Homemade Chicken Broth & 6 Reasons to Make Your Own

While really an essential all year round, chicken broth is especially appreciated once fall rolls around. I definitely consider it a fall essential. As colds and flues start appearing, homemade chicken broth plays it’s historical role of nourishing and protecting those sick. As cold weather appears, it warms tummies and soothes you from the inside out. Chicken broth (or stock) is also an important source of calcium, especially vital for those you don’t drink or eat dairy, but highly beneficial for everyone.

I’ve experimented with many different ways to make chicken broth/stock, but the following recipe is one my most used methods. It balances expense and taste. I personally find that using some leftover bones and some raw bone in chicken pieces make the best tasting broth. But why go through the (very little) trouble of making your own chicken broth? Let me give you 6 reasons.

1) Better use of Resources
Throwing away the bones of chickens is truthfully a terrible waste (though it occasionally happens even in our home). Those bones are full of minerals such as calcium that can be used to nourish your family. I am not a vegetarian, however I feel that we should treat the death of an animal with respect and part of that respect is utilizing every part of that chicken as much as possible.

2) Saves Money
And when we do that, we win be saving money too! We don’t have to buy those expensive “natural” boxes of chicken broth in the store.

3) More Nutritious
Not only do we save money making our own, but it’s so much more nutritious. Even the natural brands are very watered down and poor nutritionally speaking. They use coloring (natural ones) and “natural flavorings” often to make up for the poor quality of the stock. Less natural brands can be full of refined salts and MSG. Making your own broth gives you a mineral rich, nutritious base for all sorts of wonderful meals.

4) It Tastes Better
Are you really that surprised that homemade broth tastes better? Good nutrition is most always paired with superior taste. We love homemade broth so much that we will sometimes sip it in mugs simply salted. (Yes, you will need to add salt).

5) Improves Your Cooking
A good homemade chicken broth gives you the foundation for making delicious soups and sauces and a myriad of other uses. You can cook your grains and legumes in it for extra nutrition and taste (which helps improve mineral absorption if you are concerned about phytic acid’s impact). You can flavor stir fry’s, chicken pot pie, taco filling and many other dishes with it. Having chicken broth on hand gives you the ability to make some wonderful dishes easily.

6) Gives You Many Health Benefits

Besides the rich nutrition you get from it, you also get other health benefits. An excellent (long) article on the topic was published by the Weston Price Foundation, called Why Broth is Beautiful. Here we learn that the gelatin rich broth helps the digestibility of our entire meal, supports liver function, as well as aiding bone and teeth health through the easily absorbed minerals.

I hope that if you aren’t already sold on homemade chicken broth’s benefits that you soon will be! I try to make a pot of it every week and can easily use it up for our family of three in that same week. It’s one of the most simple things you can make in the kitchen too. I have made chicken broth many ways, such as using chicken necks and backs, all leftover bones stripped of the meat, all raw meat on bones, using all whole vegetables, using leftover vegetable scraps saved from a week of chopping etc. All to say, the art of making your own chicken broth is very, very flexible. The following recipe is what I use most often as I have found that it results in a delicious tasting broth, is frugal and I get consistent results from it.

To increase the calcium of your broth, make sure you add the apple cider vinegar to the stock and that you cook it for long periods of time-12-24 hours, but not beyond that time as off flavors can start to develop. It was found in more than one study that the calcium content increases through length of cooking time when in an acidic liquid. (1) You can also let the bones sit in the acidic water for about an hour before heating. This may allow more minerals to leech from the bones.

Many find using their slow cooker the easiest way to make homemade chicken broth, though I still hesitate in cooking an acidic liquid for long periods of time in slow cookers which may contain levels of lead that could potentially be leeched out. However, this is a very easy way to maintain the right temperature.

Chicken Broth

1 chicken carcass (or a bag of drumstick bones from the freezer, see note below)
1-2 pound of raw drumsticks or chicken legs (I keep mine ready and frozen in the freezer)
3-5 chicken feet (see note below), optional (I also keep these frozen in the freezer)
Any gizzards from the cavity of the chicken, taken out before cooking, optional
4 carrots, scrubbed and cut into 3 inch pieces
4 celery, washed and cut into 3 inch pieces
1 onion, peeled and cut in half
1 bay leaf, optional
15 peppercorns, optional
A few sprigs of thyme , optional
¼ cup of apple cider vinegar

Dump all of the ingredients into a large stock pot and cover with filtered water about an inch or two above the top of the ingredients. To draw out more of the calcium from the bones, let sit for an hour at this point at room temperature, optional. Bring to a low simmer and cover. You should never boil stock. Keep at a very low simmer for 3-24 hours, skimming any foam that may rise to the top. The longer you simmer the more flavor and minerals leach out into the water. I find that 12 hours work well for me, go past 24 hours and it will become bitter and too dark.Once done, cool slightly and then pour through a colander. You can further strain the broth by pouring through cheesecloth, though I never bother.

You can also make this using a slow cooker, using the same directions as above and cooking on low.

Whenever I make drumsticks or any other type of chicken on bone, I stick them in a freezer bag and place them in the freezer until we have enough to make a pot of stock. Although it seems a little strange at first to save bones that people have eaten off, a 12 hour simmer is going to kill any “coodies”. But if you would rather, just have your family cut their meat off the bones.

Regarding the chicken feet, some find this practice barbaric, however remember that using all parts of the chicken show proper respect to the chicken. The feet are an excellent source of gelatin. Find them at Asian stores or from local farmers.

Source: 1) http://www.springerlink.com/content/p7u013w7360016w2/

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I love beautiful and simple food that is nourishing to the body and the soul. I wrote Fresh: Nourishing Salads for All Seasons and Ladled: Nourishing Soups for All Seasons as another outlet of sharing this love of mine. I also love sharing practical tips on how to make a real food diet work on a real life budget. Find me online elsewhere by clicking on the icons below!


  1. says

    Oh man!! I have been wanting to do this but I tend to be quite squeamish when it comes to raw meats and especially all the things you listed. I understand and appreciate the benefits I just don’t know if I can handle chicken feet and gizzards. Thanks for the post!! Also, I am very excited about your plastic posts to come.

  2. David says

    Our local Chinese grocery store sells chicken hulks (bones of a chicken from which have been taken the major meat components) at three for $1. Just this week we took three of these bags, added carrots, celery, onion, some soya sauce, a little salt and pepper, bay leaves and water to make over 12 litres of chicken soup stock. This will become the basis of soups, gravies, stews and most importantly, some reduced concentrated chicken liquid whicih makes gravies so delectable.

    Thanks for the tip!

    Also, I can get free beef bones cut into chunks which have good marrow for doing the same for beef stock!


  3. karen says

    Do you use the organ meat from store bought chickens? I’m having a hard time finding store bought chicken that I feel comfortable eating the organ meat. When we are able to purchase well cared for chix (from a friend), I always use the organ meat.

    Thyme adds such a lovely flavor to stock, please don’t skip it. I always keep it in the freezer (purchased on clearance, of course!) and toss it in the stock pot.

  4. Alicia says

    Can you comment on using filtered water? I have to buy it from the store, and that is what keeps me from making stock more regularly. Our city water here in Seattle is pretty good, it comes from the mountains. Can I get by with that?

    • Erin says

      Hey a fellow-Washingtonian. I am in Lynnwood and I know my water has flouride and other nasties that I would like to filter out. And a filter is on my wish list. I, for now, do use tap. And have made stock with the tap and it was fine as far as taste goes.

  5. jen says

    are you saying to put the gizzards in the stock pot? huh, i’ve never done that – i guess i always thought i had to eat the organ to obtain its nutrients. thanks for the tip!

    • KimiHarris says

      I can’t remember who, but I learned that from another blogger who claimed that she had one of the best broths ever. It turned out that the lady who made it said her secret was using plenty of organ meats in it. I’ve used the liver with great results.

  6. Jessie says

    Timely post. I’ll be making lots stock soon as I have lots of bones (bought a big bag of them – from pastured birds at a local farm). Also lots of feet.

    I must say that the first time I used chicken feet, I was kind of squeemish. But I’ve totally gotten used to it. I snip off the nail / first joint of each toe. I think you get more gelatin that way.

  7. Mel says

    Just made chicken stock overnight so I could have chicken soup today. I used bones I had saved in the freezer. Thought it funny that today’s post was on the same day I made stock.

  8. Anna says

    I make chicken broth/stock every time we eat a whole chicken, my freezer is full of mason jars with broth/stock. I, like you, hate to throw away an entire chicken carcass when it has so many uses. I always strain mine through a collandar, however, my issue comes after that step. I’ve read that it’s good to let sit in the fridge over night and then skim off the hardened fat on the surface. This is fine, however, the broth/stock has completely hardened and turned to jello by then (sounds gross, I know!). How can I avoid this with still being able to skim off the fat on the top? I’d like to have a fluid, “clean” looking broth.

    • KimiHarris says

      Anna, That’s just a sign that you have a lovely gelatin rich stock! Don’t worry about it and enjoy the fact that you’ve made such a wonderful broth. :-)

    • Jennifer C. says

      What I did this last time is put the hot stock in half gallon mason jars and then put it in a pan in ice water to cool. The fat rises to the top so it is really easy to skim off with a ladel or a measuring cup (1/4 is what I used). I used this method because I freeze my stock right away, well most of it. I use a huge stock pot an make like 3 gallons at a time. That way I always have some on hand when I need it.

      We buy chicken backs, feet and necks through a local farmer here who does awesome taking care of their chickens- Joel Salatin! Anyway, I am really glad to see this post because I think it is something people should do more often!

      Oh btw- you can use the fat plus stock to make a very tasty greasy rice! Just add enough salt- so delicious!

  9. Sarah says

    I started making my own bone broth from the Nourishing Traditions cookbook after a diagnosis of adrenal fatigue. I only put in herbs and maybe garlic and onions in for the 24 hour cooking. I like to add the vegetables later, when making the soup.
    And it’s true, with only salt, I love the first bowl straight from the strainer dipped with yummy artisan bread and butter.

  10. says

    I love to use turkey backs/necks and chicken feet to make mine! That is my favorite and makes the best stock. I don’t usually do the apple cider vinegar (the couple times I tried it, it didn’t seem to make a difference for me), but I do the long, slow heating.

    Also, DON’T skim the fat off!! That is excellent stuff! You NEED that fat. I always make sure I keep as much as possible with mine and put it in my soups. :)

    • KimiHarris says

      The apple cider vinegar helps draw the calcium out of the bones, but it won’t make an obvious difference to you in taste or texture.

      I love using turkey backs and necks too! So delicious. As much as I love chicken broth, turkey broth is even better.

    • KimiHarris says

      Oh, and as far as the fat goes. You can also skim part of all of it and add fat back in when making your soup so you have more control of how much fat is in your broth. Depending on how much skin I used when making the stock I personally find that it can get unpleasantly fatty. But it can be saved to be used for other projects quite successfully.

      • says

        So one can save just the fat alone in glass freezer containers, right along side the broth? That sounds better than taking all the fat away for good, I always felt like seeing some of those tiny oily drops on the top of chicken soup, is what made it a good soup broth. Though I wonder how you know how much to add back in when making chicken soup, later?

  11. Greta R. says

    I have made my own chicken stock several times. It’s nice being able to cook soups with my own broth instead of spending money at the store for something so simple.

  12. Cara says

    To store …. do you pour the stock in glass mason/canning jars or in plastic containers/bags? How do you usually thaw the stock once frozen? And … how long is the stock good for once frozen? Thanks 😉

    • KGR's Mom says

      I freeze my stock in wide mouth pint jars. You only need to thaw it a bit and then the frozen block of stock falls right out. If I’m in a real pinch, I slowly warm the jar in water and the stock comes out in about 15 min.

  13. Karen says

    This is one of my favorite things to make. I just bought my weekly chicken today, a nice big roaster from the Amish market. Everyone loves my chicken soup.Thanks for sharing and letting everyone know what a nutritious and economical thing making broth is.

  14. says

    I love a good stock. I live in AZ so in the summer I put mine in a slow cooker in the garage to keep it from heating up the house. During the rest of the year I just use my big stockpot and do it the old-fashioned way :)

  15. Dawn Tolles says

    I always make broth with my roasted chicken carcass. It makes for an easy clean up too. I always roast on a rack over a glass pan and scrape the drippings into the crockpot. Gives it great color and flavor. I save the neck and tail piece raw and then I pick whatever meat off that we don’t eat and save for soup or cassarole. Put the carcass, neck, tail, drippings and similar seasonings as you Kimmi into the crock pot and turn it on low. Thanks for the addition of the vinegar and the organs. I had not known to do either. I will absolutly be doing that next time. I cook it all night and then cool and strain when I get to it the next day. I was storing mine in mason jars in the freezer but have swithed to ice cube trays which I crack into ziplock bags once frozen. It makes for quick usage. Thawing a quart jar in a pinch is almost impossible! I always put a lot of liquid on my pot roast and save all the broth the same way. I have several bags full of chicken and beef stock cubes for my cooking pleasure! Broth is BEAUTIFUL!!

  16. Cynthia says

    I had no idea you could use the bones of cooked chicken for broth. I can’t wait to make some broth. Homemade, with organic ingredients is far superior to store bought, in my opinion. Thanks so much for this post.

    • Ervin says

      Cynthia, don’t use bones from cooked chicken only baked or roasted chicken bones are used as the minerals are all still there.

  17. says

    I had wondered if you could add the organ meat to the stock. Someone gave me the tip to put everything in the pot and add the apple cider vinegar then let it sit overnight in the refrigerator. In the morning it’s all ready to go and can simmer all day long for soup or whatever else you’re making for dinner.

  18. says

    Hi Kimi, I Love making my own chicken stock , I don’t do it very often these days , When I make my chicken and veg soup I just fry up the onions and put in the chicken add water simmer for a hour or so then I add all the vegetables
    then I have my chicken and veg soup ! I love any kind of soup ! So glad it is spring here in Western Australia so glad winter is over I love the warmer weather looking forward to BBQ’s and salads and smoothies !

    visit sherrie’s blog

  19. says

    That lovely fat is called “schmaltz” and is just terrific for cooking! When I’m making a chicken stir fry, I’ll use the schmaltz for the vegetable browning fat.

    My grass farmer sells bags of odds and ends for the purpose of making stock. She adds the backs, necks, feet and other parts. If you are squeamish, all you have to do is open the package and dump it in!

    Homemade stock is one reason I wish I had a second freezer. I usually make it at least two gallons at a time and eight quart jars take up most of my freezer!

  20. Deb says

    Chicken broth is so easy to make and don’t forget about other stocks. Several people mentioned turkey broth. When there’s a sale on whole wild caught salmon I buy it and ask the seller to fillet it for me. The “discards” are wrapped separately for me to take home and put into my large crock pot, doing the same thing as with other broths (although I don’t add veggies and herbs, just the vinegar. All that stuff is added in my soup later). The difference is in the cooking. Since fish is a more delicate meat with smaller bones, cooking time is cut way down. Sometimes I end up with more frozen containers of fish broth in my freezer than I know what to do with. No worries, just add one fish broth in addition to the frozen chicken or veggie broths (for my soup of the week) and you won’t notice the difference. In other words, the fish taste doesn’t come through if it’s diluted with other flavors. However, homemade fish chowder this time of year…yum!

  21. Rachel J says

    I really like using my pressure cooker for broth making. I don’t bother with the vinegar because many of the chicken bones and even some beef/pork bones get mushy after cooking 1.5 hours in the cooker.

    Also, mixed bones make a nice, all-purpose broth. I keep a bag in the freezer and if we’re having cuts of meat that we don’t eat frequently (because we don’t have a side of it in the freezer at the moment) then it goes into a catch all bag and gets used when it’s full.

  22. Eden says

    I was wondering how to store chicken broth in glass containers without them busting in the freezer? Also, what kind of jars can I use? Thank you!

  23. Anna D says

    My broth is always boiling, I am putting it on the smallest hob and on the lowest heat and on the simmering ring as well and it still boils. Is there any way I can make it simmer?

  24. says

    This will be my first attempt at making Chicken broth. I feel rather ridiculous asking this, but after you have made your broth and strained it, what is the next step? Do you just put it in the jar, screw the lid on and then pop it in the freezer or fridge? I am really a beginning cook and don’t know a lot of the basics.

    Is this anything like canning where you have to make sure the lid is sealed a special way?

  25. janet says

    hi kim! thank you so much for this blog and your class online..i am loving it!!
    i was wondering, if you use bones or a leftover chicken carcass and then 1-2 punds of raw drumsticks, what do you do with the meat on the drumsticks or chicken legs after you are done making your broth? thanks!

  26. says

    Kimi, Thanks for a very informative post. I especially liked the health benefits listed in #6; in fact, I linked to this post in my latest post about “Creating Something Out of Nothing,” here: http://togetherinfood.wordpress.com/2010/12/01/creating-something-out-of-nothing-stock-compost/.

    Janet, I’d shred the meat off the drumsticks and use it in chicken soup, chicken enchiladas or tacos, chicken salad, or whatever else you like shredded chicken in!

  27. Doyleen Lavespere says

    I want to know if you can your stock in jars throught a pressure cannining method, does it maintain it’ health benefits?

  28. Henry says

    If you pressure cook the bones you wont need to add cider -eck. The bones will disintegrate after 20 minutes on medium heat.

  29. Mike Turner says

    I’ve been making chicken soup at home. A bit more stuff than just broth but my point is to agree with you. The BROTH is WONDERFUL !!! I take it to work for lunch several times a week. It’s better than ANYTHING in a can that I’ve ever had. I do keep broth in the freezer from my soup adventures though for other recipes. Thanks for your info and recipe.

  30. Cathi Gross says

    If a person cannot use vinegar because of yeast, can one substitute for another acidic liquid like Lemon juice, orange juice, grapefruit juice or pineapple juice? Would the acid from these also help to leach the calcium and minerals from the bones.?
    Cathi G.
    Ventura, CA

  31. Shaun says

    Any idea as to why someone would become tired after consuming homemade chicken broth? My Naturopathic advised me to have some everyday for my health (issues) but I find myself getting extremely fatigued 10-15 minutes after consuming it. It lasts about an hour (give or take).

  32. Bayou Mom says

    If any of your ingredients contain gluten, that could be the cause. Also…important to note that you should use fresh onions. Don’t leave cut onions in the fridge. Use or freeze immediately as they quickly and efficiently absorb bacteria.

  33. says

    Well, this is obviously a timeless post! I love that it’s 2 years old and people are still commenting! So, my biggest question that I believe has been answered was is it okay to use cooked chicken bones, etc. to make broth? I gather from the comments that yes, it is okay…

  34. says

    Hi Kim!
    I was wondering if you can mix cooked and raw bones? I have a chicken carcass that I cooked as well as a few backbones and thigh bones that I cut out of the chicken before cooking it and are stored in my freezer.



  35. trisha says

    I have heard that roasting the bones before making the broth gives it a richer flavor. I’ve tried it a couple of times and it all depends on how much time I have. I also divide the broth. I’ll have some snack sized zip lock bags where I put a small amt. of broth so I can add it to something that needs just a little extra liquid. Then I use quart & gallon sized freezer zip lock bags,making sure you leave enough space for expansion. Then I put the bags single layered on a cookie sheet and place in freezer. When frozen, it’s easier to stack in the freezer.
    BTW…. does anyone have any ideas on how to organize your freezer? I really hate rummaging thru frozen packages and bags when I trying to find something!!!! We have tried to place chicken on one shelf,beef on another,etc but when we are in a hurry, they just get shoved back into the freezer!

  36. Shannon says

    Here’s a great tip for storing your chicken stock – pour the stock into muffin tins and pop them in the freezer. Each muffin tin will yield about 1/2 cup of stock. Once frozen, pop the stock from the tins and put them into a resealable freezer bag and back in your freezer. Then, when you are ready to use, it’s easy to pull out exactly the right amount needed for your recipe (i.e. if you need 2 cups of stock, then use 4 portions).

  37. Love says

    I too was having trouble keeping track of baggies of soup and stock in my freezer. I let them freeze flat then stood them up in a white plastice square container that I had 2 of side by side. One I stood up chicken broth bags like books and in the other I stood up sound.
    It worked for awhile but I got to many similar soups so I have been saving all my glass jars. Cashew butter and coconut oil and anything in a glass jar I can reuse.it’s much easier to keep track of what is what and what’s older so I use it before the new stuff. I like a size variety so I have 2 cup amount for some recipes and 1/2 cup amounts for others. I also use the muffin tin idea to have a Baggie of frozen discs of 1/2 cup broth. I do that with herbs as well. I have a mini muffin tin and I buy a huge amount of herbs in the fall after my summer ones have grown out I clean and chop finely all the herbs and put a big spoonful in each muffin sectoon then put a bit of water and freeze. Then pop them out and into a ziploc just for each herb then I just toss a disc or two of what ever I need into what I’m cooking. I do the same with applesauce in regular muffin tins so I always have homemade sauce in the 1/2 cup amount for muffins or a child’s snack. I do the same with grilled onions cut and grill about 10 onions and slowly caramelize them for about 20 minutes and freeze them in the muffin tins and then in a Baggie. It’s perfect for sandwiches or soups and eggs whatever. Thanks

  38. Jasmine says

    I made a yummy stock last week and left it in the back of my fridge due to company…having long appreciated your posts, i thought id ask you: what’s the longest you manage to keep chicken stock in the fridge and safely consume?? I’d hate to waste it! Thanks :)

  39. says

    I have been making my own stock for quite a while. The boiled chicken makes an excellant chicken and rice (brown of course). I never thought to use already cooked bones and i will do that from now on. My recipe is similar, I believe however you do it it has got to be better than store bought. I love your comment about respecting the animal by using every bit you can in your cooking.

  40. Melkat says

    I am trying to follow the therapeutic GAPS diet for awhile, which encourages consumption of all the fat (I get nearly all meats from local pasture-raised livestock, so I assume the fat is more wholesome too), and got this great tip from a class on it: After the long simmering, I take all the skin, soft joints bits, and the organ meats and puree with a little of the broth in a blender, then add that back into the broth. It makes a cloudy broth that gourmet cooks would frown on, but wonderful for the nourishing, gut-healing soups I make each week.

  41. Jitka says

    Hi! Thank you for this article, great source of information. I have a question, please,
    How do you define ‘to simmer’ … I am confused atwhat temperature I should simmer the chicken broth, because somewhere it says that simmer means to cook it under the point of boiling, but I wonder if I cook it for 12 hours on this temperature that the water will evaporate. I am new to this kind of cooking, thank you so much for your help!! Jitka

  42. Cissy Davis says

    After simmering my chicken broth overnight I usually take the larger bones (leg bones usually) put them on a cutting board, cover with parchment paper and smash with a hammer in order to get to the marrow. I then scrape the shattered bones and marrow into the broth and continue simmering. Does anyone else do this? I haven’t seen breaking the bones open suggested any where else?

    • Valerie says

      I have done something similar, only I usually just smash the soft ends with my fingers, or make deep cuts in them with a knife if they aren’t soft enough to use my fingers.

  43. Kristin says

    Hi There…just a quick question: If I don’t have any raw chicken, can I just use previously cooked chicken legs?

    Thanks much! Excited to try this.


  1. […] At least 8 hours before you want to cook this dish, combine the above ingredients and place covered in a warm room to reduce phytic acid. Rinse well, and then continue with the recipe. 2-4 tablespoons of fat of choice (I used bacon grease, yum!) 1 large onion, thinly sliced 4 cups of fresh mushrooms, sliced 4 celery sticks, sliced 1 1/2 teaspoons rubbed dried sage 1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme 2 cups of chicken broth […]

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