Cod Liver Oil

Fish Head Stock ~ Recipe for Strong Digestion & Bones


I was apprehensive about making fish stock. I had a lot of experience with chicken, beef, lamb stock – but not fish, I was worried that simmering fish bones in the kitchen would make the whole house smell funny and would deter me and my family from wanting to try it.

I knew about the benefits of drinking this ‘liquid of gold’. I knew that it strengthens bones and joints, reverses tooth decay, and is one of the best anti-inflammatory foods around. I knew that fish stock is healing for the thyroid and eyes and the digestive tract. What really convinced me though was learning that this traditional food has been around for centuries and is highly revered in many parts of the world.

As most of my readers know, I like preparing and eating traditional foods such as milk kefir, fermented cod liver oil, unsalted cultured veggies, bone marrow, and animal organs like liver. These are the foods that I give much of my attention to and talk up. These are the foods that I bring into my kitchen in hopes of making them normal so that one day my kids will naturally give them to their own kids; my grandchildren. 

This, and more, is what propelled me to the fish market where I bought a pair of wild salmon heads for a good price and went back to my kitchen to cook them. I was surprised to find the smell pleasant and the stock just as savory as chicken stock with a delicacy all its own. Easy to make too ~ took me two 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 the gills from 1-2 lbs. of fish heads with a pair of kitchen shears find the gills that are attached to the head on each end. Cut them at the joint where they attach, and discard. If you skip this part, the gills will give the stock a bad color and off-taste. If you get your heads from a fish counter, ask them to remove the gills 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.
  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, or cabbage at any point while fish heads are cooking.
  • Add 1/2 a lemon with the fish heads.
  • Substitute fish stock for the vegetable stock in my favorite fish chowder recipe.
  • Many people are squeamish about fish eyes, but there is no need to be as they dissolve right into the stock. The fatty tissue around the eyes is actually one of the richest sources of vitamin A in an animal’s body.
  • The head is the healthiest part of the fish to eat, but you can also add in the spine and other bones. 
  • Salmon heads give stock a strong flavor; if you want a milder flavor try halibut, bass, cod, or another white fish. You can use one type of fish or a combination of different types.
  • Make sure not to cook fish stock for more than an hour as it becomes bitter.
  • Looking for other healthy ways to use fish in soup? Try this recipe for Creamy Salmon Soup or Fish Chowder.
  • This is a safe recipe for The Body Ecology Diet (B.E.D.) where the focus is on gut healing and cleansing Candida.
  • If you have leaky gut, Crohn’s, autism, ADD/ADHD, or suffer from seizures or tics than you’ll want to avoid long-cooked broths and stick to short-cooked stocks like this recipe. This is because free glutamates (i.e. MSG, glutamine, glutamic acid) increase the longer that animal bones cook and can be bothersome to some.

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


        My son eating a salmon head, age 2.

Fish to Eat & Fish to Avoid

Lazy Guy’s Mayo, My Husband’s Recipe

Healing Leaky Gut & Preventing Chronic Inflammation


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

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

Photo credit:

This blog post may contain affiliate links. Read here.

 May all bellies be happy!

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Fish Head Stock ~ Recipe for Strong Digestion & 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

  • Can I pressure can this ?

Leave a Reply

Copyright © 2016 - 2018 Happy Bellies. All Rights Reserved. Created by Blog Copyright.