How to Make Chicken Stock (and Why You Should)

Learn tips for how to make broth and find recipes for homemade broth, beef broth and chicken broth.

Two mason jars filled to the brim with chicken broth on a wooden kitchen table with one also on top of a white plate and blue checkered napkin

Got chicken stock in the fridge? You’ve got a leg up on dinner. Turn it into a soup with just about any meat or veggies you have on hand, simmer it with rice for a nourishing risotto, pour it over a casserole or add it to your favorite grain. Check out more meals that turn into a week’s worth of dinners.

Why make chicken stock at home? It’s easy, for one (you’ll see how easy, below). Homemade stock has a velvety texture and full flavor that the canned stuff (let alone bouillon cubes) can’t touch. Collagen-rich and laced with vegetables and herbs, homemade is also healthy, whereas commercial stock is laden with preservatives and salt. (Plenty of grocery store items are better made at home.)

We suggest making stock on a weekend morning. Just dump the ingredients into the pot and go about your day. By afternoon, the stock will be done, and your fridge will be loaded up for the week. Here’s how it’s done.

You’ll need:
2-1/2 pounds bony chicken pieces (legs, wings, necks or back bones)
Aromatic vegetables, to add flavor. You can use most vegetables (or even scraps left in your crisper). Our basic recipe calls for:
2 celery ribs, cut into chunks
2 medium carrots, cut into chunks
2 medium onions, quartered
Spices. We use a few classics:
2 bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary, crushed
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
8 to 10 whole peppercorns
2 quarts cold water

Test Kitchen tip: While you can experiment by swapping in your favorite herbs and spices, it’s a good idea to stick to small amounts. The stock’s long simmering time will extract a lot of flavor, so too much spice can overpower the finished stock. Plus, stock is meant to be a base from which to build flavors for a variety of recipes. You can always add more seasonings later.
Chicken and vegetables together in a large pot as a person pours water over them

Step 1:  Prep and combine all ingredients

Everything goes into the pot at once, so the first step is slicing and measuring the ingredients. As they’re ready, put them into a Dutch oven or stockpot. Pour the water over all.

Step 2:  Bring to a boil, and immediately reduce heat

Set the pot over medium heat and slowly bring to a boil. Once it’s boiling, reduce the heat and simmer.
The liquid in the pot is now simmering and a person is using a spoon to fish out bits of collagen to place into a small bowl

Step 3:  Simmer slowly to extract flavor

Simmer, uncovered, for 3-4 hours. The longer stock simmers, the more collagen is extracted, giving the finished stock a full, silky texture (instead of a watery one).

Foam will rise to the top and drift to the edges of the pot; skim it away with a spoon and discard.

Person pouring the finished broth through a strainer over top a glass bowl using a large spoonPerson pouring the finished broth through a strainer over top a glass bowl by holding up the pot to pour directly down

Step 4:  Strain and save the meat

After a few hours, the stock should smell amazing and have a nice golden brown hue. In short, it’s done!

Now it’s time to strain the stock. To do this, set up a large bowl with a fine mesh-strainer over it. Remove the larger pieces of meat and vegetables with tongs or a ladle. Once most of the solids have been removed, lift the pot and carefully pour the rest of the stock out.

Test Kitchen tip: Strain twice if you’ve missed some bits; for extra-clear stock, lay a piece of cheesecloth over the strainer.

Test Kitchen tip: We like to save the meat. It makes a good filler for chicken salad, casseroles, tacos and more, making weeknight dinner easy. Pull the chicken out with tongs and set aside. Once it’s cool enough to handle, cut the meat from the bones. (Discard the bones; they’ve given up their flavor to the stock. Discard the vegetables and seasonings, too.)

Step 5:  Let cool and skim the fat

If you plan to use the stock immediately, you’re in luck, because it’s ready to eat. Keep in mind: The warmer the stock, the more difficult it is to remove the fat. You will see oily rounds of it floating on the surface; scoop them away and discard.
Person using a spoon on their cooled broth to pull away the fat

Not eating the stock right away? It’s easier to remove the fat once it’s cooled. Let the stock cool slightly at room temperature. (You should never put steaming food into the fridge. Here are a few more important fridge tips.) I like to pour stock into a few shallow storage containers, and if I’m in a hurry, I toss in a few ice cubes to cool it quicker.

Refrigerate for 8 hours or overnight. While it cools, a hard layer of fat will form on the surface. This is easy to pull away with a spoon.
A clear line cuts through the top of the cooled broth where the spoon has been dragged through the fat

Test Kitchen tip: Chicken fat (or schmaltz) is delicious. You can use it like butter, to cook eggs or spread on toast. Keep it in a tightly sealed container in the fridge.

Step 6:  Store

Stock will keep in the fridge, tightly covered, for four to five days.

If you want to keep it around longer, seal tightly in a freezer-safe container and freeze. It’ll keep for up to a year this way. (Did you know you can freeze your favorite summer produce?)

Fun fact: Chefs and home cooks alike often use the terms broth and stock interchangeably. To be 100% accurate, stock refers to liquid made from bones, fat, meat and vegetables. Broth is made with just meat and vegetables. Stock is what most people are after when they make this flavorful liquid at home.

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James Schend
As Taste of Home’s Deputy Editor, Culinary, James oversees the Food Editor team, recipe contests and Bakeable, and manages all food content for Trusted Media Brands. Prior to this position, James worked in the kitchen of Williams-Sonoma and Southern Living. An honor graduate of The Culinary Institute of America, he has traveled the world searching for great food in all corners of life.