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Homemade soups are even more delicious when you start with a homemade Chicken Stock!
I’ve mentioned before that my husband Jack makes a lot of soups at our house. This basic, homemade Chicken Stock recipe is the one he makes as the starting point for every one of his wonderful chicken soup recipes.
This recipe makes a great big pot of four quarts of delicious chicken stock. Jack will prepare a soup recipe with half of the stock the day he first makes it – then he freezes the rest for a different soup on another day. (We always have a bag or two of chicken stock in the freezer!)
Below we’re sharing ALL of Jack’s tips and tricks to make the best homemade Chicken Stock.
What kind of chicken should I use to make homemade Chicken Stock?
Selecting the right kind of chicken – a fryer (don’t use a roaster!) – is critical when making a chicken stock to ensure that your results are as rich and flavorful as possible. Fryers are younger chickens so they are mostly bone, and the bone is what gives chicken stock the best flavor.
We supplement the fryer with additional chicken wings and turkey necks and wings. OR – if you can find them – my husband swears by adding chicken feet which are among the most flavorful parts of the bird and give a particularly gelatinous and thick quality to the stock.
(I know – the thought of chicken feet isn’t the most appealing. You should see our daughter’s face when Jack comes home with a bag of chicken feet!) But if you can get past those thoughts and include the feet, you’ll be delighted at how good your chicken stock tastes. Occasionally we’ve been able to find chicken feet at our local supermarket, but the best place to buy them is at an Asian supermarket where chicken feet are more commonplace.)
Because we make homemade Chicken Stock all the time – we also save necks and backs, as well as chicken and turkey carcasses from other recipes. For example, after we’ve eaten a roasted a chicken or turkey, or even a store-bought rotisserie chicken, we will save the carcass in a zipper seal bag in the freezer – then when it’s time to make this stock, we add them in with the other ingredients. The leftover bones help intensify the flavor. (And we sometimes even do the same with vegetable scraps – saving celery, carrots, onion and parsley stems in the freezer until it is time to make some stock.)
If you have leftovers from opening a canned stock, you can freeze that too – then add it to the pot when making homemade chicken stock. If you do this, however, just be aware that some canned stocks are very salty so you might want to adjust the amount of salt you add.
- Large stock pot (ours is 10-quarts)
- Soup Ladle
- Spider strainer
- Sheet pan(s) – large and small
- Large strainer or colander
- Extra large mixing bowl or other large container
- Large fine mesh strainer (optional)
- Fat separator
How to Make Chicken Stock
Place all of the chicken parts into a large stock pot along with garlic, Spanish onions, carrots, celery, kosher salt, whole black pepper corns, bay leaves, a small bunch of fresh, flat-leaf parsley plus enough cold water to cover the ingredients in the pot (about 4-6 quarts).
It will take about 30 to 45 minutes to come to a boil – but stay close by. Foam and other impurities will start to float to the top of your chicken stock as it heats. Use a ladle or large spoon to skim off this foam. Taking the time to do this step will give you clearer chicken stock in the end.
Once the chicken stock comes to a boil, reduce your heat to medium and let it simmer uncovered for about 3* hours. (Your kitchen will smell amazing while it simmers!)
Use a spider strainer to remove the large solids from the liquid and place them on a sheet pan to cool. Then CAREFULLY pour the liquid through the strainer that has been placed over a large mixing bowl or other container. (You can do this step over the sink to avoid spills and splashes if you prefer.)
At this point, you can discard the onions, parsley, bay leaves and peppercorns – but save the chicken, picking the meat off the bones to add to your soup if you’d like. You can also use the cooked carrots and celery in your soup – although many of our own soup recipes will have you start with a new batch of vegetables.
If you want your chicken stock extra clear, pour the stock through a fine mesh strainer placed over a large bowl. This will remove any last, smaller particles that didn’t strain out the first time.
A quick and easy way to cool chicken stock
At this point, pour the chicken stock back into the stock pot and let it cool a bit before placing it in the refrigerator. (Jack has a great method to speed up this process – he places the pot into a sink half full of ice water and stirs the stock in the pot. As the ice melts in the sink, he adds more ice to the water – and continues this process until the stock has cooled enough to refrigerate.) The heat from the pot transfers to the water rather quickly, bringing down the stock temperature and raising the water temperature. This method is standard in all commercial kitchens.
Now that your chicken stock has cooled a bit, you will start to see fat rising to the top. You can use a fat separator and strain off the fat.
Or, pour the chicken stock into a bowl or container and chill overnight. The fat will solidify on top of the stock in the bowl – then simply use a spoon to scrape it off.
You can discard the fat – or, use it to make Chicken Liver Pâté! (Chicken fat is also referred to as schmaltz.)
After all of this – you’ll be left with a thick gelatinous chicken stock that will liquify again once heated. A really good chicken stock should have a gelatinous texture – this is the essence of what a meat stock should be and is caused by the collagen in the bones that you cooked. (You won’t see this in any canned stocks!)
How to store homemade chicken stock
Use some of this homemade Chicken Stock to make some of our delicious soup recipes (here’s a link to our soup archives) or other recipes calling for chicken stock.
Pour the extra stock into zipper seal bags and freeze for later use. Once you’ve poured the stock into the zipper seal bag, seal – squeezing out as much air as possible – then lay the bag flat on a small baking sheet. Place the baking sheet in the freezer until the chicken stock is frozen. Then, store the frozen bags of stock as convenient in your freezer. Chicken stock will last for several months in the freezer.
You may enjoy these Soup recipes made with our homemade Chicken Stock:
- Creamy Chicken and Rice Soup
- Flu Chaser Chicken Soup
- Greek Lemon Chicken Soup with Orzo
- Thai Coconut Chicken Soup
- Italian Chicken Soup with Meatballs and Escarole
1 whole 4-5-pound frying chicken or fowl, gizzards discarded
5 chicken feet, or 4 chicken wings, or one turkey wing
1 large or four small turkey necks, or one turkey leg
2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
1 large Spanish onion cut in quarters (don’t use sweet onion)
3 large carrots cut into chunks about 1 ½ cups (peel only if the skin is dark or dirty)
2 large stalks celery cut into chunks, about one cup
Few celery leaves
1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
½ teaspoon whole black peppercorns
2 bay leaves
1 small bunch of flat leaf parsley
4–6 quarts cold water (enough to cover)
Place all ingredients into a large stock pot and bring to a boil (our pot is 10 quarts). It will take 30-45 minutes to come to a boil. Just before it reaches a boil, skim the foam that floats to the top and discard. I use a ladle to scoop up the foam. The foam contains impurities and should be discarded.
Reduce heat to a medium simmer and cook for three hours uncovered.
Strain the stock from the solids using a colander and discard the onion, parsley, bay leaf and peppercorns but save the chicken, and other vegetables. Further strain the stock through a fine mesh strainer to remove any particles that passed through the colander holes.
Remove skin and debone the chicken and reserve the chicken meat for recipes using cooked chicken, or freeze in an air tight zipper seal bag.
Optional…Press the carrots, celery and garlic through a fine mesh strainer into the stock and stir. This makes for a heartier stock but is optional because it also makes it cloudy and changes the finished flavor somewhat.
Discard any pulp left in the strainer. Cool the stock, remove and discard the fat that floats to the top and use stock for any recipe calling for a good chicken stock. (See post above with instructions and photos showing how to separate the fat and store the stock.)
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Egg shells can be added as the stock cooks. These will help clarify the stock. You should do this for delicate recipes calling for a clear broth. (The shells will be removed from the stock as you strain it.)
*If you are making this stock for a special soup, stew or pot pie, and will be using the meat for your recipe, use a large spider or strainer and remove the whole chicken after one hour of simmering. Cut off the two breast halves from the chicken and place the remaining carcass back into the pot for the remainder of the cooking time. By doing this, you can save the breast meat and cut into chunks later for your recipe. If left in for the three hours, the meat will still be great, it will however shred.