How to Make Chicken Stock

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Making homemade chicken stock is easy! Not only do you save money because you don’t have to buy boxed stock, the stock itself is so much healthier for you because of all the iron, collagen, and vitamin-rich marrow from the bones.

There are several ways to make chicken stock. Three of our favorite methods are presented here. The first method uses the leftover bones from a chicken carcass and vegetables (which means it’s practically free), and takes several hours of slow cooking. We often use this method when we’ve roasted a chicken and have a leftover carcass. It’s a great way to not let good bones go to waste.

In the second method, we start with chopped raw chicken backs and/or wings, and sauté them first to brown them for flavor. Then add onion, carrots, parsley, and leek or onion greens, and cover with several inches of cold water. This we simmer for 4 to 6 hours and then strain.

The third method is a quick version of the second. You can make stock easily in about an hour this way, again starting with backs and wings.

From the recipe archive as a public service announcement to encourage you to make your own stock! First posted in 2004.

How to Make Chicken Stock

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  • Yield: About 2 to 3 quarts of stock

Method

Method 1: Leftover Chicken Bones

  • Leftover bones and skin from a cooked or raw chicken carcass
  • Celery (especially celery tops)
  • Onions
  • Carrot
  • Parsley
  • Salt
  • Pepper

1 Put the leftover bones and skin from a chicken carcass into a large stock pot. Add vegetables like celery, onion, carrots, parsley.

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Cover with water. Add salt and pepper, about a teaspoon of salt, 1/4 tsp of pepper.

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2 Bring to a boil and immediately reduce heat to bring the stock to barely a simmer. Simmer partially covered at least 4 hours, occasionally skimming off any foam that comes to the surface.

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3 Remove the bones and vegetables with a slotted spoon, and strain the stock through a fine mesh sieve.

4 If making stock for future use in soup you may want to reduce the stock by simmering an hour or two longer to make it more concentrated and easier to store.

 

Method 2: Chicken Stock with Raw Chicken Backs, Wings, and/or Legs

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 4 to 5 lbs of chicken backs, wings, and/or legs, skin-on, trimmed of excess fat, that have been hacked with a cleaver into 2-inch pieces (you can ask your butcher to prepare the chicken pieces this way)
  • 1 large yellow onion, quartered (no need to peel)
  • 1 large carrot, cut into 2-inch segments
  • Celery tops and 1 large celery rib, cut into 2-inch segments
  • 1 bunch of parsley
  • Leek or green onion greens (if you have them)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 6 quarts of cold water
  • 1 Tbsp salt

1 Coat the bottom of a large stock pot (12 quart), with olive oil. Place half of the chicken pieces, skin side down in the bottom of the pot. Heat on medium high, and let cook until the the chicken is browned. Add the rest of the chicken pieces and stir the pot, cooking and occasionally stirring until the chicken is no longer pink.

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2 Add the onion, carrot, celery, parsley, leek greens (if using), and bay leaf to the pot. Cover with 6 quarts of cold water.

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3 Bring to a boil on high heat and reduce to a low simmer. If scum rises to the surface of the pot (this usually happens in the first half hour of cooking), skim off with a large metal spoon. Let simmer at a low simmer, uncovered, for 4 to 6 hours.

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4 Use a large metal spoons with holes in it (or a "spider ladle") to ladle out the cooked chicken and vegetables. (These aren't really good to eat, by the way, because after 4 hours of cooking, all of the nutritional value has been cooked out of them.) Discard.

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5 Use a large sieve lined with dampened cheesecloth or a dampened paper towel (or if using a very fine mesh sieve no need to line), and place over a large bowl or another large pot. Pour the stock through the sieve into the bowl or pot to strain out any remaining solids.

6 Either pour into jars at this point, or if you want, what we like to do is to boil the stock on high heat for 1 hour, to reduce it by about half. This way you are storing concentrated stock, which takes less room in the freezer or refrigerator. When you are ready, pour into jars.

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If you are freezing, you may want to ladle off some of the excess fat on the surface. (The fat helps preserve the stock in the fridge, but doesn't help it in the freezer.) If freezing, leave at least 1-inch head space, allowing enough room for the liquid stock to expand as it freezes solid. (Otherwise, the expanding ice stock will break the jar.)

Let the stock cool in the sealed jars completely before freezing. Stock should last a week or so in the fridge, and several months in the freezer.

 

Method 3: Quick Chicken Stock

  • 4 lbs of chicken backs, wings, and/or legs that have been hacked with a cleaver into 2-inch pieces. You can ask your butcher to prepare the chicken pieces this way.
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • Olive oil
  • 2 quarts of boiling water
  • 2 teaspoons of salt
  • 2 bay leaves

1 Heat 1 Tbsp of olive oil in a large stock pot. Add one chopped onion. Sauté until softened and slightly colored - 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl.

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2 Add half of the chicken pieces to the pot. Sauté until no longer pink, about 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer cooked chicken to bowl with onions. Sauté the rest of the chicken the same way. Return onion and chicken pieces to the pot. Reduce heat to low, cover, and cook until chicken releases its juices, about 20 minutes.

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3 While the chicken pieces are cooking, fill a large tea kettle with 2 quarts of water, bring to a boil.

4 After the chicken pieces have been cooking for 20 minutes, raise the heat level to high, add the 2 quarts of boiling water, 2 teaspoons of salt, 2 bay leaves. Return to a low simmer, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon, then cover and barely simmer for about 20 minutes.

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5 Strain stock through cheesecloth or paper towel-lined large sieve, and discard solids. (It helps to remove the big pieces of bone with a slotted spoon first.)

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Pour into jars and let cool, before putting into the refrigerator. Stock will last a week or so in the refrigerator or frozen for several months.

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Method 3 comes from The Best Recipe cookbook by Cook's Illustrated. They got it from In Pursuit of Flavor, by Edna Lewis.

Method 4: Use Chicken Feet

See How to make stock from chicken feet. If you have access to chicken feet, they make the most fabulous gelatinous stock.

Note about the Fat

I've seen a lot of cookbooks advocate the skimming of the fat from the stock. We prefer letting the fat settle in a layer on top of the stock as it cools. This way, the fat acts as a protective layer against bacteria, which is found in the air. The stock will last longer in the refrigerator if you keep the fat layer on it.

Just lift up the layer of fat and remove the stock when you want to use it. Every few days, bring the stock to a simmer for 10 minutes and let it cool, again with the fat forming a protective layer. Your stock can be stored in the refrigerator and used for up to a couple of weeks this way.

Chicken Stock

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Showing 4 of 72 Comments

  • Rosa

    Thank you for sharing recipe, I finished stock and tried to mix it with noodle, very delicious for dinner

  • Phil

    What can I add to the finished stock to make nice gravy ?

  • Mark

    For me, chicken broth, vegetable broth and potato water are secret weapons that are always stashed away in the fridge or freezer.

    Here’s a quick recipe you need no recipe for. It’s easy to remember.

    1 cup water
    1 cup chicken broth
    1 cup rice
    Salt to taste

    That’s a great side dish by itself but you can also let your creative juices flow by adding chopped green onions, mushrooms or whatever. I like short grain sushi rice but will also sometimes endure texmati’s 45 minute cooking time.

    For Asian cooking, use short grain rice, not the American long grain, and always put the rice on the side. Never put your entrée on top of the rice.

    If you need to “wake up” leftover rice, chicken broth is great for adding a little extra moisture.

  • Mark

    I usually cook two brined roasters at a time. You can sometimes find them up to 9 pounds! I bake them in the oven as normal and remove all the usable meat. Everything else goes back into the same roasting pan, skin, bones, fat and other scrap meat. I fill the roaster with water, bring to a boil and then reduce to a slow simmer. Let that play out for several hours. Add salt, if you like, later. Don’t get the salt “just right” when you start. As the broth reduces, the salt will become more concentrated. Also add pepper, if you like, at the end. The long simmer will take a lot of the edge off the pepper. You may have noticed that a lot of chefs use a 2 to 1 ratio of salt to pepper. The real rule is taste, taste, taste. Taste as you go so you know if things are going off track.

    You can add a mirepoix as stated in the recipe but you can make plain broth and add the mirepoix when you go to use the broth. You might not want that flavor. It depends on what you will use the broth for.

    Mirepoix is 50% onion, 25% carrot and 25% celery along with a spice sachet…whatever spices you wish to include.

    At the end of the simmer, strain out all the bones and other “stuff” so you end up with a more or less clear broth. The simmer can be a couple hours or several.

    Now you can add salt if you want to. If you used brined chickens, you may already notice salt without adding any extra. Taste first, add a little salt, taste again.

    I divvy the broth out to quart size freezer containers. The broth will expand a little in the freezer and may push the cap off. When the broth if cold or frozen, it’s easy to lift off the fat layer, if you so desire. Saturated fat, the bad kind, turns opaque when cold.

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