Eating bone marrow feels a little mystical. As if you’re eating some buried treasure, tucked away in the nooks of bone and flesh. It’s scarce, valuable, and its nutritional flair gives legs to the myth too — collagen? Vitamin B12? Better joints? More of that, please.
And while bone marrow is associated with rich broths and fancy entrees, you can absolutely access this boney prize from the comforts of your own kitchen.
We’ll cover what bone marrow is, how you can cook it at home, and then give you a few of our favorite bone marrow recipes.
What is bone marrow?
Bone marrow is just the spongy tissue found in the center of bones. It is mostly fat and has a rich, meaty flavor, making it ideal as a thickening agent and flavor booster.
It’s like concentrated meat goodness and is deadly on toast. Some people even call it the “butter of the gods”.
Bone marrow is in all animal bones, but beef and veal are the most common bones to get marrow from due to their size.
How to cook bone marrow
Cooking bone marrow usually falls into one of two camps:
Heating/roasting the bones, and then scraping out the marrow to do with as you please. You can also leave it inside the bones for a fancy presentation.
The basic recipe is:
- Preheat the oven to around 450.
- Put the bones bone-side down.
- Roast until the marrow is just starting to separate from the bone (15-20 minutes). Hot in the middle is the goal!
- Scoop and serve on bread immediately (sooner the better).
- Ideally, top with something herbal and citrusy like lemon parsley salad.
2. Making a broth
Making a rich bone broth to use in soups like pho, stew, and chili is arguably the most popular use of bone marrow.
While pho, ramen, and chili recipes are the stuff of legends, often guarded by chefs and involving multiple days of preparation, here’s the stripped-down version of a bone broth base:
- Roast your veggies and bones until they start to brown and the marrow is nice and hot.
- Add everything to a pot along with any seasonings and herbs you like.
- Cover with water.
- Bring to a boil.
- Reduce to a simmer and cook as little as 8 hours or even up to multiple days, adding water as needed.
- Strain out the bones.
Best practices for cooking bone marrow
Soak your bones for a better look
The soak or not-to-soak debate boils down to how clean you want your bones to look. If you’re scraping off the marrow and using it outside of the bone, soaking doesn’t really matter. If you want a beautiful presentation where you serve it on the plate in-bone, consider soaking it in lightly salted water for 12-24 hours, changing the water every few hours.
Be aggressive with your seasoning
Generally speaking, the fattier your cut, the more salt you’ll need. Since bone marrow is almost entirely fat, don’t be afraid to give it a healthy amount of salt — treat it like you’re salting a thick fatty cut of filet mignon.
Roast until the marrow starts to separate from the bone
There is no perfect time to roast bones. It depends on the size and shape of the bones, but in general, you want to wait until the marrow is nice and hot in the middle but sliding off the bone (usually 15 – 20 minutes). The key is to keep an eye on it! You don’t want it to render too much.
Pair the marrow with something bright and herbal
Almost every roasted bone marrow recipe includes something acidic, fresh, and herbal to top the marrow with. Why? Because marrow is incredibly rich and fatty, so having something to balance it is the way to go. Parsley and lemon are common, but really any sort of acidic and herbal sauce/topping will do.
Make time your friend when cooking bone broth
Generally speaking, the longer you cook down your bones, the more you’ll extract. Don’t rush this! You want time for all the delicious collagen to seep out and thicken your broth.
Bone marrow recipes
And here’s a collection of awesome bone marrow recipes for you. We included a variety of ways to use bone marrow + varying difficulties. You can’t go wrong, though!
There’s nothing complicated about this recipe, and that’s the point. It’s the easiest pathway to the “butter of the gods” you’ll find — ready in just 15 minutes flat! All you need is your bones, some seasoning, bread, and an oven.
Even if you aren’t dairy-free, this compound version of bone marrow is delicious. It uses plantains, lemon juice, and onion powder along with the marrow to create a really clever faux cheese that’s great on pretty much everything.
A similar but more herbal take on the bone marrow cheese is this herb bone marrow butter. The process is similar, too — just roast some bones, scoop out the marrow, let it cool, and then blend it with fresh herbs and spices. You can also use this as a compound butter to cook steaks in.
Looking for an alternative way to get your bone marrow fix? Make it into bone broth! Bone broth is wonderfully tasty and nourishing, and super easy to make in the crockpot. Plus it’s super easy to just throw everything in a pot and let it simmer for a few days.
Or you can go beyond broth and make a delicious soup! This bone broth soup from Chef Celeste Longacre is a blast of nutrients and vitamins that she’s been a fan of for decades. The fresher the veggies and herbs, the better.
Bone marrow isn’t exclusive to beef. Why not try bison? Jennafer Ashley from PaleoHacks does an amazing job here, and the base of your chili is so much tastier, richer, and healthier with a good broth. This is the perfect meal prep dish!
If you’re like me and enjoy going as far down the food rabbit hole as you can, then check out this breakdown of St. John’s famous roast bone marrow. This is a staple dish in one of London’s best restaurants, and this breakdown gets into all the tasty details.
Need a keto-friendly / low-carb beef stew recipe but want some extra depth? Use bone broth as your base and throw all the organic veggies and herbs in here that you can muster. Follow this recipe to a tee and you will not be disappointed — it’s amazing.
The team at Carb Manager has done a great job with this low-carb, paleo, and keto-friendly recipe. The differentiating factor here is the fresh gremolata that gives a citrusy burst to the marrow. So good!
This recipe from Delicious.com is another great take on roasted bone marrow. Check out how they make the toast and parsley salad! If your goal is peak presentation, this is the one.
How to buy the best bone marrow
Because bone marrow is so full of fat, you can’t hide bad flavor. The success of your bone marrow recipe almost entirely rests on how good the bones you buy are… which brings us to:
Buy grass-fed and grass-finished
The best beef bone marrow starts with the best cattle, which are raised on pastures their entire lives and exclusively eat grass from the beginning of their lives all the way to the end. Chefs know and agree — there’s no replacement.
Organic, grass-fed, and grass-finished beef is superior both nutritionally and in terms of taste, but it can be easy to forget. If you care about nutrition and taste, paying the premium is well worth the benefits.
Look for clean bones that are light pink
Generally speaking, the bones shouldn’t have meat on them and be light pink, but if they have a bit of blood that’s okay. Remember you can always soak them to make them look cleaner.
Buy more than you need
Because you’re buying bones, it’s hard to know exactly how much marrow you’ll get. Try and buy a little more than you think you need just to be safe.
Ask your butcher to cut the bones for you
Don’t struggle to cut through the bones yourself at home — they have the bone saws to do it. You can ask for any size and ideally, ask for pieces cut from the legs since they have the most marrow.
Also, see if they can split the bones lengthwise for easing scooping when roasting or crosswise when making soups.
You can’t go wrong with bone marrow
Regardless of what recipe or approach you use, you just have to try bone marrow! Roasted, in pho, in chili — it doesn’t matter. You will fall in love with how rich and delicious bone marrow is, and I promise you’ll be glad you tried it.
So figure out what bone marrow recipe makes the most sense for you, whether that’s a compound faux cheese or an all-out roasted bone marrow dinner, and get cooking!
The best bone marrow comes from the best meat
Chefs know that fatty cuts carry the most flavor and that the way a cow is raised directly impacts its taste and nutrition, and that’s why good chefs pay the premium for grass-fed and grass-finished beef when making any meat, but especially when they are working with a high-fat cut.
Bone marrow is mostly fat, and the difference in nutrition and taste between grass-finished/grass-fed and toxin-filled industrial meat is huge. Do your body and your taste buds a favor, and pick up meat that is raised the way meat should be — all-natural and entirely on grass.
Get our 100% grass-fed bone marrow delivered straight to your door.
Nathan Phelps is a writer, ethical foodie, and outdoors-aficionado hailing from Nashville, TN. He splits his time between helping sustainable businesses find new customers and managing his ever-increasing list of hobbies, which include playing guitar, baking bread, and creating board games.