Homemade Fish Stock

Fish stock in glass jars

The Spruce Eats / Victoria Heydt

Prep: 15 mins
Cook: 45 mins
Total: 60 mins
Servings: 8 servings
Yield: 1 gallon
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
353 Calories
9g Fat
4g Carbs
60g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 8
Amount per serving
Calories 353
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 9g 12%
Saturated Fat 4g 20%
Cholesterol 137mg 46%
Sodium 160mg 7%
Total Carbohydrate 4g 1%
Dietary Fiber 1g 3%
Total Sugars 1g
Protein 60g
Vitamin C 4mg 22%
Calcium 65mg 5%
Iron 2mg 11%
Potassium 968mg 21%
*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 fumét 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 are 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 45 minutes on the stovetop. 

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, fumét 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 for Spanish Basque seafood stew


  • 2 to 3 sprigs fresh thyme

  • 2 to 3 whole peppercorns

  • 1 clove

  • 3 to 4 fresh parsley sprigs

  • 1 large bay leaf

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter

  • 1 stalk celery, coarsely chopped

  • 1 medium carrot, coarsely chopped

  • 1 medium onion, coarsely chopped

  • 4 pounds fish bones and heads, gills discarded

  • 1 cup dry white wine

  • 1 gallon cold water

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for fish stock gathered

    The Spruce Eats / Victoria Heydt

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

    Sachet d'pices prepped for the fish stock

    The Spruce Eats / Victoria Heydt

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

    Butter in stockpot for fish stock

    The Spruce Eats / Victoria Heydt

  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 onion is softened and slightly translucent but not brown.

    Sauteeing mirepoix in stock pot

     The Spruce Eats / Victoria Heydt

  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 are slightly opaque.

    Cooking fish with parchment over it in a pot

    The Spruce Eats / Victoria Heydt

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

    Fish stock simmering in a pot with the lid off

    The Spruce Eats / Victoria Heydt

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

    Fish stock cooking with herbal sachet

     The Spruce Eats / Victoria Heydt

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

    Straining fish bones from the fish stock

    The Spruce Eats / Victoria Heydt

How to Use

  • Fish stock is used in many different recipes. Use it to make a seafood bisque, étouffée, or gumbo. It is also an important addition in sauces, chowders and stews.


  • 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.)

How to Store and Freeze

  • Fresh fish stock will last for three to four days in the refrigerator in an airtight container.
  • You can freeze fish stock by placing it in freezer bags or an airtight container. We prefer freezer bags as they take up less space. Fish stock will last frozen for up to two months.