Cooking 101: Homemade Chicken Stock

Each time I cook whole fryer chickens (I usually cook 2 at a time), I save the carcass to make homemade chicken stock.   See my post on best prices on chicken and a recipe for Roasted Sticky Chicken here.  I use the chicken meat in salads, pasta dishes, quesadillas, sandwiches, pot pies and stews, so when the carcass is picked clean, it’s time to make chicken stock. (Or, you can also do this with a store bought rotisserie chicken.)

Chicken stock from scratch couldn’t be easier. It allows you to control the flavor and salt content, and it freezes well.

Homemade Chicken Stock

  • 1 chicken carcass with some skin/meat left on the bones
  • 1 yellow onion with skin
  • 2 carrots, ends trimmed off but not peeled
  • 1-2 ribs celery, preferably with the leaves
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1-2 tsp. Black Peppercorns

Put the carcass in a 4-quart pot. Cut the onions, carrots and celery into a few large pieces and add to the pot. Cover with cool water. Bring the pot to a boil and then reduce heat to a slow simmer. Let it simmer away until you have about 1 quart of liquid left (about 90 minutes or so). Then cool slightly (for safety) and strain the stock into a freezer-safe container (be sure to leave room for expansion as it freezes). You can also let the broth cool in the fridge so you can skim off the fat. Discard bones and vegetables.

A few tips:

  • The onion skin adds a rich brown color to the stock as well as flavor. The celery leaves add a depth of flavor too. I sometimes keep a Ziploc bag of onion skins and celery leaves in the freezer so I will be sure to have them when I’m making stock.
  • The holy trifecta of carrots, onion and celery is what the French call mirepoix (pronounced “meer-pwah”), but feel free to experiment. If I have leftover scallions, parsley, shallots, turnips or other vegetables handy, in they go. There are no real rules for making stock — only guidelines.
  • Carrots add sweetness; reduce them if you like an even more savory stock.
  • Play with herbs and spices. Add a few peppercorns if you like a bit of spice (I did above). Thyme goes well if you’re using turkey bones. Think of what you’ll make with the stock and season accordingly.
  • I prefer to make my stock without adding salt (although there is some in the store’s spice mix) and then salt to taste later when I am using the stock in a recipe.

Homemade chicken stock beats even the best canned/cartoned stocks. I haven’t experimented with making beef, vegetable or seafood stock, but it’s on my list of things to learn. Maybe somebody has a recipe to share?

As a frequent beneficiary of this chicken stock, I can vouch for its quality. It’s so handy to have a couple batches in the freezer. This is a fun and tasty recipe to use for soups, pasta, and more!

– Kelly Hancock, Fellowship mom and member of Moms Together.  Check out Kelly’s blog at

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