chicken broth
Kitchen Tips

How to Make Your Own Chicken Broth

Made essentially from water and cooking scraps, chicken broth is an essential ingredient in soups, sauces, gravies, and risottos – and making your own is way easier than you think!

chicken broth

So there we are, finally, at a count that we can call! So I’m going to take one moment to wish the President-elect the best as he starts on his journey, and that’s all you’ll get from me on politics. Whew.

Anyway, let’s talk instead about something that some people think borders on politics but instead, I think, is just good common sense living, and that’s sustainability. So, sustainability is a complex thing, and the most quoted version is the UN World Commission on Environment and Development that calls it efforts “that meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” There are a lot of complex ways to get after that, but for me, you can summarize it at your home in two bullet points: “use less” and “waste not.”

You might wonder what you can do as one person with one small kitchen, but every time you make a food decision, you’re having an impact on the food system. The way you choose your food impacts the food produced, and the way food is produced has a significant impact on the environment. And the way you choose the way your food is packed and used is doubly important. Food waste is extremely consequential for the environment.

And if you’re figuring out a couple key things – how to recycle, how to compost, and most especially how to creatively use your leftovers, you can cut down significantly on the amount of food waste leaving your kitchen!

chicken broth

Broth is a no-brainer for this. It both uses up leftovers and keeps you from having to buy containers of broth at the store. And we usually have more than enough around to keep up with our ingredient requirements, just because of the sheer amount of veggie trimmings I generate. It might be veggie broth more often than not, based on what I have, but even that is absolutely delicious.

Not too long ago, I marked up a number of freezer bags and stuck them in the freezer to collect the ingredients I need for stocks and broths. Chicken cuttings and bones go into the chicken broth bag, shrimp shells and tails and lobster tails and crab shells go into the seafood broth bag, and veggie trimmings or veggies that might go bad if they aren’t used soon get chopped up and put in the veggie broth bag.

It amazed me how fast those bags filled up with scraps and waste {kind of the same way I was amazed how quickly I collected eggshells for fertilizing my garden}, and I realized – I was throwing a lot of good ingredients away. Instead of being used, I had a lot of stuff that was just going to the landfill and I wasn’t even paying attention to it. I’ve since learned that you can throw out food waste with green waste, since we don’t have room to compost it, but I’ve also learned that there is nothing quite as delicious that adds so much flavor to your food as broth made from those food scraps.

I mean, seriously. You look at the ingredients for this broth and you see some fresh carrots, some fresh herbs, some fresh garlic, and a lot of stuff that would have been in the garbage. And yet all it takes is a little brewing alchemy for it to transform.

chicken broth

And I tell you, this just makes your whole house smell heavenly.

I make a lot of different broths, but the two I make the most often are my vegetable broth and my chicken broth. So what you really have here is a two-fer recipe, since my veggie broth is just the chicken broth minus the chicken. But since the chicken part can be tricky for folks, I figured I would break that down here.

You can make chicken stock with just about any kind of chicken parts. Collect the scraps from breaking down a whole chicken or collect the carcass from roasted whole chicken breasts {my favorite} or a rotisserie chicken, but what you want to get is a combination of scrap meat and bone. Scrap meat brings the rich lip-smacking flavor into the mix, but the bones provide the best strength to the broth, especially if you take the time to roast them first.

After that, it’s a bit of a stone soup problem. You can actually make chicken stock with just chicken parts and water, but I love a good and hearty broth made from meat and aromatics and herbs. But what to include depends on what you have, and what you’re going to use the broth in. I make a lot of different types of recipes, but my flavor profile is influenced heavily by my growing up on California’s Central Coast, where Italian and Mexican food reign supreme. So the herbs and aromatics I use tend to go best with that flavor profile.

chicken broth

Storing it after you brew it up is pretty easy. I use tempered Mason jars – which fortunately come as part of my favorite pasta sauces. I buy the sauce, use it up, soak the jar and remove the label, and I have more jars to add to my collection for storage.

To save this broth, pour it into the jars and let cool completely, and then refrigerate for up to 5 days. If you’re going to freeze it, leave about an inch of room for expansion and then place in the freezer, where it can keep up to 3 months. All you have to do from there is thaw it in the fridge over night.

Here are some of my favorite recipes using chicken broth:

And here’s how to make it!

[lt_recipe name=”Homemade Chicken Broth” summary=”Made essentially from water and cooking scraps, chicken broth is an essential ingredient in soups, sauces, gravies, and risottos – and making your own is way easier than you think!” servings=”2 qts” total_time=”1H” print=”yes” image=”×683.jpg” ingredients=”1 chicken carcass and assorted trimmings;8 cups cold water;1 medium onion, roughly chopped;2 carrots, roughly chopped;2 ribs celery, roughly chopped;3-4 baby bella mushrooms, sliced;6 stems parsley;6 sprigs thyme;2 cloves garlic, crushed;1 bay leaf;1 tsp whole peppercorns;optional: salt;” ]Set out a Dutch oven or large stock pot. Add the chicken carcass and trimmings, onion, carrot, celery, and mushrooms. Tie the sachet items in a tied piece of cheesecloth or a loose leaf tea bag or just add loosely to the pot – you’re going to strain it all out anyway.;Cover all the ingredients with water.;Cover and heat the pot over medium-high heat until the mixture comes to a boil. Reduce, take off the cover, and simmer for 1 hour.;Strain the broth through a cheesecloth into a Pyrex bowl or container and let cool completely. ;Use immediately or divide into freezer-safe jars or containers (leaving at least a half inch for expansion), label, and freeze.[/lt_recipe]

chicken broth

This broth adds an unbelievable amount of lip-smacking flavor to whatever you use it in. Plus, you get the added satisfaction that you put a lot of leftovers to good use. Out of this, the only thing I toss in the trash is the chicken carcass – the rest of this goes out with the green waste or gets tossed into the woods near the house. And there are no chicken broth cartons that have to get disposed of.

What are your best tips and tricks for making delicious broth or stock?

About the ChefKristin

Career Army officer with a tendency toward workaholism. On the side, self taught cook, carpenter, and gardener, working to build a beautiful life for my family. Trying to tilt my balance in the right direction.

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