Easy Homemade Vegetable Broth (Using Scraps!)

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Make your own vegetable broth at home for FREE using leftover vegetable scraps! This easy recipe can be made in an Instant Pot, Slow Cooker, or on the stove

Vegetable Broth is a staple in TONS of recipes and is something most of us always have on hand. Store-bought broths can be a little expensive, wasteful, and/or taste kind of funny. Homemade broths are nice and all, but I’ve never been one to buy a bunch of ingredients only to throw them in a pot of water and then completely discard them, either.

The solution? Homemade Vegetable Broth, using leftover veggie scraps! It’s cheap and easy, but just as rich and flavorful.

two glass jars of vegetable broth on marble background

WHAT GOES INTO VEGETABLE BROTH?

Most store-bought vegetable broth contains some combination of onion, celery, carrots, and salt – it’s also common for tomatoes, mushrooms, garlic, and/or other seasonings to be present. That’s all fine and dandy, but store-bought broths also have a lot of other preservatives, such as:

  • Vegetable Oils
  • Added Sugar or Fruit Juice Concentrate
  • Gums or Thickeners

All of which are totally unnecessary to add to homemade broth, but do help enhance the flavor and shelf life of a more processed, shelf-stable vegetable broth.

The good news? You can make your OWN vegetable broth easily from home, for FREE.

freezer bag full of vegetable scraps on marble background

All you have to do is save up your leftover vegetable scraps (peels, ends, cores) in the freezer – seriously! Once you have enough, dump those scraps into a pot full of water and simmer. Cook for a few hours, and you’ve got yourself some tasty homemade vegetable broth.

WHAT VEGGIES SHOULD I SAVE FOR MY VEGETABLE BROTH?

Pretty much anything goes here, but certain vegetables will hold more flavor than others. Considering the main ingredients in traditional broth, I always try to have at least some:

  • Onion ends/roots (or skin that is too tough to cut) – for depth of flavor
  • Celery pieces – for depth of flavor and body
  • Carrot ends/peels – for sweetness

vegetables to include in vegetable broth with vegetable peeler on marble background

Other ingredients that I commonly add include:

  • Mushroom stems and Tomato ends (these add GREAT umami flavor!)
  • The “core” of peppers (sweetness)
  • Stems of fresh herbs, such as Parsley and Cilantro (more depth/body)
  • Stems from leafy greens, like Kale (depth)
  • Tops and/or unusable parts of Sweet Potatoes and Squash (sweetness)

One of the fun things about homemade vegetable broth is that it’s a little different every time. There’s no “set recipe” and as long as you’re using the scraps of veggies that you enjoy, it’s going to taste good!

three jars of vegetable broth with veggies surrounding them

INGREDIENTS TO AVOID IN HOMEMADE VEGETABLE BROTH

Most vegetable scraps are totally fine to use for broth, but I’ve found that certain ingredients are best in small quantities only, or avoided entirely. This includes:

  • “Flavorless” Vegetables – like zucchini or white potatoes; these aren’t going to do anything bad to the broth, but they’re not going to help it either.
  • Cruciferous Vegetables – such as broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, and cabbage. Some is fine, but these ingredients have a very distinct flavor – and I don’t think any of us want our veggie broth to taste like a, well, fart.
  • Citrus Peels and Herbs with a Tough Stem – citrus will make your broth bitter, as will too many tough herbs, like rosemary, thyme, and oregano. (Some tough herbs are fine, but don’t go overboard)

A safe rule of thumb: if you don’t use too much of it in a recipe, don’t add a ton of it to your broth!

frozen vegetable scraps and water before cookingvegetable scraps and water after cooking

EASY STEPS TO HOMEMADE VEGETABLE BROTH

  1. Save up your vegetable scraps, over time. This can include vegetable peels, ends, and cores – just make sure your veggies are nice and clean before chopping! This can also include limp veggies that are on their way out or that won’t be used before they go bad. I like to store my scraps in a freezer-safe reusable bag to reduce waste!
  2. Add the frozen vegetables to a large pot, then add water.
    1. Instant Pot / Slow Cooker – add the vegetable scraps to the device’s pot, then add enough water until the scraps are about 1″ above the water line, then cover and cook for a minimum of 3 hours (use the “Slow Cooker” function of the Instant Pot)
    2. Stovetop -add the vegetable scraps to a large pott, then add enough water until the scraps are about 1″ above the water line. Cover the mixture, then cook on low to medium-low heat for a minimum of three hours.  depending on the seal of your pot lid, you may need to add extra water if it starts to evaporate too quickly.
  3. Strain the vegetables from the liquid, then add salt to taste. I use a fine-mesh strainer over a large glass bowl, then transfer the liquid to wide-mouthed canning jars using a funnelYou can now compost the vegetable scraps if you have one, or discard in the trash. Keep in mind that this broth is totally salt-free, and will taste much better once you add a little sodium; you can choose to do it right away, or just add more (to taste) to whatever recipe you end up using it in.
  4. Store in the fridge or freezer, then use as desired. Homemade Vegetable Broth will keep in the fridge for up to one week, or for up to two months in the freezer. You can freeze the broth in ice cube molds, or store it in glass jars (just be sure to leave room for the liquid to expand, or the jar will break!)

cooked vegetables being strained out of vegetable broth into glass bowl

WAYS TO USE HOMEMADE VEGETABLE BROTH

Make your own vegetable broth at home for FREE using leftover vegetable scraps! This easy recipe can be made in an Instant Pot, Slow Cooker, or on the stove #vegetablebroth #homemade #lowwaste #veggiebroth #plantbased #vegan | frommybowl.com

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Homemade Vegetable Broth

Make your own vegetable broth at home for FREE using leftover vegetable scraps! This easy recipe can be made in an Instant Pot, Slow Cooker, or on the stove

  • Author: Caitlin Shoemaker
  • Prep Time: 10 Minutes
  • Cook Time: 3 Hours
  • Total Time: 3 hours 10 minutes
  • Yield: about 8 cups 1x
  • Category: How-To
  • Method: Slow Cooker, Stovetop
  • Cuisine: American

Ingredients

Scale
  • 1 gallon-sized freezer bag of Vegetable Scraps (around 3.5 lbs / 1.6 g)
  • 1012 cups of water (23002800 ml)
  • Salt, to taste

Instructions

  1. Save and Freeze Vegetable Scraps: this can include vegetable peels, ends, and cores – just make sure your veggies are nice and clean before chopping! Store the scraps in a freezer-safe reusable bag for up to two months before using.
  2. Cook the Broth: once the bag of scraps is full, cook the scraps from frozen according to the following:
    1. Instant Pot / Slow Cooker – add the vegetable scraps to the device’s pot, then add enough water until the scraps are about 1″ above the water line, then cover and cook for a minimum of 3 hours or maximum of 6 (use the “Slow Cooker” function of the Instant Pot)
    2. Stovetop -add the vegetable scraps to a large pot, then add enough water until the scraps are about 1″ above the water line. Cover the mixture, then cook on low to medium-low heat for a minimum of 3 hours, maximum of 6.  Depending on the seal of your pot lid, you may need to add extra water if it starts to evaporate too quickly.
  3. Strain the vegetables from the liquid using a fine-mesh strainer over a large bowl. Add salt to taste (if desired), then transfer the broth into jars. Compost or discard the vegetable scraps.
  4. Store in the fridge or freezer, then use as desired. Homemade Vegetable Broth will keep in the fridge for up to one week, or for up to two months in the freezer. You can freeze the broth in ice cube molds, or store it in glass jars (just be sure to leave room for the liquid to expand, or the jar will break!)

Notes

  • Optional add-ins: I always stick to veggie scraps, but you can also add some garlic cloves, bay leaves, other spices to taste
  • Recipe Yield: this recipe can easily be cut in half, or even quarters – simply cut the veggie scraps and water in the recipe by 1/2 or 1/4
  • Cook Time: over years of experimentation, I’ve found 3 hours to be the minimum cook time for good-tasting broth. Longer cook times will yield a more intense broth, but the taste difference is very slight, especially when used in other recipes and not enjoyed alone.

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About the Author

Hey there, I’m Caitlin! I make easy-to-follow, wholesome, and budget-friendly vegan recipes that are mostly gluten-free and refined sugar-free. I’m also an avid yogi, love the great outdoors, am chocolate-obsessed, and enjoy eating almond butter straight off of the spoon.

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Comments

  1. The reason why I never tried a homemade one, is that where I live, a lot of vegetables come super dirty with soil etc 🙁 so what to do in that case? Should I scrub my sweet potato/carrot/onions before peeling/cutting/freezing? Thanks

    1. Yes, you can (and should!) give your veggies a good scrub, skins included, before peeling/cutting and freezing.

  2. Been making this for a while now. Thanks for the recommendations (and the reasons!) of what to include and what to not!

  3. Super easy way to make zero waste and free veggie broth!!! inspired me to start doing this weekly

  4. Usually I compost all my veggie scraps but since I get Misfits Market, I’m keeping a “broth bag” with random scraps in the freezer.

    Back when I ate meat, I’d make chicken broth in my slow cooker to save money. I’m looking forward to saving money again and not having to buy cartons of veggie broth!

    1. It’s a great option to save money and not have compost piling up constantly! Let us know how it goes!

  5. Thanks for the tips of what veggies are recommended! I included jalepeno pepper scraps and broccoli in one batch that I tried….and it should definitely be on the “NOT” list! Lol! My broth was crazy spicy, and tasted farty!