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March 11, 2010

How to make beef stock

Beef stock 

To make beef stock, you must be willing to give up a day of your life, and you're probably thinking, what could be worth that? One thing: real French onion soup. You cannot make it without real beef stock. Well, you can, but please don't. Homemade beef stock is rich in flavor, yet more delicate and less salty than store-bought. Make the stock this weekend, and come back in a few days for the onion soup recipe. You can use the stock for incredible mushroom-barley soup, too, so there's another reason to have homemade beef stock on hand.

How to make beef stock

Beef stock isn't terribly photogenic, but it is a beautiful thing. Makes 3 quarts.


5 lbs beef bones, preferably with some meat attached, cut into 2-inch pieces (ask the butcher to do this)
1 large onion, skin on, cut in half
2 carrots, washed, cut in half
Olive oil
3 lb chuck or bottom round roast, cut into 2-inch cubes
2 stalks celery
1 tsp black peppercorns
1 large bay leaf
Kosher salt and fresh black pepper


Preheat oven to 400°F. Place beef bones, onion halves and carrots on a rimmed sheet pan. Drizzle on 1 tablespoon of olive oil and toss everything to get a bit of oil on it. When the oven is heated, place the sheet pan in the oven and roast for 1 hour, until the bones and vegetables are brown.

Place the roasted bones, onions and carrots in a large (12-quart) stock pot with 6 quarts of water. (Don't wash the sheet pan; you'll be using it again.) Bring to the boil, and reduce heat to simmer. Cook, uncovered, for 1 hour.

In the meantime, place the cubes of chuck or bottom round on the same sheet pan. Season lightly with kosher salt and pepper, and toss with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Roast for 45 minutes, turning the beef once, or until it is thoroughly browned on all sides.

After the bones have been cooking for 1 hour, add the browned beef along with the celery, peppercorns and bay leaf to the stock pot. Continue to simmer for 1-1/2 hours.

Remove the bones from the pot, and simmer for 1 hour. Remove the chunks of meat (reserve the meat for soup or sandwiches), and raise the temperature to high. Boil the stock down until it is reduced by half (approximately 20-30 minutes). Taste, and add up to 1 teaspoon of salt and pepper if you wish. I prefer to season the stock when I use it, depending on other ingredients in the recipe I'm making.

Allow the stock to cool in the pot for 1 hour. Some of the fat will coagulate, and some of the bits will sink to the bottom. Using a ladle, pour the soup through a fine-mesh strainer (or a large strainer lined with cheesecloth) into a storage container. When the stock is thoroughly cool, refrigerate the stock for up to one week, or freeze it for up to six months.

Before using, remove the solid layer of fat that will have coagulated on top of the stock. If you wish, strain the stock a second time through a layer of cheesecloth. I seldom do this, but it does yield a very clear stock.

Print recipe only.


Posted by: Judy | March 11, 2010 at 07:23 AM

Awesome! I love long simmering foods - there are some flavors that you can only achieve when time is one of the ingredients. Thanks for the recipe, Lydia.

Posted by: T.W. Barritt at Culinary Types | March 11, 2010 at 08:27 AM

Well, I'll really need to plan to do this, but it does sound wonderful!

Posted by: Alta | March 11, 2010 at 09:02 AM


Posted by: chef juls | March 11, 2010 at 09:11 AM

my kids always complain that their beef and noodles, their beef and veggie soup, their what ever that contained beef stock or beef broth doesn't taste like mine. Mine is home made and theirs comes from a can or worse they used bouillon.You would think as smart as they are( they say they know it all anyways most the time) would understand make it yourself

Posted by: Heidi | March 11, 2010 at 10:05 AM

Lydia, I love your straight-forward instructions! As soon as I clean out the corner of the pantry so we can get the freezer, I'll be doing this ... oh, yeah, and sending pics for "Other People's Pantries." ;-)

Posted by: Kalynskitchen | March 11, 2010 at 10:25 AM

I love to make beef stock, and I agree that roasting the bones is a must. Not only is the flavor of homemade stock so superior, but the way your house smells while you're making it is worth the trouble.

Posted by: Lisa S. | March 12, 2010 at 02:36 PM

And oh baby yes, your food tastes soooo much better with homemade stock. I just bagged up 6 quarts of chicken stock this morning.

Posted by: Lydia | March 13, 2010 at 11:12 PM

Judy, I admit I'm a sucker for an all-day cooking project!

TW, no doubt, it's an all-day event, but well worth it. And think how much fun it will be to make stock on your new stove.

Chef Juls, there is no substitute for homemade stock. Your kids will figure that out eventually.

Heidi, when you make beef stock, you might as well make enough for a few soups at least, because it takes the same amount of time to make more as it takes to make just a little bit. (And we'll love to see your pantry photos, too.)

Kalyn, the wonderful aroma of stock cooking for hours and hours is a true bonus. I always feel very productive when I'm making stock, even though there is absolutely no work involved.

Lisa, now what are you going to make with your soup stock?

Posted by: Stock Pots | June 6, 2010 at 01:42 PM

Thanks for the recipe! I've been trying hard to make a perfect beef stock for several recipe's. This is a big help. Thank you for sharing!

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  • I'm Lydia Walshin, a longtime food writer who lives and cooks in a real log house. If I could, I'd eat Chinese noodles, grapes, ice cream and soup every day.
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