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How to Make Chicken Stock

by Ryan Guina

My wife and I enjoy cooking (she is the better cook by far!). We try to make our meals as healthy as we can, and one way we do that is by making our own chicken stock. It is easy to do, tastes better than store bought chicken stock, and is a much healthier option – less sodium and no yucky preservatives!

How to Make Homemade Chicken Stock

There are several ways to make chicken stock, but I will share the method we use most often. Whenever we cook a whole chicken or buy a rotisserie chicken, we save the skin and bones for the stock.Then we throw them in a pot, add a few ingredients, and it’s done! Here is what it looks like while it is cooking:

cooking-chicken-stock2

Here are the steps we take:

1. Put leftover chicken bones and skin in a large pot and cover with water. The picture above is from a recent batch of chicken stock we made – there are three chicken carcasses in that pan, along with several carrots, a couple stalks of celery, and a couple large onions. We had to use our turkey pan to fit all the ingredients!

2. Add chopped carrots, celery, and onions. There is no need to chop them finely; simply cut carrots and celery to fit the pan and peel and quarter the onion.

3. Add spices to taste (salt, pepper, bay leaves, oregano, thyme, etc.). Use less salt if you are using the leftover carcass from a store bought rotisserie chicken because there will already be added salt and spices.

4. Simmer uncovered on low heat for at least 4-5 hours. You will want some of the water to boil off, which concentrates the stock and gives it a richer flavor. We usually leave the pan covered until the last half hour or so, depending on the desired richness.

5. Strain, cool, and store. You will want to strain the chicken stock through a small mesh colander to ensure the little bits of spices and herbs are thoroughly removed. After that, dish the chicken stock into individual containers for storage (we usually store the chicken stock in one or two cup portions).

chicken-stock-containers1

If you cool it in the fridge for a few hours you can skim off any remaining fat. If you do not use the chicken stock within 48 hours, you should freeze it. The batch pictured here was frozen in the plastic containers, then transferred into Ziploc freezer bags for easier storage until it was needed. Just be sure to write the date on the bag!

Other tips: We sometimes freeze the chicken carcasses until we have time to make the chicken stock. Just put them in a freezer safe container and store them until you are ready. This is why the batch pictured above had three carcasses in it. The good news is that we should have enough stock to last a few months!

Ice cube trays. Another tip some people use is to freeze the chicken stock in ice cuve trays so you can add as little or as much as you need. Again, you will want to transfer these to a freezer safe container after they freeze to retain freshness.

Use the stock! Once you have your homemade chicken stock you can use it in recipes, such as this great recipe which show how to make homemade noodles. Make your own noodles, use your homemade chicken stock, add some chicken and vegetables, and you have some healthy, homemade chicken noodle soup!


Published or updated March 4, 2010.
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{ 23 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Rosemary

How long can you keep the chicken stock in the freezer? You mentioned to write the date on it but not how long it would be ok. Thanks

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2 Ryan

Rosemary: You should be able to leave it in the fridge for a year or so before the flavor begins to change a little bit. AS long as it remains frozen it should still be good.

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3 Kyle

What do you end up using the stock for? Just any recipe that calls for it I guess huh. I have made chicken noodle soup this way before but never just made the stock I may have to try it out, I will just need to start saving beer butt chicken carcasses.

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4 Ryan

Kyle: Any recipe that calls for it – chicken soup is one, but also for other soups, flavoring, add to rice, etc. Oh, and beer chickens are awesome! :-)

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5 Blaine Moore

We make our own chicken stock as well. We’ll just throw the carcass and vegetables into a crock pot and let it cook overnight.

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6 Kristen

Thanks for the recipe Ryan. I should try it because I end up buying a lot of stock. I spent most of the winter trying to perfect a good pasta sauce. Now it’s going to be on to stock!

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7 Miranda

We love making our own chicken stock. So much more flavorful (and less expensive) than buying it.

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8 MoneyEnergy

I’m vegetarian, so no chicken stock for me:) – but the same process can easily be adapted to a vegetable stock. Then again, organic veggie stock bouillon cubes are still pretty cheap to buy, too, and save on all that time…

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9 Ash

Veggie broth is actually easier than chicken stock. Whenever you prep your veggies, give them a good scrub and rinse first, and then put the peelings in a big ziplock baggie and put it in the freezer.

If you batch-prep your veggies all at one time, you have enough trimmings/peelings for stock. If you do them one at a time, just keep adding to the bag until it’s full.

One of my pet peeves is making stock with whole veggies, since those get strained and thrown out anyway. When I make stock EVERYTHING goes in the pot – onion skins and heads, garlic paper with little bits of garlic, carrot tops and ends, celery hearts and tips, the ends of green onions and parsley stalks, etc. The best veggie stock I ever made even had a lettuce core and a handful of red pepper guts/tops. Cover with water, liberally salt and throw in a few bay leaves, handful of peppercorns, and any other spices or herbs you like.

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10 DDFD at DivorcedDadFrugalDad

Ryan– nice post!

Practice makes better! You can be the best cook . . . you just have to want it!

Photographing food isn’t easy– nice shot!

Broth is a basic staple around here . . .

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11 Jeff Rose

@ Kyle

I have a great recipe that the chicken stock could be used for ;-) http://www.goodfinancialcents.com/chicken-pasta-recipe-easy-cheap/

@ Ryan

Great Post. When I saw my recipe called for this, I had no idea what chicken stock really was. Now I do and with a picture to boot!

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12 Ryan

Bargain Babe: Great ideas! :)

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13 Bargain babe

Putting chicken stock into ice cube trays is a good tip. I use a cupcake tray for more volume and will toss one cube in when I make stir fry or to add extra flavor to sauteed veggies like spinach or bok choy.

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14 June

I am unsure about using chicken stock frozen on 30/03/09. I removed it from freezer yesterday to use today but I ‘am unsure about giving it to my family.THANK YOU .

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15 Merry

How much water should I put in with the chicken leftovers to make the chicken stock?

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16 Ryan

Merry, I just cover the chicken and vegetables with water right to the top, but you can add more than that and cover it by a couple inches if you want to make more broth. I recommend experimenting to find what works bet for your tastes. And that includes experimenting by adding more or fewer vegetables, different spices, cooking it down longer to get a thicker, more concentrated broth, or less to get a more watery broth. Different types of broth will go better with certain recipes or meals. Have fun!

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17 Merry

Thank you Ryan! I’m new to this and your posts have been very educational! I live in the San Francisco Bay Area in California and people here don’t do much home cooking. Life is fast and we live off convenience food a lot of the times. Having two young kids and trying to save some money of my yearly food budget, I searched on Google on frugal living tips and found your website.

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18 chris

In baking with homemade chicken stock for flavoring. Should the finished product be refrigerated if no preservatives were used?

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19 Ryan

Chris, I’m not sure.

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20 JJ

Nice Site! Very good ideas on here! I do the same with stock, using the leftovers. But I have heard to make a good broth you need a whole chicken. Not sure I agree because my stock makes a wonderful Tortellini soup!.

Chris.
Depends on what you are making. I’m thinking that everything would be incorporated (read baked). You leave cookies out, and they often contain eggs..

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21 Lisa

Thanks for this…I’ve never made a homemade stock before but have some store-bought rotisserie chicken carcass/skin leftover that I do not want to waste because it was so flavorful. I’m sure it’ll make a tasty stock.

Do you know if I can freeze chicken carcass/bones until I have time to make the stock?

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22 Ryan

Yes, Lisa. I’ve done this several times. My wife and I usually freeze a couple carcasses (skin, bones, and the juice from the container) until we have time to do it. Then we put a large pot or even a turkey pan on the stove, throw in a few carrots, onions, celery stocks, add some spices, and let it simmer for a few hours. Let it cool, then use the stock within a day or two or freeze it until needed. You can freeze it in small plastic containers and then put it in small freezer bags for individual use, or use ice cube trays if you only need a little at a time (try using ice cubes of chicken stock instead of adding a little water to certain recipes – it works great!). Just experiment a little until you find your favorite methods.

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23 Billy

I NEVER use stock from the store. There is nothing like the REAL thing! Thanks for this awesome post!

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