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November 25, 2015

What to Do With Your Thanksgiving Turkey Carcass

I love Thanksgiving. Aside from the obvious reasons of taking time to be thankful to the Lord for our blessings and the gathering together with family and friends, I love turkey. I love leftover turkey. I love turkey soup.

Hubby sometimes suggests that we buy a boneless turkey breast, since we’re not feeding a big crowd anymore. He’s trying to save me some work. But I want the turkey carcass, and I always buy a bigger bird than we need so I’ll have plenty of leftovers.

After the big dinner, I debone the rest of the bird and sort it into two piles: the bones and skin, and the leftover meat. The meat goes into the refrigerator, to be made into sandwiches and other dishes for a couple of days.

The carcass itself is broken into two pieces. It breaks naturally along the spine, so there is a front piece and a back piece. They go in separate zipper freezer bags because of size, but if yours will fit in one bag, that’s fine. All the miscellaneous bones, wing tips, skin, etc, go into these bags and into the freezer. Over the following weekend, I make turkey broth with the contents of these bags, but if you want, you can wait a bit and leave them in the freezer for awhile. Of course, you can always just make stock right away and not freeze the bones at all.

To make the broth, I use my biggest stock pot and fill it with the turkey carcass. Any veggie pieces go in too: I save onion skins, celery leaves and tops, carrot peels and ends, and so on in the freezer for this purpose, but you can quarter an onion, toss in a few chopped celery ribs, a carrot or two, some garlic, and any other veggies you might have on hand. Add a splash of apple cider vinegar to help pull the calcium and other healthful minerals out of the bones. Then fill the stock pot with water until the bones are covered. Put on the top, and simmer for several hours, or even all day. It warms the house and smells so good.

When it’s finished, strain the stock. If you wish you can refill the pot with water, add the "used" bones back in and make another pot of broth.

Photo source:
Now you can either pour the broth into zipped freezer bags and put in the freezer, or pressure-can the broth. I’ve done both. Freezing is fastest and easiest, but I like to pressure-can broth in pint jars. It’s a quick start to white chili, or turkey enchiladas, or any number of other dishes. And my favorite turkey vegetable soup.

This post has been shared at some of my favorite blog hops.


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  1. I was taught this by my grandmother many years ago with turkey and with chicken. She never added a splash of vinegar so I will do that this year! Thanks for the tip...Tina

  2. Tina, I've done this with chicken too. I save the bones in the freezer until I have enough to make a good-sized pot of broth. Almost-free food, and it's so delicious and healthy, isn't it?

  3. We always turn turkey carcasses into broth - so delicious! Great tip about the apple cider vinegar. Cracking the bones helps release extra nutrients, too :)

  4. Kathi, I never used to even have to think about this, always gave my turkey carcass to an elderly friend who made a hearty soup from it. But she died, well into her 90s, a couple years ago ... so now I shall have to deal with it myself. Thanks for the tips!

  5. I'm sorry to hear about the loss of your friend, Jean. Will you make stock from the turkey carcass or ... ?

  6. This looks amazing! Wish I could taste it.

  7. I love having homemade stock on hand. I make it after Thanksgiving and anytime I buy a rotisserie chicken. Thanks for sharing at My Flagstaff Home!


  8. Hi, Kathi! What a great tip! Thanks so much for sharing, Love! GOD bless you! :-)

    1. Thank you, Tai. May God bless you too.

  9. I've always found instructions for making turkey soup or stock very intimidating and overwhelming but your post is fantastic, Kathi! It's so straight forward and I love that you can freeze the carcass till its convenient! We have turkey for Christmas in the UK so this post will come in handy. Pinned. Thank you so much for sharing with us at the Hearth and Soul Hop. Featuring your post at this week's hop!

  10. Thank you, April. I'm glad this was helpful for you and I hope you'll make some delicious broth after Christmas. It tastes so good and is so good for you. Once you start making your own broth you'll never buy it from the store again.

    Thank you for Pinning the post and for featuring at this week's hop!

  11. I love turkey leftovers! Our Canadian Thanksgiving has passed, but we'll be having turkey for Christmas too!

    1. I completely agree, Deb! We usually have turkey for Christmas too.


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