Cod Liver Oil

Salmon Head Fish Stock for Strong Bones


Salmon heads are packed with tender meat and an abundance of healthy fat along the jawbone. They are prized for making rich fish stock and soup of all kinds. Additionally, they contain vitamin A, Omega-3’s, iron, zinc, and calcium.

I was apprehensive to make salmon head fish stock though I had a lot of experience with making chicken, beef, and lamb stock. Yet, I had never made stock with fish. The idea worried me that my whole house would smell ‘fishy’ and deter me, and the family, from trying it out.

Thing is, I knew about the benefits of drinking this ‘liquid gold’ …. that fish head stock can strengthen bones/joints, reverse tooth decay, and is one of the best anti-inflammatory foods. I knew fish stock can heal my thyroid, eyes, and gut lining. What ended up convincing me though was the fact that fish stock is a traditional food that has been around for centuries and is revered in many parts of the world.

As many of my readers know, I am a complete sucker for traditional foods like milk kefir, cod liver oil, unsalted cultured vegetables, marrow, and liver. These are the foods I give much of my attention to. These are the foods that I talk and write about. These are the foods that I bring in my kitchen on a regular basis in the hope that they become normal to my own children who will then one day give them to their children; my grandchildren. 

This is what propelled me to the fish market one day to buy a pair of wild salmon heads and go back to my kitchen and cook them. I was surprised to find the smell to be pleasant and the stock as savory as chicken stock with a delicacy all its own. Easy to make too …. took me 2 hours from start to finish 😊 

Fish Head Stock 

Makes: about 5 cups


1-2  pounds of salmon fish heads

2-4 garlic cloves

1-2 bay leaves

1-2 Tbsp. ginger, thinly sliced


  1. Remove gills with kitchen shears; these are attached to the head on each end; cut them at the joint where they attach. Discard. If you skip this part, the gills will give stock bad color and off-taste. Ask the guy behind the fish counter to remove them for you.
  2. Clean thoroughly with water.
  3. Place them in a soup pot with enough water to cover heads by at least 1-inch.
  4. Add in 2-4 garlic cloves (peeled), 2 bay leaves, and 1-2 Tbs. of thinly sliced ginger.
  5. Bring to simmer and reduce heat to low.  
  6. Simmer for 30-45 minutes, should only bubble slightly, note that cooking for more than an hour will turn the stock bitter.
  7. Skim off any foam that may rise to the top.
  8. Strain through a couple layers of cheesecloth.
  9. Pick the meat and soft tissue off bones, anything soft is edible, including eyes and brains.
  10. Return the meat and tissue to the stock.
  11. Store in fridge for up to 5 days or freeze properly for several months.

Tips & Tricks

  • Add sauteed onions, garlic, leeks, cabbage, or lemon at any point while fish heads cook.
  • Substitute fish stock for vegetable stock in fish chowder or creamy salmon soup.
  • Squeamish about fish eyes? No worries, they dissolve into the stock and the fatty tissue around the eyes is a rich source of vitamin A in an animal’s body.
  • The head is the healthiest part of fish to eat, but you can also add spine and other bones. 
  • Salmon heads give stock strong flavor; if you want milder flavor try halibut, bass, cod, or other white fish. You can use 1 type of fish or a combination.
  • This is a friendly recipe for those on The Body Ecology Diet; a healing protocol for gut imbalances (i.e. yeast overgrowth, GBS+).
  • If you have leaky gut, Crohn’s, autism, ADHD, seizures/tics, then avoid long-cooked broth. Stick to short-cooked stocks because free glutamates (MSG, glutamine, glutamic acid) increase the longer bones are cooked. This can bother some people.
  • Hard time sourcing fish heads? Special order them from these guys. Let us know if you find another good source!

The recipe above is from Cure Tooth Decay by Ramiel Nagel who says that the best stock for bone and tooth decay reversal comes from the carcasses, heads, and organs of wild fish.

Fish to Eat & Fish to Avoid

Lazy Guy’s Mayonnaise

Thumbs Up: Keeping Kids Cavity-Free 😁


Nagel, R. (2011). Cure Tooth Decay. Los Gatos, CA: Golden Child Publishing

Paula, CHS. (2012). Author of a website called Whole Intentions Fish Heads in My Stock Pot

Schuette, K. (2017). Stock vs. Broth – Are You Confused. Retrieved from Healthy Home Economist

Worker Bee (2016). Fish Head Broth. Retrieved from Mark’s Daily Apple

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 May all bellies be happy!

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9 comments to Salmon Head Fish Stock for Strong Bones

  • Tara

    30-45 minutes is the correct amount of time to allow things to simmer. Thank you for bringing that error to my attention, I was editing that recipe a couple days ago and forgot to delete that above line 🙂

  • Laurie

    Exactly how long should it simmer? Number 5 says it should simmer 30 minutes. Then number 6 says to simmer 30 to 45 minutes. Does that mean it should simmer 1 hr to 1 hr and 15 minutes? thanks

  • Tara

    I haven’t tried slow cooking it, but I don’t see why it wouldn’t work. I’d just watch it closely the first time you do it, as some slow cookers heat up quite hot and it’s best if this stock simmers at a very slow bubble. You could always lift the lid a bit to keep it so if need be.

  • dian prima (depe) zahrial

    Thanks for sharing! I wonder if i can slowcook this one, have you tried?

  • Such a great recipe and will add a fantastic depth of flavour to any dish used in. I personally can’t stand the smell and need to get over that, I have a tub of langoustine heads in my freezer all ready for stock making….

  • Tara

    Yes, I use a variety of stocks as the base for many things that cook in liquid. I bet that risotto would take on a lovely flavor when cooked in the fish stock!

  • This is such a great idea! I’ve never thought about making stock from salmon heads. How cool. I bet this might taste really good in a risotto with fish? Thanks for sharing your recipe!

  • Tara

    Hi Annie, I don’t see why not. I personally have never tried it for I freeze mine in quart-sized Ziploc bags. I fill them, lay them flat on a cookie tray, freeze, and then stack them in back of freezer. Here’s a post on how to can stock by one of my favorite bloggers

  • Annie

    Can I pressure can this ?

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