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Chicken stock is a building block in so many recipes. Before I started regularly making my own, I found myself buying several quarts of chicken broth from the grocery store every time I made a visit.
What a waste of money! If you can boil water, you can make chicken stock. Really, it’s just that simple.
What’s the difference between chicken broth and chicken stock?
Broth is made from simmering meat. Stock is made from simmering bones. I prefer stock since I think it has a richer flavor. Unless a recipe specifically calls for boneless chicken, I usually opt for bone-in pieces just so I can use them to make stock.
Once a meal is over, I collect the bones in a plastic bag and store them in the freezer until the bag is about halfway or 3/4. You don’t even have to let the bones thaw, just dump them in a large stock pot with enough water to cover.
Benefits of Making homemade stock
First, the flavor is far more superior than store bought. There is a good reason for that. Many popular store brands used chicken flavor. Meaning it’s made in a lab.
Second, since commercial brands are a processed food, they contain additives such as monosodium glutamate (MSG) and yeast extract, both of which can have an adverse affect on your brain and nervous system. For people who have food sensitivities, this is a big deal. For example, my oldest son has autism. MSG has been shown to aggravate symptoms in autistic children.
Third, making homemade stock is also a great way to clean out the veggie drawer in your refrigerator. Have some carrots that are past their prime or celery that has gone a little limp? Chop them up and add them to the pot for more flavor. I don’t know about y’all, but whenever I buy green onions, I usually only use one or two from the bunch and end up tossing the rest. Instead of throwing them out, use them to season your broth.
How to Make Homemade Chicken Stock
The stock pot method
No special equipment is required to make homemade chicken stock. All you need is a large stock pot with a lid. Toss in your chicken bones and some vegetables. There is nothing written in stone about the types of vegetables you have to use. I typically use carrots, celery, and white or green onions because that’s what I have on hand. I would caution against using any vegetables with an unusual color, such as purple onions. I used a purple onion once and while the broth tasted fine, it had a purplish gray tinge to it.
Occasionally, I like to add a few cloves of garlic, a bundle of fresh herbs, a couple bay leaves and whole peppercorns if I have them. Again, this is not required. Use what you have on hand.
Cover everything with cold water. Put the lid on the pot and bring everything to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium low and allow the pot to simmer for at least two hours. That does sound like a long time, but you don’t have to fool with it again until your cooking time is up. Save this for a rainy afternoon when you’re stock inside.
Once the broth is finished simmering, strain it using a colander and toss all the solid (bones, veggies, herbs, etc). Some people like to let the broth sit in the fridge overnight. This allows the fat and grease to rise to top so you can skim it off and achieve a clearer broth. I’m usually anxious to can my broth while it’s still hot so I skip this step.
Pros: No special equipment and quantity! If you own a large stock pot with a lid and a colander, you have everything you need to make stock. A large stock pot will also net you several quarts of chicken stock for use in future recipes.
Cons: Time. Good, flavorful broth takes about two hours to cook. The good news is, this is a set it and forget it type of thing. You don’t need to fuss with it at all while it’s simmering.
Slow Cooker Method
A slow cooker is another great way to make chicken broth, especially if you don’t have time to baby-sit a simmer pot of broth for two hours. Just like with the stock pot method, add all your chicken parts, vegetables and aromatics to the crock.
Fill the crock about 3/4 full with water (you don’t want to overfill), set the slow cooker to low and let it do its thing for the next eight hours. Let the broth cool, then strain it and throw away the solids.
Pros: Ideal for those days when you don’t have time to baby-sit a simmering pot on the stove.
Cons: Time, special equipment, quantity. If you don’t already own a slow cooker, you will need one for this. This is a newer version of the slow cooker I currently own. Cooking time can vary from 4-8 hours. And depending on the size of your slow cooker, you may only be able to net a few quarts.
Pressure Cooker Method
My stovetop pressure canner/cooker has since become my favorite way to make stock. I can get a rich, golden broth in about a quarter of the time it takes to simmer my broth in a stock pot.
I fill my pressure cooker with chicken parts and aromatics. Then I fill the pot until it’s 2/3 full. You don’t want to overfill the pressure cooker or the contents could boil out and prevent the pressure cooker from achieving the right amount pressure.
Let the pot come to pressure — this usually takes about 15 minutes. Then cook at 15 pounds of pressure for 10 minutes. Let the pressure drop naturally. Stain the broth.
Consult your owners manual, as your cooking instructions may vary slight depending on the model you own. Also, this pertains to a stovetop pressure cooker, not an Instant Pot.
Pros: Time and quantity. This is my preferred method. I can have homemade chicken broth ready in less than an hour. And my pressure canner is HUGE, meaning I can usually net 8 quarts or more.
Cons: Special equipment. If you don’t already own a stovetop pressure cooker, you will need to purchase one. This is a newer version of the stovetop pressure canner/cooker I currently own.
How to Store Homemade Chicken Stock
Homemade chicken stock can be stored in the refrigerator for up to five days. Up until I got my pressure canner/cooker, I stored my chicken broth in quart sized plastic bags laid flat in my freezer. Once frozen, you can stack them on top of each other. Chicken stock can be store indefintely in the freezer, but it is recommended that you use it within 12 months for the best flavor.
These days I usually can my stock. Once I have removed any grease that has formed on the top, I’ll reheat my broth before measuring it out into sanitized and heated quart glass jars (putting hot liquid in a cold glass jar can cause the jar to crack). You must use a pressure canner to can chicken stock. A water bath canner does not get hot enough to kill botulism spores, which is what causes food poisoning. I process at 10 pounds of pressure for 25 minutes, but I recommend consulting the owner’s manual for your specific model.
Once canned, chicken stock can be stored in a cool, dry place for up to a year. After a year, the flavor quality can start to diminish.
Ways to use your Homemade Chicken Stock:
Homemade Chicken Stock
- 1 chicken carcass with as much skin removed as possible
- 2 carrots halved crossways
- 2 celery stalks cleaned and halved crossways
- 2 cloves garlic halved lengthwise
- 1 onion peeled and quartered
- 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 bundle fresh herbs – thyme rosemary, sage, oregano – whatever you have on hand
- Place chicken carcass in a large stockpot. Add enough cold water to the pot to completely cover the chicken.
- Add vegetables, peppercorns, bay leaves, and herbs. Cover pot and bring to a boil over medium high heat. Skim off any foam that forms.
- Reduce heat to low and allow stock to simmer for about 2 hours. Remove pot from heat and allow to cool.
- Pour stock through a mesh strainer into a large container. Discard any solids left behind. Allow stock to sit in the refrigerator overnight. Remove and discard any hardened grease that has formed.
- Add chicken carcass to the crock pot.
- Add vegetables, peppercorns, bay leaves, and herbs.
- Add enough cold water to fill the crock about ¾ full.
- Cook on low for 8 hours or on high for 4 hours.
- Turn heat off and allow to cool.
- Continue with step four listed above.