How to Make Chicken Stock from Scratch

Pint jars of homemade chicken stock

Chicken stock or broth is a staple in the kitchen - it's used in so many recipes. Homemade chicken stock is easy, simple and frugal. Here's how to make your own chicken stock at home and how to preserve it for later use.

How to make chicken stock from scratch

Have you ever noticed how many recipes call for chicken broth or stock? So many of my favorite recipes do.

But I don't buy a case of chicken broth in cans or waxed paper cartons. When I have a recipe that calls for chicken broth or stock, I take a pint jar out of the cupboard or a quart of frozen stock from the freezer.

In other words, I make my own chicken stock from scratch, and it tastes so much better than the stuff from a can or a carton! Plus, it's free - or practically free!

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A large black pot containing chicken bones, carrot chunks, chopped onions and garlic and a few herbs..

What's the difference between stock and broth?

Whether you call it chicken stock, chicken broth or chicken bone broth, it's pretty much the same thing. 

The difference between stock and broth is slight: stock is made from mostly bones, and broth is made from mostly meat. 

Stock usually has a richer taste, and when it cools it's often very gelatinous from those long-simmered bones.

You can use stock, broth or bone broth interchangeably in recipes. If a recipe calls for stock but you have broth, use it instead.

It's so easy to make your own chicken stock

And while it might take longer to make than running to the store, you really don't have to do much during that time. 

Other than dumping the ingredients into a pot and straining it when it's finished, you stir it once in awhile and just keep an eye on it whenever you walk through the kitchen.

Of course, I wouldn't leave the house while it's simmering on the stove, so just plan this for a day when you're home anyway. Safety first, right?

Ingredients for homemade chicken stock

I make chicken stock, which is made mostly from bones. If you prefer to make chicken broth, simply substitute chicken meat for the bones in the directions below.

The ingredients for stock are simple and basic, and you probably have most or all of them in your kitchen already, especially if you baked or roasted a chicken for dinner last night.

Here's what you'll need:

  • chicken bones or a chicken carcass
  • water
  • carrots, onions, celery, garlic, etc. (optional but recommended!)
  • a bay leaf, or a sprig of rosemary (optional)

Whenever we have chicken for dinner, whether it's been baked or roasted or fried or whatever, I save the carcass for stock-making.

(And by the way, I save our Thanksgiving turkey carcass too. Turkey stock is even richer and more delicious than chicken stock in my opinion, and can be used in any recipe calling for chicken stock or broth.)

I put the bones, the skin, wingtips and any drippings from the roasting pan in a zippered freezer bag and into the freezer it goes - well-marked with the contents and the date on the bag.

You can also freeze leftover vegetables and vegetable scraps in another freezer bag for stock-making. Onion skins, carrots peels and celery leaves are just a few of the scraps you can use.

Onion skins are what gives chicken stock that deep, golden color. 

Add a few cloves of garlic too. And a tomato if you have one. Maybe two. They're not optional but they are tasty!

Did you notice that all of those ingredients - except maybe the garlic cloves - would have gone into the garbage can or the compost bin? My stock is made from chicken bones and vegetable scraps. That means my homemade chicken stock is free.

A large black pot of chicken stock. The chicken bones, onions and carrots are still in the pot too.

Making chicken stock

The classic way to make stock is, of course, to use a stock pot. That's how stock pots got their name, after all. 

Stock pots come in a range of sizes, and you may already have a few in your kitchen. You can make a pot of stock from one chicken carcass or you can use a larger pot and two or more carcasses. 

Add the chicken carcass or the freezer bag full of bones to the stock pot. Add a bag of frozen vegetables that you've saved, or chop up and add some carrots, onions and celery, and whatever else you'd like to add.

If I have some herbs on hand, I'll add a sprig or two of thyme or rosemary, or a bay leaf or two. I don't add salt or pepper. I prefer to season whatever dish I'll eventually make with the stock.

Add enough water to the stock pot to cover it all up.

Bring the pot of water to a boil, then lower the heat and let it simmer all day long - or as long as you have time for.

Yes, it's really that easy.

Using a slow cooker to make broth or stock

If you prefer, you can use a slow cooker instead of a stockpot on the stove. The stockpot holds more and can make a larger batch of stock, but a slow-cooker doesn't need quite as much babysitting. 

Not that a stockpot requires much attention either, really. It's totally up to you.

A variety of vegetables (carrots, onions, tomatoes, garlic and rosemary) to add to your homemade chicken stock or broth for deeper, richer flavor.

Chicken feet

The last time I wandered through the meat department at the grocery store, I noticed chicken feet for sale. Cleaned, peeled chicken feet. 

In case you didn't know this, chicken feet make some of the best chicken stock ever

Chicken feet contain a large amount of gelatin, which is really good for you. According to Medical News Today, gelatin can improve the health of your skin, promote hair growth, ease joint pain, and more.

Chicken feet are a great addition to chicken stock - or can be used instead of a leftover chicken carcass if you prefer.

If you purchase chicken feet at the grocery store, they are already cleaned and peeled. If you wish to clean them again before adding them to the stock pot, soak them for five to ten minutes in a solution of vinegar and water, then rinse them off.

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How much should you use?

Oh wait, you wanted amounts? How many bones and cups of carrots, and how much water? I don't measure, and you don't need to either.

One carcass and a couple of carrots, onions and stalks of celery is a good place to start, if you must have some guidelines. 

But if you have more or less, use it.

If you have a bag of frozen vegetable scraps and leftovers, you can add several handfuls to the stock pot, or use the whole bag if you wish.

After simmering for several hours, remove the bones and vegetables from the pot, then strain the liquid. If desired, strain it again through a cotton cloth. There is usually a bit of sediment at the bottom of the pot, but straining a second time will remove that.

The boiled vegetables and veggie scraps can be added to your compost pile, but bones should not be composted.

Three ways to preserve homemade chicken stock

After straining the stock, you can use it right away in a recipe. If you prefer to save it for later use, you can:

Freeze or can chicken stock in quantities you use most often: quarts, pints or one-cup amounts. 

If a recipe calls for a larger amount, simply use more than one container.

Some uses for chicken stock

Use your homemade chicken stock in any of the following ways, or in recipes calling for either chicken broth or chicken stock. Remember, you can use broth and stock interchangeably.

Now that you know how easy it is to make your own chicken stock, I hope you'll give it a try.

It's just as simple to make your own beef stock too. And vegetable stock - fill your stock pot with vegetables and water and let them simmer all day. Roasting the vegetables before making the stock adds even more depth of flavor.

Homemade Chicken Stock


  • chicken bones or a chicken carcass
  • water
  • carrots, onions, celery, garlic, tomato, etc. (optional)
  • a bay leaf, or a sprig of thyme or rosemary (optional)


  1. Add the chicken carcass to a stock pot. 
  2. Add several handfuls of vegetables, chopped. 
  3. Add herbs, if desired.
  4. Add enough water to the stock pot to cover the contents.
  5. Bring the pot to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for several hours.
  6. Strain the stock and discard the bones and cooked vegetables.
  7. Serve chicken stock hot, use in recipes, or preserve for later use.
  8. Find directions for canning chicken stock here.

This post contains affiliate links. Read my disclosure here.

Homemade chicken stock, made from stock. Learn how to make your own.


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