Roasted Bone Marrow

This roasted bone marrow is a cinch to make. Sprinkle it with salt and roast until rich, unctuous, and irresistible. Simply the best. Here’s how to make it.

Three pieces of roasted bone marrow sprinkled with salt in a metal roasting pan.

I find it encouraging to know that this odd bit, once consigned to the soup pot, tossed to the dog, or thrown in the garbage, is now finally being appreciated as a dish in its own right. Now that good fat is back on the table, marrow is seemingly everywhere. Many people avoid roasted bone marrow because it’s fat. But it should be remembered that marrow is 69 percent unsaturated fat. It’s also a very nutritious food, containing iron, phosphorus, vitamin A, and trace amounts of thiamin and niacin. There’s even more good news for marrow lovers. Science has shown that the fat of ruminants contains substances that boost and maintain our body’s immune system. So the Victorians were right—it is a healthy food and definitely way too good for the dog.–Jennifer McLagan

TIPS FOR BUYING BEEF BONES FOR ROASTED MARROW

  1. Marrow bones can be cut to any length you want. Ask your butcher for pieces cut from the center of the leg bone, where the ratio of marrow to bone is highest. It’s tricky to judge how much marrow you’ll get from any bone as it ranges widely depending on the thickness of the bone: a 3-inch (7.5-centimeter) bone usually averages around 1 1/2 ounces (40 grams).
  2. The bones should already be free of meat and should smell clean and faintly meaty. The marrow itself should be whitish-pink in color; don’t worry if you can see blood spots on the surface—that’s normal.
  3. Buy extra bones to be sure you have enough. Bone marrow freezes well in or out of the bone.
  4. You can ask for the bones to be cut lengthwise. This makes the marrow easy to get at with any spoon—no need for a fancy Georgian spoon.

Roasted Bone Marrow

Three pieces of roasted bone marrow sprinkled with salt in a metal roasting pan.
This roasted bone marrow is a cinch to make. Sprinkle it with salt and roast until rich, unctuous, and irresistible. Simply the best. Here’s how to make it.
Jennifer McLagan

Prep 15 mins
Cook 15 mins
Total 12 hrs 30 mins
Mains
American
4 servings
60 kcal
4.64 / 33 votes
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Ingredients 

  • Four (3-inch) Marrow bones* (see Tips for Buying Beef Bones for Roasted Bone Marrow above)
  • Coarse sea salt

Directions
 

  • Fill a large bowl halfway with ice water and add 1 teaspoon coarse sea salt per 1 cup water. Add the marrow bones and refrigerate for 12 to 24 hours, changing the water every 4 hours and replacing the salt each time.

    TESTER TIP: Some testers have asked us, "Do I need to soak the bones?" The answer is yes. This removes the blood and any impurities from the marrow.

  • Drain the bones, cover, and refrigerate until you're ready to roast the marrow. Drain the bones and pat them dry. Be sure to roast the soaked marrow within 24 hours or freeze the drained bones for up to 3 months.
  • Preheat the oven to 450°F (230°C).
  • Place the drained and dried marrow bones in a roasting pan. If the bones are cut crosswise, place them standing up; if the bones are cut lengthwise, place them cut side up. Roast for 15 to 25 minutes, until the marrow has puffed slightly and has an internal temperature of 145°F (63°C) in the center when measured with an instant-read thermometer. If you don't have a thermometer, insert a metal skewer into the center of the bone, then touch it to your wrist to gauge the marrow’s temperature; the roasted bone marrow should be very hot. Do take care not to burn yourself. There should be no resistance when the skewer is inserted and some of the marrow will have started to leak from the bones.
  • Serve the roasted bone marrow immediately with spoons for scooping.
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Show Nutrition

Serving: 1portionCalories: 60kcal (3%)Protein: 1g (2%)Fat: 6g (9%)Vitamin A: 18IUIron: 1mg (6%)

Recipe Testers’ Reviews

What an elegant treat this roasted bone marrow was! This dish is the epitome of classic French cooking to me—simple ingredients and methods with outrageously delicious results. And oh so impressive! Served alongside a warm baguette, this appetizer was a real winner. Rich, creamy bone marrow spread on a piece of crusty bread—you can’t get much more decadent than that. It’s nature’s equivalent of butter on bread.

In addition, I loved the introduction and information the author gave on the topic of bone marrow itself. I never knew you had to soak the bones in salted ice water before preparing them, but it makes sense because you need to remove some of the impurities found in the bones themselves.

I sprinkled the tops of the marrow bones with kosher salt right when they came out of the oven for a little added flavor. A fancy, coarse sea salt would work well, too. I cooked my bones at 450°F for 30 minutes and the marrow came out perfectly.

I was especially excited to have the opportunity to make this recipe to ring in the New Year, especially since I’ve had this dish in several French bistro-style restaurants but never at home, as New Year’s to me is all about decadent food that’s comforting at the same time. My grocery store always seems to carry bone marrow, so believe me when I say that one of my New Year’s resolutions is to treat myself to this culinary delight many more times this year!

Although I personally thought the recipe was too long-winded—I’ve made roasted marrow before without the soaking—it turned out perfectly and we thoroughly enjoyed eating it.

Originally published January 17, 2013

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Comments

  1. Question – do I have to thaw the frozen bones in the fridge overnight before soaking? Or can I put them directly into the salt/ice water bath from the freezer. Thanks!

    1. David, ideally you’d want to start with defrosted bones, but the water bath will thaw them, so you can start with frozen ones if you don’t have the time to defrost.

  2. 5 stars
    To soak or not to soak? I don’t have the patience to wait for this delicious and healthy snack, so one less step for me. I use to get the bones for free but the store caught on and now they are $3.99 a pound. Oh well, nothing lasts forever… eat this often.

  3. 4 stars
    Personally I think soaking is a waste of time and effort, unless you’re really trying to impress someone. I make bone marrow all the time, and I usually never soak it. The blood will rise to the surface during cooking; just scrape it off when you take the bones out of the oven if you don’t want to ingest it. I often don’t even thaw the bones; straight from the freezer into a 450˚F oven (checked with an oven thermometer) for 15-18 minutes (depending on the size of the bone – stagger when you put them in the oven so they all finish at the same time) works just fine, if you don’t mind the inedible bits of meat on the outsides of some of the bones. A few recipes I’ve found suggest 350˚F and a longer cook time – not sure if that will affect the amount of inevitable melt? But 450˚F seems to be the most common temp.

    I give this recipe 4 stars, because of the lack of clarity about soaking, and because it doesn’t suggest how to serve it. I eat it the traditional way, with toasted bread, parsley/shallot/caper salad w/ olive oil/lemon juice dressing, and fleur de sel de Guerande, plus I add roasted garlic just because. Also had it with chimichurri instead of the salad, but that’s even more decadent One of my all-time favorite meals, and I can easily make it myself. Can’t beat that.

    1. Esquilax, when I was a waiter at one of Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s restaurants, the chefs soaked the marrow–which is where I learned to do the same. I like your serving suggestions, too!

  4. About soaking out the blood and impurities. What’s wrong with blood, and which impurities? Without a clearer answer, that’s not much better than a simple “yes you must soak”. I’m not disputing it, I actually don’t know and might be (definitely am) a bit noob.

    1. Kevin, it’s more of an aesthetic issue. Without soaking the marrow, the blood will coagulate leaving unpleasant-looking beads of dark blood. The same with impurities. Soaking removes excess proteins that would also coagulate and bloom on the marrow.

    2. And what implications then for bone stock? Aren’t we concentrating the blood and impurities directly into the very broth we’re consuming?

      1. Kevin, when making bone broth or stock, the impurities float to the top, which is why all stock recipes something along the lines of “skim the scum for the surface of the liquid.”

  5. 5 stars
    Made this last night. It. Was. Divine! Did not realize how easy bone marrow is to make and how quickly it cooks. Husband was blown away – said better than restaurant. Thank you for the recipe and for the detailed instructions.

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