No-Big-Deal Homemade Chicken Stock

Who else has been thinking that homemade chicken stock is just too big a production? Not me, not anymore. For a long while now, I've been making chicken stock one small batch at a time because, well, making stock should be No Big Deal. Until you taste it, that is – rich but delicate, thick as jelly, tasting like the real chicken it’s made with – that’s when you know for sure that homemade chicken stock is One Very Big Deal.
No-Big-Deal Homemade Chicken Stock ♥, how to turn making chicken stock from a production into No Big Deal.

  • "The broth is very good, and easy as you say." ~moo

Good Intentions vs Reality

So really, am I alone? Who else keeps a big stockpot in a cupboard in the kitchen? Who else knows how to make a big batch of chicken stock but just doesn’t get around to it?

These days, in my kitchen, the big stockpot stays put even as I make a small batch of chicken stock (or beef stock or vegetable stock) nearly every day, no effort, no big production. It is, frankly, No Big Deal – except that an abundance of rich, flavorful chicken stock on hand for soups, sauces and stews is One Very Big Deal.

Let's Go Back to Basics

But let's go back to basics. All it takes to make homemade chicken stock is:

  • Leftover chicken bones with some (but not alot) of meat still on the bone
  • Water

That's it! No more! Well, heat and time, too. But not much of either one.

All these people who're buying chicken, special, not for eating but just for making stock, where's the frugality in that?! All the times we don't make stock because we don't have onion skins or carrots or fancy peppercorns? All the times we don't make stock because we don't have a stockpot? Phooey.

Just chicken bones, water, heat and time. That's all it takes.

Two things do make the difference.

#1 The Right Pot: Small and Heavy

My favorite pot for a small batch of No-Big-Deal Homemade Chicken Stock ♥, how to turn making chicken stock from a production into No Big Deal.

This is my most-used Christmas present ever! It’s a heavy LeCreuset saucepan. It doesn’t need a home in a cupboard because it never leaves the stove!

Now this pot isn’t a “stockpot” per se but it’s just the right size for a single chicken carcass and the right weight to hold even heat. This means I can set the stove just below medium and walk away, confident the stock will soon be gently simmering away with minimal evaporation. A couple of hours later? Gorgeous stock. In a small batch.

Sadly, LeCreuset no longer makes my beloved 2-1/2 quart saucepan but does make a 2-1/4 quart and a 2-3/4 quart saucepans. Do know, these are heavy pots, mine weighs more than 7 pounds. They’re pricey too, so look for a pot of kinda-sorta similar size with a heavy bottom in your cupboard that will work, move it to the stovetop for a trial run.

What's more important than size and brand (and even LeCreuset's gorgeous colors!) is the pot's heft, especially a heavy bottom.

Bigger is okay, even for a single chicken carcass. And if I have two or even three chicken carcasses (you can freeze them, you know!), I'll definitely pull out the large actual stockpot, it also has a sturdy bottom. And thanks to its larger size, it's less prone to boiling over.

RESOURCES Le Creuset 2-1/4 quart saucepan My Disclosure Promise

#2 Everyday Mason Jars aka Canning Jars

My favorite pot for a small batch of No-Big-Deal Homemade Chicken Stock ♥, how to turn making chicken stock from a production into No Big Deal.

When I make a big batch of stock in the stockpot, I feel compelled to carefully strain the stock to transfer in two-cup portions to labeled freezer bags. It takes a good 20 to 30 minutes. And it's one of my least-favorite jobs so I tend to procrastinate and then too much time passes and my beautiful stock goes down the drain. Harumph.

But with a small batch of No-Big-Deal Chicken Stock? I strain the stock right into quart-size or pint-size canning jars and leave the jar in the fridge for use during the week. Much easier!

Look for canning jars in supermarkets (where they're slightly pricey) or in the kitchen section at Walmart (where they're quite inexpensive). Better yet? Put out word on Facebook or elsewhere that you're looking for canning jars. I bet many of your friends have jars hoarded away in basements. I happen to prefer wide-mouth jars in both quart and pint sizes because I use the jars not just for stock but as my most-used reusable containers for pantry goods, refrigerator salads, leftovers, etc. But both sizes work.

You don't need the lids, just the jars. You can use the rings/lids that come with new jars or which can be purchased separately. But I love one-piece lids for mason jars, no more fiddling around with lids and ring except for their intended purpose, real canning.

RESOURCES Quart-Size Canning Jars & One-Piece Plastic Canning Jar Lids

And Now? Freeze the Stock! Right in the Same Glass Jars!

How to Freeze Stock in Canning Jars ♥

When I first shared No-Big-Deal Chicken Stock, I kept a jar of stock in the fridge for use during the week and froze the rest in fiddly-to-fill and prone-to-leek freezer bags.

But since then? I fill the jars with stock to chill overnight in the refrigerator. And then? I freeze the stock, right in the jars! So easy and so so very effective.

RESOURCES How to Freeze Stock in Canning Jars, all the details and insider tips.

About Bone Broth

Of late, something called "bone broth" has become popular in certain circles with anecdotal evidence of "better skin" and "more energy". The product people have gotten on board, selling us a new water product called "bone broth".

But bone broth is no more than chicken stock cooked and cooked and cooked and cooked until the bones themselves break down into crumbly bits. The liquid is strained for drinking rather than cooking. It's akin to a daily cup of tea versus a flavorful contribution to soups and stews.

Homemade Chicken Stock. It's No Big Deal to Make.

My favorite pot for a small batch of No-Big-Deal Homemade Chicken Stock ♥, how to turn making chicken stock from a production into No Big Deal.

So no more of that watery, salty stuff from cans and cubes, boxes and powders, okay? Choose Homemade Chicken Stock, because really, it’s just No Big Deal to make.

Plus There's No-Big-Deal Beef Stock

My favorite pot for a small batch of No-Big-Deal Homemade Beef Stock ♥, how to turn making beef stock from a production into No Big Deal.

Any time there’s leftover bits of beef or beef bones, just drop them into the saucepan with an onion, a carrot and a rib of celery. Follow the same process. Beef has a lot more fat, you’ll want to discard the thick layer that accumulates on top of the stock – or feed it to the birds!

No-Big-Deal Vegetable Stock

Coming soon to A Veggie Venture!


Hands-on time: 5 minutes to start, 5 minutes to finish
Time to table: 24 hours
Makes about 4 cups
  • 1 rotisserie chicken carcass (wings, bones, skin, back plus juices from the container)
  • Water to cover

STOVETOP OPTION Place the carcass in a small heavy saucepan and cover with water. Cover the saucepan and bring to a boil. Adjust heat to maintain a slow simmer, let gently simmer for about 2 hours. Remove from the heat and let cool slightly.

OVEN OPTION Set oven to 225F/105C. Place the carcass in either a small heavy oven-safe saucepan or one or multiple carcasses in a large stockpot. Cover with water, an inch or two above the carcass. Cover the pot and bring to a boil. Transfer to the oven for 2 hours to as many as 48 hours (for Bone Broth).

TRANSFER TO JARS Place a small wire-mesh strainer into a funnel, place the funnel in a quart-size canning jar. Pour the stock through the strainer-funnel combination. Discard the bones and solids.

REFRIGERATE Chill the stock in the refrigerator. A thin layer of chicken fat will form on the top, discard this if you like but I leave it on until the stock is going into soup or whatever, it acts as a sort of seal, preserving the stock. Use within a week.

FREEZE Fill the jars only to the shoulder, leaving room for expansion as the liquid freezes. Cover and label the jars. Refrigerate until cold, then move to the freezer. More details? No-Big-Deal Homemade Chicken Stock

OPTIONS In my kitchen, extra steps mean I'm less likely to make Homemade Chicken Stock. So I rarely do them and they're definitely not necessary. But they're easy, you might want to. Roast the bones first, just put them on a baking sheet and roast until dark at about 400F/200C. Roasting can deepen the chicken flavor, also add color to the stock. But extra flavor and color isn't always good. It might be for My Chicken Noodle Soup but not, say, for Laura's Healthy Carrot Soup where it's the carrot flavor and color is what needs emphasizing. The skin of a brown onion can add lovely color; carrot can add sweetness; peppercorns can add a nice bite. But again, these are optional, your call.
ALANNA's TIPS A rotisserie chicken is one of my go-to Lean & Green meals for Medifast. (See Why I Switched from Weight Watchers to Medifast, as of yesterday, I'm down 27 pounds!) I keep the saucepan handy while cutting up and weighing the chicken for dinner, it’s easy to drop in any parts not being eaten. A rotisserie chicken makes excellent stock, all by itself. But I also use raw chicken with the same No-Big-Deal process. To use raw chicken pieces not being used for dinner, you may want to add a little chopped onion, carrot and celery to the saucepan. Learn your pot and your stove so that you can set the temperature once and then leave the stock be, without attention. Two hours isn’t necessary, some times I let the stock simmer for 3 hours, other times only an hour. Once I accidentally left the house; some hours later, the water had indeed mostly evaporated, leaving a luscious concentrated stock. I recommend this, just not without careful monitoring! I leave the thin layer of chicken fat that collects on top until it’s time to use the stock. The fat seems to extend the freshness in the refrigerator for a couple of weeks. If you don’t have time to make stock right away, freeze the carcass or chicken pieces until there’s time.
NUTRITION INFORMATION Per Cup: 86 Calories; 3g Tot Fat; 1g Sat Fat; 7mg Cholesterol; 343mg Sodium; 9g Carb; 0g Fiber; 4g Sugar; 6g Protein. WEIGHT WATCHERS POINTS Old Points 2 & PointsPlus 2 & SmartPoints 3 & Freestyle 3 CALORIE COUNTERS 100-calorie serving, 1cup+3T; 50-calorie serving, 9T. FYI I totally-completely question this information which is based on the data for home-prepared chicken stock from the USDA. It’s not the calories I question so much as the fat (since we remove the fat cap that forms at the top of chilled stock) and sodium (which we're not adding). Still, I have no other way to calculate the information to share what there is. I do know that the stock tastes rich (so calories/fat may be okay?) but it is does not taste salty at all.

Use Homemade Chicken Stock In These Recipes,
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Kitchen Parade is written by second-generation food columnist Alanna Kellogg and features fresh, seasonal dishes for every-day healthful eating and occasional indulgences. Quick Suppers are Kitchen Parade favorites and feature recipes easy on the budget, the clock, the waistline and the dishwasher. Do you have a favorite recipe that other Kitchen Parade readers might like? Just send me a quick e-mail via How to print a Kitchen Parade recipe. Never miss a recipe! If you like this recipe, sign up for a free e-mail subscription. If you like Kitchen Parade, you're sure to like my food blog about vegetable recipes, too, A Veggie Venture. If you make this recipe, I'd love to know your results! Just leave a comment below.

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Alanna Kellogg
Alanna Kellogg

A Veggie Venture is home of "veggie evangelist" Alanna Kellogg and the famous asparagus-to-zucchini Alphabet of Vegetables.


  1. Did you have your remote camera in my kitchen on today??

    On a whim this morning, while the kids (on winter break) were cleaning out the fridge, I decided to make chicken stock. No biggie, just grabbed a Soup Pack out of the freezer where I'd been stashing onion skins and carrot and celery trims I didn't feed to the guinea pigs, and grabbed the chicken carcass I'd frozen since I was heading out of town soon after roasting and wouldn't get around to making stock before we left.
    I left it to simmer for nearly 4 hours and this stuff is just golden jelly. I have to say, though, that I used my 7 qt pretty purple pot, which lives on top of the fridge next to the stand mixer. Apparently I like to live dangerously with respect to heavy objects stored above my head.

    It's funny you mention the extra layer of fat on top of the mason jar keeping your stock fresher longer. My 1950 Betty Crocker says the same thing!

    Way to go on hitting 27 pounds--that's terrific!

  2. Anonymous2/20/2013

    Stock is easy to make but requires a good chunk of time in or near the kitchen so I regularly make stock in the pressure cooker on weekends & freeze to have on hand. I 'collect' wing tips, necks, backs, skin, bones, etc in a large plastic bag in a corner of the freezer. It's so tempting to use canned or cubes when we are exhausted at the end of a long day or extra busy.


  3. Anonymous2/20/2013

    I have been "boiling bones" for years! There is no comparison between homemade stock and purchased. Thanks for the tip about the one piece lids---love it!

  4. Anonymous2/23/2013

    I have started making bone broth regularly this winter, too, and it is so easy I am wondering how ib the world I ever thought it was a hassle before! Simply giving myself permission to make it without veg has been the key, and it is still delicious. A couple of differences between my method and yours- I throw ghe carcass into my 6 qt slow cooker, don't quite cover with cold water, add a tsp of salt, 3 or 4 peppercorns, and 3 T of apple cider vinegar. I have been told that the acid is key to pulling the minerals from the bones. I leave it all at a bare simmer (just the occasional bubble on the sides) for 24 hrs. Once it cools a bit i fish out the big bits with my hands and then strain and jar just as you do. The bones are fun because they easily crumble in your hand. It smells a little different than regular stock, but tastes great and I feel that I have squeezed every bit of nutrition from that chicken that I could.

  5. Yes! Exactly what I do. The broth is very good, and easy as you say. But. I use it to poach frozen Korean dumplings and the flavors added to the LO broth gets even better. Once I never used the batch for anything else! If I have some left when we are leaving, I just stick in freezer.


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Thank you for taking a moment to write! I read each and every comment, for each and every recipe. If you have a specific question, it's nearly always answered quick-quick. But I also love hearing your reactions, your curiosity, even your concerns! When you've made a recipe, I especially love to know how it turned out, what variations you made, what you'll do differently the next time. ~ Alanna