Salmon Head Stock for Strong Bones


Salmon heads are packed with tender meat and fat along the jawbone. They are especially prized for making fish stock as a base for soup of all kinds and contain vitamin A, Omega-3, iron, zinc, and calcium.

I was apprehensive to make salmon head stock. Though I had experience with chicken and other meat stocks, I’d never made fish stock and imagined the whole house smelling ‘fishy’.

I knew the benefits of drinking this liquid gold and that fish head stock can strengthen bones and joints, reverse tooth decay, and is anti-inflammatory. I knew fish stock can heal the thyroid, eyes, and gut lining. What convinced me though was fish stock is a traditional food that’s been around for centuries and revered in most parts of the world.

As many of you know, I am a sucker for traditional foods like milk kefir, cod liver oil, unsalted kraut, marrow, and liver. These are the foods I give attention to, the foods I talk and write about. These are the foods gracing my kitchen on a regular basis with the hopes of normalizing them for my own children who will one day give them to their own children; my grandchildren. 

This propelled me to fish market to buy a pair of wild salmon heads. On making the stock, I was surprised to find the smell pleasant and the stock as savory as any chicken stock with a delicacy all its own …. easy to make too, 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 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 with water and place in a pot with enough water to cover heads by at least 1-inch.
  3. Add 2-4 garlic cloves, 2 bay leaves, and 1-2 Tbs. thin sliced ginger.
  4. Bring to simmer and reduce heat to low.  
  5. Simmer 30-45 minutes, should only bubble slightly, note that cooking for more than an hour will turn the stock bitter.
  6. Skim off foam that rises to the top.
  7. Strain through a couple layers of cheesecloth.
  8. Pick meat and soft tissue off bones (anything soft is edible, even eyes and brains) and return to the stock.
  9. Store in fridge for up to 5 days or freeze for several months.

Tips & Tricks

  • Add sautéed onions, garlic, leeks, cabbage, or lemon at any point while fish heads cook.
  • Substitute fish stock for veggie stock in chowder or salmon soup.
  • Squeamish of fish eyes? No worries, they dissolve into stock and the fatty tissue around eyes is rich in vitamin A. Also, the head is the healthiest part of fish to eat! Also add spine and other bones. 
  • Salmon heads give stock strong flavor. Want a milder flavor? Use halibut, bass, or other white fish. Use one type of fish or a combo.
  • 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, avoid long-cooked broth. Stay to short-cooked stocks as free glutamates (MSG, glutamine, glutamic acid) increase the longer bones are cooked and this can bother some people.
  • Hard time sourcing fish heads? Special order here.
  • Here’s a good list of fish to eat, fish to avoid.

The recipe above is from Cure Tooth Decay by Ramiel Nagel who says best stock for bone and tooth decay come from wild fish carcasses.

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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

9 replies on “Salmon Head Stock for Strong Bones”

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 🙂

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

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.

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

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!

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