I teach students in my Grocery Budget Bootcamp class to always have an old yogurt container in the freezer for chicken stock.
I usually get a couple of strange comments and looks, so I explain that the container is for kitchen scraps – anything and everything that could possibly be added to chicken stock to enhance the flavor should be put into the container.
In this last class, the odd looks didn’t disappear and I could tell more questions were coming. This is one of my best and longest used money-saving tricks, so I thought I’d share with you guys just exactly how to make chicken stock using kitchen scraps, including which scraps you should avoid!
Why I learned how to make chicken stock
Chicken stock is a fantastic ingredient to have on hand for many recipes. When I discovered how easy it was to make, with just chicken bones and vegetables, and how much money it saved me to make it homemade, I never turned back. Here’s why I make my own chicken stock:
- It prevents food waste. You use a lot of scraps and bones from chicken to make an amazing stock!
- Saves money. Chicken stock can be pricey, especially if you want to buy organic.
- It is incredibly delicious. Using homemade stock in recipes elevates any dish!
Is chicken broth the same as chicken stock?
While it may be tempting to think that chicken broth and stock are similar in some ways, they do have their differences.
- Thickness: Chicken stock is much thicker than broth.
- Ingredients: Chicken stock uses chicken bones while chicken broth uses actual meat.
- Nutrition: Chicken stock has higher vitamins and minerals than broth, but also has more calories.
Why I use kitchen scraps to make chicken stock
Kitchen scraps are how you can make the best chicken stock you’ve ever had. Once you taste it, you’ll NEVER go back to store-bought, and you’ll think twice about throwing your kitchen scraps away! Here’s how to shift to saving kitchen scraps for stock:
Step 1: Break out of the mindset that kitchen scraps belong in the trash can. This goes for peels, rinds, skins, cores, stem, greens, leaves, cobs… ANYTHING you would typically throw away can possibly be used in homemade chicken stock.
Step 2: Realize the importance of washing ALL of your produce. I admit that sometimes I skimp on washing the foods where we don’t eat the outside, but since we are using them to add flavor to homemade chicken stock – you do need to wash them. Here’s my guide to washing produce naturally.
Ingredients for The Best Homemade Chicken Stock
In order to make homemade chicken stock, you first need chicken bones. These bones can be…
- Raw chicken bones from a whole chicken you butchered yourself
- Random drumsticks and thighs from meals
- Raw bones with meat on them
- Eaten-off-of bones from dinner plates
- Bones bought from a butcher
- A whole chicken carcass you cooked (via the Instant Pot or Slow Cooker) and picked all the meat off of, or a rotisserie chicken you picked all the meat off.
It doesn’t really matter where the bones come from, but the quality does matter since you are using these bones for homemade chicken stock. Try to buy the best quality you can afford.
In addition to chicken bones, you also need kitchen scraps.
Here’s a list of the best kitchen scraps for homemade chicken stock:
- Asparagus – the ends and any part beyond the natural snapping point
- Beets – greens and roots
- Carrots – all ends, peels, and greens (you can also use green carrot tops to make carrot top pesto!)
- Cauliflower – leafy base
- Corn – corn cobs
- Garlic – the outer paper of the head, the peel of each clove, and the garlic itself
- Celery – the white parts near the root, the “mini-rib” near the top, and both the inner and outer leaves
- Ginger – outer skin
- Green Beans – the snipped or pinched off ends
- Greens – any sturdy and hearty greens like beet greens, turnip, collards, chard… you can use the leaves and the stems
- Herbs – most mild ad savory herbs are great for stock, like chives, parsley, and basil. See “Herbs” below for which ones to avoid.
- Leek – all parts of the leaves
- Lettuce – it doesn’t add much flavor, but it can be added
- Mushrooms – stems and caps
- Onions – papery peel, outer layer, and all varieties
- Parsnip – all ends and peels
- Pea Pods – the outer shell from peas
- Potatoes – peels
- Squash – the hard outside of winter squash (acorn squash, butternut squash, pumpkin, etc.), the seeds of any squash
- Sweet Potatoes – peels
- Turnip – all ends and peels
The Worst Kitchen Scraps for homemade chicken stock:
- Avocado – pits and skin
- Cabbage – any kind (including Brussels sprouts, napa, green, red)
- Herbs – cilantro, rosemary in large quantities
- Peppers (hot) – any kind
- Peppers (sweet)
Can you use leftovers for making chicken stock?
Yes! As I mentioned above, you can use bones from chicken you cooked for meals, like bones from random drumsticks and thighs, eaten-off-of bones from dinner plates, or a whole chicken you cooked and picked all the meat off of.
How do you make chicken stock from scratch?
Here’s my exact method for making chicken stock.
- Make Instant Pot whole chicken.
- Leave the liquid in the Instant Pot and remove the chicken. Pick the meat off the bones and put all the bones back into the Instant Pot.
- Add my frozen chicken bones and frozen kitchen scraps.
- Add 1 Tbsp black peppercorns and 1 tsp celery seed and fill the Instant Pot to the fill line with water.
- Press the “broth/stock” option and cook on high pressure for 25 minutes.
- Strain the stock through a colander, set over a 12-quart stockpot.
- Put the bones and scraps back into the Instant Pot and repeat steps 4-6 until the stockpot is full.
- Let the stock cool to room temperature and ladle into old yogurt containers.
- Freeze for homemade stock whenever I need it!
Here’s my method for making slow cooker chicken stock, and here’s how to make Instant Pot chicken stock (pressure cooker). If you want to make chicken stock on the stove, combine everything in a large pot and simmer for 2-4 hours.
I have an 8 quart Instant Pot and use about one gallon of chicken bones to one gallon of kitchen scraps. The more bones and scraps you have, the richer and more flavorful the broth will be. Don’t forget that you can re-use the bones and scraps for multiple batches of stock!
How to make the best chicken stock from kitchen scraps:
- Start with chicken bones. After you make a whole chicken for dinner (use your Instant pot or slow cooker), save the bones for your next batch of stock. Or save the bones from chicken pieces.
- Save a variety of food scraps (for evenly balanced and rich flavor) in the freezer and avoid scraps you don’t like. Use an old yogurt container or one of these until you are ready to make chicken stock. (Make sure to wash your produce with one of these techniques!)
- Cook your kitchen scrap chicken stock in your Instant Pot or slow cooker (I have this Instant Pot and this slow cooker).
- Strain and store in old yogurt containers, these freezer-safe containers for chicken stock any time you need it! (If you have a small freezer and can’t fit in a lot of containers, consider using plastic freezer-safe bags. These nifty things will help you fill them without making a mess!)
Can you make Chicken stock or broth without chicken?
Simply put, no. Chicken stock and broth must be made with chicken/chicken bones if you want the chicken flavor. If you want to make stock or broth without chicken, you can make vegetable stock.
Can you buy chicken stock?
Yes, but it tends to be pricey, especially if you buy full organic brands.
Can you make gravy from Chicken Stock?
Yes! Many gravy recipes use chicken stock as a main ingredient.
What to make with homemade chicken stock
I use homemade chicken stock in all my favorite soups:
- Chicken Noodle Soup
- Leftover Pork and Potato Soup
- White Bean with Sausage and Kale Soup
- Red Pepper Tomato Soup
- Kung Fu Panda Soup
- Red Lentil Vegetable Soup
- Northern Beans and Ham Soup
- Tortilla Soup
I also use homemade chicken stock in these recipes: