Chicken Bone Soup Stock

Basic chicken stock

The Spruce

After you've dined on a whole roasted chicken or even just a few bone-in parts, don't waste the bones! Chicken stock made from the bones is a delicious foundation for soups and sauces. You can freeze or pressure can it for future use. If you're short on time, stockpile chicken bones in a freezer container and keep them frozen until you get around to making the stock.

Besides the chicken bones, all you need is water, a few aromatic veggies, and optional seasonings. Choose one of the two ingredients options below. Then choose either stovetop or slow cooker as the method of cooking. Lastly, choose if you want to freeze your stock, can it, or simply refrigerate it, where it will last for up to a week.

ingredients needed for chicken bone stock
Illustration: Alison Czinkota. © The Spruce, 2019

What You Need

Cook your chicken bones with:

  • 1 medium onion, peeled, halved and studded with 1 whole clove
  • 1 celery stalk, cut in half
  • 1 medium carrot, peeled and cut in half
  • 1 bay leaf (optional)
  • 4 black peppercorns (optional)
  • 1 sprig thyme (optional)

Or, instead of the veggies and herbs above, use leftover odds and ends:

  • Celery leaves
  • Carrot leaves and root ends
  • Parsley stems
  • The green parts of leeks
  • Onion ends and skins
  • Thyme and oregano stems (after you've stripped the leaves)

Avoid strong herbs such as rosemary, sage, and cilantro, which can overpower the flavor of the other ingredients.

Stovetop Method

  1. Put the vegetables, optional herbs, and chicken bones into a large pot.
  2. Cover with water and bring to a simmer. Do not let the stock boil or it will become cloudy.
  3. Reduce heat so there are just a few bubbles appearing on the surface of the stock as it cooks.
  4. Cook uncovered, topping up with boiling hot water if necessary for 6 to 8 hours.
  5. Strain through a fine-mesh strainer.
  6. Blot the top of the chicken bone stock with a clean paper towel or cloth towel to remove excess fat. Or refrigerate and remove the layer of fat that will congeal on top of the chilled stock.

Slow-Cooker Method

  1. Place the vegetables and herbs (if using) into the slow cooker.
  2. Put the chicken bones on top of the aromatics. Cover with water.
  3. Cook covered on high for 1/2 hour.
  4. Change the setting to low and cook, still covered, for 6 - 8 hours.
  5. Strain through a fine-mesh strainer.
  6. Blot the top of the chicken bone stock with a clean paper towel or cloth towel to remove excess fat. Or refrigerate and remove the layer of fat that will congeal on top of the chilled stock.

Freezing Chicken Bone Stock

  1. Let the stock cool slightly, no longer than 1/2 hour, before transferring to freezer containers.
  2. To save space, pour the stock into plastic freezer bags and lay these flat in the freezer.
  3. If using upright freezer containers, be sure to leave 1 inch of headspace since the stock will expand as it freezes. A silicone muffin pan is also a good container.
  4. Label each container or bag with the potential expiration date of 4 months after it was prepared.

Canning Chicken Bone Stock

For long-term storage at room temperature, you need to pressure can your soup stocks. Soup stocks must be pressure canned and you simply cannot safely process soup stocks in a boiling water bath.

Pressure can pint jars of soup stock at 10 lbs. pressure for 20 minutes (adjust for your altitude if necessary).

Tip For Making Stock

  • When making bone-based stocks, add a splash of vinegar to the water. You won't taste the vinegar in the final product but it helps to release the calcium from the bones resulting in a more nutritious stock.
  • If you bought a whole chicken with organs, don't use the organs in making your stock because it will be very bitter.
  • Add salt to your stock but be careful with the amounts you use. When cooking, the salt flavor concentrates. Add a little at the beginning and taste once it's cooling off.