This chicken stock recipe makes everything better in your kitchen. It’s the foundation ingredient we all need and is something I’m never without. I make it in large batches, freeze it in different sized containers and use it as needed.
At its most basic level, making chicken stock is beyond easy and you’ll end up with a beautiful golden liquid that will enhance the flavour of soups, stews and sauces. All you need to do is throw everything into a large stock pot, cover with water and simmer for 3-6 hours, until it’s reduced and ready to strain.
What could be easier?
Why home made stock is best
Home made stock is so much better than anything you’ll buy from the supermarket. It simply tastes better, plus it’s packed with nutrients and protein from being cooked with bones and vegetables.
It’s the perfect base for soups, broths, braises, risottos and paellas – just to name a few uses!
Some different ways of making this chicken stock recipe
I make mine a few different ways, sometimes on the stovetop and sometimes in my Instant Pot pressure cooker.
I normally use chicken carcasses from the chicken shop at the local market, which sells three carcasses for $1. So it’s super-inexpensive and it’s putting to use the leftover product after the butcher removes the breasts, legs, thighs and wings.
Or when I’m poaching a whole chicken for dinner, I’ll make sure I pimp up the cooking water with the flavouring ingredients – also known as aromats – and after cooking and removing the chicken, I strain the liquid and that’s a wonderful stock too. You will find that when it sets there’s more fat on top, but as with the carcass method, just remove that and you have light, almost fat free stock.
A little preparation, a long slow cook
The following recipe may give the impression that you have to spend hours and hours slaving in the kitchen. You don’t!
If you opt for the brown stock, the preparation time is about 15 minutes hands on. When it’s all in the pot, it cooks itself and then the straining time takes another 10 minutes or so.
If you opt for a light stock option, your prep time is around 10 minutes. You’ll need to skim the scum off as it warms up, but that’s about 30 seconds a few times as it heats.
The real time commitment is just to let it do its thing and make sure it’s simmering nice and gently for the whole cooking time.
Some extra notes to make things better
About chicken carcasses
I’ve been buying and using chicken carcasses for stock for about 15 years and find three (or four) is a good number for achieving a tasty stock with some gelling when it cools. I’m too impatient to reduce it down to a really gelled consistency, so tend to end up with a more liquid stock.
Carcasses often sold in local butchers or markets and you’ll usually find them in bags ranging in price for $1 for three, which is what I pay at my local market through to $1 each.
The carcass is a great no-waste way to use the bones once the butcher has cut away the meaty pieces, such as breasts and thighs and they are an excellent key ingredient for your stock.
Whole chickens and pieces
Another way to make the most from a chicken and get a pot of stock afterwards is to use a whole chicken, or cheaper chicken cuts, such as marylands. There is some bone for the gelatine, but there’s plenty of meat too.
This will give you a dinner of tasty and tender boiled chicken with the added bonus of a good flavoursome stock to strain and add to your freezer or use as soup with any leftover chicken meat.
You’ll note in my recipe that I don’t add any additional herbs or flavourings. I do this because I like to keep the stock as neutral as possible so it can be used for a variety of cuisines. Don’t confuse neutral with bland, especially if you caramelise your onions and roast the carcasses. I can drink it as-is, it’s so good. You can add herbs if you like and know what you’re using the stock for.
For example, I wouldn’t use thyme or rosemary in an Asian chicken soup stock, nor would I use ginger in a stock that I inteded for Italian minestrone or Spanish paella! These flavours can all be added to the meal you’re cooking.
The art of a gentle simmer
It’s important you don’t let the stock cook at a rapid, rolling boil because that will cause more cloudiness in the finished result. Instead, just let a fine layer of little bubbles rumble across the surface so it retains its ability to release steam but doesn’t disturb the contents too much. Alternatively, cook in a pressure cooker.
To gel or not to gel
The longer you simmer and reduce your stock, the more likely it will be to have a jelly-like consistency when strained and set. This is a good thing! It means it’s been cooked long enough for excess liquid to evaporate and the collagen from the bones to release into the broth, leaving you with a fuller flavour and jelly-like wobble when it’s cold. If it’s not like jelly, that’s okay too.
Cooling and storing
As noted in the recipe, the quicker you can cool the stock, the sooner it can go into the fridge to become cold. This prevents bacteria from causing any nasties – and we don’t want that.
Once cold, you can ladle it into containers and freeze. It should be used from the freezer in about 3-4 months.
Suitable containers can be zip lock bags, preferably silicone so they can be washed in hot water and reused. These are great as they don’t take up too much space in the freezer. If you have a variety of lidded containers, you can also use those.
I tend to use different sized containers from one litre down to about 100ml and you can also freeze in ice cube blocks, then pop them out to store in a zip lock bag. This way, if you just need a little stock for a stew or sauce or to add some liquid to sautéeing veggies, you can throw straight from the freezer into the cooking pot. No need to thaw at all.
You can also thaw stock in a pot by taking from the freezer and either zapping in a microwave for a minute or running the container under hot water to loosen from the container, then pop it into a pan and gently reheat.
Like this recipe? Why not make some delicious soup!
Gently spiced and warming, this spicy chickpea and lentil soup makes cold winter nights better.
Need a green boost?
My green vegetable soup is a tonic in a bowl. And it’s totally yum!
Delicious Asian inspired soup gets the most from your stock.
Clear broth is loaded with vegetables and your choice of protein (seen here with tofu). Full of flavour, you just can’t go wrong.