RIch Turkey BrothThe best Thanksgiving gravy starts with rich, homemade turkey broth. Make your turkey broth now and freeze it, then thaw for use Thanksgiving Day. It also makes the best turkey soup for using with that leftover turkey.

Nothing Like Homemade

Broth from a box, can, or sodium-filled concentrate cannot hope to compare to homemade. Not to mention that turkey stock is hard to find. The flavors are superior and there are no funky additives or high sodium issues when you make it yourself. I make a big batch, 4 quarts, to insure enough for Thanksgiving and after.

roasting turkey stockRoasting – The Crucial Step

For a rich, flavorful broth, start by roasting turkey legs and thighs along with the vegetables. Roasting is an extra step compared to making chicken broth, but roasting the turkey meat and bones and caramelizing the vegetables produces a rich flavor and color. It’s worth the extra time, and most of it is hands-off.

For 4 quarts of broth, I start with 7 pounds (a little over 3 kilos) of turkey legs and thighs. Use what parts are available.  Remove as much skin as possible. This helps degrease the broth from the start. If possible, cut some of the meat from the bones to increase surface area for roasting.

Distribute the turkey parts in a large roasting pan, then top with chopped carrots, celery, onion, a split head of garlic and herbs. Roast for 1 hour at 375° (190 C), add 1 cup of white wine, then roast for another 30 minutes.

Homemade Turkey Stock PrepSimmer Slowly

While turkey and vegetables are roasting, get out a large stock pot. I use a tall 12 quart size. When the turkey and vegetables are finished roasting, place everything in the stock pot and fill to cover with cold water, about 5 quarts. Add bay leaves, fresh thyme and parsley, and black peppercorns to pot. Fill a tea kettle and heat to boiling. Turn to very low and keep hot to add water to dropping water levels in the pot over the next 5-6 hours.

Turn up the heat to get the pot to a good simmer, then turn down to a gentle bubble for approximately 6 hours. Do not boil as this will results in a cloudy broth. As the water level drops, add hot water from the  kettle. Cooking long and slow ensures extracting the most flavor and nutrition. After 6 hours the house will smell like roast turkey and you will have a rich, golden broth, full of flavor.

Cool Quickly and Freeze

Discard the spent bones, meat and vegetables. Strain broth through a fine sieve into a clean stainless steel pot.  Don’t use plastic as it will slow or prevent cooling the broth. Place container in a sink filled with cold water and ice. Be sure to place something under the pot (like a trivet) for cold water circulation under the pot. This helps the broth cool faster. Stir occasionally to speed the process. You want the broth to cool as quickly as possible for food safety reasons.

Place the cooled pot, covered, in the refrigerator overnight. In the morning, remove any fat that has solidified.  Divide broth into containers, label and freeze for Thanksgiving and after. You will be glad you did this ahead of time. Homemade turkey broth will add big flavors to your Thanksgiving recipes.

Note – You can make the broth Monday of Thanksgiving week and it will be good until Friday. For longer use, freeze some of the broth.

Rich Turkey Broth

There is no comparison to the flavor and healthfulness of homemade broth. For rich flavor, start by roasting the turkey parts and vegetables, then make the broth. You can make your broth up to 30 days ahead of time and freeze for using Thanksgiving Day for gravy and afterwards for soup. If you make it the Monday of Thanksgiving week, you won’t need to freeze as the broth will be good until Friday (5 days). Freeze some for longer use.

Yield: 4 quarts (halves easily)


  • 7 pounds turkey pieces such as thighs and legs
  • 2 medium brown or sweet onions
  • 3 large carrots
  •  3-4 celery ribs
  • 1 whole head garlic
  • 1 cup white wine  (optional)
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1/2 bunch of Italian parsley
  • 1/2 bunch of fresh thyme
  •  1 tablespoon black peppercorns
  • 5 quarts cold water
  • Boiling hot water to fill pot as needed


  1. Pre-heat oven to 375° (190 c) and get out a large roasting pan. Remove as much skin and any extra fat that you can from turkey pieces. Place pieces into the roasting pan in a single layer
  2. Roughly chop onions, carrots and celery. Split garlic head horizontally through the center (no need to peel). Add vegetables and garlic to the roasting pan with the turkey. Place pan in the oven and roast for 1 hour. At the end of the hour, add the wine and roast another 30 minutes.
  3. Place roasted turkey and vegetables into a large pot (I use a tall 12 quart/liter). Add bay leaves, parsley, thyme, peppercorns and cold water. Bring the pot to just under a boil, turn down to low and barely simmer for about 6 hours. You want the pot to be at a slow, gentle bubble to extract as much flavor as possible. When the water level drops, add hot water from the kettle. Do not stir. Turkey and all vegetables should remain under water the whole time.
  4. At the end of 6 hours, remove all meat, vegetables, herbs and discard, as they will be spent. Drain broth through a fine sieve or through a sieve and cheesecloth. Place in a sink filled with ice and cold water to cool quickly. Place pot on a trivet or small rack to help water circulation under the pot for faster cooling. Stir occasionally. You want the broth to cool as quickly as possible for food safety.
  5. When stock is cool, below 70° (21° C), cover and place in the refrigerator. The next morning, remove any fat solidified on top, place into containers, label and freeze.

Note – to thaw broth, place containers from the freezer into the refrigerator for 24 hours. Alternatively, place frozen containers in a sink with cool water to start the thaw, then place semi-frozen broth into a pot and heat over low until liquid.

Helpful Notes & Links

I have a large All Clad stainless steel roasting pan. I use it for turkey and for making this broth, and it is also what I use for roasting my tomato marinara. It’s nice and heavy for even heat distribution and a worthwhile investment. A pan you will buy once and have for a lifetime.

I use a 12 quart for all stocks and broths. Here is a link to the All Clad pot.

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{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Christine (CookTheStory) November 22, 2013 at 10:06 am

I agree with you. Homemade broth rocks and if it’s to much for your family, it freezes well for a later use. Excellent tutorial.


2 Sally November 22, 2013 at 11:08 am

Thanks Christine! I wanted to add the shot we took of the broth cooling in an ice bath for a quick visual, but it was not a pretty pic. Checked out your blog. Nice! Thanks again for commenting.


3 marcia November 28, 2013 at 6:44 am

Fabulous recipe! I will never boil the heck out of a chicken to make broth again!


4 Bonnie December 18, 2013 at 8:20 pm

After the roasting is done can the next step be done in a slow cooker?


5 Sally December 20, 2013 at 4:59 pm

Hi Bonnie. Honestly I have never tried that because I am not a big slow cooker person. I usually go the other direction with tools, and that would be pressure cooking for speed. Because broth cooks a long time at a low simmer, and you have to add water as the level drops, I personally would stick with the stovetop method. I would also think that a slow cooker would limit how much broth you could make at once. When I do broth or stock, I use a 12 quart pot and make a big quantity, then strain, chill and freeze in small containers.


6 Paula November 25, 2014 at 10:05 am

Are you telling me to roast the turey, I got legs then simmer them after they are roasted. They are n the oven and are not making much broth.


7 Sally November 25, 2014 at 10:13 am

Hi Paula. Yes, you roast the turkey parts and veggies, then use that to simmer with the water to make the broth. The roasting adds richness and flavor. Let me know if you have any ore questions. It’s really good when it is done and your house will smell like roast turkey while it is cooking. Read through the recipe one more time.


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