Instant Pot or Slow Cooker: Which Is Best For Bone Broth?
The Instant Pot or slow cooker… which is BEST for making bone broth? What are the pros and cons of each gadget when it comes to making broth? Learn which is my favorite and why!
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You’ve got your bones, your apple cider vinegar, your filtered water, maybe even some veggie scraps…
And you’re all set to make bone broth! Yay!
Making and consuming bone broth on a regular basis is, I believe, one of the foundations of good overall health.
Because bone broth is good for all the things!
Sick with a cold or the flu? Bone broth.
Trying to heal your gut? Bone broth!
Want to reset your health in as few as 3 days? Try a bone broth fast!
Seriously, if there’s one thing every person on Earth could do that would vastly improve their health, it would be consuming bone broth every, single day.
(Can you tell I’m a big believer in bone broth??)
Therefore, I’ll discuss the pros and cons of the Instant Pot and the slow cooker for making bone broth… and then, I’ll tell you which one I use every time.
Ready? This is going to be fun!
Before we dive in, there is one more question we need to ask…
Does It Gel? (The MOST Important Question.)
Whether an Instant Pot or slow cooker is best for broth actually isn’t the #1 question here.
The #1 question is: does it gel?
A technically correct bone broth is one that, after cooking and cooling, thickens and “gels”. Like Jello.
When made correctly, you should pull out a refrigerated broth that’s more solid than liquid.
That gel is a sure sign that your bone broth contains all the amazing benefits like gelatin for gut health, minerals, amino acids, and more.
So, if you can use an Instant Pot to achieve that gel, great!
If you get that gel by making your broth in a slow cooker, awesome!
And, finally, I’ll mention it but I won’t talk about it… If you’re a stove-top broth maker and have somehow figured out how to get broth that gels that way, you’re my hero. 😉
Best For Bone Broth… Instant Pot or Slow Cooker?
So, you’re all set to make broth — only to find that there are recipes for slow cooker bone broth and recipes for Instant Pot bone broth and you’re scratching your head, wondering, “Uh, like, which one do I pick???”
I really hate that feeling, because you just want to do it right. 🙂
I’ve made bone broth — successfully! — in both.
Honestly, just making bone broth is half the battle. I really don’t care whether you prefer your slow cooker or your Instant Pot. In the end, it’s all about nourishing your body with this Liquid Gold.
So, let’s discuss the pros and cons of each… starting with the slow cooker!
Making Bone Broth In A Slow Cooker — Pros
I was finally able to get consistently gelling broth when I switched from the stovetop to a slow cooker. And I made bone broth in my slow cooker for years and years.
Pros of making bone broth in a slow cooker:
#1 — No babysitting.
I burned a few batches of broth when I made it on the stove — and let me tell ya, scrubbing out the burned remains of chicken feet and bones from the bottom of a stainless steel pot is not how I want to spend an afternoon.
The slow cooker, set on low, stays at a fairly constant temperature, meaning I can go to bed and leave it overnight without having to worry about waking up to a burned batch in the morning.
#2 — More consistent temperature.
Cooking on an electric stove frequently results in having to adjust the stove’s temperature.
Cooking on a gas stove may require less adjusting, but you do have to adjust nonetheless.
The slow cooker really requires no adjusting.
#3 — Less waste.
A lot of water evaporates when cooking anything liquid on the stove top. Put a lid on your pot and the temperature goes up — leading to boiling over, liquid evaporation, and needing to babysit the temperature.
What starts as a gallon of water may leave you with only two to three quarts of stock if relying on a pot without a lid that seals and the stove top. I have this Crock Pot, and I lose very little liquid because of the lid that seals down tightly.
#4 — Amazing for bigger bones.
If you’ve got big marrow and knuckle bones, the slow cooker is not only more likely to hold those bones, it also allows you to cook them longer and slower to release more of the minerals, gelatin, and marrow.
Making Bone Broth In A Slow Cooker — Cons
#1 — Loss of liquid.
Sure, if you use a slow cooker with a sealing lid (like this one), less liquid is lost, but some is always lost. Especially if you leave it cooking for more than 24 hours.
To avoid a bitter broth (see #3 below), you do need to watch the slow cooker and add water if water begins to evaporate.
If you notice your broth turning dark, that’s a sign it’s cooked too long and you should stop it immediately and try to save it.
#2 — Long-cooked broths are high in things you might not tolerate.
A good bone broth that gels is going to take a minimum of 12 to 24 hours in a slow cooker. This isn’t good or bad — it just is.
If you have very poor gut health, are following the GAPS or AIP protocols, have neurological issues, and/or need to follow a low-histamine diet for any reason, it’s best to avoid long-cooked broths, like those made in a slow cooker.
#3 — Slow cooker broths are more likely to “burn” and become bitter.
The longer a bone broth cooks, the more likely it is to develop a bitter taste. It’s not exactly a burned flavor, but it’s not pleasant!
This bitter-tasting broth is also much darker in color, making it appear burned — per #1.
Yes, you can use it, but per #2, it is probably high in histamine and/or glutamates.
It’s also not super appetizing. If drinking a mug or 2 per day is your goal, you’re going to have a hard time because of the flavor of broth which is cooked to long.
Burned, bitter broth is actually the reason I eventually stopped using my slow cooker for broth! Just too many batches that either didn’t taste good or were too dark and inedible — even when cooked on the low setting.
#4 — Many slow cookers contain toxic substances.
Like lead — which is common in most ceramic slow cookers (source).
It doesn’t seem wise to simmer what is supposed to be a nourishing, healing food in a container that is probably leeching heavy metals into that food… right?
This Crock Pot is supposed to be lead-free — but honestly, I never trust things like this because who knows if it’s third-party tested or what?
Making Bone Broth In The Instant Pot — Pros
#1 — No babysitting.
You can literally add the bones, veggies, and water to the pot, set it, and walk away.
About 2 hours later, including the time it takes the pot to pressurize, you can come back to a finished broth!
#2 — Less time.
As per #1, you can make a finished chicken bone or foot broth in about 2 hours.
I pressure cook pork bones for 120 minutes, so it’s about 2-1/2 hours from start to finish.
You cannot make any sort of finished broth in a slow cooker in that amount of time.
#3 — Make smaller batches more easily.
Yes, I know most people prefer to make large batches of broth so they can freeze or can it. This makes lots of sense!
However, if you find yourself with just one chicken carcass or a few thigh bones and drumsticks that you don’t want to throw out and don’t want to save until you have more bones, making broth in the Instant Pot is a great solution.
Using a slow cooker for a small amount of bone broth is more likely to result in more loss of liquid and/or bitter broth or a broth that doesn’t gel because the liquid:bone ratio wasn’t right.
#4 — More consistent results.
I’ve never had a batch of Instant Pot bone broth turn bitter or burn or have any loss of liquid.
If I add 4 quarts of water to the Instant Pot, I’m going to end up with 4 quarts of broth. Every time.
Because the Instant Pot cooks with pressure rather than heat, you also don’t have the risks of burning and broth turning bitter like with a slow cooker.
#5 — No toxic substances.
Because the insert pot of the Instant Pot is made of stainless steel, there’s no need to worry about harmful or toxic chemicals or heavy metals, like lead, leeching into your broth.
If you were simmering broth on the stove, you’d likely be using a stainless steel stock pot, right?
Same difference here… but you’ll have broth in 2 hours instead of 12!
Making Bone Broth In The Instant Pot — Cons
All that said, I wouldn’t be 100% honest with you if I raved about the Instant Pot for bone broth without disclosing the negative side, too.
I had a hard time coming up with these, but they are cons, so I’ll share them.
#1 — You can’t make a lot of broth at once.
If you’re a stove-top broth-maker with one of those giant 24-quart stock pots, you’re going to be really disappointed when you go to make broth in an Instant Pot! Even at 8 quarts — the largest size Instant Pot — you still can’t make 8 quarts of broth at once.
No matter what size IP you have, you cannot fill it to the brim with liquid because it won’t come to pressure.
Honestly, this doesn’t bother me at all because I would rather have to make more, smaller batches and get a delicious broth that gels than make 24 quarts on the stove and the water evaporates out or I let it get too hot and it burns or gets bitter. I used to have a giant stockpot for making broth on the stove, but no more.
#2 — Not ideal for larger bones.
Because of it’s round shape and size, the Instant Pot isn’t really ideal for larger marrow and knuckle bones, such as the type you would use for making beef bone broth.
If you have the tools, you can cut your bones — but again, IF you have the tools.
That is an extra step that seems like it would be a pain, in my opinion. Yet, if you want to make broth out of those types of bones in an Instant Pot, that’s really your only option.
We are unable to get grass-fed beef bones right now, so I just don’t make beef bone broth.
Instead, I am happy to buy it from a reputable source that makes it with the same quality ingredients I would use myself.
Instant Pot or Slow Cooker… What I Use
I’m sure you guessed it…
I am 100% on Team Instant Pot and make bone broth or foot broth in it about once per week!
Since I can’t get beef bones, I just don’t make beef bone broth. The Instant Pot works beautifully with pork and chicken bones/feet!
I’ve even found that I can use chicken or pork bone broth in recipes that normally call for beef broth! There’s really no difference!
Make sure you check out these helpful posts for the most nourishing bone broth and Instant Pot tips:
- Instant Pot Chicken Foot Broth
- 6 Tips For Bone Broth That Gels Every Time
- 6 Instant Pot Meal Preps That’ll Save Your Sanity
- 4 Ways The Instant Pot *Really* Does Save Time + 8 Tips To Account For & Speed Up Pressurizing Time