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Homemade Chicken Stock

One of the first foods I started making from scratch when I switched to whole foods was chicken stock. Let me tell you why.

First, it is amazingly easy. It is so easy that I literally do it in my sleep!  We eat roast chicken (usually whole) about once every two weeks. After dinner, I shred off any leftover meat and stick it in the fridge to make another meal (casserole, salad topping, soup, etc.) Then I throw the bones into my stock pot, throw in some veggies, and get it up to temperature while I’m cleaning up the dinner dishes. I lower the temperature, skim, cover, and leave it until the morning. When I wake up the house smells like Thanksgiving dinner. I taste, season, and remove from the heat while my coffee brews. And after breakfast, I package and freeze my cooled stock. I know grabbing a can off the shelf is about as easy as it gets, but this process really doesn’t add anything to the time I’m already spending in the kitchen. If you don’t like leaving the stove on all night (or day), you can easily adapt this recipe for the slow cooker. Just make sure to boil raw meat before adding it to the crock pot.

Second, it is extremely frugal. Even if I go all out and buy organic, free-range chicken from Earth Fare

Scraps like this are perfect for homemade stock. If you aren’t going to use them right away, just throw them in a freezer bag and keep them frozen until you’re ready to make stock.

(about $15 for a whole bird) and use all fresh veggies and herbs (I’ll generously estimate $5 for everything), it is still cheap. If I use the whole bird to make the broth and shred the meat for other meals, I can get 4-6 meals out of that one bird. But you don’t have to do that. You can use a chicken carcass or chicken bones that you would normally throw away (read free). You can also use “scraps” when it comes to veggies. It doesn’t matter if your celery is a little wilted or if you use the parts that would normally end up in the trash (ends and leaves). It doesn’t even matter if you use all of the onion and carrot ends you saved from your last cooking day. If you are really careful, you could make homemade chicken stock without spending a dime!

{Note: If you’re making this on a cooking day, I think it is best to use a whole bird. Then you can use the meat in all of your recipes that call for chopped, cooked chicken. You may even have leftover chicken and broth for other meals depending on the menu.}

Finally, I can’t say enough about the health benefits of homemade chicken stock. There is a reason why chicken soup is considered to be a great food to eat when you’re sick. After the vitamin C, the first thing I grab when someone starts to feel sick is a container of broth from the fridge. I have even fed it to an infant in a bottle! (It makes a wonderful first food by the way.) It is full of calcium and other minerals, animal fats which help you to absorb those minerals and make you feel full, and gelatin (which among many benefits promotes good digestion and helps the body use proteins efficiently). Notice the deep color (I did not adjust the white balance or edit this photo!) compared to store bought broth. You can also see the fat shimmer on the top – don’t remove that! You can’t see it in this picture, but when this broth cools it will actually congeal because of the gelatin. To get the most nutrition out of your broth make sure to use pieces of meat with the skin on and with lots of connective tissue. The best part of the chicken – the feet! A friend of mine lives out in the country and raises chickens every year. She gave me a huge bag of chicken feet (thanks Amanda if you’re reading this!) I would throw 3 or 4 feet in with whatever meat and bones I was already using, and it yielded some of the best stock I’ve ever tasted. Not many people use chicken feet, so you may be able to find a butcher who is willing to give them to you for cheap or free.

If you aren’t convinced yet, maybe the usefulness of chicken broth in the kitchen will convince you. Aside from the obvious use in soups, you can also use chicken broth to cook pasta, rice, quinoa, dry beans, and vegetables. It is a wonderful way to add flavor and nutrition to staple items. Additionally, it makes delicious sauces, gravy, and homemade cream of something soups. Who am I kidding? I’ll drink this stuff straight from a mug!

Incorporate the nutrition of homemade bone broth into your daily menu with these recipes:

Homemade Chicken Stock


Kim @ onceamonthmeals.com


  • 1 whole chicken carcass {You can alternately use a whole chicken with all of the meat on it or smaller pieces of chicken with bone.}
  • 8 cups water
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon juice or vinegar
  • 3 stalks of celery, cut in half
  • 1 onion, quartered
  • 3 carrots, peeled and cut in half
  • 3 cloves of garlic, peeled
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • sprigs of fresh rosemary, thyme, and parsley {optional}


After the chicken boils, remove any impurities that rise to the top for a nice clear stock. Then reduce temperature to low. Cooking over too high heat also makes stock cloudy.

Place chicken carcass {or chicken pieces, or whole chicken} in a large stock pot. Cover with 8 cups of water and lemon juice or vinegar. Bring just to a boil and then reduce heat to low. Skim off any scum that rises to the top. Add celery, onion, carrots, and garlic to the pot. Simmer covered on low heat for 8-12 hours (or overnight). Low, slow heat is key. If you boil your bones, you will get a cloudy stock. If you wish to add fresh herbs for extra seasoning, add for the last 30-60 minutes of cooking. When stock is finished, strain out bones and vegetables and discard. {If you were using a whole chicken, be sure to remove so that you can pull off all of the meat when it is cooled.} Use a fine mesh strainer or cheese cloth to strain out any small pieces if necessary.

Freezing Directions:

Cool chicken broth and use in recipes as directed or store in freezer bags. Thaw to use in recipes.

Servings: 8 cups

**conversion chart image provided by Erik Spiekermann

58 Responses to “Homemade Chicken Stock”

  1. Carisue says:

    I like homemade chicken broth but could never use it fast enough before it went bad. Did not realize I could freeze it. I thank you for the simple tip. I want to try this and freeze it in portions for later. Thank you.

  2. RJ says:

    What is your reason for boiling raw meat first if using a slow cooker. I always use my slow cooker and just throw the frozen raw meat and bones right in. I turn it on high till the temp gets high enough then put it at low for 24-48 hours depending on the type of bones.

  3. Rebecca Haughn says:

    Good post, however, I wish to know why not put raw meat in the crockpot? I do it all the time to cook our meals and even have put in frozen meats and they turn out fine each time. My crockpot will boil so I know they are safe? Thanks for all the posts you share.

    • kim says:

      I have read in some sources that there is a slight risk of introducing bacteria if the foods in the crock pot do not reach a certain temperature quickly enough. This probably depends on your crock pot and exactly what you’re cooking, but I like to be safe. Also, you want to bring the bones to a boil and skim off all of the scum so that you get a nice clear broth. But from that point on, you want to keep the temperature low (or again, your broth will get cloudy.)

  4. Paula says:

    Any tips for the water not boiling away in the middle of the night leaving a horrible burnt brown ring around my crock pot and a dish or rancid bones? Cuz that has happened twice.

    • kim says:

      It sounds like you have the temperature too high. Also make sure you keep a lid on it so that it doesn’t evaporate too much. Don’t give up. You’ll figure out a good system that works for you. It took me a few times to work out my system.

  5. mk says:

    Great post! For a quick stock, I have had great luck simmering a few skinless legs & thighs with some garlic, celery and carrot for about an hour.

    And if you freeze your stock in muffin tins, then transfer to ziplocs, you won’t have to deal with a big frozen brick!

  6. Sally says:

    I freeze my broth but also can some just in case I lose the freezer.

    • kim says:

      Great idea! I forgot to mention this option. Canning is our “Get Real” topic this month. So please check out the resources there if you need more information.

  7. Dianna says:

    I am trying to get myself organized to do a major cooking session over Labor Day week end. I use to do a lot of OAMC, then for some reason just got away from it. I use a lot of chicken broth, thank you for posting this. We are going to remodel my kitchen, huge rebuild planned, and I will be with out a kitchen for about 6 weeks (if I am lucky) and I hope to get enough cooked ahead that I can feed us from the freezer. I won’t have a stove, but will have microwave, slow cooker, and we have the RV I can always cook in as well.

  8. StephanieK says:

    I just started making stock and since I am used to canned stock/broth the homemade stuff has alot less sodium….which unfortunately tastes less flavorful to me.. I have yet to cook with my new stock (its frozen for a later date) and am wondering if you’ve noticed a big differences in your recipes when you use homemade vs canned. I gues I’m just worried my homemade stuff isn’t flavorful but I don’t want to go back to canned. I used a very similar recipe to this. Does homemade just take some time to become adjusted to regarding less salt?

    • kim says:

      I think the great thing about homemade stock is that you can salt it according to your own taste. You will have to add salt, but it will still be way less than buying the canned stuff. Also, adding the fresh herbs will add a lot of flavor without adding salt. Once you figure out how much salt you need for your taste, you will love homemade and you’ll never go back.

    • TinaB says:

      I have found that adding in extra herbs/seasoning makes for more flavor in the end… I use garlic, onion, oregano, parsley, carrots, bell pepper, celery, allspice, mixed pepper grinder and sea salt <3 and always remember to play around with the amounts until you find the flavor profile you love the best!

      Hope that helps!!

  9. Roze says:

    How about freezing it in icecube trays? Then putting it in a freezer bag…I did that with baby food and it would depend on how much you need..how larger your family is etc

  10. Chelsea says:

    If I used te whole bird to make the stock, could I also turn around and use the bones to make a second batch of stock out of it?? Thanks :))

  11. Tiffany says:

    This might be a dumb question but when you say skim off do you mean the fats or is there something else I missed? Thanks!!

    • kim says:

      You can skim off fat to taste, but mainly your are just going to skim off any “scum” that rises to the surface. I have had batches with lots of scum and others with hardly any, so don’t worry if you don’t see much to skim.

  12. Charity says:

    I love making my own stock. I usually try to break my bones in half to get more marrow into my broth. I slow cook for a full 24 hours on the stove top. This results in a dark, rich and delicious broth.

  13. Amy says:

    I boiled it for 8 hours, but only got 2 1/2 cups. Can I dilute it to make 8 cups? I don’t know what I did wrong. I covered the pot.

    • kim says:

      Yes, if it is boiled down, you can add more water to reconstitute it. I would suggest freezing it in it’s concentrated form to save space. Then add water when you cook with it.

  14. Heather says:

    If I use a whole chicken, do I still cook for 8 to 12 hours? I’ve never cooked a whole chicken like this so I don’t want to over cook it.

    Also, would this work if I have a dozen of bones left over from chicken drumsticks?

    • kim says:

      Your whole chicken will be ok to use in other dishes. And yes, leftover drumsticks are a wonderful substitution! I often use leftovers when I get leg quarters on sale.

  15. Meg says:

    MMM…smells so good in my tiny home right now! Can’t wait to share this with my family for dinner tomorrow night! Thanks for saving the day with a great recipe

  16. Christina Deel says:

    If I need closer to 30 cups of broth for the cooking day can I do the same thing and just use much more water or do I need to do several pots with several whole chickens? (Please forgive me, I am new to the whole doing it yourself and eating healthy thing! I think it’s going to be awesome though).

    • kim says:

      Wow, that’s a lot of broth! :) It depends on how big your pot is really. You could put it all in one pot if you have one big enough. But if not, you can do more than one batch. Remember you can use your slow cooker for one of the batches if needed.

      • Molly says:

        I’m also going to need a lot of chicken broth- about 23cups. How many whole chickens and/or parts would you recommend using? water? Should I use the same amount of water as I’ll need for my broth?

        • kim says:

          If you need that much broth, I would recommend saving bones from other meals to try to save some money! Usually when I roast a whole chicken I save all of the bones and that works great. One batch makes 8 cups, so unless you have an enormous pot that can hold 3 chickens/carcasses, I would recommend making 3 batches over the course of a few days.

  17. Cheryl says:

    If I use a whole chicken, how does the chicken taste? I fear that the chicken that’s been boiled for 12hrs will be very bland.

    • kim says:

      If you are going to use a whole chicken, I’d recommend a slightly shorter cooking time. Maybe 6-8 hours instead of 12 or overnight as the chicken can be over cooked. I also wouldn’t serve the chicken for your main dish because it will be falling apart, but it works perfectly for shredding and using in soups, casseroles, or any recipe that calls for chopped, cooked chicken.

  18. Way cool! Some extremely valid points! I appreciate you writing this write-up plus the
    rest of the website is also really good.

  19. Ashley says:

    I have a whole chicken in my freezer; if I’m going to use the whole chicken to make broth, do I need to thaw first or can I plop the frozen chicken into the pot and follow the same method as written?

    • Kelly says:

      I’ve done it with a full frozen chicken before but it may just take longer to cook. And make sure you take out the innards if you haven’t already. You most certainly can leave them in there but I’d take them out of the paper or plastic they usually are in :)

      • Ashley says:

        Thanks Kelly! So actually, I ended up thawing the chicken, roasting it in the oven and then using the carcass to make broth. It looks amazing! I do have a question about the innards though. I was elbow deep in chicken and could NOT locate them…sounds ridiculous as they are usually in a little bag! This was a “Whole fryer” from Earth Fare (which I assumed I could just as easily use for roasting as frying). Do you have any experience with that type of chicken and did I just miss the innards, or do they remove the innards entirely with the “fryer” chickens?

  20. [...] comforting, and it goes on. When you’re fighting or recovering from a cold or tummy bug, homemade chicken broth is probably one of the best foods you can put into your body to help it heal. It feel good on sore [...]

  21. [...] my journey to embrace a Paleo lifestyle, I have not varied much in soups.  Primarily sticking to homemade broth based soups with whatever meat and vegetables I may have readily available.  However, as summer [...]

  22. [...] and college days. But now I’m a big girl, and I know how to make my own nutrient dense, homemade chicken broth. So join me in skipping the dehydrated vegetables and powdered broth, and freeze your own bowls of [...]

  23. Miss Misty says:

    I’ve made this broth twice. The first time it came out perfect. It was a nice dark golden color and not cloudy. The second time I thought I did everything the same but I ended up with a weird cloudy brown-ish broth. It looked funky so I didn’t end up using it. Any thoughts on where I may have gone wrong this time? THANKS!! :)

    • kim says:

      Usually the cloudiness comes from cooking the broth at too high of a temperature. Another thing to check is did you skim off all the scum after the initial boil? Sometimes that can effect clarity.

  24. Deborah MH says:

    Every time I use carrots, celery, onions I always freeze the tops/bottoms of the carrots and celery and the onion skins. Also every time we have roast chicken I save the carcass. When I know I’m going to spend 3-4 hours in the kitchen I dump the one carcass and about three handfuls of vegetables in a dutch oven (6 qt sauce pan). I usually make two pots at the same time. I also add about 10 peppercorns and 1-2 bay leaves in each pot. Then, if a recipe calls for chicken stock I can add it directly from the pot. (I did that last week w/ my OAMM.) I then freeze in 2 cup freezer cartons and use to make rice, noodles, and in recipes. It makes such a difference. I never add salt to the stock, just to the food I eventually use it in.

  25. […] we eat soup at least once a week. Soups are the perfect way to use left over meat and incorporate homemade bone broths. We talked about some of the benefits of bone broth last week, but let me just remind you that they […]

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