Chicken broth is easy to make from scratch! Homemade chicken stock can be used in just about anything and is essential in a cold-busting chicken noodle soup.
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I've been holding onto this recipe all year.
Chicken broths and stocks are something I use all the time throughout the year. It's not just in my fall and winter soups, it's in my sauces, in my rice and risotto, braising my pork or chicken...it's basically everywhere all the time.
But I know that people are looking for the best chicken stock recipe to use for the holiday season. And flu season, since bone broth and chicken broth has been such a big thing and is scientifically proven to help with colds in chicken noodle soup.
This recipe makes a large amount of chicken broth full of delicious, cold-fighting, holiday-ready goodness that lasts for four months in zip-top bags stored flat in the freezer.
Meaning make a double batch now so that all your Thanksgiving and Christmas needs are met, y'all!
What is chicken broth?
Chicken broth (sometimes also called a bouillon) is a savory soup or liquid used in cooking made up of vegetables, chicken bones and other bony parts like feet, and the meat from the chicken. These ingredients are simmered (not boiled!) for a long period of time to impart flavor and nutrients into the water they're simmering in.
Broths and stocks are very versatile in usage: my broth is the base of many of my favorite soups, used as braising liquid for pulled pork or chicken, to make easy gravies, and great to sip on as a flavorful bone broth whenever we're feeling icky around here.
Are chicken broth and chicken stock the same thing?
Most chefs use 'stock' and 'broth' interchangeably. James Beard even wrote that stock, bouillon, and broth are all the same thing; there's only a bit of a difference between stocks and broths.
Stocks do not classically use meat and are not seasoned with salt. They use herbs, mirepoix (that's the mix of celery, carrots, and onions), and bones. Most of the time these are all leftovers from cooking or cleaning out the fridge.
Broth is almost the same, except it's not simmered as long and it uses meat instead of bones for flavor. It's less strict in definition than stock, and the ones from the store are often seasoned with salt. But because broth and stock are part of the mise en place, they're simply seen as ingredients for a recipe and are often lacking salt in classic culinary terms.
But honestly, I'm not going to nit pick for this recipe and get all culinary school on you. The easiest and best thing for a home cook to make and have on hand is a delicious chicken broth that has the good stuff from both broth and stock.
While broth can be seasoned, it doesn't have that collagen and gelatin from the bones being simmered for a long time. Not only is that stuff really good for you (it's part of the reason chicken soup helps you get rid of a cold!) but it also gives the broth body and great mouthfeel, like a velvety texture. It's also what makes it gel up when it's cold or at room temperature.
That's why stock comes out as that gelatin-texture when chilled: it's the bones and all the good stuff in it. That's why I always suggest making chicken broth at home, you get all the nutrients that are missing from the store-bought stuff and the dehydrated bouillon.
Making chicken broth from scratch
Making chicken stock or broth is really simple, and great when you have leftover ingredients like chicken carcasses from roasted chicken, extra carrots, celery, onions, herbs that you have in your fridge or pantry. Using leftovers is a really affordable and great way to get every bit of use out of your ingredients.
I like to think of stock and broth as an 'I'm cleaning out the fridge' type of thing. You can add all types of veg to it, not just the mirepoix of celery, onion, carrots. Leeks, fennel, parsnips, parsley, mushrooms, carrot tops, celery leaves, all kinds of good stuff add their own little notes of flavor to your stock, which might be what you're looking for in your Thanksgiving gravy. Make sure to give the veggies a quick scrub and rinse before adding them to the sheet pan to roast.
Just be careful and don't use anything too green like broccoli, spinach, artichoke, etc. Those sulfuric flavors are not what you're looking for, trust me.
You can also use fresh chicken! Once done simmering in the broth, shred the meat and add it to chicken and gnocchi soup or toss it with some alfredo sauce and pasta for dinner that night. Double duty!
Roasting the chicken bones and vegetables for broth
Could you just throw in raw chicken and veg and simmer until done? Sure! That's a classic way to make chicken broth. But you're missing out on some seriously rich, delicious, powerful flavor making here, people. Here are the benefits to roasting the bones, chicken parts, and vegetables for stock and broth:
- Roasting the bones, meat, and veg before making broth causes the Maillard Reaction -- a chemical reaction between an amino acid and a reducing sugar that alters the flavor of food and causes browning-- giving everything better flavor and a rich brown color. Which in turn gives your broth better flavor and a rich brown color.
- Collagen and gelatin. You'll see I don't just use bones and bony pieces like necks, wings, and carcasses but I also love using chicken feet (found at your local butcher and Asian markets for cheap!). Chicken feet may look crazy, but they have a ton of nutrients, flavor, and collagen! They're the perfect stock ingredient.
To roast the raw bones, meat, feet, and vegetables, throw them all onto a parchment paper-lined baking sheet in one layer and roast in a 400 degree F oven until they're nicely browned, so maybe give it just over half an hour. Make sure not to burn them!
Simmer, simmer, simmer
After roasting, throw your chicken parts and veg into a large stock pot or Dutch oven and simmer for at least four hours in plenty of water. Never let it boil, you could end up burning ingredients at the bottom of the pot.
Once done simmering, strain the entire thing in a large mesh colander into a large bowl. Strain it further with a mesh sieve, if desired.
The next part will have to wait until the broth has cooled down, and that's to skim all the fat off the top. Chilling the chicken broth causes all the fat to come to the top and solidify, which makes getting rid of all that excess fat easy.
Boom, homemade real-life "omg, did you do that?" roasted chicken stock that will have nothing but good flavor and tons of confidence that you are ready to make your mom's chicken noodle soup completely from scratch.
Freezing chicken broth
Chicken broth and stock freezes so well and lasts for up to six months in there! The best way to freeze chicken broth is to put them into different sized serving containers for different uses. Bigger freezer-safe containers for making big pots of soup and flattened zip-top bags filled with a couple of cups of chicken broth for gravy or braising are my go-to's.
- Stock Pot or Dutch Oven
- Baking Sheet
- Slotted Spoon
- Quart Soup Containers (my favorite for holding large amounts of soup or broth)
Looking for more comforting soups? Check out:
- Broccoli and Cheddar Soup (Panera Bread Copycat)
- Roasted Tomato Soup with Grilled Cheese Croutons
- Chicken and Dumplings
- Deconstructed Chicken Pot Pie
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- 4 pounds chicken pieces, legs, wings, feet, necks and/or back bones
- 2 celery ribs with leaves, cut into chunks
- 2 medium carrots, cut into chunks
- 2 medium onions, quartered, skin left on
- 1 whole head of garlic
- 2 tsp kosher salt
- 2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tbsp regular olive oil
- 2 bay leaves
- ½ teaspoon dried rosemary or 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
- ½ cup fresh parsley
- ½ teaspoon dried thyme or 3 sprigs fresh thyme
- ½ tsp dried ground sage
- 8 to 10 whole black peppercorns
- 3 quarts cold water
- Juice of ½ lemon
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees (220 degrees C).
- Arrange the chicken parts, carrots, celery, garlic, and onion in a roasting pan large enough to hold them in one layer; drizzle all those components with the oil and season well with kosher salt. Roast for 30 to 45 minutes or until the skin on the chicken is golden brown and the vegetables are browning.
- Combine the roasted chicken and vegetables with the black peppercorns, rosemary, thyme, bay leaves, and sage in a large stockpot or Dutch oven. Add the cold water to the pot and bring to a lively simmer over medium heat. Then reduce the heat to medium-low, letting the stock simmer gently; partially cover and cook for anywhere from 3 hours to 8 hours.
- As foam and fat rise to the top, skim it off using a spoon. Repeat every so often.
- Taste, and add salt and ground black pepper, as needed. If using, add the juice of a lemon.
- Use a slotted spoon to remove the chicken, allowing the stock to drain back into the pot. You can reserve the chicken meat for other dishes; it will keep in a covered container in the refrigerator for 3 days.
- Strain the broth in a mesh colander and cheesecloth, discarding the remaining vegetable solids, bones, and chicken skin. Cool the broth in a bowl in the fridge covered in plastic wrap. Let chill for 8 hours to overnight, then skim the excess fat that has chilled and risen to the top with a spoon and discard it.
- Freeze stock flat in freezer-safe zip-top bags, it'll last for six months in the freezer. Otherwise keep it in a covered container for 4-5 days in the fridge.
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 12 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 355Total Fat: 17gSaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 11gCholesterol: 178mgSodium: 567mgCarbohydrates: 8gFiber: 2gSugar: 4gProtein: 41g
All nutrition facts are estimations. Please see a physician for any health-related inquiries.
Eden Westbrook is the recipe developer, writer, and photographer behind Sweet Tea and Thyme. A classically trained chef, Eden has inspired home cooks into the kitchen with cultural comfort foods, easy family-friendly eats and sweets, and glorious spreads for date night and entertaining since 2015.