Homemade Fish Stock

Homemade fish stock
Simon Wheeler Ltd / Getty Images
Ratings (31)
  • Total: 60 mins
  • Prep: 15 mins
  • Cook: 45 mins
  • Yield: 1 gallon (8 servings)
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
621 Calories
36g Fat
6g Carbs
59g Protein
See Full Nutritional Guidelines Hide Full Nutritional Guidelines
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 1 gallon (8 servings)
Amount per serving
Calories 621
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 36g 47%
Saturated Fat 14g 70%
Cholesterol 223mg 74%
Sodium 254mg 11%
Total Carbohydrate 6g 2%
Dietary Fiber 1g 5%
Protein 59g
Calcium 87mg 7%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Fish stock, also called fume in French, is a magnificent base for making soups, chowders, seafood risotto, and any number of sauces. But you may shy away from making your own stock because it is disproportionately labor- or time-intensive. You're not wrong when it comes to beef, veal, or poultry stock, but fish stock happens to be the exception. Unlike chicken stock or beef stock, fish stock is quick and easy to make; rather than simmering away for hours, requiring continuous skimming and fussing, fish stock takes just 30 minutes on the stovetop. 


  • 2 to 3 stems fresh thyme
  • 2 to 3 whole peppercorns
  • 1 whole clove
  • 3 to 4 fresh parsley stems
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 medium rib celery (chopped)
  • 1 medium carrot (peeled and chopped)
  • 1 medium onion (peeled and chopped)
  • 4 pounds fish bones with heads (gills removed)
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1 gallon cold water

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

  2. Make a sachet d'epices by tying the thyme, peppercorns, clove, parsley stems, and bay leaf into a piece of cheesecloth. Set aside.

  3. In a heavy-bottomed stock pot or soup pot, heat the butter over medium heat.

  4. Lower the heat, add the celery, carrot, and onion and warm very gently, with the lid on, for about 5 minutes, or until the onions are softened and slightly translucent but not brown.

  5. Add the fish bones, cover the mixture with a piece of parchment paper, and re-cover the pot, letting the bones warm gently until they're slightly opaque.

  6. Remove the lid and the parchment; add the wine and turn up the heat until the stock starts to simmer.

  7. Add the sachet and the water, heat to a simmer, and let cook for 30 to 45 minutes.

  8. Strain (you can remove fish bones first if that makes it easier), cool, and refrigerate.

  9. Use in clam chowder, Normandy sauce, or when poaching fish and enjoy!

About the Bones 

The best fish bones to use for making fish stock are ones from mild, lean, white fish like halibut, cod, or flounder. As a general rule, you'll want to avoid salmon, trout, mackerel, or other oily, fatty fish since their strong flavor will likely overpower your finished dish. (Unless you're specifically making salmon broth, for example, then salmon bones will produce a stock with unbelievably deep, rich salmon flavor.)

If you happen to catch your own fish, making a fish stock will be a particularly useful technique for you since it utilizes the fish heads and bones, which you would otherwise throw away. The same goes for fish markets; if you ask nicely, you will very likely be rewarded with all the fish bones and fish heads you can carry—either for free or for a very minimal cost.

Recipes Using Fish Stock

Although certain recipes will use chicken broth instead of fish stock, such as a simple clam chowder, using the fish stock will really enrich the seafood dish and bring a complex level of flavor. Based in French cuisine, fume is an important ingredient in several French sauces, such as Normandy sauce. It will also contribute a wonderful flavor when poaching fish and is the basis to Spanish Basque seafood stew