The BEST Chicken Stock Recipe

homemade chicken stock recipe

This is hands-down the best homemade chicken stock recipe I’ve ever had.

This is my mom’s chicken stock recipe. She used to make it almost every weekend in the cold months when I was growing up. I’ve tried variations but I always come back to this tried-and-true version.

There’s a reason chicken stock is the base of so many soups and sauces—it has a delicious savory flavor and is incredibly nutritious. It’s used frequently in healthy soup recipes, gravy, and pan sauces for dishes like Chicken Picatta.

Just like homemade veggie stock from scratch and other stock recipes, you can genuinely tell the difference between homemade and store-bought chicken stock.

I’m giving you a lot of details here so you can use what you have on hand and make different variations of homemade stock, so you can jump to a specific section if you need it:

Jump to:

Basic Chicken Stock from Scratch

The basic recipe for chicken stock from scratch is simply simmering chicken bones in a pot with water, vegetables, and aromatics—aka the carrot, celery, onion, herbs, whole peppercorns, and spices that help to flavor your stock.

The stock will develop part of its nutrition profile from the veggies and aromatics, but the most significant healing factor in stock is the minerals, collagen, and gelatin extracted from the chicken bones while they simmer.

Adding some vinegar, lemon, or something acidic to your stock recipe helps extract the good stuff out of the bones. If you simmer it long enough, you’re essentially making homemade bone broth.

Chicken Stock Recipe in jar

Use a Whole Chicken or Chicken Parts

There are a few options for the chicken base of your stock.

  • A whole raw chicken: The chicken stock recipe in the printable recipe carb below uses a whole chicken. You can use the leftover meat in another dish, like chicken noodle soup, chicken salad, or chicken lettuce wraps.
  • Chicken carcass from roasting a whole bird: You can make this recipe with any leftover bones or the whole chicken carcass after you roast a whole chicken (or turkey for turkey stock). When you roast a chicken or turkey, remove all of the meat, then use the leftover bones & skin (the entire carcass) in your stock.
  • Individual pieces: If you roast individual bone-in chicken pieces like bone-in chicken breasts, whole legs, wings and/or thighs, use the meat and put all of the bones and skin leftover into the pot with your vegetables and aromatics.

This chicken stock recipe is beyond simple, even for first-timers! The prep time is minimal and your chicken stock can just simmer away while you prepare other food or go on with your day (or even while you sleep).

Vegetables in Chicken Stock

The main veggies in traditional chicken stock are:

  • white or yellow onion
  • carrots
  • celery

The main aromatics are:

  • whole peppercorns
  • bay leaf
  • herbs like thyme, parsley and/or dill

Other additions can include fennel bulb, whole garlic cloves, and mushroom stems to enrich your broth.

Fennel will add an anise flavor to your stock so only use that if you love the taste of fennel. Garlic can be a nice addition to your stock, just be mindful that whatever you use your stock for will have a garlicky flavor. Mushroom stems leftover from mushrooms in another recipe will add a nice umami richness to your stock.

Chicken Stock in mason jars

The Difference Between Stock, Broth, & Bone Broth

Are chicken broth and chicken stock the same thing? Yes, pretty much. Chicken broth and chicken stock are essentially the same things. If you ask 10 chefs what the difference between stock and broth is, you’ll probably get 10 different answers.

For the sake of this post, I’m going to say that stock and broth are the same thing.

Just like stock and broth, there isn’t a strict definition between regular broth and bone broth. The most significant difference is probably the vinegar and the amount of time that you let it simmer.

You can make a wonderful stock in as little as 4-6 hours which is great for your health. To get the maximum benefit and flavor from the bones, simmer for at least 12-24 hours.

If you want to turn your chicken stock recipe into traditional bone broth, you should add as many extra bones as possible. Ask your butcher for any leftover bones (even chicken feet!) that they have behind the counter. Add a tablespoon of vinegar, then simmer for 12-24 hours.

How to Make Chicken Stock

The printable version of this recipe is below.

Step 1: Get a Whole Chicken (or Chicken Parts)

I like to ask the butcher counter to remove the bag of organs for me since you don’t need that for your stock. Some people use it and that’s fine, but the organs can change the flavor so I don’t use them in this dish.

Celery, Carrot, Onion, Chicken, Thyme in Pot

Step 2: Fill the Pot

In the largest pot you have (preferably at least 6 quarts), place the whole chicken (make sure there isn’t any paper in the cavity), the veggies and aromatics in the pot, then cover with water being sure to leave a few inches above the water so it doesn’t boil over.

It will look something like this when you put it on the stove to come up to a simmer:

whole chicken and veggies in pot on stove

Again, you could also make this recipe using just the chicken bones (with the meat removed) after roasting a whole chicken or pieces of chicken.

If you ever roast a whole chicken or turkey, simply use whatever is left from the whole chicken after removing the meat (bones, skin, and juices all make great additions to your stock)!

3. Bring to a Boil, Reduce to Simmer

Set it on the stove, bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Allow it to simmer for at least 4 and up to 24 hours.

*If you use a whole chicken, remove the meat from the chicken after about 2 hours (once it’s cooked through) to prevent overcooking it. After you remove the meat—be sure to get all of the breast meat, leg meat, and thigh meat—put everything back in the pot to continue cooking the stock.

To remove the meat from the whole chicken, follow these steps:

  1. Carefully remove the whole chicken from the pot and set it on a large cutting board. It will be very hot, so let it cool a bit before you handle it.
  2. Use two forks or a knife to remove as much of the cooked chicken meat as possible. The meat will be nicely poached. You can shred it or just cut it up.
  3. Put the meat in an airtight glass container. Let it come to room temperature before storing it in the refrigerator, where you can keep it for up to three days. You can also use it right away after your stock is done if making soup.
  4. BE SURE to place all of the bones, skin, juices, and everything else back into the pot after removing the meat to continue making chicken stock.

Let it simmer for at least another 2 hours, or up to 24 hours. The longer you simmer the stock, the more flavorful and nutritious it will be.

Chicken Stock Simmering on Stove

Step 4: Simmer 4-24 Hours, Then Strain

Keep the pot covered with a lid while it simmers to prevent your stock from evaporating. If you notice the liquid reducing too much, you can add a few cups of water at any time during the process.

After simmering for at least 4 hours in total, strain your stock through a fine-mesh strainer, colander, or cheesecloth into a large bowl or pot.

Discard everything that was in the pot except the liquid you just strained. The veggies, herbs, and bones are no longer usable for other recipes (they should be really soggy and cooked down—they’ve served their purpose!).

Chicken Stock in a CrockPot

CrockPot owners, rejoice! You can follow the above directions but use a slow-cooker (aka Crockpot) instead.

  1. Add all of the ingredients and water to your CrockPot.
  2. Turn the heat to high until it comes to a simmer—probably about 2 hours. It will take a while to simmer, as the slow-cooker heats at a slower pace than your stovetop.
    • Remove the meat once it’s cooked through, roughly 2.5-3.5 hours in. (Skip this if using chicken parts or a chicken carcass.)
  3. Add everything back in just like the method above. Let it all simmer on LOW for 4-24 hours.
  4. Keep it covered and let it simmer as long as you’d like. You may want to add another cup or two of filtered water if too much liquid evaporates.

All slow-cookers are different. You may want to leave it on high if it’s not gently simmering on low. I leave mine on low overnight after being set on high for about 3 hours and put it on low evernight.

To store, let it come to room temperature. Then store in quart containers in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or in the freezer for up to 6 months.

If freezing, freeze in portions that will be useful to use in recipes, like 2-cup (1-pint) or 4-cup (1-quart) containers.

Chicken Stock in an InstantPot

Yes, you can make chicken stock in a pressure cooker like an InstantPot. To do it:

  • Place all of the ingredients in your instant pot and fill with enough water to just cover everything, being sure not to fill the pressure cooker more than about ⅔ full (a pressure cooker can’t come up to pressure if it’s too full). That means you may have to reduce the ingredients or cut the chicken parts in half if you had a big chicken.
  • Set to pressure cook on high for 40 minutes.
  • It will take about 20 minutes to come up to pressure, and do a natural release for 30 minutes. All in, it will take about 90-100 minutes to make chicken stock in a pressure cooker.

Print

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Chicken Stock Recipe in jar

Best-Ever Chicken Stock Recipe


  • Author:
    Healing Picks

  • Prep Time:
    10 mins

  • Cook Time:
    4 hours

  • Total Time:
    5 hours 10 mins

  • Yield:
    4 quarts 1x

  • Category:
    Soup, Healthy

  • Method:
    Simmer

  • Cuisine:
    American

Description

This chicken stock recipe was a staple in my home growing up. I remember my mom making chicken stock on the stove every weekend, all winter long. Use it as the base of soups, stews, gravies, or sauces, or sip it plain for a nourishing, savory treat.


  • 1 whole chicken (3-5 pounds), any paper inside removed
  • 1 white or yellow onion, quartered
  • 2 large carrots, scrubbed or peeled and cut in half
  • 23 celery ribs, with leaves if possible
  • 34 garlic cloves, smashed open or cut in half
  • 1 large bay leaf
  • 35 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 5 stems fresh parsley (about 1 small handful)
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon whole black peppercorns
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • enough filtered water to fill the pot

Instructions

  1. Place a 6- to 8-quart pot with a tight-fitting lid on the stovetop. I use a 6-quart pot for a 4- or 5-pound chicken.
  2. Remove the paper pouch that contains the organs if it’s still in the chicken. Use in another recipe or discard.
  3. Add all ingredients to the pot. Clean the veggies but it’s ok to leave the skin on the onion and carrots. Cover with filtered cold water to about an inch below the top.
  4. Put a tight-fitting lid on the pot.
  5. Set it on the stove and bring it to a boil. This takes about 10-20 minutes.
  6. Immediately reduce to a simmer. Simmer for at least 4 hours or up to 24 hours. The longer the simmer, the better the flavor.
  7. If you use a whole chicken, remove the meat from the chicken after 2 hours to prevent overcooking it. (See the sections above for my method to remove the meat).
  8. Keep the pot covered to prevent your stock from evaporating. If you notice the liquid reducing too much, you can add a few cups of water at any time during the process.
  9. After simmering for at least 4 hours in total, strain your stock through a fine-mesh sieve, strainer, or cheesecloth into a large bowl, pot, or a large stockpot. Simmer up to 24 hours for more flavor before straining.
  10. Discard everything that was in the pot except the liquid you just strained. The veggies, for example, are beyond saving, but they served a very good purpose.

CrockPot Method:

  1. Follow the above directions, but use a slow cooker instead. Add all of the ingredients and water to your slow-cooker
  2. Turn on high heat until it comes to a simmer—probably about 2 hours. It will take a while to simmer as the slow-cooker heats at a slower pace than your stovetop.
  3. Remove the meat once it’s cooked through, roughly 2-3 hours in.
  4. Add everything back in just like the method above. Let it all simmer on low for 4-24 hours.
  5. Just keep it covered and let it simmer as long as you’d like. You may want to add another cup or two of filtered water if too much liquid evaporates.

All slow-cookers are different. You may want to leave it on high if it’s not gently simmering on low. I leave mine on low overnight after setting it on high for about 3 hours, and it simmers all night. (The house smells fantastic in the morning!)

InstantPot Method:

  • Place all of the ingredients in your instant pot and fill with enough water to just cover everything, being sure not to fill the pressure cooker more than about ⅔ full (a pressure cooker can’t come up to pressure if it’s too full). That means you may have to reduce the ingredients or cut the chicken parts in half if you had a big chicken.
  • Set to pressure cook on high for 40 minutes. 
  • It will take about 20 minutes to come up to pressure, and do a natural release for 30 minutes. All in, it will take about 90-100 minutes to make chicken stock in a pressure cooker.

Notes

  • This method uses a whole chicken. You can also use this recipe with just the chicken bones, skin, and whole carcass of a roasted chicken
  • Use your stock right away to make homemade chicken soup or any other delicious recipe. It’s also great to sip plain in a mug with a big pinch of sea salt.
  • To store, let it come to room temperature, then store it in quart containers. You can refrigerate it for up to 3 days or freeze it for up to 6 months.
  • If freezing, store the chicken stock in portions that will be useful in recipes, like 2-cup or 4-cup containers.

Keywords: Chicken Stock Recipe, Homemade Chicken Stock, Stock, Bone Broth

Chicken Stock FAQ

Can I use a rotisserie chicken to make chicken stock?

I don’t recommend it. For one, the bones on a rotisserie chicken are really small. But the bigger issue is that it is coated in oil (probably an unhealthy oil) and seasoning (which probably has anti-caking agents and other things that don’t go well in stock. Chicken stock is best made with raw chicken or the extra bones and skin of a chicken that you’ve roasted at home. That said if there is a lot of oil left on a chicken you roasted at home, rinse it off with water as best as possible before using it in stock.

Is it better to use raw chicken or roasted chicken for stock?

Both make for a great stock. Using a whole raw chicken or raw parts is sometimes easier and faster and can yield a great stock. Some people say that the bones from a roasted chicken make for a deeper flavor, but I don’t think it’s hugely noticeable. I like like to make stock as it fits into my meal plans. If I roast a whole chicken for dinner, I use the leftover bones for stock. If I want to make chicken soup from scratch and I don’t have stock, I’ll use a whole raw chicken. See the chicken soup video above to see the whole process.

How long should I simmer chicken stock?

I think 4 hours minimum can give your chicken stock a good flavor if you want to make soup and need it more quickly. If I make it on the stove, I let it simmer 4-8 hours. I almost always let it simmer 24 hours if I use a CrockPot. I’ve even started it on the stove and moved it to a CrockPot, though, I don’t do that often because it creates more dishes than necessary.

Chicken Stock Recipe Suggestions

What can I use chicken stock for? You can use chicken stock for hundreds of delicious recipes, including:

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