How to Make Vegetable Broth Using Your Slow Cooker

Yum! A big bowl of brown liquid!

It's spring break in our house, and I couldn't be happier. I feel the most at peace when we're all home together---even when the peace is broken every 2.7 seconds with bickering or boxes of spilled cereal.

For the record? If a brand new box of Cinnamon Chex cereal is "accidentally" dumped onto your freshly-mopped kitchen linoleum, the cinnamon and sugar will ADHERE to it and the floor will be speckled and sticky (and smell like a churro factory) for pretty much ever.

and you'll want to move.

or at least go outside and drink your coffee all alone while practicing your  lamaze yoga breathing.

Napping garden gnomes make everyone happy

I have a recipe for vegetable broth that I want to share. It's free, it's easy, and it's healthy.
If vegetable broth isn't your thing, that's okay. You can make beef or chicken, instead!
PS: vegetable broth and vegetable stock are the same thing. There are no bones, so I'm sticking with the term broth.

The Ingredients.
makes about 4 quarts
thoroughly washed vegetable peels
thoroughly washed vegetable ends and parts
salt (I do not add salt now, but prefer to salt to taste when using in a recipe)

The Directions.

Use a 6-quart slow cooker. This is a "free" recipe! When cooking, save your vegetable ends and peels. 
Many people have a large Tupperware container in their freezer that they use for just this purpose. In order for this to be safe, you'll need to wash your vegetables well and scrub off all of the dirt. I'd highly highly highly (three highlies!) recommend using certified organic produce when making broth/stock---or better yet, organic vegetables that you've grown in your own garden.

Some great veggie-broth-making candidates are: carrot peels, onion skin, celery ends, bell pepper stems, and garlic skins. Don't bother with potato skin, it's too starchy and has an overwhelming earthy (dirt) flavor.

Put the (washed) vegetable skins and pieces into your slow cooker and add a bunch of water. I don't measure, I just make sure the skins and pieces are submerged (you may need to poke them down a bit with a wooden spoon). Cover and cook on low for 10 to 12 hours. Place a colander in a large stock pot, and carefully strain the vegetable pieces from your broth.

Cool completely and freeze in containers until you are ready to use in your favorite recipe.

The Verdict.

It's quite interesting how garlic and onion peels infuse the water with so much flavor. This is a very customizeable recipe---if you'd like a greens-packed broth, save the ends from spinach or chard---it's really up to you!  If you use even the tiniest amount of beet skin, you'll end up with pinkish red broth. Neat!

Turtle prefers it when I save vegetable skins/pieces for her
2008 Flashback:

March 24: Baked Ziti
March 26: Split Pea Soup
March 30: Ratatouille
April 1: Easy Taco Night
April 2: Bread Pudding
April 4: Roasted garlic

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Posted by: Stephanie O'Dea | A Year of Slow Cooking at April 04, 2011

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What they say about this article

  1. Duh! Who knew it was that easy? Not me. Thanks for the tip, I could totally do this this weekend! LOVING your cookbook by the way.

  2. I make chicken broth in the slow cooker but never thought about trying vegetable. I'm going to try this next week:)

  3. Anonymous4/04/2011

    Thanks for reminding me to save my peels and ends instead of using "new" veggies!

    A good tip I picked up over the years: roast veggies in the oven before putting in the slow cooker for an extra rich and flavorful broth. Going to make some right now!

  4. Anonymous4/04/2011

    I've heard that as well as potato peels you don't want to use anything cruciferous, like broccoli stems. It overpowers the broth. I've made broth on the stove top but not in the crock pot - I'll have to try this.


  5. Fantastic idea Stephanie!

    Oh goodness, that does sound like a sticky disaster, but really, there are certainly worse smells than cinnamon and sugar!

  6. Anonymous4/04/2011

    Question: (I have never made any kind of broth)
    You mentioned freezing the veggies, can I freeze the peels and ends from during the week cooking, and then take it out later and use that for broth?

  7. @MonkeMama It *is* totally easy!
    @Amanda good luck!
    @Anon yes, you are correct--roasting the veggies beforehand will create a much richer flavor. I am happier, though, with the way the crock broth tastes vs. simmering on a stovetop because of the long cooking time. The veggies really break down and provide excellent flavor.
    @Susan thank you for the broccoli info!
    @Alisa LOL. yes. you're right, there are MUCH worse smells!
    @Anon yup. While preparing your meals, save the veggie scraps and peels (wash well though!) and freeze to keep from getting squishy and moldy before you use them. Don't save any peels or skin that look or smell "funny"---you don't want the broth to have a sour or bitter taste. Carrots, onion, garlic, and celery are the best to save, IMO

    good luck!

  8. I have a freezer bag of veggies just waiting to be made into broth. I often do this on the stove, but never thought about using my slow cooker. I bet I can even do this overnight, right? Thanks for the idea. Now I don't have to wait til I have time to put it on the stove!

  9. Your sweet little piggy makes me miss mine. :-)

  10. Do you think you could just compost the remains of the veggies that you used to make the broth after the broth is made? Just curious. It would be neat to be getting 3 uses out of our veggies! (whatever meal we're cooking, vegetable broth, then compost)

  11. Thanks for the reminder, Steph! I am definitely guilty of not saving my vegetable parts ... and I feel so bad admitting that. :-( Now I must make veggie broth in my crockpot! Cute post as always, too. And a guinea pig named Turtle is just too adorable!


  12. Anonymous4/04/2011

    I've been doing this and I LOVE it! Not only does it stretch the dollar, but creates less waste. :D I also make my chicken, turkey, and beef broths in the slow cooker. Love, love, love!

  13. I have done this on the stovetop as well. I throw in squash peels and mushy tomatoes as well.

  14. Love the Gnome!!! Do you remember where you got him?

  15. SO easy! i ONLY make beef stock, will definately have to try this one!

  16. Thanks for posting this! I'm way too lazy to make my own stock, but this is a way for me to do it without doing any work! Homemade stock always makes food taste better. Also, your guinea pig is adorable.

  17. Hi Bananascanner! I *love* my gnomes. I've never been much of a collector, but my gnomes seem to be multiplying... ;-)
    I found that little guy at our neighborhood Walgreens in the seasonal stuff aisle--he was only $5. Online the best place I've found for gnomes is Collections.

    I may have accidentally bought the little climbing guys last week. LOL!

  18. can I use wilted lettuce that I buy with the best intentions but never get around to eating? What about stems from parsley and cilantro? Are things with seeds ok? (Like pepper innards?) This is so timely since farmers markets are coming soon! What about pea/edamame pods?

  19. Use ammonia on your floor, it will cut through that sugar quickly. I know this because I spilled a jar of bread and butter pickles (sugar galore in there!) and washed my floor 6 times before a coworker told me to use ammonia. It worked the first time over, and it didn't smell too bad, lemon! :)

  20. Anonymous4/08/2011

    Love the simplicity of this method - and now I need to remember to save my scraps, especially now that my farm stand is opening - Spring!!!

    The 'churro factory' comment made me laugh so hard I scared the cat off my lap ;-)
    If you don't have one perhaps you have a neighbor who does, but a steam cleaner - either a small hand-held like I have or a full sized floor model ought to take care of the floor and the delectable but persistent odor ;-)
    If this posts twice - sorry - my original attempt gave me a log-in error so I am trying again with a different log-in ID.
    Love the recipes!!!

  21. Hi - do you think Asparagus stems would be ok for veggie broth or would it overpower the broth?

  22. Love your lamaze reference and couldn't agree more! It's more useful after your kids are born than during the process. =) I keep a big jar in the fridge for scraps to make broth with as well. I've even used lemon peels in my broth.

    I laughed out loud at the churro comment as well. Good read!

  23. First, I love that you have a GP named Turtle. :) Our rodents also prefer us to save the veggie leavings for them.

    Also, too bad about the potato skins, but I'm glad you warned us. I have more than a few of them waiting in my "broth bag" in the freezer. I also didn't know you could add garlic skin and onion skin, too cool!

  24. Anonymous4/12/2011

    Never thought about freezing by veggies, I have put so much out to compost! I am wondering also if after the stock is made if the scraps can be used in compost.
    I have made chicken stock on the stove but you can bet your bootie I will be calling on my crockpot much more often.

  25. Anonymous4/26/2011

    So with freezing the peelings and ends, can you keep adding to the same bag until you get enough to make a good sized broth?? I love this idea..I love veggie broth but always way to much sodium..Thanks for this..

  26. I have actually been saving veggie peels and discards since I saw this post and have lots to put into my 7qt pot to make broth. I made chicken stock after Easter from the roast chicken I made that Sunday (In the crock of course). I used it for Wednesday's chicken soup. It was the bomb. Thank you so much for your ideas! I've been learning so much about making food that's better for hubby & me!

  27. Anonymous5/04/2011

    I recently started doing this! I also save apple cores to toss in with the veggies.

    After the broth is done I take the leftover mushy stuff and rrrrrrrr it (that's code for putting it in my vitamix) and add some mint and parsley plus any rice or oatmeal the kids didn't finish, wheatgrass parts that we can't eat bc of the gluten, any leftover egg yolks that didn't get used, etc etc. And dehydrate them to make Skip Chips for my dog who happens to be a jack Russell named Skip. Real original. I do leave out the garlic and onions for him though.

    Love food. Hate waste.

  28. What a great idea. It has always bugged me to pay for veggie stock in the store. Now I can make it cheap and easy at home. Thanks for sharing this.