This homemade chicken broth recipe serves as the base for many great dishes, including the best homemade chicken soup. If you’ve never made chicken broth, you need to add it to your recipe routine. It’s a great way to s-t-r-e-t-c-h your chicken dinner into extra meals.
When I make broth, I usually start with chicken carcass leftover from a whole roasted chicken or a stewing hen. You can also use a combination of bony parts like backs, necks, wings and the always awesome chicken feet. Chewy bits are good.
You want to slow cook and break down all that connective tissue and the bony bits to get the maximum amount of nutrients. Heck, I’ve even made delicious chicken bone broth with nothing but chicken feet. (Don’t tell my mother-in-law. She’s been scared to eat my soup since she found out I use chicken feet.)
To make a BIG batch of broth and save cooking time, I'll freeze up several chicken carcasses, and then load them into a large stockpot with extra feet, veggies and herbs, vinegar and enough water to cover. Same amount of cooking time, more stock at the end.Print
Homemade Chicken Broth
Use this simple homemade chicken broth recipe to make the best chicken soup you’ve ever tasted, or use it as a base for other delicious soups and recipes.
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Cook Time: 8 hours
- Total Time: 8 hours 10 minutes
- Yield: 24 cups 1x
- Category: Soup
- Method: Stove top
- Cuisine: American
- 1 stewing bird or 2 to 3 pounds of bony chicken parts, such as necks, backs, breastbones and wings
- 2–4 chicken feet (optional, but great if you have them)
- 2 tablespoons vinegar
- Enough water to cover
- Veggies and herbs of your choice, such as bay leaves, peppercorns, turmeric, carrot tops and peelings, celery leaves and trimmings, onions, leeks, scallions, garlic or parsley.
Place chicken in a large stainless steel pot with water, vinegar, herbs and veggies. Let stand 30 minutes to 1 hour. Turn on heat cover and bring to a simmer. (You can also do this in a crockpot.)
Let simmer for at least 6 to 8 hours (up to 24 hours). Add more water if needed to keep the carcass covered and make sure your stock doesn’t cook dry. (Make sure to top off the water if you’re going to leave it on the stove top overnight.)
If I’m cooking a whole bird for stock, I pick the meat off the bones at around the eight hour mark. To remove chicken pieces, use a slotted spoon or tongs to lift bird hunks out of the broth. Let cool and remove chicken meat from the bones. Return the carcass to the pot to continue simmering.
When you’re finished cooking your homemade chicken broth, strain the stock into a large bowl or other container. Place the container in the refrigerator until the fat rises to the top and congeals. Skim off the fat and use it for cooking. (Check out the schmaltz post for more info on rendered chicken fat.)
Keep broth refrigerated or frozen, or can or freeze dry for longer storage.
- Serving Size: 1 cup
Keywords: chicken, stock, broth
Quick Soup Recipes with Chicken Broth
For simple chicken soup, I dice up some fresh carrots, onions and celery; mince a couple of cloves of fresh garlic and toss those in; and clean the meat off the bones and chop it into bite sized chunks. I add some salt, pepper and curry powder for seasonings. Finish it with drop egg noodles or noodles of your choice.
To make drop noodles, simply beat several eggs and then mix in enough flour to form stiff dough. Drop by spoonfuls into gently simmering soup, stirring occasionally so they don't stick together.
If you like, you can pair your homemade chicken soup up with a salad or homemade bread. Check out “13 Homemade Bread Recipes” for more ideas.
You can use this broth as a base for many soup recipes, including:
- Chicken and Gnocchi Soup, Olive Garden Style
- Homemade Broccoli Soup
- Cheese Soup in Homemade Bread Bowls
Why make Homemade Chicken Broth?
With commercial chicken broth readily available, why bother making your own?
- It’s easy, and it’s delicious. Seriously – you won't believe how much better homemade tastes.
- You save money. Free range and organic chickens are fairly expensive, so I want to get as many meals as possible from each bird.
- Turn those chewy and bony bits into good food. Respect the bird.
- Homemade chicken broth is a health food. It’s loaded with gelatin (especially if you use feet and/or pastured chicken parts), an assortment of minerals, chondroitin sulfate (like those high priced joint supplements) and protein.
Adding vinegar to your homemade chicken broth helps to draw the minerals out of the bones. The longer the cooking time, the richer and more flavorful the broth will be.
A proper chicken bone broth will jiggle with gelatin when chilled. (Stewing birds and chicken feet improve your odds of gelling.) If you’re using rotisserie chicken, you may not be able to get your broth to gel. Chickens that get a chance to run around use their bones and connective tissues more, whereas confined chickens focus on growing meat. It's easy to see if your homemade chicken broth has a lot of gelatin, because it will gel as it cools.
These chicken bones have simmered for around 24 hours. Notice how the end of the bone appears porous and all the connective tissue has fallen apart.
Chicken Stock vs Broth
Traditionally, “chicken stock” meant the product that results from long, slow cooking of the bony parts of chicken. It gels when cooled. “Chicken broth” more commonly referred to a product cooked for a shorter time that does not gel. “Chicken bone broth” is the same as chicken stock.
Nowadays, the terms are commonly used interchangeably. Mom simply called it “making chicken soup”. The book Nourishing Traditions calls their version of stock “broth”, so that became my default term.
What is the difference between chicken stock and chicken broth?
The big difference between homemade broth (or stock) that is cooked low and slow and commercial broth is flavor. Pop open a container of commercial broth, and it tastes like chicken flavored water. Slow cooked broth adds richness and better mouth feel to soups and other dishes. Low, slow cooking also draws more nutrients out of the chicken parts.
Can you substitute broth for stock (bone broth)? Yes, but the flavor won't be as good.
Do I Have to Use Chicken Feet in my Chicken Broth?
No, but they are a great way to bump up the gelatin/collagen content of your broth. People pay big bucks for collagen supplements. Those tough little chicken tootsies are loaded with gelatin, which is great for tummy troubles like stomach bugs. Bone broth also aids digestion.
If you raise your own chickens, you can get the feet for free. If you get your chickens from a local grower, odds are they’ll be willing to throw in the chicken feet at a nominal cost because many people don’t know how to use them.
But What About the Chicken Poop?
Chicken feet are coated with a thick layer of tough skin, and the nails on the foot are covered in sheaths. Usually feet are skinned right away when the bird is being plucked, and the nail sheaths are pulled off. This means that no part of the foot that was in direct contact with chicken poop or other questionable items goes into your homemade chicken soup.
Storing Chicken Broth
To store homemade chicken broth for longer periods, I usually freeze or freeze dry. (Homemade broth may also be pressure canned. Use 1 inch of headspace and process pints for 20 minutes and quarts for 25 minutes, at ten pounds pressure.) To freeze, I place the homemade broth in freezer safe containers with about an inch of headspace, label and date. I try to use frozen broth within about six months.
To freeze dry homemade chicken broth, I chill the broth and spread it evenly on my freeze dryer trays. I do use pan liners so the broth releases easily from the pans after drying. I don't recommend freezing it in ice cubes trays and then freeze drying the ice cubes, as the cubes will stay intact during the freeze drying process and the centers are unlikely to freeze dry properly. (You could use mini ice cube molds. Just keep the diameter under half an inch.)
The trays get loaded into the freeze dryer and I fire up the automatic cycle. Since broth is high in moisture, it usually takes at least 30 hours, depending on the amount of broth. When freeze dried, the broth texture is similar to Styrofoam (if the trays were full) and vellum (if the broth was thinner in the trays). I store the freeze dried chicken broth in Mylar bags with oxygen absorbers, and keep a small jar in the fridge for regular use. It makes a great low salt chicken bullion.
Here's a video of the homemade chicken broth before and after freeze drying.
If you'd like to learn more about home freeze drying, visit Home Freeze Drying – The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.
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Originally posted in 2010, last updated in 2019.