Throw a bunch of ingredients in a big pot with some water and let it simmer for a while. Now you have chicken stock.
It is almost that easy. A little prep work and some small effort once it has finished simmering is all it really takes. The magic mostly happens by letting the pot sit there undisturbed, doing its own thing for at least a couple of hours. As it simmers it will spread a mouth-watering aroma through the house.
Thousands of recipes use chicken stock. And you can definitely use store-bought stock to make delicious meals. But the extra effort of making your own stock gives you more depth of flavor for your final dish and more control of exactly how it will taste. It is especially important to make your own stock when it is a featured ingredient – like for broth-based soups. A simple chicken noodle soup is elevated to the next level when using homemade stock.
I tend to make stock whenever I have made a recipe that leaves me with bones from the meat. And when I make it, I make a huge vat of it. Then I will keep some of that in the fridge for use in the next week, and freeze the rest for use over the next few months whenever I want to bust out the reserves.
Chicken Stock or Broth?
Some people like to get into the nitty-gritty differences of chicken stock vs chicken broth. But that’s not what I’m all about.
In my opinion, you can use stock and broth interchangeably. Boiling meat, fish, or vegetables with some aromatics and seasonings is the same method for both. Generally, stock is made with more bones and cartilage while broth includes more meat. Broth is also typically cooked for a shorter period of time.
Eh, whatever. They’re the same. I typically include whatever leftover bones and meat I have on hand and cook for as long as my time will allow. In my opinion, longer tends to be better as you give more time for flavors to develop and for collagen to seep from the bones. But if I don’t have time for that, then a much shorter stay in the pot still gets the job done.
What Goes Into Stock?
Don’t take this recipe as set in stone. It is more of a jumping-off point for whatever you want to include in your stock. Mix and match what seems best to you, while making sure to think of what will work with the flavors of your planned final dish. You want everything to be working together.
Do not add salt to the stock. Since this is not a final dish, you don’t want to salt it yet. Save that for once you have cooked everything and then add salt to taste. You won’t risk having too much salt if you wait to add it.
- Chicken – Use bones, skin, meat, and drippings from chicken as the base flavor for the stock. My go-to is using the picked-over carcass from two Costco rotisserie chickens. For a deeper and richer flavor, throw it all on a baking sheet in the oven and roast it at 350°F (175°C) until golden-brown.
- Aromatics – These are vegetables, herbs, and spices that add aroma and flavor to your dish.
- Vegetables – Most stocks call for garlic, onions, carrots, and celery. But feel free to experiment and try other options. Leeks, asparagus, mushrooms, peas, bell peppers, spinach, tomatoes.
- Herbs – I generally like to use sage, rosemary, parsley, and thyme because they tend to be fairly neutral and can pair well with a whole lot of dishes. You can try adding any other herbs, just don’t go overboard because using too much in relation to the other ingredients can lend bitterness to stock.
- Spices – Typically, I add bay leaves and peppercorn (pepper before being ground up) to stock. Ginger, cardamom, and coriander could be fun to experiment with. And you could consider using dried chiles if you are wanting a dish with some spiciness to it.
- Water – Good old plain water, nothing complicated here.
How to Make Chicken StockCourse: SoupsDifficulty: Easy
Long-simmered chicken stock for full flavored soups and sauces
4 to 5 pounds chicken bones, meat, and skin (2 rotisserie chicken carcasses)
4 large carrots
5 celery stalks
1 large onion
4 sprigs thyme
2 sprigs sage
4 sprigs parsley
2 sprigs rosemary
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
20 to 30 cups water
- Cut the ends off of the onion and then cut it into quarters
- Slice the carrots and celery into 3 to 4 inch pieces
- Add all ingredients except water to a very large stock pot
- Add enough water to cover everything
- Place the stock pot on high heat until you see bubbles starting to form and immediately turn the heat to low
- Cover with a lid and simmer on low for 2 to 8 hours (the longer you can, the better)
- Remove and discard the bones and vegetables using a slotted spoon or tongs
- Line a mesh strainer with cheesecloth and strain the stock to remove anything remaining in the liquid
- Use the stock or cool it down in an ice-water bath and store it in the fridge or freezer