If you do any cooking at all, you’ve run across a recipe or two that calls for chicken broth. Instead of relying on expensive canned or boxed broth, make your own chicken stock at home for a budget friendly alternative.
Originally published June 2011; this post has been updated.
What’s the Difference Between Stock and Broth?
You’ll often see the terms used interchangeably, and I do so here, as well. Stock and broth are pretty similar in their flavor and how you’d use them in the kitchen. The difference is in how they are made.
Chicken stock is made with just the bones. Using the carcass of a roasted chicken to transform it into a golden stock is perhaps the most frugal thing you can do in your kitchen.
Chicken broth is made from meat, or meat with bones. In other words, a whole chicken (or chicken parts) are cooked to create a broth. When making broth, you’ll end up with cooked chicken that can be removed from the bone and used in recipes or stirred back into the broth to make a chicken soup.
The methods included below work interchangeably with either a whole roasted chicken or the bones remaining from a roasted chicken meal. You can also use this method to turn a leftover turkey carcass into a rich turkey stock.
5 Easy Steps to Transform Your Pantry!
Ready to switch from store bought to homemade? Let me help you make some changes! Grab my FREE five-part guide to getting started.
Why Make Chicken Stock at Home?
My mother would no sooner toss out a leftover roasted chicken carcass than she would rob a bank. Consequently, neither would I. But I’m shocked at the number of roast chicken carcasses I’ve seen go in the trash over the years (mind you, I’ve rescued some, too). Is it because people don’t know how to make chicken stock? Or because they think it is too much work?
Making chicken stock is like finding free food. Because you’re using the bones, essentially a waste product from another meal, it costs next to nothing. This is typically what I make, rather than using a whole chicken, purely due to the frugality of it.
Homemade chicken stock/broth eliminates the cans or boxes that store-bought stock comes in, too.
Chicken — You’ll need to decide if you want to make this recipe with the chicken carcass or a combination of bones and meat. If you use just the chicken bones, use two to three carcasses for better flavor. You can use a whole roasted chicken – yes, even store bought rotisserie chicken – or purchase inexpensive chicken parts like legs and wings.
Vegetables — Technically, these are optional. You can easily make a very plain chicken broth or chicken stock recipe without them. But adding veggies adds more flavor. In the recipe below I offer some very specific amounts, but know that this is flexible. Use fresh veggies, wilted veggies salvaged from your produce drawer, or use the trimmed ends of carrots, celery, and onions that you cut off when you’re cooking. (Toss them into a container and stockpile them in the freezer. When you’re ready to make a batch of homemade chicken stock, add those for extra flavor.)
Seasonings — Again, these are optional but can elevate the flavor of your broth. If you plan to use the stock in a variety of recipes, keep it simple. I tend to add bay leaves and a few sprigs of thyme along with salt and pepper. Parsley is another herb that works well for a simple stock.
Vinegar — Increasing the acidity of the broth by adding a bit of vinegar can help draw more nutrients out of the bones.
The Handcrafted Pantry
Ready to DIY your pantry with more wholesome ingredients? Check out my ebook, The Handcrafted Pantry! Filled with delicious recipes for some of your favorite condiments, snacks, and toppings, it’s the guide you need to start skipping packaged products and embrace homemade.
Making Homemade Chicken Stock
This is one of those recipes that can be made in a number of ways, depending on what you have available to cook with and your preferences.
Stove top: Place all of the ingredients in a large stock pot and add cold water to within 3″ of the top. Bring to a simmer, then turn the heat down to low. Keep the lid on the pot and cook for 6-8 hours.
Slow cooker: Place all of the ingredients in the pot of your slow cooker and fill nearly to the rim. Turn the heat to low and cook for 24-48 hours. Personally, I prefer making chicken stock in the slow cooker, since it allows me to cook it longer, drawing out the flavor and nutrients, without worrying about keeping the stove on overnight.
Instant Pot: As with the other methods, you’ll put all of the ingredients in the Instant Pot liner. Add cold water to the maximum fill line. Lock the lid in place and cook on high pressure for 45 minutes. Allow the pressure to release naturally, then remove the lid.
Once cooked, use a slotted spoon to remove the solids from the liquid. If you’ve cooked chicken with meat on the bones, set aside to cool, then use clean hands to remove the meat from the bones for use in other recipes.
Pour the liquid through a fine mesh strainer to remove any remaining solids. Use this homemade stock immediately or store for use in recipes as directed below.
Using this Homemade Chicken Broth
This flavorful stock is a warm, nourishing meal on its own, but when a recipe calls for broth or stock, using your own is easy. Try it in these recipes:
- White Chicken Chili
- Hearty Sausage and Lentil Stew
- Cream of Mushroom Soup
- Creamy Pumpkin Soup
- Chicken Noodle Soup
Refrigerate: Cool broth and store in an airtight container for up to four days in the refrigerator.
To freeze broth: Cool broth and transfer to straight-sided freezer containers. (This will make it easier to access the broth if you forget to plan ahead!) Be sure to allow enough headspace for expansion as the liquid freezes. Go here for more on freezing in glass jars.
Is chicken broth gluten free?
This homemade recipe is naturally gluten free and made without any ingredients that add gluten. Store bought chicken stock may have flavorings and preservatives that include gluten.
Can I make chicken stock from a rotisserie chicken?
Certainly! If you find yourself in a time pinch and leaning on a ready-to-eat chicken, save the bones. A rotisserie chicken works as well as a home roasted chicken for making stock. (Note that a rotisserie chicken might not be gluten free, and homemade stock made with one wouldn’t be gluten free.)
Can you freeze chicken stock?
Absolutely. As mentioned above, it will last in the freezer for about six months. For ease of use, freeze in straight-sided containers that will allow you to ease the frozen broth out before it’s fully thawed. Be sure to allow enough headspace for expansion, especially if you’re using glass jars.
★ Did you make this homemade chicken broth? Don’t forget to give it a star rating below! ★
- 1 whole roasted chicken or 2-3 chicken carcasses
- 1 onion, halved
- 3 large carrots,
- 3 ribs celery
- 4 cloves garlic
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 sprigs fresh thyme
- 1 teaspoon peppercorns
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons vinegar
On the stove top:
- Place all of the ingredients in a large stock pot and add cold water to within 3″ of the top.
- Bring to a simmer, then turn the heat down to low. Keep the lid on the pot and cook for 6-8 hours.
In a slow cooker:
- Place all of the ingredients in the pot of your slow cooker and fill nearly to the rim.
- Turn the heat to low and cook for 24-48 hours.
In an Instant Pot:
- Place all of the ingredients in the Instant Pot liner. Add cold water to the maximum fill line.
- Lock the lid in place and cook on high pressure for 45 minutes.
- Allow the pressure to release naturally, then remove the lid.
Straining the broth:
- Once cooked, use a slotted spoon to remove the solids from the liquid.
- Pour the liquid through a fine mesh strainer to remove any remaining solids. Use this homemade stock immediately, refrigerate for up to 4 days, or freeze up to 6 months.
If you’ve cooked chicken with meat on the bones, set aside to cool, then use clean hands to remove the meat from the bones for use in other recipes.
Use fresh veggies, wilted veggies salvaged from your produce drawer, or use the trimmed ends of carrots, celery, and onions that you cut off when you’re cooking.
For a low sodium chicken broth, skip the salt.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1 cup
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 6Unsaturated Fat: 0gSodium: 10mgCarbohydrates: 1g