Friday, November 22, 2013

Ditch the Can! Homemade Chicken Broth or Stock

Did you know that stock and broth are actually two different things? For a long time I thought they were synonyms, but in writing this post, I decided to do a little research.
I discovered that although the terms are often used interchangeably, there are technically differences between the two. According to The Kitchn, broth is seasoned with salt while stock is not. However, The Food Network says that broth is made with meat and stock is made with bones (giving it a richer flavor due to the gelatin released from the bones). Hmm...different answers. So, I turned to my very favorite source for cooking advice, America's Test Kitchen, to discover that they're both right. Broth is usually made with meat (and possibly bone too), while stock is made with bone only and is usually unsalted.
No matter what you call it, there is no reason you should ever have to buy a can or carton at the store again. Making homemade broth or stock is so easy when you use a crock pot, and you can make it out of food scraps that you would otherwise throw out.

If I'm making stock, I start with chicken bones left over from a whole chicken or bone-in pieces. You could also use chicken breasts, but I think the bones give the broth a richness that you just can't get from meat alone.

If you're working with a whole chicken or bone-in pieces, you should remove the meat from the bones. (Otherwise the chicken will completely shred into tiny pieces.) You should also make sure to remove all the skin. This can be a messy job, so you might want to take off your rings first. ;-)
Save the chicken for casseroles or Chicken and Rice Soup.
Then I add some veggies. I keep a "stock bag" in the freezer where I put my carrot ends, onion ends, and celery leaves.
Whenever I make chicken stock or broth, I add roughly 1/2 cup of scraps. If I don't have any carrot pieces, I will throw in 2-3 baby carrots. I also will add a whole garlic clove (peeled or minced), a bay leaf, some peppercorns (if I have them), and salt.
 Then I add some water, maybe some herbs, and cook on low all day or overnight (about 8-10 hours), or 4-6 hours on high. The result is a beautiful golden stock that smells wonderful and tastes even better!
Strain the broth through a mesh strainer and remove the fat using a fat separator or by refrigerating until the fat rises to the top and solidifies. Then you can just scoop it right off the top.
You can freeze the broth/stock in whatever portions you would like. Sometimes I will freeze it in ice cube trays (about 1 Tablespoon), or muffin tins (1/4 cup), and after they're frozen I'll pop them out to store in a zippered freezer bag. Mostly, though, I freeze the equivalent of a 14.5 ounce can by filling a measuring cup between 1 3/4 and 2 cups and pouring the stock into a quart freezer bag to freeze flat.

Homemade Chicken Stock or Broth

  • Chicken bones and/or chicken.
  • Vegetable scraps (onion, carrot, and celery work best)
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled or minced, or 1/8 tsp garlic powder
  • 2-3 whole peppercorns or black pepper to taste
  • salt to taste
  • 1 bay leaf
  • herbs, such as parsley, if desired
  1. Place your chicken bones and/or chicken pieces (with skin removed) in a crock pot. Add vegetable scraps, garlic, pepper, salt, and herbs. 
  2. Pour enough water into the crock to fill it 2/3 to 3/4 full. This comes to about 7 cups in my 4.5 quart crock pot and 9 cups in my 6 quart.
  3. Cook on low for 8-10 hours or overnight, or on high for 4-6 hours.
  4. Pour the broth through a fine mesh strainer to strain out the chicken, bones, and veggie scraps. 
  5. Separate the fat from the broth/stock. You can do this by either using a fat separator or refrigerating the stock until the fat has risen to the top and solidified, allowing you to scoop it off.
  6. Use in soups or freeze for later use.
    * For the equivalent of one 14.5 ounce can of broth, freeze just over 1 3/4 cups.
Come back tomorrow, and I'll share how to easily make Chicken & Rice Soup from scratch!


  1. I love the idea of keeping scraps for stock. I have wasted so much!

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. Cindy, I forget where I heard this tip, but since I HATE wasting anything {as evidenced in this post}, I have been doing it ever since. It's great!


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