homemade chicken stock

Pantry Basics - Chicken Stock

There’s no one single way to make chicken stock. Sometimes I do it with odds and ends from a chicken: wings, neck, gizzards, other random bits. But most often, and by far my favorite way to make stock – is to use 2 carcasses of roasted chickens. You roast a chicken and then you wind up with the carcass. Instead of throwing it away, you make that chicken work for you in double time. You can freeze it until you get another chicken carcass, which you then throw together with water and aromatics and cook it for a few hours. There’s very little hands-on time needed – just your presence around the house to keep an eye on the stock. The result – rich and flavorful stock you can’t get from a carton. Plus I get a kick knowing I can use one chicken for two separate purposes.

This is a great way to stretch that chicken further than just one meal. I add little salt here because I want my stock to be as much of a pure distillation of the chicken flavor as possible. Later, when I use stock to make soup, I will add as much salt as the recipe calls for, but this way I get the flexibility on how much seasoning the future soup will need.

Homemade Chicken Stock

2 roasted chicken carcasses
Contents from your “stock bag” (usually it’s a couple of carrots, a few celery stalks, a handful of parsley, dill, thyme, an onion that all happen to accumulate)
2 teaspoons salt


1. Place everything in a stockpot and add enough water to cover the contents. Bring everything to a simmer, skim off the scum, cover and simmer for 2 hours.

2. Fish out the chicken parts (they will have fallen apart by then), the vegetables, and whatever you can of the aromatics. Pour the stock through a fine-mesh strainer and place back in the stock pot. Simmer for another 2 hours, uncovered, or until stock is reduced by about half. Pour into containers, label your stock with a date, and cool to room temperature before freezing. Stock will keep in your freezer for up to 3 months. Remember, this is not an exact science, to taste and experiment as how much you want to reduce your stock. I prefer a more concentrated stock, but some of you might opt for something less so.

Makes roughly 2 quarts.


  • Sara

    I like to save those little inner cloves of garlic that are too small and spindly to bother peeling and chopping for stock. I have a chicken back sitting in my freezer and when I’ve collected a bit more, into the stock pot it goes!

    I’ve seen many people swear that you should use a whole chicken rather than leftover parts or roasted parts for stock. Do you think it makes a difference? I did poach a capon once and the stock that it created was definitely the best I’ve ever had, but I don’t know if it was a result of poaching the entire bird or the fact that it was a capon.

  • Radish

    Sara – garlic is great – yes, I do that too, I always seem to have a few “stragglers” lying around. Capons are great for stock, really, ideally I would do that. But it’s not the easiest type of chicken to fine, and I was thinking of ways to “stretch” the already cooked chicken. Instead of throwing it out, there’s yet another life for it :) Sometimes I’ll use chicken parts. Really, it’s what I have on hand.

  • Brian @ A Thought For Food

    There are few things more comforting than homemade chicken stock. Since I’ve stopped eating meat, I’ve spent countless hours working on homemade veggie stocks. They’ve gotten close to the rich flavor of the one I grew up with, but hasn’t reached that level yet.

  • Maggie

    There’s a similar veg version of this that I swear by: every time you use a fresh vegetable, save the butts and stems and odds and ends you’d otherwise trash. Store ’em in the freezer until you’ve amassed a large quantity. Once you have, throw ’em in a large pot with some water and just let it all simmer for a few hours. Strain it, jar it, and use it at your leisure.

  • Abbey

    I notice you’re using whole dill in your photo (I usually just use stems after I’m done with the herbs), this doesn’t make the stock bitter or discolor it at all?

  • Radish

    Maggie – Yes, that’s what I do with my stock bag (I linked to it!) – exactly the thing.

    Abbey – I came into a lot of dill and didn’t want it going to waste. So I threw it in – tops and bottoms. No bitterness or discoloration – in fact, it was absolutely delicious!

  • Foodiebia

    I’m surprised this stock only keeps in the freezer for 3 months. Have you tried using it after 3 months and it tasted bad? It’s essentially savory-tasting ice so I would think it would last in the freezer for a very long time. Just curious b/c I have some frozen stock in my freezer that I haven’t used in months and now I’m wondering if I need to toss it. Thanks!

  • Radish

    Foodiebia – Ha, I keep mine indefinitely (I do go through it within a few months) but I think in order to not poison anyone, I am going to stick to the 3 month disclaimer :-) just so there’s no lawsuit coming my way! Personally, I keep for half a year. After that, I do a sniff test for freezer burn – and if it smells freezery I toss.

  • fortycloves

    I even throw in a few lemon slices, if I have them. It gives the stock a really nice pop and with a little orzo and a beaten egg, it morphs into Greek avgolemono soup!

  • Foodiebia

    Ha yeah I understand that you don’t want to encourage us to do something that will make us sick and/or will taste gross. Time to sniff-test my chicken stock!

  • Kahlia

    This is a great idea. I’m very anti-msg and other nasty additives, but here in Aus only one brand makes stock without it (very pricey). I’ve been saving my chicken carcasses with the intention of making stock, and now i know how to go about it! Cheers

  • Reka

    My favorite secrets for chicken stock are to always include a parsnip along with the usual stock veggies, and to add a splash of sherry at the beginning. You wouldn’t believe how rich and multidimensional the resulting stock is, even though you can’t pick out the flavors of sherry or parsnip. Sometimes I make a huge pot full of the stock, strain it, and reduce it to a demi glace which I keep in the freezer. Just a spoonful of that can make any sauce fantastic, and it lasts for a good 6 months (never tried longer, since I always run out by that time).

  • Eve (longtime reader, first time poster)

    I used the ol’ “roast chicken carcass” technique for years, but recently at an Alain Ducasse cooking school class on “sauces and condiments”, I was told to neeeeever use already cooked chicken (all the flavor is cooked out of the carcass). It feels wasteful, I agree, but zee master has spoken…
    Also, Ducasse key tip when making stock using raw chicken: bring the chicken to a boil in your stockpot first. Skim away any slimy stuff that floats to the top (which can be semi-toxic from the raw brid). Then add all your aromatics and veggies and proceed as usual :)

  • Radish

    saad – I keep it longer, but I don’t want to get anyone sick, so I err on the side of caution.

  • Wayne Speirs

    I add two tablespoons of white vinegar to the pot as I have heard that the pros do this because the vinegar gets the calcium in the bones of the chicken to be extracted into the broth.

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