Homemade Chicken Broth

How to Make Chicken Broth

Last weekend I had a big party with some chickens in my kitchen.  Three extra large chickens to be exact, purchased from a farm nearby that allows their chickens to do the chicken dance all over their yard while feasting on bugs all day long.   (If you happen to be a local reader, I get my chickens from Northstar Neighbors…they deliver right to my door – love them!)

I decided that since I was going to cook one chicken, I might as well cook three.  One mess, one day…all done.  You can, of course make this broth using only one chicken…but the pictures below are going to be of the big chicken party.

First, thaw your chicken.  Or not.  I got my chickens out of the freezer and put them in the fridge overnight, but they were still pretty frozen the next morning when I was ready to start my broth.  No matter.  Frozen chickens thaw quickly in boiling water (imagine that).

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Check it out, it’s a tower of chickens.

Put your chicken into a large pot.  I used my huge stock pot since I was going to be boiling three large birds.  Fill the pot three quarters full of water.

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Add veggies to the pot…as many as you want and any variety you want.  My favorites are:  carrots, onions, leaks and celery.  I pretty much throw in whichever veggies I have at the time.  There is no rhyme or reason to my chicken broth making madness…you really can’t hurt your broth by putting in too many veggies.  You can overflow your pot, but I’ll just assume you’ll use common sense on that one.

Shake a nice amount of sea salt into the pot.

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Bring your pot of chicken, veggies, water and salt to a boil.  Turn the burner down and simmer (with the lid on) for several hours.  By several…I mean check it every so often in between clipping your child’s fingernails, matching up a basket of socks and chasing your naked toddler down the street to bring him back into the house for his bath.  When the chicken starts to spread apart and the meat is falling off the bone…ding!  He’s done.

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Carefully lift the chicken(s) out of the pot and onto another dish.  Allow it to cool for a little while (but not too long because de-boning a cold chicken is a lot harder than de-boning a warm one).  Take all the meat off the bone once the chicken is cool enough for you to touch it without screaming.

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This is the part I usually like to hand over to Matt.  I’m not a big fan of de-boning a chicken, even though it isn’t hard.  Matt doesn’t mind doing it because he usually sneaks bites of cooked chicken while he works.  And I let him because he’s de-boning the chicken so I don’t have to.

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Throw all the bones and skin back into the pot of broth, add a few cups of water (sorry I don’t measure…I just add “several cups” as the water has cooked down quite a bit).

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See, about this much water…

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Cover the pot and simmer for a couple more hours to really “suck the good stuff out of the bones and into the broth”.

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In the meantime, you can put all your cooked chicken into containers for future meals.  I happened to get TEN meals worth of meat from my three extra large chickens because I like to make my chickens stretch as much as I can.  These jars went into the freezer (after they cooled completely).  Yes, I put lids on them first.

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After the bones and skin have cooked for a couple of hours, strain the carcass out of the broth with a colander.  Lookie, a big colander of chicken carcass.  I don’t really like the word carcass.  And yet, I keep saying carcass.  Someone stop me.  (What is the plural form of carcass?  Carcasses?  Carci?  Seriously, someone stop me.)

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Mmm, look at that good, rich broth.  I usually run it through my blender (if I feel like it that day) to smooth out all the veggies.  They’re usually pretty mushy by then anyway.  Otherwise, they are fine to just swim around in the broth.

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Now, I actually have a hard time letting go of my chicken bones and skin (otherwise known as the carcass), so if I have an ounce of energy left at the end of my full day of chicken cooking and deboning and broth making, I will then put the contents of my colander into my crock pot, fill it with water and leave it on low all night to make yet another round of broth.  It isn’t as rich, but it still makes a good broth.

Broth freezes very well, you’ll just want to make sure it has completely cooled before you put it into the freezer.  I freeze mine in jars and in freezer bags.  If you freeze it in jars, be sure to leave several inches open at the top to allow for the broth to expand.  Otherwise your jar will bust and it will be sad.

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And there you have it.  If this isn’t a great way to stretch chickens, I don’t know what is.  From three big chickens I got four meals of broth and ten meals of cooked chicken.  LOVE. IT.

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Comments

  1. melinda says

    I just love everything I’m learning from your site!! Now, I have a silly question..can you make turkey broth the same way as your chicken broth?

    [Reply]

    Laura Reply:

    Yes, sort of. Here is how I cook a turkey: http://heavenlyhomemakers.com/holiday-help-the-easiest-way-in-my-opinion-to-cook-a-turkey. This produces wonderful broth. Then, after deboning the turkey, put the bones in the crock-pot and make more broth as directed in this post!

    [Reply]

    Cheryle Reply:

    The last time I cooked a turkey breast in the oven, I made turkey broth in my slow cooker from the bones. The broth turned out fine, but now the lid to my slow cooker has a terrible odor I can’t get rid of; I think it may be in the gasket on the lid. I’ve scrubbed it & ran it through the dishwasher & it still smells awful. Any suggestions ? I feel DUMB asking this. I’m afraid the odor will ruin anything else I slow cook. When I made chicken broth, I didn’t use the slow cooker so don’t know if this ever occurs.

    [Reply]

  2. Kymberly says

    I let mt husband (also a Matt) de-bone our chicken, too. Chicken bones give me the creeps so I’m glad he doesn’t mind. Thanks for the how to :)

    [Reply]

  3. Brenda says

    I’m not sure where I picked this idea up, but I started a bag of chicken scraps for my freezer. We eat a lot of chicken. Whenever I clean the breasts I throw the scraps in my freezer bag. Whenever we have a roasted chicken I also throw the scraps in the bag. When the bag is full I throw it all in a pot with lots of h2o & veggies for some homeade broth. Nothing wasted!

    [Reply]

  4. Linda says

    FYI: If you have a pressure canner, you can can your own broth and have it sitting on your shelf ready to go anytime! It’s a WONDERFUL thing to have on hand.
    Freezing it allows the retention of more nutrition, but there are definitely some benefits to the convenience of having it on hand.

    [Reply]

    Crystal Reply:

    I want a pressure canner for this very reason. :) And to be able to can the meat itslef.

    [Reply]

  5. Mira says

    I’m just making this for the second time. Wow, do I love this or what! Although I am quite disgusted by the bird… ;)
    the last time I made it took forever to take the meat off!! did I overcook it or something? It’s just hard to fish out all the bones…
    also. can you keep/eat the meat that looks a little darker/brown? All the chicken in your jars look so perfectly white…
    When I pureed the broth, it turned orange! The whole thing! Like orange paint! I have a vitamix, so could it be that the carrots just over took the color? Should I just mash it up this time?

    Thanks, Laura, for all your amazing recipes. Thanks to you my husband is finally really liking me cook healthy food and we have soo much food in the freezer!

    [Reply]

    LindseyforLaura@HHM Reply:

    You should be able to use all the meat. Laura’s also turns orange from
    the carrots. :)

    [Reply]

  6. Kathie says

    Just an additional tip, you can throw a splash of raw apple cider vinegar in the slow cooker broth to leach out more good stuff from the bones…then you have a very nutritious calcium rich bone broth!

    [Reply]

  7. Katelyn says

    Never EVER thought of boiling the bones a second time! In the process of doing this right now, thank you Laura!!

    [Reply]

  8. Meghan says

    Thank you Thank you!!!! I’ve recently become a stay at home Mother again and I vowed to become more cost conscious!!! Your website has helped me tons!!! This recipe is not only delish but totally worth the time and little effort.

    [Reply]

  9. Angie says

    I just boiled 6 boneless chicken breasts in water with salt, pepper, and butter. There is a lot of liquid and I usually have thrown it down the sink, however, I am learning. What do I do from this point to come up with a good broth to freeze?

    [Reply]

    LindseyforLaura@HHM Reply:

    Usually if you have scraps that have fat on them with some of the chicken or bones left you can put them in the liquid to boil until it reduces down. You can add any seasonings you want. You also could try sticking some celery and carrots in there to get the flavor and just strain them out when you are done!

    [Reply]

  10. Amanda says

    Can u cook the chicken and make the broth in the crockpot? And about how many hours would it take a 5 lbs chicken to cook?

    [Reply]

    Laura Reply:

    Yes, that would work fine. It would probably take 8 hours on low – just a guess.

    [Reply]

  11. says

    Just now started boiling the chicken. Can’t tell you how much I have enjoyed your page so far.! Haven’t had much time to really get in to your site yet. It’s late so I’ll just cook it, de-bone it and do some chicken and dumplings tomorrow. Just wanted to say thanks.
    Cheri

    [Reply]

    Laura Reply:

    :)

    [Reply]

  12. Mary says

    Laura, how would you go about making some beef broth? Would you just use bones from a steak or roast?

    [Reply]

    LindseyforLaura@HHM Reply:

    That should work out fine! Give it a try! :)

    [Reply]

    Rach Stewart Reply:

    I’ve been given some beef soup bones. Can I do anything with them other than make broth?
    For beef broth, do you use the same veggies, etc. as for chicken broth?

    Thanks!

    [Reply]

    MCJam Reply:

    Roast the beef bones first, for outstanding flavor and a much more pleasant aroma wafting through the kitchen as the broth simmers.

  13. Jennifer says

    Since you are cooking with the skin, do you strin out the fat?

    [Reply]

    Laura Reply:

    No, I leave it in since it adds extra nutrition. :)

    [Reply]

  14. shannon says

    Hi! I made some homemade chicken broth as directed… it looked and tasted lovely fresh and frozen, but as soon as I took it out of the freezer and let it thaw in the fridge, it turned a brownish green color. Is that normal? It still smelled OK, but I was afraid to use it. I can’t find anything on line indicating why that would happen! Thanks!

    [Reply]

    Laura Reply:

    It’s totally fine as long as it smells good.

    [Reply]

  15. Tracey says

    What size of chicken portions do you freeze at a time? Is 2 cups an average amount of cooked chicken for recipes?

    I guess the same question for the broth too…

    [Reply]

    LindseyforLaura@HHM Reply:

    Laura freezes 2 cups chicken and 1/2 gallon of broth. I don’t know if that is average or not… :)

    [Reply]

  16. Rini says

    Oh. My. WORD! I cannot believe how much FOOD comes out of plain raw chicken! I read this post when it was new and never got up the nerve to try it. I was raised in a Taco Bell house, not a homemade bread and gravy house!

    Then one day we had a rotisserie chicken from Kroger and I looked at the leftover carcass and thought: Hmmmmm… Couldn’t hurt? Doesn’t cost anything?

    So I put it in a pot of water and boiled it for a while. Lo and behold, IT MADE CHICKEN BROTH! Not to mention another solid two cans worth of shredded chicken that we were going to throw away! Dinner plus leftovers, for practically nothing.

    This time, I got up the nerve to try with a package of 99c chicken thighs. $5.50 got me at least $6 worth of shredded chicken plus two cans worth of broth — on the first go! Now I have a “carcass” left over that’s larger than what I started with last time! o.o I didn’t even attempt to get all the meat off, since I’m now starting dinner with my “leftovers”.

    Next time, I think I’ll spring for the whole chicken. I bet I could come up with breaded chicken patties before I boil the rest… Clearly it’s time to try another three-year-old idea! :-D

    [Reply]

  17. Bonnie says

    OK, maybe a silly question, but I have never frozen chicken in jars, in ziplocks yes. Do you have any problems with frost forming on the meat? (I always squeeze the air out of the ziplocks) or do you top with juice or squish down the meat more to prevent this? How long can do you keep the cooked chicken in the freezer for? Love this idea!! Reuse the jars, no bags to throw out! Awesome, and who knew that making ‘homemade’ chicken broth could be so easy! Wow, totally got to try this!

    [Reply]

    Laura Reply:

    I have frozen chicken in jars, but really freezer bags work better. :)

    [Reply]

  18. jeanneb says

    May I suggest adding a few peppercorns to the original batch? They don’t make it spicy, but you’ll be amazed at the lovely flavor they add.

    I, too, am loving your site. You cook like I do…kind of seat-of-the-pants cuisine!

    Merry Christmas.

    [Reply]

  19. Lesley says

    I just did this the other night with a roasted chicken we’d had for dinner. I’m going to freeze the broth. I’m going to freeze the broth in ice cube trays for quick use of smaller amounts.

    [Reply]

  20. Angie says

    We love chicken noodle soup at our house. Every time I’ve made my own broth though no one will eat it. I’ve tried letting it cool then removing the layer of fat, I’ve left it in there, seems like no matter what it leaves kind of a greasy taste in our mouths. I just can’t seem to do it right and I’m following these same directions that everyone else on here seems to love. Is that how it’s supposed to taste and we just don’t like it because we’re used to store bought? Am I the only one having this problem? I’ve also tried making the broth without the chicken skin…same outcome. Any help would be appreciated:)

    [Reply]

    Kim Reply:

    I agree. I have the same problem.

    [Reply]

    LindseyforLaura@HHM Reply:

    Hmmmm. I am kind of stumped! I have never had this happen. It does end up greasy and I always scrape that off but I haven’t had it leave a greasy feel in my mouth. I was going to say make sure to take off the skin but it looks like you tried that. Maybe try reducing it longer??? Possibly add a smidge extra salt? I am throwing out guesses….sorry to not be very helpful! I hope it works for you!

    [Reply]

  21. Luree Johnston says

    Ok, so I’ve always known that chicken feet make excellent, gelatinous broth, but I’ve never had chicken WITH feet until now. So, I’m kinda freaking out. The feet are ugly! Any experience with your whole chickens having feet, and what I should do with them? I’m thinking I will cut them off at the “knee” but include them in my broth-making. But I will cut off the claws? I would love any advice you have.

    [Reply]

    Laura Reply:

    I just throw in the whole feet while making broth. It’s kinda creepy looking, but hey, it’s making great broth. :)

    [Reply]

    Luree Johnston Reply:

    Thanks! :)

    [Reply]

    MCJam Reply:

    If the chicken feet are still on the bird, they probably will need to be scalded to easily remove the outer layer of skin and claws, which will then just peel off (pop off for claws).

    They do add a lot of extra goodness to your broth if you can get past the “yuck” factor.

    [Reply]

  22. Karen S. says

    This year, we cut the wings, legs, and thighs off our turkey. My oven is broken, and we’re currently using a toaster oven. We roasted the turkey breast in the toaster oven and boiled the rest in a stock pot. The meat was tender and very flavorful, and I don’t normally like the dark meat. We used only the dark meat to make turkey noodle soup. We also put all the skin and bones into another pot of water to make additional broth. It’s so much better than what you can buy.

    [Reply]

  23. Cheryle says

    Whole or cut up whole chickens are expensive where I live. They cost as much or more than a rotisserie chicken already cooked. I’ve been making my broth from the rotisserie chicken carcass & skin plus throwing in the legs which don’t have much meat & often don’t get eaten. I also add carrots & celery. My broth is improving, but what I’m using doesn’t yield much broth & I end up adding a carton or can of broth to have enough to make anything out of it. If I used fresh dark meat like thighs, legs or wings which are less expensive than a whole chicken, would the broth be ok? We don’t really like dark meat, but it seems ok in soup or a casserole. Thanks for any suggestions.

    [Reply]

    Laura Reply:

    I’d add more water to the pot as you’re making broth. I typically fill my big stock pot quite full so that I get a larger yield. :)

    [Reply]

  24. says

    I’ve gained a lot of info not only from your post here but also from the comments above. Never thought of using leftovers from roasted chicken and other chicken dishes for making broth. And definitely didn’t know that we can make broth twice using the same chicken. Great to know! :D

    [Reply]

  25. Laurie V. says

    Hi ….. I love your site !
    Here’s an a few additional tips that work Great

    1. Sage … sage and chicken go together. Depending on the amount of chicken you have, the size of the pot and resulting broth and of course how much you like sage. Add anywhere from 1/2 tsp – 3 TB sage when making broth (start with a smaller amount to test how much you like in there)

    2. GARLIC ! I always add 10 or more cloves to the simmering pot. This seems like a lot …… but trust me; after your broth is done and you taste it …you too will love it. Its really not a heavy garlic taste at all.

    3. Whenever you have a tomato thats still good but not good enough for salad etc…….. Throw it into a small bag or container in the freezer to use in any broth. You can use a “good” tomato too, just put it into the freezer at least 24 hrs ahead of time. Now when you’re ready to make your broth put the entire whole tomato into the water……….. no need to cut or smash it down…just let it do its thing as is. It will later be strained off anyways. You’ll find this give a very slight additonl flavor thats amazing.

    4. Before doing the 2nd round of bones for a 2nd broth: Let the bones cool enough to handle them. Put on a pan in the oven to “roast” to a nice light brown- to medium brown color. Now put them into the broth pot and continue as usual to make your 2nd broth. The “roasting” add a wonderful flavor that will help to boost the resulting flavor of an otherwise pale broth.

    [Reply]

  26. Luree Johnston says

    Can you fill your ziploc bags too full of broth? I’m kinda freaking out that they are going to blow in the freezer down there!

    [Reply]

    LindseyforLaura@HHM Reply:

    I suppose if you didn’t leave any room for expansion that could happen. :) Although, it seems like you would have to stuff those amazingly full for that to occur. Good Luck!

    [Reply]

  27. Carly says

    What size pot do you use to boil 3 chickens? I would like a big stock pot. I feel like you, if I am going to go to the trouble , I might as well make it worth my while.

    [Reply]

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