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A Tutorial on How to Make Chicken Stock the Easy Way: In a Crockpot

12/23/2010

Chicken stock makes my little frugal heart go pitter pat. Not only do you make it with stuff you would have thrown away anyway, but it is delicious and is super healthy for you. Can you tell I am pretty passionate about chicken stock? :)

For those of you who have never made it before, or have made it on the stove top and had to skim it and watch it and stir it, I am going to show you how to make it the easy way.

First, you need a crock pot. Mine is the normal size (6 quarts maybe? 8? I’m not sure.)

Then, you need some chicken bones. I roast a chicken once every 4-6 weeks and use the bones from that. Do not put skin or fat in because that will end up getting skimmed off at the end anyway and it doesn’t add any nutritional value or anything. Also, any cartilage on the bird is good. Cartilage will make it nice and gelatinous. (Which is what you want.) When you get the meat off of the bones, don’t get every single tiny little scrap of meat. Its better if there is a little bit of meat on there. (I’m not talking about noticeable amounts of meat. Just the stuff at some of the joints that is hard to get off, etc.)

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(Mine have been in the fridge until I had time to make the stock, which is why they are all stuck together.)

Place bones in the crock pot. If you have more than one “set” of chicken bones, the stock will be even better. I had two “sets” one time and the liquid it made was seriously amazing—such a rich and deep flavor and it gelled when it was cold. (Which is a good sign. Means you made good stock!) (I am thinking “set of chicken bones” sounds better than chicken carcass.)

Next, you need some veggies and some spices.

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I like to use a few carrots, some celery, some cloves of garlic (which I forgot to put in the picture), a bay leaf, dried oregano and parsley, onion, and some salt and pepper. You can even use vegetable scraps for this part. If you have ends of carrots or the tops of celery, just throw it in the freezer until you are ready to make stock and then put them in with the chicken bones. I don’t do that because I rarely use a whole bag of carrots or celery and I always forget. :)

Now, wash the carrots and celery if they haven’t already been washed. No need to peel the carrots. Cut up the carrots and celery into pieces. Doesn’t need to be small. Just so you are able to fit it in your crock pot.

Cut up the onion and cut into quarters. You can even leave the skin on if you want to. I hear it makes the stock a pretty brown color, but I have never done it.

Take the papery skin off of the garlic cloves.

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Now throw all of that stuff in on top of your bones.

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Next, add your spices—the salt, pepper, parsley, and oregano. Don’t forget the bay leaf!

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Now, you need to pour in about a tablespoon of white vinegar. The vinegar helps to draw out the calcium, magnesium, and other good things from the bones while it is cooking, making it even healthier. I was nervous about this the first time because didn’t want my stock to taste like vinegar, but you can’t taste it at all after its done. (I must’ve poured it in after I filled it up with water. It doesn’t matter. As long as it gets in there.)

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Now, fill up the crock pot with cold water all the way up to the top. Cold water is important (from what I have read) because as it heats up it also helps to leach the minerals out of the bones.

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Put your lid on, turn the crock pot on low and leave it for 12-16 hours. No need to stir or skim. If you leave it on overnight, when you wake up in the morning your kitchen will smell good.

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After the 12-16 hours has elapsed, you need to strain your stock.

Simply get a big bowl, put a wire mesh colander (or just one with smallish holes) on top and pour the stock through that into the bowl. If you want a very clear stock, then you will need to line the colander with cheese cloth. I don’t care if some of the little specs of spices gets through, so I never bother with that. I have the cookie sheet underneath so that way if it runs down the side when I am pouring it out, then its easier to clean up.

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After it cools on the counter top, any fat that is in it will float to the top and harden. Scrape this off and get rid of it. If you did it the way I said to above, then you will probably have very little fat.

This recipe usually makes a scant 2 L of stock.

Now, either make something with it or freeze it. It’ll keep in the fridge for 3 or 4 days at least. You can put it in the freezer in smaller portions sizes (1 cup, 2 cups.) I usually put mine in the freezer in glass jars that I’ve saved from other products I’ve used up. You could put it in bags and freeze them flat too (although I’ve always had trouble with them leaking for some reason.) It’ll keep in the freezer a while too.

This is way healthier and cheaper than buying. You are able to control the ingredients—so no added MSG or copious amounts of salt. And it is very healthy! Calcium and minerals leach out of the bones, which is why chicken soup is good for you when you are sick.

Let me know if you have any questions!

Here are some resources around the web for you.

How to make it in a stock pot.

The benefits of bone stock (This lady is awesome. I love how much she researches everything.)

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14 Comments
  1. 12/23/2010 3:01 pm

    The appearance of KindaKrunchyKate!!!!! I am so happy!! You forgot the part where you (needlessly) throw away the delicious veg. Doesn’t even seem frugal to me. ;) In all seriousness, tho, the smell of this in your kitchen screams fall and winter!

  2. Kate permalink*
    12/23/2010 3:21 pm

    Yes! I finally decided to start Kinda Crunchy Kate! You would not believe how many people I have talked to about natural products lately. Figured I should just go for it so that way I at least have a place to send them for info instead of sending out emails with lots of links.

    I did forget to mention to throw away the veggies and bones. After 12 hours of cooking, the veggies are just mush and I am guessing pretty much anything with nutritional value in it has been cooked out at that point. I don’t like mushy veggies anyway. :)

  3. Heather permalink
    12/27/2010 6:44 pm

    Hey Kate! I really enjoyed reading your articles. Next time I get a whole chicken, I’ll have to try your recipe.

  4. 12/28/2010 5:51 am

    We are homemade chicken stock lovers, too!

  5. 08/10/2011 7:35 pm

    Hi Kate! I stumbled across your blog at random while researching methods for making chicken stock, and I LOVE the idea of making it in a crock pot! I am new to this, however, and I just bought a whole, uncooked chicken for the purpose of making stock as i almost never have access to bones. Do you suggest putting a whole chicken in the crockpot? I’m hoping to find a way to make it work…

    Thanks for your website!

    • Kate permalink*
      08/10/2011 8:06 pm

      Hi Rachael! Welcome! :) I’ll tell you what I would do. I’d go ahead and do the chicken in the crock pot. (Here’s an easy and very good recipe if you haven’t done it before: http://crockpot365.blogspot.com/2008/10/crockpot-rotisserie-style-chicken.html ) After you get the chicken cooked and out of the pot (it’ll be falling apart!), you can take the meat off the bones. Then, throw the bones back in with whatever juices are still in the crock pot from cooking the chicken. Yum. Then throw in some veggies, a little splash of vinegar, some spices if you want to, add water, and turn on the crock pot on low for at least 12 hours. Also, if you don’t have time to make the stock right then (or if your freezer gets too full of chicken stock like mine tends to do) you can put the bones and all that scrumptious juice from cooking the chicken in a freezer bag and put it in the freezer until you are ready to make it. Hope this helps! Let me know how it turns out!

  6. Anne haas permalink
    10/11/2011 12:08 pm

    Hi Kate – I just stumbled upon your recipe looking the the nutritional value of homemade chicken stock. I make a homemade chicken soup by boiling a whole chicken for about 45 minutes, taking out the chicken, and then adding carrots, celery, all the chicken meat and about 1/4 cup of better than boullion . . . Maybe more, salt, pepper and then add cooked rice or spaghetti. My original question was how healthy is that? I feel very good after a few days of eating the soup and wanted to find out how much fat is in it. But now that I read your blog I have other questions. Can I make the soup and then use the carcass for the crock broth? I guess I can make anything with the chicken and then make the broth . . . Would love to hear back when you have the time! Thanks

    • Kate permalink*
      10/17/2011 8:36 am

      Hi Anne! thanks for stopping by my blog! The soup you described sounds pretty healthy to me! The fat in the soup comes from the skin and also from any fat on the chicken. So it really depends on how you prepare the meat as to how much fat would be in it. The fat should float to the top as the soup cools, so you’ll know how much is in there and you could skim it off if you wanted to.
      I’m guessing you could still use the carcass to make broth since you’ve only boiled it for 45 minutes. If you find that the stock isn’t rich enough, then use two carcasses next time. (Freeze the first one until you have another, and then throw them both in there.)
      Hope that helps!! :)

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