Chicken Stock for the Soul

by Amy Peterson
Only God can make something out of nothing; but when I create a rich, nourishing chicken broth out of things that I used to just throw in the trash, I do feel like something a little magical, if not quite divine, is happening.Of all the changes I have made since trying to live more sustainably, making chicken stock on a regular basis is my absolute favorite.  It’s the easiest as well as the most satisfying. It’s frugal, truly healthy, and it allows me to be more in control of what’s going into my body.  Basic Homemade Chicken Stock1. Throw chicken bones, skins, and scraps into a large stock pot.

  • You can use raw or cooked scraps, or a mixture.
  • You can save bones in the freezer until you’re ready to make stock.

Chicken scraps

2. Pour cold filtered water into the stock pot until the chicken is covered, then add another inch or two of water.

3. Add vegetables.

  • I usually add a carrot (cut in half), an onion (quartered), a peeled garlic clove, a bay leaf, and 3 whole peppercorns, but you can do without any of those, and it will still turn out great.
  • You can even the peelings from washed carrots and onion tops instead of using whole vegetables!  I’m usually not on top of things enough to have saved my scraps, though.

Veg scraps

4. Bring to a boil, then simmer gently.

  • Simmer with lid tilted.
  • Simmer for 2-12 hours.
  • Salt to taste.

Chicken stock

5. Cool, strain, and store.

  • Strain through a fine mesh strainer, or cheesecloth. Discard bones and scraps.
  • Store your liquid gold in mason jars or other containers (preferably glass).
  • Freeze some in ice cube trays for when you just need a small amount to add to a recipe.
  • The stock should last almost a week in the fridge, or for several months in the freezer.
  • Liquids expand when frozen, so be sure to leave an inch of space at the top of your mason jar before freezing.

Jars of stock


  • If you usually only cook boneless chicken breasts, don’t despair.  You can even use the bones from a store-bought rotisserie chicken, or the bones from leftover KFC.
  • You can also make stock in a crock pot.  Follow the steps above, but use a crock-pot set on low.
  • It’s super-easy to cook a whole chicken in the crock pot, shred the meat for soups, casseroles, or tacos, and then return the carcass to the crock pot to make stock.  See here for details.
  • For lots of nutrition facts and tips, check out this extensive post on Kitchen Stewardship.
  • One of my favorite soup recipes to use this stock in.

Do you make bone broths?  Share your tips and tricks in the comments!

Amy PetersonAmy teaches ESL Writing and American Pop Culture at Taylor University. She and her husband, Jack, met while teaching English in Southeast Asia. After three years living in international community in Seattle, they settled in rural Indiana with their two little children. Amy loves dabbling in gardening and composting, baking sweet things, repurposing through sewing, and making all kinds of things from scratch. She also blogs at Making All Things New and for Christ and Pop Culture.


4 thoughts on “Chicken Stock for the Soul

  1. i recently learned that the skins of onion and garlic add the most flavor. the skins! and the leaves from celery too . . . all those things i throw away. making stock is totally my way of easing into being in charge of my food. it makes me feel so fabulous.

  2. I’m a vegetarian, so I keep a ready supply of veggie broth on hand all the time. It’s one of my favorite food disciplines. It’s really so easy and it’s wonderful knowing that we’re getting lots of nutrition from our soups and things and we know exactly what’s in there! When I cut up veggies for other meals, I always freeze the leftover parts, like the thick stalks of broccoli, the leaves and trimmings of celery, carrots, etc. I also freeze any leftover juice from a can of tomatoes (home-canned or store-bought) and dump that into my broth for a little added flavor. I do find that I have to transfer my broth from ice trays after awhile because it starts to shrink in the ice tray if left too long. I usually move the ice cubes of broth into a baggie after a week or so (if I remember or if we haven’t used them already!).

  3. I LOVE making chicken broth! I’ve been known to even take the turkey carcass from Thanksgiving and use that. If I know the hosts are just going to throw it away I ask to take it home…why waste good bones?!?! I usually make it in my crockpot overnight. I love being productive when I sleep:)

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