How to: Chicken Stock


the basics:
cold water
1 chicken carcass, meat removed
6 carrots, cut up
3 onions, quartered
2 parsnips, cut up
1 bunch celery or just celery tops
2 heads garlic
optional: 1 bunch green onions or scallions

Place the chicken and the vegetables in a large (8-10 quart) stock pot. Add water until the pot is nearly filled.

Periodically skim off fat as it floats to the top. After about 3 1/2 hours, strain into a large bowl. If you want it super clear strain through a paper towel lined colander. Cool immediately by placing the bowl in an ice filled sink. Never place the hot stock directly in the fridge or you run the risk of rapid bacteria growth which may result in food poisoning. Refrigerate overnight, then skim off any fat that rose to the surface. Package in air tight containers or freezer bags to store.

I suggest freezing any stock you don’t use right away. In if freezer bags, lay the bags flat so they freeze in a shape that takes up the least amount of room. To defrost simply remove the block of stock from the container and place it in a sauce pan. Heat on low for 3-5 minutes.

Add ginger and/or galangal and extra garlic and green onions to the mixture if using it in a Thai, Japanese or Chinese dish for extra flavor. Alternately, add these ingredients into the pot when defrosting plain chicken stock, simmer for 5 additional minutes then strain them out. Similarly, if making Mexican or other spicy food, add dried chile peppers, extra garlic and/or onions to the stock or when defrosting.

Add some whole spices or herbs (bay leaf, peppercorns, thyme, rosemary etc) to the mixture.

Roast the chicken carcass in a 350 oven for 15-30 minutes before tossing it in the pot. This helps intensify the flavor.

Add some whole, skin-on raw chicken legs or wings for extra flavor.

Makes about 5-6 quarts of stock.

My thoughts:

Stock is so basic, I almost feel odd posting a recipe for it but I use it so much when cooking and I’ve received numerous requests for a guide on making it, I gave in. It truly is simple but delicious. Much better tasting then what you can buy in the store. It is also much cheaper. A box of our favorite store-bought stock is nearly $4. The chicken I used was $6 (on sale) yielded more than two meals worth of meat and over 6 quarts of stock. You really can’t beat that!

One last tip:
Save odds and ends of vegetables (a carrot top, celery leaves, bruised green onions etc) in a container in your fridge or freezer to add to the pot when you make stock. The whole vegetables add a lot of flavor but every bit helps!


  1. I roasted a chicken a while back and ran out of time afterwards…so I stuck the carcass in freezer bags and put it in the freezer.

    Any experience starting from a frozen carcass? I’m not expecting any difficulties, but thought I’d throw it out there.

  2. Last time I made chicken stock from a carcass, I also added a pound of ground chicken breast meat (from the grocery). WOW, it really intensified the flavor of the stock. This was not my original idea….the Cook’s Illustrated recipe for stock includes this.

  3. Dan-
    I think I have made it from a frozen carcass before and it was fine. I’d defrost it before using though.

  4. I'm wondering about skimming liquid fat from the surface of the soup. How to do this? In the past I've tried a few times but just made a mess so now I just wait till after straining & chilling. Is there some secret trick that I'm missing?

  5. KT-
    I use a small, fine mesh skimmer and just lightly take the very foamy top bits off the soup as it boils.

  6. KT-
    I use a small, fine mesh skimmer and just lightly take the very foamy top bits off the soup as it boils.

  7. What are the chances – another KT here!

    Dan – I also save the parts of a roast chicken (like the back, bones, stuff where the meat isn’t quite as tasty), in the freezer, and then use this in the stock along with some fresh chicken parts. If you put the frozen pieces in the stock pot with water, wait about an hour then drain off the water and start the stock with fresh water and all the other vegetables – the chicken will thaw out enough this way.

    BTW, I used to use freezer bags for this, but my freezer shelves are all that wire mesh stuff. I found out the hard way that the stock would freeze in between the spaces in the shelves – literally frozen into place. Whoops!! Now I use the quart size glad/ziploc brand hard containers (they’re reusable too) 🙂

  8. Thanks, Rachel. I ended up just throwing the frozen carcass in the pot and proceeded as per usual. Took a bit longer, but it worked just fine.

    KT, I’ve also had limited luck skimming (there’s always errant veggies sticking up through the surface). In my experience, it’s much easier to wait until the next day and remove the solidified fat from the top.

  9. I LOVE making my own chicken stock! (And I freeze it exactly like you do!) It’s so easy, and tastes so much better! I’ve never thought to use scallions in it, but I’ll try that next time.

  10. This is such a valuable recipe for all the cooks out there. It is a money saving miracle! makes all the dishes taste richer…good one! thanks, s

  11. Oddly enough, I am making stock right now. I usually make mine in the crock pot over a few days so that I don’t have to tend to it or so it isn’t taking up valuable stove top space. Regardless of the animal, if there are bones, I’m making stock out of it. The last stock I made was from a ham bone. The stock I am making now is from bison. It smells amazing! I found a vendor at our farmer’s market that was selling the unwanted bits of meat and bone for a buck!

  12. Another quick tip…snap a couple of the bones in half and get at that fine bit of marrow…before making the stock! You won’t be disappointed!

  13. Oh please don’t eliminate the simple recipes…I’m such a beginning cook this is just heaven sent! I have two chicken carcases in the freezer just waiting for stock. I have never yet made it so this is very timely. Thanks so much.

  14. What a great tip – saving veggie ends for stock.

  15. Basic or not, thanks for posting! I bought boxed stock, low sodium, the other day and it was horrible. I will now make my own 🙂