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Turn Leftovers Into the Richest Homemade Chicken Stock: One-Pot Recipe Preps in 15 Minutes

Get more flavor for less money with this simple recipe that uses up kitchen scraps

A good chicken stock makes for a true kitchen essential. It forms the base for countless soups, stews and sauces, adding richness and depth to our favorite dishes. But the store-bought cartons often leave something to be desired. Many of them lack in the flavor department, while others come packed with hidden ingredients and an excess of sodium. Well, we have good news: creating homemade chicken stock couldn’t be easier. This one-pot recipe preps in just 15 minutes with simple ingredients you probably already have (and you can even save up leftovers). Plus, we unpack the health benefits of making your own stock and expert tips for getting that amazing flavor. Here’s what to know to make homemade chicken stock.

What is chicken stock?

Chicken stock is a golden, flavorful liquid made by simmering chicken bones, vegetables and herbs in water over a long period of time. We like to think of it as the culinary equivalent of a magic potion, as it lends its flavor to many dishes from soup to rice. But how does it differ from chicken broth? Well, stock uses only chicken bones and simmers for a lot longer. This results in a more concentrated, richer flavor. Broth, on the other hand, may use a combination of bones and meat, simmers for a shorter time and has a lighter, less intense flavor.

The two main types of chicken stocks include brown and white, named after their color. Brown chicken stock comes from sautéing the chicken bones in a pan and adding water before simmering. This adds a deeper, caramelized flavor and an amber color to the final stock. White stock, made without browning the bones, has a lighter, delicate flavor and a paler color.

The benefits of homemade chicken stock

Making your own chicken stock offers several advantages. First, it boasts a depth and richness unmatched by store-bought broths. Second, you control what goes into your stock. “When you make your own chicken stock, you can use your own ratio and selection of vegetables,” says Chef Meg Walker, owner of MBM Hospitality. “Chicken stock is typically used with a mirepoix, which is carrots, onions, and celery, and you can make it organic if you’d like. I do find that there is a chemical taste to a lot of the commercial brands of premade stock.” Additionally, it doesn’t break the bank. Using leftover chicken bones can save you some money and reduce your food waste.

Nutritional value

Homemade chicken stock comes packed with essential nutrients to support a healthy diet. These include protein from the breakdown of collagen in the bones and minerals such as calcium, potassium and phosphorous. Chicken stock also has electrolytes, which maintain hydration and balance the body, and has been traditionally used for centuries to support the immune system.

See also: The Many Mighty Benefits of Bone Broth: From Better Sleep to Firmer Skin

Building the perfect homemade chicken stock

homemade chicken stock ingredients

You should only have one goal when it comes to homemade chicken stock: maximizing flavor. To start, you just need a pot of water. Water acts as a medium to extract all the goodness and transform the simple ingredients below into a delicious liquid.

1. Chicken bones

The star of the show! Chicken bones have a lot of collagen, which breaks down during simmering to release gelatin, adding body and richness. You can also use leftover carcasses from cooked chicken. Even leftover wing bones, necks and backs contribute significant flavor. 

“If you’re working with raw bones, roasting them as a preliminary step can enhance the depth of flavor in your stock,” says Holly Nilsson, creator of Spend with Pennies. “To do this, drizzle the bones with olive oil, add a quartered onion for extra aroma and roast them in the oven at 400°F for approximately 25-30 minutes, or until they develop a golden hue.”

2. Vegetables

The classic “mirepoix” of carrots, celery and onions forms the backbone of aromatics in chicken stock. Carrots add a natural sweetness and a touch of earthiness. And you don’t need to peel them. Celery stalks and leaves contribute a subtle flavor and an aromatic quality to the stock. Finally, onion adds a savory depth and complexity. We like an unpeeled, halved yellow onion. You can also add other vegetables like parsnips, leeks or mushrooms. We support a full raid of your kitchen for any leftovers that would otherwise get thrown out.

3. Herbs and spices

Fresh herbs like thyme, bay leaves and parsley add a touch of fragrance. You can tie them together with kitchen twine for easy removal before straining. Additionally, whole black peppercorns and a whole head of garlic add complexity to the flavor profile.

Helpful tips for making homemade chicken stock

When making this homemade stock, we have a few expert-approved tips you’ll want to know. Remember, patience is key: a longer simmering time provides the deepest flavors.

1. Prep your ingredients

When working with raw vegetables, Chef Walker says to “make sure to wash them thoroughly and peel them. It’s important to cut all the vegetables to the same size, with carrots the same size as onions and celery.”

Nilsson adds: “If you’re short on bones, check your local grocery. They often sell inexpensive packs of turkey necks which are perfect for flavor.” And remember to use up those leftovers! “If you have leftover gravy, stock, meaty parts that nobody is eating (such as the neck) or drippings, add them to your pot,” she says.

2. Skim the top

A foamy layer may rise to the surface during simmering. Skim it off occasionally will remove impurities and give a clearer stock.

3. Simmer, don’t boil

Maintain a gentle simmer throughout the cooking process to prevent cloudiness and also extract the best flavor from the ingredients.

Storing and reusing

After making your homemade chicken stock, let it cool completely before storing in an airtight container. “In general, chicken stock lasts in the fridge for 4-5 days after it is cooked,” notes Nilsson. “If you plan to use it after that, it freezes easily for future use. I divide it into small 1-cup portions and freeze them for 2-3 months.”

To reheat your stock, let it thaw completely if frozen. Then, transfer it into a saucepan and cook over low heat. But avoid high heat, which can cause the stock to boil rapidly and lose its flavor. Additionally, only simmer for as long as you need so the liquid doesn’t evaporate.

Easy homemade chicken stock recipe

After making your own chicken stock, you’ll never buy store-bought again. This fuss-free recipe from Tastes Better from Scratch preps in just 15 minutes before simmering (talk about easy). It also uses a precooked rotisserie chicken, so you can save the meat for another meal!

Homemade Chicken Stock

homemade chicken stock in white bowl with ingredients


  • 1 rotisserie chicken, meat removed
  • 2 ribs celery, with leaves, cut into chunks
  • 2 medium carrots, cut into chunks
  • 2 medium onions, cut into chunks
  • 2 bay leaves
  • ½ tsp. dried rosemary
  • ½ tsp. dried thyme
  • 10 whole peppercorns
  • 8 cups cold water
  • 6 chicken bouillon cubes, optional


  • Active Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 2 hours, 15 minutes
  • Yield: 8 servings (8 cups of stock)
  1. Firstly, place the rotisserie chicken, vegetables, spices and water into a large soup pot. 
  2. Slowly bring to a boil over medium heat, and then skim off any foam that rises to the surface with a spoon.
  3. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer on low heat for at least 2 hours or longer.
  4. Remove from the heat and allow to cool. Then, strain the stock through a fine sieve strainer, discarding all vegetables and seasonings so you are only left with the stock. Optionally, season with chicken bouillon cubes.

What to do with homemade chicken stock

Congratulations! You just made yourself a culinary chameleon that you can whip out for (almost) every recipe. “Chicken stock works best as a soup base, the base of chicken sauces and for any sauces being put on chicken,” says Chef Walker. But to see just how versatile it can be, we put together a few ideas for the next time you want to elevate a weeknight dinner or party favorite.

1. Soups and stews

Chicken stock forms the soul of countless soups and stews, so use it as a base for classics like chicken noodle soup, minestrone or a hearty lentil stew. Additionally, try our one-pot recipe for Creamy Chicken and Rice Stew.

2. Sauces and gravies

Swap water for chicken stock when making pan sauces, gravy for roasted chicken or a creamy mushroom sauce.

3. Risotto and pasta dishes

For an extra layer of flavor in your favorite risotto or pasta dishes, ditch the water and use chicken stock instead. Try it with mushroom risotto or cacio e pepe.

4. Vegetables

Steaming or simmering vegetables in chicken stock brings great added flavor. From broccoli to green beans, you can get anyone to eat their greens with this simple trick.

Want to get the most out of your chicken? Try some of these recipes below:

Why You Should Add Chicken Paillard to Your Weeknight Rotation: It’s Fast, Easy + Delicious

Why Chefs Love Airline Chicken Breast: The Unique Cut Delivers Extra Juicy Goodness

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