached from the bones. The goal is a turkey bone broth that sets up as a gel if you put it in the fridge. Sure you can cheat by adding in your own gelatin, but I always find it incredibly satisfying when my turkey bone broth has the perfect jiggle with no additives.
I first learned how to make bone broths and nourishing stocks in the book Nourishing Broth: An Old-Fashioned Remedy for the Modern World by Sally Fallon Morell and Kaayla T. Daniel, PhD, CCN. It takes a deep dive (300+ pages!) into the nutritional science behind broth making and how to incorporate it in your diet for therapeutic purposes ranging from autoimmune disorders, digestive problems, to other chronic conditions. It's also chalk full of recipes, history, and techniques. I highly recommend picking up a copy if you want to learn more about broth-making and it's health benefits.
What supplies are needed to make turkey bone broth?
- Stockpot or dutch oven: When picking the right stockpot, you'll want to choose one that's big enough to hold an entire turkey carcass and one with a lid. Most of the simmering is done with the cover on so the liquid doesn't evaporate too quickly, so make sure you have a top that fits! I use this 6.75 quart cast iron dutch oven for all of my broth making endeavors, and it's the perfect size for a turkey carcass. It's one of my most cherished gifts from my parents; thanks, mom and dad!
- Stovetop burner: This is all done on the stovetop, so if you have a working stove, then you're good to go. While I was cooking a particularly aromatic batch of beef bone broth, my mother-in-law told me about how her family would make huge pots of broth outdoors over a fire. I don't know if she was trying to passively hint to me that my beef bone broth smelled to high heavens (it did) or if she was sharing alternative cooking techniques. The point is, if you don't have a burner, a campfire will do just fine! ? P.S. Turkey bone broth smells lovely, just like Thanksgiving. Don't worry about smelling your house up. The beef bone broth is a whole different story...
- Fine mesh strainer: After the turkey carcass has simmered, you'll need to strain the solids from the liquid. You'll want something finer than a regular colander, but if you don't have a strainer with fine mesh, you could use cheesecloth with a colander for similar results. I have this totally unfancy fine mesh strainer that I love much more than my more expensive one. It has these two small hooks on the front that help it balance over a pot or bowl without wobbling around side to side, which is actually more helpful than it might initially seem. You won't have any free hands when you are straining off your turkey broth from the large pot, so having a stable hands-free strainer helps keep the solids from spilling into the strained broth. Much less frustrating!
What ingredients are needed to make the turkey bone broth recipe?
- Turkey carcass: Add the turkey carcass to your Thanksgiving leftovers, and save all the bones and pieces you'd typically toss out. After you roast a turkey and enjoy a delicious turkey dinner, remove the meat from the bones. You don't have to pick it bone clean, but you can save the meaty pieces to use for later in a turkey soup or pot pie. Be on the lookout for cartilaginous parts, which will usually be found in the joints where cartilage is present. Depending on where you sourced your turkey, you may have the neck or feet as well. Don't discard these, toss them in your stockpot! If you aren't making turkey bone broth right away, you can freeze the bones for later use.
- Apple cider vinegar: Apple cider vinegar is very acidic, and acid is the key to leaching out as much of the nutrients as possible. It helps extract minerals from the bones without being overpowering in flavor.
- Lemon: Lemons are also acidic, which helps contribute to mineral extraction. It also provides extra flavor to the turkey bone broth. Since I purposefully wanted to keep carbohydrates to a minimum, I didn't add in the common stock or broth veggies: no carrots, onions, etc. You can certainly add them in if you have them on hand and it won't significantly increase carbohydrates, but I wanted to keep things as simple as possible and use what I had in my kitchen already. The lemon adds a bright note and perfectly complements the savory turkey.
- Salt: If you like things salty, you may be tempted to have a heavy hand when salting the broth at the beginning. Be careful! The saltiness of the broth will increase as it becomes more concentrated; by the time the turkey bone broth is ready, the amount of water will have reduced by about half, increasing the concentration of salt. I start with about ⅛ of a teaspoon of sea salt or Himalayan salt, then taste test when the broth has finished simmering. If at this point I think it needs more salt, I will add salt to taste. If you intend to use the turkey bone broth for a recipe that will further reduce down, keep that in mind as it will affect the saltiness of the dish.
How can you use the turkey bone broth?
Try heating it up all by itself and enjoying a warm cup of bone broth in place of a cup of tea. You can also use it as a replacement for stock or broth in any of your favorite recipes. I love using bone broth in soups and stews, it makes them feel so much thicker and the flavor is just out of this world! If you are looking for keto soup recipes that would work well with turkey bone broth base, try one of these and use your leftover turkey instead of chicken:
- Cauliflower Parmesan Soup
- Keto chicken noodle soup
- Creamy garlic chicken soup
- Keto egg drop soup
- Thai coconut soup
- Creamy shrimp soup recipe
- Remove meat from the leftover turkey carcass and reserve for later dishes. Place turkey carcass (including all bones, cartilage, neck, and feet, if available) in a 7-quart stockpot or dutch oven with lid.
- Pour apple cider vinegar and squeeze the lemon quarters over the carcass, then toss the rind in the pot. Add salt to the pot, then fill to the brim with water, stopping just short of the lip of the pot.
- Bring the pot to a boil, skim and discard any frothy residue from the top. Reduce the heat to low or low-medium to bring the broth to a simmer, and cover. Allow the turkey bone broth to simmer for 24 hours, stirring occasionally. Periodically check on the broth to ensure the liquid is not evaporating too quickly, in which case drop the temperature and add a little more water to the pot. By the end of the 24-hour period, the liquid should be reduced by about half.
- Once the liquid has slowly simmered and reduced by half, strain the turkey broth through a fine mesh strainer to separate the broth from the solids. Allow the strained turkey bone broth to cool at room temperature before placing in the fridge. Store in airtight containers until ready to use or freeze as needed.
Hi, I'm Tasha–nutritionist, recipe developer, and multi-published cookbook author.