Make homemade chicken stock from leftover roasted chicken bones to save money and reduce food waste. Use this flavorful stock as an easy base for your next dish or store it in the freezer.

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CHicken stock in a plastic container surrounded by carrots, celery, onions and parsley and thyme.

Tips and Tricks

What’s the difference between chicken stock, chicken broth and chicken bone broth? There are small differences between all of these. If you’re making a sauce or cooking pasta or rice, any of them will work. However, when you’re using it as a basis for a dish, it is important to know the difference. First of all, homemade chicken stock/broth/bone broth will ALWAYS taste better than anything from the store. Chicken stock is made with bones and cartilage, chicken broth is made from meat and chicken bone broth is basically stock that has been simmered for 24-48 hours. The best option for soups is chicken stock or bone broth because they have better flavor and mouthfeel.

What do you do with the bones after you make the stock? They have done all they can do, so I just double bag them in plastic bags and trash them. You’ve extracted all the flavor you can from leftover bones and almost bad veggies and herbs, you’ve reduced waste!

What can you make with chicken stock? A lot of recipes call for chicken stock or chicken broth like Chicken and Broccoli with Oyster Sauce. An obvious one is chicken soup or any broth based soup like tomato bisque. Other options are to use it in sauces, or to use it to cook rice or pasta. Chicken stock will never go to waste, it’s always a great way to add flavor instead of using water. 

A white bowl of tomato bisque garnished with basil with a spoon. A green plate of grilled cheese is partially visible in the top right corner. A folded red and white napkin is partially visible in the bottom right corner.

How many cups does this recipe make? Depending on a few different factors, you can expect to get four to six cups of chicken stock from this recipe. It all depends on how large your dutch oven is (I use a six quart) and how long you let it simmer and at what temperature. 

Why does my chicken stock look like jello? This is exactly what you’re looking for! Once chicken stock has cooled, the consistency should be closer to jello due to the collagen from the bones (and specifically the backbone you saved!). It will turn to liquid as you heat it and will make for a great soup base!

Storage

How do you store leftover chicken carcass? If you made a spatchcock chicken, make sure you save the backbone and wing tips in a large ziploc bag or air tight container. After you roast your chicken (probably from making my Spatchcock BBQ Glazed Chicken with Vegetables), save any chicken juices from the pan and put in an airtight container. Pick off any of the meat you want for leftovers and store separately. Now, add all the bones into the ziploc with the raw chicken pieces. If you’re making stock in the next few days, store in the fridge. If not, store in the freezer for up to six months. Optionally, you can add the vegetables and herbs you want to use to that same ziploc in the freezer.

How long can you keep chicken bones for stock? You can store chicken bones in the freezer for at least up to six months. I’d only store chicken bones in the fridge for two days, otherwise I’d freeze them. 

How do you store homemade chicken stock? Store homemade chicken stock in the fridge in leak proof airtight containers for up to five days. Alternatively, you can freeze chicken stock for up to six months. I recommend freezing it in usable portions like one cup plastic containers so it takes less time to defrost. You also don’t want to defrost three cups of stock to use one half of a cup. Keep in mind that liquid expands when it freezes, so leave some room at the top of the container. You can store stock in glass but it has to be carefully thawed slowly to avoid cracking. To defrost chicken stock, simply let it thaw overnight in the fridge. 

Ingredients and Substitutions

All the ingredients laided out and labeled.

Do you need to use fresh aromatics? You can absolutely freeze carrots, celery and onions with the chicken bones and just put those directly into stock frozen. Often, if I have leftovers or stuff about to turn, I toss it in a bag in the freezer for stock. It reduces food waste!

What aromatics can you substitute? You can use a range of different things to flavor your stock like leeks, scallions, shallots, corn cobs, ginger, sage, rosemary, cilantro, mushrooms or bay leaf. I’d avoid anything from the cabbage and broccoli family, brassica, because it can turn a stock bitter. 

Method

How do you make stock from leftover roasted chicken? Preheat a dutch oven over medium heat. Chop carrots and celery into rough thirds and quarter the onion. Next, chop the garlic head completely in half to expose the cloves. Leave skin and peel intact. In the dutch oven, add the canola oil. If your chicken is defrosted, sear the backbone, wingtips and extra skin until you get some color. If your chicken is frozen, add the whole thing to the dutch oven. Add in carrots, celery, onions, garlic, fresh thyme, parsley, peppercorns, Parmigiano-Reggiano rind and chicken juices (if using).  Cover with 8-10 cups of water (the water should just be covering the ingredients but be ½ – 1 inch below the rim.

How to pictures of how to start the chicken stock in a dutch oven.

Increase the heat to a medium high to bring it to a boil. Once it comes to a boil reduce to a simmer (medium low to low heat). After one hour, skim any impurities off and allow to simmer for three more hours. After four total hours of simmering, carefully remove large solids. Strain liquid into another pot or large metal mixing bowl through cheesecloth or a fine mesh strainer. Discard any solids. Cool stock in an ice bath or in the sink surrounded by ice. Once chilled, remove fat that rises to the top and then portion out into containers. If freezing, leave room for expansion. Store in the fridge or freezer. 

How the chicken stock should look after it's cooked, how to strain and skim fat how to photos.

Do you peel the onions, carrots and garlic? Nope! Everything gets strained out. There is a lot of flavor in the peel and skin of aromatics. I do chop off any part that may be bruised. 

How long do you let stock cook? I let mine simmer for about four hours. I’ve found that’s a good amount of time to allow the flavors to develop but not spend the whole day watching the stove. You can definitely let it go longer if you want, it’ll only deepen the flavor but will also reduce the amount of stock as the water reduces. 

Are these measurements exact? Definitely not exact. If you have four medium carrots that will work just as well as three large carrots. Part of it is preference and part of it is what you have to work with. You can even leave out some of these things like the chicken juices, black pepper or parmesan rinds, but it may change the flavor. This recipe is a basic recipe for inspiration to help you elevate your cooking by also reducing food waste.

How do you remove the impurities that show up after an hour? After about an hour, the proteins have denatured and have risen to the top. To skim off, simply use a spoon and remove the pools of bubbles and discard. They won’t hurt you to eat if you miss some, they are just visually unappealing.

Close up photo of chicken stock "impurities" to skim off

Why is my chicken stock bland? When you make chicken stock at home, you can control the amount of salt in it. If you chicken stock smells really good but doesn’t have a ton of flavor (it shouldn’t taste like soup straight from being simmered) it probably needs salt and to be seasoned. If using it for soup, be sure to season it well with salt until it tastes good but not salty. 

When do you add salt? I don’t add salt until I go to use the stock in a recipe. In some recipes like rice, you’re reducing the water completely so if you over salt, your end product could be salty. However, if you’re using it for pasta where a lot of the water is leftover, you can add more salt. You can also add salt later, it’s harder to take away the salt without the end product becoming too watery. 

CHicken stock in a plastic container surrounded by carrots, celery, onions and parsley

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Leftover Homemade Chicken Stock

Make homemade chicken stock from leftover roasted chicken bones to save money and reduce food waste. Use this flavorful stock as an easy base for your next dish or store it in the freezer.
Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time4 hrs
Cooling time1 hr
Total Time5 hrs 5 mins
Author: Samantha

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 leftover roasted chicken carcass including backbone and wing tips (from 3-4 lb chicken)
  • 3 large carrots
  • 3-4 ribs celery
  • 1 large yellow onion skin on
  • 1 head garlic skin on, cut in half
  • 5-6 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 5-6 sprigs fresh parsley
  • 4 whole black peppercorns
  • Parmigiano-Reggiano rind optional
  • Leftover chicken juices optional
  • 8-10 cups of water

Instructions

  • Preheat a 6 quart dutch oven over medium heat.
  • While preheating, chop carrots and celery into rough thirds and quarter the onion. Chop garlic head completely in half to expose the cloves. Leave skin and peel intact.
  • Add the canola oil once the dutch oven is preheated. If your chicken parts aren’t frozen, sear off the backbone, any leftover skin and wingtips until they get some color on them. If the chicken parts are frozen, just add the whole thing into the pot.
  • Add in carrots, celery, onions, garlic, fresh thyme, parsley, peppercorns, parm rind and chicken juices (if using).
  • Cover with 8-10 cups of water (the water should just be covering the ingredients but be ½ – 1 inch below the rim.
  • Increase the heat to a medium high to bring it to a boil. Once it comes to a boil reduce to a simmer (medium low to low heat).
  • After 1 hour, skim any impurities off and allow to simmer for 3 more hours uncovered.
  • After 4 total hours, carefully remove large solids. Strain liquid into another pot or large metal mixing bowl through cheesecloth or a fine mesh strainer. Discard any solids.
  • Cool stock in an ice bath or in the sink surrounded by ice. Once chilled, remove fat that rises to the top and then portion out into containers. If freezing, leave room for expansion.

Notes

  • Measurements are all guidelines minimum, you can always add more garlic, carrots, onions, celery if you have it.
  • Use on their way out or slightly bruised aromatics and herbs, they’ll work great.
    Chicken stock should slightly solidify like jello after being cooled.
  • Skim fat off chicken stock once cooled.
  • Add salt after stock has been strained if desired.
  • Store chicken stock in the fridge for up to 5 days in an airtight container or up to 6 months in the freezer in a plastic container to avoid cracking.

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