How to Make Chicken Stock

Karen Frazier
Chicken Stock

Homemade chicken stock serves as a delicious base for all kinds of foods. A properly done broth is also rich in gelatin, which gives it more body than you'll find in commercially-prepared chicken stocks. The result is that your homemade foods will have more flavor if you prepare soups, gravies, sauces, and stews from scratch.

Stock Making Basics

To make any kind of stock, you need several basic ingredients including:

  • Cooked or raw bones (such as a leftover chicken carcass)
  • A little bit of meat
  • Aromatic vegetables
  • Herbs
  • Water
  • Salt and pepper

Combine these ingredients in a stock pot or slow cooker and allow it to simmer for a few hours, skimming away impurities in the first few hours. Finally, strain the stock and defat it before using it in your recipes.

Basic Stovetop Chicken Stock

Simmer this stock in a large stock pot on your stovetop. It will take about five to six hours for the broth to be complete, but much of that is hands-off time.

Ingredients

  • 1 leftover whole carcass from a cooked chicken
  • 1 pound chicken wings, necks, or feet (raw)
  • 1 onion, roughly chopped
  • 2 carrots, roughly chopped
  • 2 stalks celery (including leaves), roughly chopped
  • 6 cloves of garlic, smashed
  • 1 sprig of rosemary
  • 1 sprig of thyme
  • 10 peppercorns
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • Water

Instructions

  1. Place all ingredients in a large stock pot and cover with water. Only add enough water to cover the ingredients.
  2. Turn the stove on high and allow the stock to heat until it begins to simmer. Then, reduce the temperature to medium-low, allowing the stock to maintain a very gentle simmer where bubbles break through only occasionally.
  3. In the first 20 minutes or so, scum will rise to the top of the stock. Using a skimmer, skim this away and discard it.
  4. Continue simmering, uncovered, adding additional hot water as needed to keep the ingredients just covered.
  5. After five or six hours, when the stock has reached the desired color and flavor, remove it from the heat.
  6. Strain the stock through a fine-mesh sieve into a large bowl.
  7. Cover the bowl and refrigerate the stock overnight. In the morning, skim away any fat that has settled on the top of the stock and discard it. The stock will very likely be gelatinous, which is exactly as it should be.
  8. Store the stock, tightly sealed, in the refrigerator for up to three days or use it right away. Alternatively, you can store it in airtight containers in the freezer for up to six months.

Slow Cooker Chicken Stock

This recipe uses a slightly different combination of aromatics and vegetables. It is also hands-off, because it simmers in a slow cooker for about 12 hours.

Ingredients

  • 1 whole raw chicken, giblet packet removed
  • 1 leek, chopped and carefully washed
  • 2 carrots, roughly chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, roughly chopped
  • 1 package (4 ounces) dried shiitake mushrooms
  • 5 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 1 bunch parsley, washed
  • 10 peppercorns
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • Water

Instructions

  1. Put all ingredients in a large slow cooker, adding just enough water to completely cover the chicken and vegetables.
  2. Cover the slow cooker and turn it on to low. Allow the ingredients to simmer, covered, on low for 12 hours.
  3. Pour the stock through a fine mesh strainer into a large bowl. Cover the bowl and refrigerate it for several hours.
  4. Using a spoon, skim the fat that has congealed on the top of the stock and discard it.
  5. Use the stock right away, store it in a tightly sealed container in the refrigerator for up to three days, or freeze it in tightly sealed containers for up to three months.

Stock Tips

When making homemade stock, consider the following tips:

  • Adding salt is not necessary. In fact, many people prefer to make the stock without salt so they can season the dishes in which they use it without worrying about the stock being salty. If you prefer to do it this way, simply eliminate the salt.
  • Chicken feet, if you can get them, add a lot of body and gelatin to homemade broths, and they are usually quite inexpensive. Check with your local butcher or farmer to see if they have any available.
  • Herbs that work well in stock include rosemary, thyme, garlic, sage, and parsley. Mix and match to find a flavor combination you like.
  • Add ginger to the simmering stock for an Asian flavor profile. If you add ginger, eliminate other herbs except for garlic.
  • Because you strain off the vegetables, you don't need to peel onions or carrots. Instead, chop them into large pieces and toss them in the stock.
  • A great way to always have vegetables ready for stock is to save vegetable trimmings when you cook during the week. For example, save onion peels and roots, carrot heads and peels, and trimmings from mushrooms, herbs, or celery. Store all of these trimmings in a large zipper bag in the freezer, and then just toss them in the stockpot when you're ready to make stock. Avoid strongly flavored vegetables like cruciferous veggies (broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower), bell peppers, and greens like spinach or kale, which can impart bitter flavors to the stock.
  • Save chicken bones from your meals in a zipper bag in the freezer to use in your stock.
  • Never boil stock. Instead, allow it to simmer very gently throughout the entire cooking process.
  • If you don't have a carcass or a whole chicken, use inexpensive cuts such as wings, backs, or necks. These make delicious stocks with lots of gelatin.
  • Never include the giblets in stock, because they will impart bitter flavors.
  • The instructions above will also work for other types of stock such as pork, beef, duck, and turkey stocks.

Homemade Flavors for Your Meals

Making stock is easy and mostly a hands-off process. Plus, when it's cooking, your house smells delicious! Try making stock to make your meals even better.

How to Make Chicken Stock