Today I’m going to break down for you how to make stock. Chicken stock, turkey stock, any type of bone stock really. Stock requires just a few ingredients, a bit of time, and a day around the house. There are some shortcut methods I’ll mention at the end as well (Instant Pot anyone?). Follow this link to jump to that section. So let’s get into it!
One of my favorite things about cooking a whole bird, is making stock afterwards. I ALWAYS save the carcass. If I don’t have time to make stock within a couple days, I freeze the carcass to use later. They will keep for at least 6 months in the freezer!
You don’t need much to make a tasty and nutritious bone stock. The cooked carcass (or other misc bones) is the one key ingredient. They can be left over from roasting, smoking, baking, you name it! (Read my post on smoking a turkey or chicken here.) Once you’ve removed the meat from the bones, save those bones to throw into a stock.
What else do you need? Some veggies! My basics are yellow onion, carrot, celery. Sometimes if I have leftover leek greens I’ll use those too. Here’s a tip: if you have left over veggie “ends” that you are not adding to other recipes, save those in a bag in the freezer. I bet after a little time you’ll have enough on hand to use for your next stock!
After the veggies, add some aromatics! For me this usually means a bouquet garni with fresh herbs, a couple bay leaves, and about a tablespoon of peppercorns. I’ve also added star anise, juniper berries, a few whole cloves… The sky is really the limit here!
Once you’ve got your ingredients it’s time to put it all together.
- Chop the veggies into large pieces (see details in recipe)
- Collect the herbs and other aromatics in a square of cheesecloth and secure it with some baking twine
- Put your bones into a large stock pot
- Add the veggies and bouquet garni
- Cover with cold water
- Simmer for as long as possible! I try to go at least 8 hours when I am making a big batch of stock
- Make soup right away!
- -OR- portion out the stock and freeze it to use as needed
See? Not much to it! You just have to commit to keeping an eye on a pot of slowly simmering stock for a day… but you can totally do other things once you have it “settled” into a nice slow simmer. Just keep an eye on it, top it off with water a few times, and enjoy the lovely aroma that will fill your home.Jump to Recipe
Quick Method to Make Stock – Do You Have an Instant Pot?
If you don’t have all day to simmer a stock the stove, rest assured, there are some quick methods that will still give you a flavorful stock or broth to use in your other cooking. Using an instant pot is the quickest way I have found to make a stock or broth.
Make a Lighter Broth in the Instant Pot
For a light broth, I just save the leftover liquid after cooking a few chicken breasts in the instant pot.
If you don’t have an instant pot, you can still get a light broth if you are boiling chicken in a pan on the stove – just save the left over cooking liquid as a tasty light broth.
If you’ve never cooked chicken breasts in your instant pot, I highly recommend you give it a try! Here’s how in 5 easy steps:
- Put 1 – 2 cups of water in the bottom of the instant pot (depending on the size of your pot).
- Place the chicken breasts on top of the rack that sits in the bottom. Make sure there is some air space between/around them. It’s OK if they touch in a few spots, but you don’t want them piled on top of each other.
- Lightly sprinkle the tops with salt and pepper, or any other seasoning.
- Close the instant pot and cook on high pressure for: 10 minutes if the breasts are < 2 inches thick; 15 minutes if they are frozen or > 2 inches thick.
- Natural release for 5 minutes, then quick release.
And that’s it! You have chicken breast ready to use, and broth left over as a bonus! I pour the broth through a strainer, and then either keep it in the fridge to use within a few days, or freeze it for later. I especially like this for cooking beans or grains in as it adds a subtle bit of flavor. But, you can absolutely use it as a base for a soup as well!
Make a Bone Stock in the Instant Pot
If you have bones you want to use to make a quick bone stock in your instant pot instead, you can do that too! Just put the bones in the pot below the “max” line, cover with water, and cook at high pressure for ~45 minutes, with natural release. You can include veggies and similar aromatics as in this stock recipe as well.
So there you have it. A day long traditional method for making stock, or a quick instant pot method that will still give you a flavorful and nutritious result!
- Stock pot
- -OR- Instant Pot
- Baking twine
- Bones – turkey carcass, chicken carcass, or beef bones
- 1 yellow onion
- 2 carrots (or one large)
- 2 celery stalks
- 1-2 tbsp apple cider vinegar (optional)
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 bunch herbs (assorted, see notes)
- 1 tbsp peppercorns (whole)
- Cold filtered water (to fill pot)
- Cut up the vegetables into large pieces. I like to cut the onion through the stem end into quarters or eighths. The carrots and celery stalks I cut into 2-3 inch long pieces.
- Make your Bouquet Garni: Collect the herbs, bay leaves, and peppercorns into the center of a square of cheesecloth. Gather the corners so you have a tight bundle, and tie off with the bakers twine. Containing the bouquet in cheesecloth like this keeps the smaller leaves, peppercorns, etc from floating throughout the stock. This is especially helpful at the beginning, when you are skimming the foam from the top. You don't want to remove these aromatics, but they float to the top and can get caught in the foam quite easily.
- Add the carcass, aromatics, and vegetables to your stock pot. You want to be able to submerge (or nearly submerge) the contents with water so select your pot size based on this. For a single smaller turkey carcass (from an ~ 12 pound bird), I can use my 8 quart stock pot. For a larger bird or if you are making stock from more than one carcass, you would want a larger stock pot.
- Fill the pot with cold filtered water until the water is nearly to the brim, and all the contents are covered. Keep some water handy in a measuring cup nearby – you will add some during the day while the stock simmers.
- Add apple cider vinegar (or other acid) if desired. The acid will help break down the cartilage and connective tissues, and extract more nutrients from the bones, making this stock that much more nutritious!
Cook on the Stove Top
- Set the pot to high, and monitor carefully while it comes up to heat. You want to end up with a very gentle simmer. You should see a bubble every second or two, but you don't want the whole pot bubbly. This takes some time to dial in while the stock is heating up.
- As the stock heats, foam will collect on the surface, particularly during the first hour. Skim the foam from the surface with a large spoon. The foam is just impurities surfacing from the bones. If you don't skim them, they will eventually incorporate into the broth, making it slightly cloudy and not nice and clear.
- During the first hour or so, I monitor very carefully to skim the foam and ensure the simmer is not to high. Once you are confident the temperature is stable you can leave it to simmer, and just check in on it from time to time.
- If the liquid level gets lower than an inch or two from the top of the pot, top it off with more water periodically during the day.
- Simmer for at least 4 hours, and up to 16. I like to go for at least 8 hours to maximize the flavor and nutrition extracted. I typically start the stock first thing in the morning, and let it simmer away until an hour before bed, when I'll remove it from the heat and let it cool slightly.
Cook in the Instant Pot
- You can also cook this stock in about an hour in an instant pot instead.
- Add all the ingredients, and cover with water (below the max line).
- Cook on high pressure for 45 minutes with a full natural release (about 20 minutes).
- (Note, you will still get a clear broth with this method since pressure cooking minimizes boiling of the stock.)
Strain and Store
- Once the stock is finished cooking, remove it from the heat and let it cool for about an hour.
- Strain the stock and discard the solids. (They won't have any flavor left in them!) I like to remove the big pieces with a basket strainer I can skim through the pot. Then pour the stock through a fine mesh colander into a large bowl for the final product.
- To store, you have a few options: (1) Keep it in the fridge and use within 3 days to make soup. (2) Portion it out into freezer bags in useful amounts (I like a combination of 1, 2, and 4 cups), seal, and freeze flat on a cookie sheet. This will keep for at lesat 6 months in the freezer. (3) If you have a lot of stock and are short on freezer space, you can condense the stock first before freezing (see below).
Condense the Stock
- This step can be done the next day if you don't have time the day of stock-making.
- To condense the stock so you have less to store, first measure the volume of stock you are starting with and take note.
- Then, transfer the stock back to the stock pot and simmer for several hours, until the volume is noticeably reduced. This can be a more aggressive simmer/low boil.
- I try to estimate about a 1/2 reduction, and will measure the height of the liquid before and after as a way to approximate this.
- I have noticed that once you get to about half the starting volume, the stock doesn't reduce much beyond that, at least it goes much slower.
- Measure the final condensed stock volume and determine what dilution factor to use when you reconstitute the stock. For example, if you started with 12 cups, and reduced down to 6 cups: 12/6 = 2. So you would want to double the volume of the condensed stock for use (i.e. to one cup of stock add one cup of water). This doesn't have to be exact, but gives you a ballpark idea. Keep this in mind when deciding portion sizes to freeze. If you like to have 1 cup portions of stock handy, then freeze down 1/2 cup, so that when you double the volume you will have 1 cup to use.