If there ever was a task worth learning at home, discovering how to make chicken stock is certainly one of them. So much simpler than you think it is, you can even create a rich, hearty version in your slow cooker so it’s totally hands off if you need to. Perfect for soups or any of your favorite recipes, this homemade chicken stock will never leave your recipe file.
We’ve all used store bought stock, bouillon cubes or pastes. And some of them are fine.
But a lot of them are just terrible. Even the ones you think are supposed to be “the best”. Often a blend of water, mushroom or carrot juice and additives like MSG or preservatives, chicken may be the last ingredient–or not there at all.
What’s the difference between chicken broth and chicken stock?
Chicken broth (0r any “broth” for that matter) simply means that some type of meat was cooked in the water, then removed. Broths may or may not have additional seasonings like herbs or salt and doesn’t contain additional ingredients like vegetables.
Stock on the other hand is usually made from the chicken bones and contains seasonings like fresh herbs, garlic, and salt and pepper and aromatic vegetables like celery, carrots, and onion.
I’d far and away prefer the stock!
How to make homemade chicken stock with leftover bones (and what to do if you don’t have any)
We’ll start this homemade chicken stock with the pre-cooked bones from a roast chicken. If you aren’t mentally prepared to roast one–no fear. You can buy chicken parts at the store–legs, wings and yes, even feet would be fine for this. Toss them in the oven if you have the time to let them get brown, then add all of that with any juices or browned bits from the pan into your stock.
If you are really out of time, just put the chicken parts in uncooked. Things will still work out fine.
Are chicken broth and stock interchangeable?
Yes. You can use one in the place of the other without any issues. You will lose some of the richer flavor from chicken stock if you swap in broth, but if you don’t want that stronger flavor to begin with, broth is just fine.
Is chicken stock healthy?
Yes if you make it yourself. Store bought chicken stock can be laden with salt, concentrated vegetable juices, and MSG so it’s a good idea to make it yourself so you can control what goes in to it. Homemade broth, once chilled, also allows you to skim off any fat if you choose to–so you can further reduce the calories.
I never skim mine. I like the small bit of fat that’s left in mine (usually about a teaspoon total on the surface) to add additional flavor.
Can homemade chicken stock be frozen?
Yes! This is the best part! To freeze chicken stock, allow your stock to come to room temperature and then ladle out as much as you’d like in to freezer bags or freezer safe containers. I measure 1 and 2-cup bags and lay them flat on a cookie sheet. Freeze until solid, then stack them.
You can easily thaw them in the fridge, or because the frozen stock is thin, you can break it up and drop the frozen stock into a pot. It will be ready to use in less than five minutes.
How to make the best chicken stock at home
- Leave the outer peels on your vegetables. They contribute to a deeper flavor of your chicken stock.
- Use the inner celery stalks with the leaves on them, and stems from fresh herbs are great as well. It’s a great way to get the flavors from them and use them up!
- Make sure to have some cheesecloth on hand to strain your final stock through. You can use a regular mesh strainer without the cheesecloth–you may just have a few bits from your stock slip through.
- You can use just about any vegetables in your stock but remember to never use cauliflower, broccoli or brussels sprouts!
- Use bottled water so you don’t end up with gross tap water flavors in your final broth!
How to make rich and flavorful chicken stock
- 1 4-6 pound cooked chicken bones with the skin meat removed
- 1 cup fresh Italian parsley, stems on
- 1 medium red onion, skin on cut in half
- 3 large stalks celery cut into 4-inch pieces use the inner leaves too
- 3 medium carrots, skin on cut into chunks
- 1 medium garlic clove smashed, but not peeled
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 teaspoon fresh rosemary optional
- 1 1/2 gallons bottled water
- In a large stock pot, add all of the ingredients.
- Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer 2 to 4 hours. Skim off any foam that may form.
- After the 2-4 hours, turn off the heat and allow the broth to cool slightly. About 30 minutes. Line a mesh strainer with cheesecloth and ladle the stock through into a large bowl.
- Allow the broth to cool to room temperature then transfer to the refrigerator for up to a week, or measure 1-2 cup amounts and freeze flat in ziplock bags.