Homemade Chicken Broth|AFodoCentricLife.com

Homemade Chicken Broth (Bone Broth)

By Sally Cameron on January 16, 2012

basics and how-to, beans, legumes & grains, soups, stews & chilies, the daniel plan,


Step away from the box – boxed chicken broth, that is. Learn to make homemade chicken broth. Its the best.

Simmer chicken pieces or bones for a few hours with carrot, onion, celery and herbs, then strain, cool and freeze. The house will smell heavenly and you will have “liquid gold” in the freezer to use for fantastic soups, stews, risottos and just sipping.

Making Broth is Easy and Healthy

Making homemade chicken broth is easy. Most of the time is hands off while it simmers on the stove. The big reason to make it is taste and control of ingredients.

Homemade tastes much better than anything store bought. You control whether it’s a rich or light in flavor. You control the sodium level. That would be zero in homemade.

If you read the labels on most store brands, you will be shocked at the sodium content and other ingredients (like sugar). Not healthy.

Broth or Stock?

So is it broth or stock? These days the terms are used interchangeably. Traditionally, chicken broth is made with meaty chicken pieces and vegetables and chicken stock is made from just bones and vegetables.

What Kind of Chicken?

When making homemade stock I often use a whole, cut-up organic chicken. Warehouse stores usually have good prices on whole organic chickens or watch for a sale at your regular market. I also use bone-in chicken thighs and leg pieces.

Check with the butcher and ask if they have chicken bones or parts for sale. It will usually be backs and necks from chickens they have cut up. I add chicken feet when I can get them, which adds great body to the broth. They all work, as long as there are bones. Use what you can get at a good price.

One more note on bones – After I roast whole chickens, I strip of most of the meat for other uses like soups, stews, chili, enchiladas, salads or tacos, but save the bodies and freeze them. When I get 4-5 frozen bodies, I make broth. Great way to really use the whole chicken and not waste anything. The broth is not as clear, but it tastes great and is thrifty.

Prepare the Chicken

To prepare your chicken, rinse and remove as much skin and any extra fat as possible. That means less skimming and fat at the end. If using a whole chicken, you’ll need to cut it up into pieces. Follow the photos. Use a sharp French or chef’s knife or a cleaver.

Cutting up chicken for broth|AFoodCentricLife.com

How to Cut Up a Whole Chicken

Start by freeing the leg-thigh major piece above the joint. Cut through the skin and cut above the joint. Bend the chicken in your hands to tell where it is. The joint will pop out. Remove the skin then cut this larger piece into the leg and thigh.

Next, cut off the wings, again above the joint. Next, cut off the breasts. Start by slicing through the center breast bone. Free the breasts from the body and cut them in half crosswise.

Cutting up chicken for broth|AFoodCentricLife.com

Lastly, cut what is left of the body in half crosswise. You will end up with twelve pieces. After cutting up raw poultry, immediately wash and sanitize your tools.

Cutting up chicken for broth|AFoodCentricLife.com

What is That Scum?

The brownish, foamy scum that appears when you first begin to simmer your broth is impurities being released. Skim if off and discard every few minutes until it’s gone. Skim, skim, for a good clear broth.

simmering chicken for broth|AFoodCentricLife.com

Add Aromatics, Skip the Salt

Next, add your aromatics and herbs. I add carrots, onion, celery (all organic), a dried bay leaf or two, black peppercorns, fresh parsley and thyme sprigs. What don’t I add? Salt. Skipping salt allows you to add the right amount of salt in your final dish to meet your tastes. A no sodium broth is also good for people with sodium restrictions.

Add Boiling Water as Needed

As your broth simmers over a few hours, the water level will drop. I keep an electric kettle of hot water going and add water as needed. Don’t worry, it won’t dilute the broth.

Keep it at a Simmer

Never cook your broth above a low simmer. If you boil or stir it your broth will be cloudy. Just let it happily bubble away, filling your house with heady fragrance.

On Bones and Bone Broth

Articles about the healing benefits of bone broth are everywhere these days. I simmer my broth 12 hours to extract as much collagen and nutritious minerals from the bones as possible.

Bones are important because they contain collagen protein. That’s what gives the broth body, flavor , richness and health-giving properties. When you simmer your broth for long periods, the collagen and minerals break down and release into the broth. When cooled, good broth will be wiggly like gelatin. That’s because of the collagen. You can simmer even longer if you want, up to 24 hours. I get good results with 12 hours.

Many people add apple cider vinegar to assist the extraction process. Bragg’s raw apple cider vinegar is a good choice as it’s unfiltered and unpasteurized.

Another tip for bone broth, use all bones and few meaty pieces. Chicken feet, backs, and wings are a all good when you can find them. You might have to ask your local butcher to save them for you, and be sure they are organic.

Finishing the Broth

At the end of simmering, your homemade chicken broth will be deep golden and clear. Carefully strain out the spent bones, meat, vegetables and herbs. Discard them, as they have given their best to your broth. Place the strained broth in a large stainless steel bowl or another pot and place it in a sink of ice water. This will help it cool quickly.

To speed the cooling, place a trivet under the bowl or pot for ice water circulation. Stir occasionally until it’s cool. From there, refrigerate and use within three days or freeze. You can use muffin tins for small measures, canning jars and larger containers. Measure it out, label (masking tape and a Sharpie should always be in the kitchen) and freeze for up to three months.

In a pinch, we may all need to occasionally resort to a good canned, boxed or frozen brand of chicken broth, but try making homemade chicken broth. It’s really the best.

Helpful links and information:

Golden French Onion Soup, recipe here

Tuscan Vegetable Soup, recipe here

Homemade vegetable broth

Homemade turkey broth

Homemade Chicken Broth|AFodoCentricLife.com
Print Recipe

Homemade Chicken Broth (Bone Broth)

Like most things homemade, making your own chicken broth is so much better than store bought. Although the simmer time is 12 hours, it’s easy and mostly hands-off. You can reduce the simmer time to 6-8 hours but you will get a richer, more gelatinous broth (bone broth) with a longer simmer. I keep containers in my freezer for soups, stews, risottos and many uses.  I usually double this recipe and use a 12 quart stock pot, also organic ingredients.


  • 1 whole chicken 1.84 K, about 4 pounds , or thighs, legs, backs, wings, feet or bones
  • 2 large celery ribs about 4 ounces or 120 grams, roughly chopped
  • 2 medium carrots about 4 ounces or 120 grams, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1 medium onion about 8 ounces or 230 grams, roughly chopped
  • 1 large dried bay leaf
  • a handful of parsley leaves and stems
  • 1/2 teaspoon of black peppercorns
  • 2-3 fresh thyme sprigs
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar optional
  • 4 quarts of filtered water 4 L
  • Extra boiling water as needed


  1. Rinse the chicken. If using a whole chicken, break it down into pieces with a sharp French knife, Chef’s knife, or cleaver.  See the photos in the post for help. Start by cutting off the leg and thigh pieces and cut them in half, then cut off the wings. Next, cut through the center breast bone of the chicken, splitting the body into two halves. Cut the breasts free and cut them in half. What’s left is the body. Cut that in half crosswise. Remove as much excess skin as possible.
  2. Add the chicken pieces to a large stock pot, eight to ten quarts. Cover with the water and bring to a simmer. As the chicken simmers, impurities will begin to rise to the top. It looks like a brownish foamy scum. Not a pretty description. Skim it off and discard. Continue to skim and discard until its mostly gone.
  3. Add the vegetables, peppercorns, thyme and apple cider vinegar. Keep the pot at a low simmer for four to five hours, adding hot water if the water level gets low.
  4. Strain out the spent vegetables, meat, bones, etc.  and cool the broth in a large stainless steel bowl or pot in a sink filled with ice and water. Place a small rack or trivet under the pot to speed cooling. Stir occasionally to assist cooling. Refrigerate broth for 3 days or freeze in small container (or even muffin tins) for up to three months.
  5. Note – I often let my chicken broth simmer for 8 hours. As the water level drops, add hot water from a tea kettle to bring it back up. It won’t dilute it. My broth comes out gloriously golden. Any questions, please comment or email me a note.


Leave a Comment
Kathy Gold | 01/17/2012 at 9:59 am

Great post and photos, Sally. The 2nd Wednesday of every month is stock making day at In The Kitchen, and we make enough for the month. We leave it overnight in our AGA and I strain, cool and package it all the following day. Quite a process, but so worth the effort.

Madonna | 01/17/2012 at 3:26 pm

This is beautiful. Even though I have made a lot of stock I always learn something from your tutorials. I always added the veg immediately, but now see the benefit of waiting to skim first. Also, good idea to freeze some in muffin tins for that recipe than calls for just a little stock. I love the thought of having stock ready to make soup or risotto. Any chance you will be making beef stock? When I make short ribs or beef bourguignon the recipes always call for beef broth/stock and all the ones in the market contain soy. As usual your photos are just wonderful.

    Sally | 01/17/2012 at 6:09 pm

    Hi Madonna. Glad it was helpful! I don’t bother making beef stock as I don’t use it often. When I do, I buy a good quality brand called Stock Options. The label reads just like I would (or used to) make it. It’s not cheap, about $10 for 28 ounces, but really good stuff. Here is their link.http://stockoptionsonline.com/. Fine Cooking has a good recipe, also like I would make mine, with roasted bones. http://www.finecooking.com/recipes/beef-stock.aspx

sally | 01/17/2012 at 6:05 pm

Hi Madonna. Glad it was helpful! I don’t bother making beef stock as I don’t use it often. When I do, I buy a good quality brand called Stock Options. The label reads just like I would (or used to) make it. It’s not cheap, about $10 for 28 ounces, but really good stuff. Here is their link.http://stockoptionsonline.com/. Fine Cooking has a good recipe, also like I would make mine, with roasted bones. http://www.finecooking.com/recipes/beef-stock.aspx

Sally | 01/28/2012 at 4:06 pm

Sally, beautiful! Great instructions on how to break down a chicken and turn it into stock. I try to buy necks and backs (organic, when they have them) and supplement with legs with thighs attached–about 8 pounds in all. I look for bargains and freeze if I can’t make the stock right away. I also save bits and pieces in the freezer when I bone a chicken or remove chicken backs or wings. Lately I’ve been trying out making stock in the insert in my pasta pot. I’m not sure yet what I think, but it IS much easier to pull out the messy bits before straining. I strain right away into quart containers–it cools faster in smaller containers. Then I let it cool briefly and refrigerate overnight. The next day I spoon off the fat (once it’s hardened) and pop that liquid gold in the freezer. I urge everyone to actually taste the stuff that comes in the box–I’ve done tastings in cooking classes. The word “dishwater” came up often (!) I like your muffin cup idea, too!

Linda Chin | 02/13/2012 at 11:55 am

Hi Sally, I used this method with a frozen turkey carcass leftover from Thanksgiving and the family said it was the best homemade soup I had ever made them…….I make homemade soup fairly often in the Winter. All your little tips really make a difference, thank you! Also I love the idea of trying this with my pasta pot insert. I have some frozen chicken bones that will be my next try.

Kayla | 12/09/2014 at 8:34 pm

Hi there, do you keep tinge chicken after to eat it or what do you do with the chicken? I’ve never done this before so don’t want to mess it up. Can I can this after it is done to have for soups and recipes that call for chicken broth? Thanks

    Sally | 12/09/2014 at 9:40 pm

    Hi Kayla. Thanks for your question. After the chicken has simmered to create the broth for so long, it’s pretty much give up its all for the broth. It’s not very good to eat at that point. I toss it. Let me know how you do. Homemade broth tastes fantastic compared to anything boxed or canned. And it is so much better for you.

Lauren | 03/03/2015 at 4:10 am

I’ve seen many different ideas for freezing it, which is my best option. If you freeze it in one ounce cubes and then transfer to a plastic bag, do you run the risk of ice crystals developing all over it? I would love to know a great recommendation for freezing it in both large and small portions. Also, if you freeze it, can you thaw in fridge and it will still keep for a few days??

    Sally Cameron | 03/13/2015 at 12:53 am

    Hi Lauren. Ice cube trays works fine. I did that in the past but they are really too small for me. Most of the time I am using more, like 1-3 cups. I used to freeze broth in muffin pans that were about 4 ounces, so 1/4 cup. After frozen, pop them out and place them in a freezer zip bag. For larger portions, like 1-3 cups, I am using the Glasslock containers. Just started trying those. Used to use BPA-free plastic, but know that glass is better. Many people freeze broth flat in plastic freezer zip bags, laying them flat on a small, quarter rimmed baking sheet. When frozen they stack flat. Only issue I have with that solution is that if you get a leak they get messy upon thawing, so just remember to thaw them in the refrigerate on a bowl, pot or something to catch any possible leakage. Good question! Hope that helps. Blessings, Sally

Tammy | 11/12/2015 at 11:02 am

I am very new to all of this. My husband has a Traumatic Brain Injury so I am finding myself looking to save money, getting the best flavor , and spending my down time.

What do I do with the skin and insides as to not to waste?

    Sally Cameron | 11/12/2015 at 7:18 pm

    Hi Tammy. First, I am so sorry to hear about your husband and TBI. May God bless you both and heal him, and give you strength as his caregiver. Cooking is a great way to save money, and get healthier, more nutritious food on the table. The skin and insides, the giblets, are fine to discard. You are not wasting much. Some people use part of the giblets, say, from a turkey, as part of a dressing, but not usually from a chicken. There is nothing you can do with the skin. One idea, If you first roast a whole chicken, eat all of the meat over a few days, then save the body with a little meat attached, you can freeze it. Then when you have a few bodies, then make broth. Really making use of something many people discard, You get full use of that chicken. Hope this makes sense. If not, please comment again and lets keep talking.

Nadine | 02/03/2016 at 10:52 am

I’m wondering- Is this something I can pressure can for storage?

Melissa S. | 01/31/2017 at 10:25 am

Would a pressure cooker (like an Instapot) work for making the broth? Would it affect the nutrition of it?


    Sally Cameron | 01/31/2017 at 6:36 pm

    Hi Melissa. Good question, as the Instapot is popular these days. Yes it would speed up the process, but to make rich nutritious broth takes time. Its a slow, mostly hands off process where the collagen and flavor slowly seeps out of the bones and that is where so much of the nutrition is. Proponents of pressure cooker (and I love them, have several) might argue that the pressure forces the collagen out of the bones taste, hence no impact. I do vegetable broth that way, but not chicken broth or stock.I also use a 12 quart stock pot and make a big batch, then freeze it in portions of 1-3 cups. Hope that helps.

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