Basic Homemade Chicken Stock

  • Author: Katie Kimball
  • Prep Time: 5 mins
  • Cook Time: 24 hours
  • Total Time: 24 hours 5 mins
  • Yield: varies
  • Category: Soup


  • chicken bones or bone-in chicken (see notes)
  • cold water to cover
  • a few Tbs. white or apple cider vinegar
  • onions
  • carrots
  • celery
  • garlic
  • generous amount of sea salt, ~1 tsp. per quart
  • fresh parsley
  • kombu (dried seaweed, optional)


  1. Cover the chicken/bones with cold water and add a few tablespoons of vinegar. I never measure but just pour in “a glug.” Allow to sit for 30-60 minutes to give the vinegar time to soften the bones, beginning the process of leaching the minerals, like calcium, magnesium (use the coupon KS10 for 10% off!), and potassium, from the bones and cartilage out into the stock.
  2. Cook over high heat until a gentle boil is reached (attempt, of course, not to boil over the liquid like I often do, but don’t despair if that happens). Turn stove to low, then skim off any foam that has risen to the top. (That’s just impurities and questionable stuff – if there’s foam, always try to skim, no matter what you’re cooking.)
  3. Allow the stock to simmer for anywhere from 4-24 hours. Some say don’t dare go over 12; the same folks say boiling will break down the gelatin (use the coupon KS10 for 10% off!). Do what works for you, makes a good-tasting broth, and demonstrates gelatin (like Jell-o consistency) at the end. Note: You can also add Perfect Supplements gelatin to your stock at the end to further boost the immunity and skin/hair/joint health benefits of your stock. I’ve been adding gelatin and collagen (use the coupon KS10 for 10% off!) to everything from casseroles to smoothies lately!
  4. One or two hours before you stop cooking the stock, prepare some vegetables. I save carrot, celery and onion ends in the freezer and dump the whole bag into the stock pot. Otherwise, grab the following for each whole chicken or equivalent bones: 1-2 onions, 2 carrots, 3 stalks celery, 4 garlic cloves
  5. All the vegetables are technically optional; great stock can be made from bones alone. The veggies add a lot of flavor and color, but you don’t have to be perfect about how much you put in. I find that onion skins add gorgeous color.
  6. Wash the carrots and celery and cut them into 3-inch chunks. Quarter the onion – you can leave the skins and ends on if they’re not dirty. Garlic cloves can be whole and unpeeled, but I prefer to crush them or chop them into a few pieces first to release the flavor more. The vegetables will add both nutrients and flavor to the stock.
  7. You can use other veggies too but should stay away from the cruciferous family – broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and kale – because they will impart potentially harmful substances called goitrogens into the stock. Other greens are also a poor choice, both because of the bitter taste and oxalates, which are irritating to the digestive tract.
  8. After adding your desired veggies, bring the stock back to a boil, gently, and then reduce to a simmer again for the last few hours. You can add salt at this time or during the next step, using about ½-1 teaspoon per quart (4 cups) of stock. Otherwise, always remember to add plenty of salt when using your homemade stock to make soup or any other recipe, or it will likely fall flat. If you’re worried this is too much, add less and season to taste. It’s easy to add more salt when needed, but trust me – you need salt, and lots of it.
  9. Ten minutes before finishing the stock, rinse and add a bunch of parsley (again, don’t stress about exact measurements). Fresh is best, for sure, and you don’t need to cut anything off. I use about half of what a store offers as “a bunch” for one chicken, and if I don’t have fresh parsley, I shake a tablespoon or two dried parsley in (it has to be better than nothing). The short cook time imparts mineral ions from the greens and ensures that the flavor added is just right, not bitter.
  10. At this point, if you have it on hand, add a strip of kombu (seaweed). It also adds minerals and salt to the stock and increases digestibility. If using kombu, cut the amount of salt you’re adding in half until you’ve tasted the finished product.
  11. To strain the stock: pour the hot stock carefully through a stainless steel colander with a large bowl underneath. I recommend setting the bowl in the sink in case you splash. You may need to remove some stock from the bowl to jars (I use a liquid measuring cup to scoop and pour through a funnel) and strain more stock through the colander.
  12. You can use the stock immediately at this point. I like to make a big batch of soup the moment my stock is finished, in the same pot.
  13. Once completely cooled, the fat will rise to the top and congeal. I choose to leave it in as chicken fat offers helpful immune building properties, but if I have a storebought, conventionally raised bird, I’d opt to skim it off. Once cooled, the fat will be a thick, hard layer of white or yellow that you can crack off easily. The “gel” goes throughout all the liquid part of the stock and you can’t see it at all until cool.
  14. Homemade chicken stock will last in the refrigerator at least 5-7 days and in the freezer for over a year. I like to store in glass whenever possible since you’re often transferring hot liquid, and the fat content can be somewhat high if using pastured, healthy birds. That hits pretty much all the risk factors for leaching chemicals out of plastic. Here are some tips for freezing food in glass. It’s also nice to freeze a few ice cube trays full of broth; you can thaw just a little if you need a small amount for a recipe, stir fry glaze, or a sick child.


* Stock can be made from bones left after roasting a chicken and picking off the meat, raw whole chickens or pieces (e.g. split breasts are an option), or even bones left on plates after eating baked bone-in chicken. The long cook time obliterates any germs.

* You can mix raw and cooked chicken in the same pot.

* You can freeze the bones or the chicken, or both, before making stock.

* These instructions are exactly the same when starting with any poultry, including turkey. Grab those bones at Thanksgiving every year!