What to Do With Your Holiday Turkey Carcass

I love Thanksgiving. Aside from the obvious reasons of taking time to be thankful 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, and we'll have leftover turkey disguised in several different dishes. I'll eat a turkey sandwich every day for as long as I can.

But wait! Don't throw out that turkey carcass! You can stretch your already-tight holiday budget, make at least one more meal, and even put some turkey broth into the freezer (or pressure-can it) for future meals. Turkey broth can be used instead of chicken broth in any recipe, and it's richer and more flavorful than chicken broth or stock. You can follow my directions for pressure-canning chicken broth - just use turkey broth instead.

How to make delicious, flavorful, good-for-you turkey broth

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.

You could do this in your slow-cooker too... but I can never fit it all inside. I do use my slow-cooker to make chicken broth though. Just use chicken bones instead of a turkey carcass.

When it’s finished, strain the stock.

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.

Related posts:
How to Pressure-Can Chicken Broth
What to Do With Your Holiday Ham Bone

Stretch your holiday food budget just a little further by making this flavorful and healthy turkey broth.

Don't throw out the turkey bones after your holiday dinner! Here's how to make flavorful and good-for-you turkey broth and stretch your holiday food budget a bit further.

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


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Anonymous said...

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

Kathi said...

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?

Sagan said...

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

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

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!

Kathi said...

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

Katey said...

This looks amazing! Wish I could taste it.

Jennifer@MyFlagstaffHome said...

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!


Tai East said...

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

Kathi said...

Thank you, Tai. May God bless you too.

April J Harris said...

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!

Kathi said...

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!

Deborah said...

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

Kathi said...

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

springlakehomestead said...

I don't know why I never thought to do this with a turkey carcass... I do it with almost all of our chicken carcasses!

Unknown said...

Yum! I can't wait to make broth with ours! This looks delicious!

Tarahlynn said...

Thanks for sharing this so I could feature it at the To Grandma's House we go link party!! See you next week!