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Homemade Chicken Stock

I'm thinking about Thanksgiving already.  That's right - but it's not because I'm so super organized or anything, it's because I've been saving and freezing chicken parts all year and now it's time to make some wonderful homemade chicken stock for Thanksgiving.  (I need the freezer space.)  I usually buy whole chickens, cut the backbones out and cook them this way.  I just freeze these backbones and any other chicken or turkey parts that I may acquire through the year. Then, in the fall, I take them all out and make this super stock. You can also sometimes buy bags of chicken backs in the store - I know Whole Foods sells them. Making homemade stock is basic, easy and something everyone should learn to do.  

The method is very simple.  I like to roast the bones first in the oven to give them a richer flavor.  Then the bones are added to some aromatics, covered with water and simmered on the stove a good long while.

One great thing about using this stock for Thanksgiving gravy is that I can reduce it down even further for flavor when the big day comes.  If I take out the stock, strain it again and then put it on the stove, uncovered and let it simmer a good long while, it gets even richer.  When I make gravy out of this stock, it's something really special.

When you're making the stock, be prepared for lots of oohs and aahs.  Your house will absolutely smell like Thanksgiving Day.  

Homemade Chicken Stock 

Exact quantities simply do not matter in a recipe like this.  Only have 5 pounds of chicken bones?  That's fine. Want to use 6 carrots?  Go ahead.

The exact quantity that this will yield will depend on how long you cook the stock and how far down it reduces. I had about 10 cups of stock.

for a printable version click here


  • 6 pounds of chicken bones (backbones, necks, also you can throw in gizzards and hearts)
  • 2 onions, quartered
  • 4 celery sticks
  • 4 carrots 
  • 1 tablespoon whole peppercorns
  • 4 bay leaves
  • a few springs parsley
  • about 20 cups of water 


Equally distribute chicken parts and vegetables on two baking trays (cover your trays with foil to make them easier to clean).  Roast at 400 degrees for about 1 hour. Transfer everything to a very large stockpot and add the rest of the ingredients.  Bring up to a slight boil, lower heat and simmer gently, uncovered for about 2 hours.

Strain into large bowls through a fine sieve.  If you like, strain again through cheesecloth, to remove any finer bits.  Cool completely in the refrigerator.  

After the stock is completely cooled, remove layer of fat from the top.  Transfer to plastic containers and freeze for up to 3 months.

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Reader Comments (19)

Homemade chicken stock is a staple at my house. I like to make it in large quantities and then freeze it. Your version using the roasted chicken parts sounds and looks very rich and flavorful. I am going to try it. Thank you so much.

September 24, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJulie

I had heard of roasting the chicken bones, but had not heard of roasting the vegetables with them. What a great idea! Thank you!

September 24, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKath

After I skim the fat off of my stock, I then reduce it so I can freeze it in ice cube trays. One cube = 1 cup of stock. After it is frozen, I can store it in a freezer bag and I save a ton of freezer space.

September 24, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLarry M. Leitner

I am excited for Thanksgiving too. One of my favorite holidays. You can't go wrong with family, friends, and good food. Great post!

September 24, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMaria

I make homemade chicken broth all the time. (Sometimes I make stock by throwing in carrots, celery, a bay leaf, and some pepper.) I just love rotisserie chicken from the local grocer. I bring it home and toss the skin and bones into a pot with the bits of "meat" clinging to the bones and simmer for an hour or two. I end up with about six cups of broth. I bag the broth in single ziplock bags and freeze. My favorite use for these bagged treasures is to make rice.

September 24, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKJ

I'm such a firm believer of making things from scratch and try to use things homemade as much as I can but can you believe I've never tried making chicken stock at home? Maybe because we don't use it a lot in Indian cooking that it never crossed my mind that I shuld make it at home. Will give your recipe a try.
Thanks for sharing!

September 24, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterPrerna@IndianSimmer

Just as you've encouraged me to try my first loaf of bread, my first jar of Nutella, anchovies, panchetta and others, this is no different. Thank you for giving me the courage to try wonderful dishes, I cannot wait to make chicken stock for the first time :)

Cindy Robinson

September 24, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterCindy

I make stock in almost exactly the same way, but I also add garlic, salt and pepper, and a few sprigs of thyme if I have it. After cooling it and skimming off the fat I bag it in sandwich sized zip lock bags and put it in the freezer. It is very easy to grab a portion of frozen stock from the freezer when you need it. I use scissors to cut the plastic bag off of the frozen ice chunk if it does not come off easily.

BTW you have a great site with lovely photographs. I am making the vanilla extract this year for Christmas gifts. Thanks for your efforts!

September 24, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBeth

I make stock often and never considered roasting the chicken parts and veggies in advance of simmering them. Is there a reason you use foil instead of parchment paper? The latter seems greener to me. Also, do you roast poultry parts that are already cooked?

Thanks for your excellent presentation on chicken stock.

September 24, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDeb

One of my favorite uses of chicken stock for Thanksgiving is for our stuffing. My mother in law gave me her recipe (I don't have it posted yet), and it is out of this world. Sometimes if I'm in a rush for a stock or broth, I just boil a few chicken breasts and then shred them or cut them up. Perfect for making a chicken soup!

September 24, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLiz @ SimpleItalianCooking

From The Italian Dish:

Deb: If you want to use parchment paper, that would be probably be fine. I use foil because I can wrap it all around the edges of the pan, so there's no clean up afterward. Also, the poultry is raw when I roast it.

September 24, 2010 | Registered Commenter[Elaine]

I've used this idea for years for chicken parts, beef bones, etc. But another trick I learned long ago was to keep a freezer bag full of vegetable trimmings, adding to them every day, and then using them as the veg in my stocks. I also make vegetable stock with them.
The main thing to remember is these trimmings must be clean, fresh and blemish free: anything else must go in the compost bin.
Here is a list of what I usually save and freeze: carrot ends and tips (peels are too bitter), onion skins and first layers, onion ends, garlic cloves--the tiny ones you don't want to peel, parsley stems (and other herbs), tomato and bell pepper trimmings, fennel trimmings, zucchini ends, and any other leftover vegetables you don't think you'll get cooked.
I don't even defrost them when I need them. They go straight into the pan and get roasted alone or with the meat, making the base for flavorful, nutritious stocks for many uses.

September 24, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterNina

Found your blog after seeing your TWEET about BlogHerFood. Hope to meet you there! I am a food lover and especially all things Italian. I've been using Ina Garten's chicken stock recipe the last couple of times I've made stock and it's really rich and gelatinous and makes a wonderful base for gravy, soups, and so many other things. But I love your idea about roasting the chicken and veggies first. It's done all the time for beef stock so why not chicken, as long as you're not using whole chickens (which I do with Ina's recipe).

Thanks for a great post and look forward to meeting you in San Francisco!

September 26, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterOMG! Yummy

From The Italian Dish:

Yummy: I'll look forward to meeting you in San Francisco at BlogHer Food!

September 26, 2010 | Registered Commenter[Elaine]

Hmmm, didn't think I would be so excited about stock. Unbelievable, I can smell it now! You make me want thanksgiving to come sooner. Never have I roasted the chicken to male stock, but it makes sense since I make my chicken soup with leftover roasted chicken.

September 26, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMiranda Merten

I am new to your blog and I am in love with it! Thank you so much for all the wonderful information that you give us. You have inspired me to bake bread again & make homemade stock again, only better this time.

September 27, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDebbie H

Your chicken stock looks absolutely delicious. I've made chicken stock before, but have never roasted the chicken and vegetables first. I love that idea! My family is a chicken soup making family and I'm excited to try making your version and sharing the secret with them!! Thank you for the great recipe!

Just found your blog and I love your photography. I'm always looking for a way to make Thanksgiving more special, I can almost smell the aroma of what you've described. Thanks- I've also learned a lot from those who have commented. I'll be checking this blog more often.
(btw, I have 3 boys as well- the youngest is 7 months- do you ever blog about how to survive?, lol)

September 28, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKaren Jenkins

Roasting intensifies the flavor so much. I have a bag of backbones and wings piling up in my freezer.t I intend to do just this! You really are an inspiration Elaine!

September 28, 2010 | Unregistered Commentermarie

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