Simple Homemade Chicken Stock Using a Supermarket Rotisserie Chicken

In our house, rotisserie chickens from the grocery store are a time- and effort-saver. A whole fryer chicken usually sells for less than $1/pound. A typical rotisserie chicken is about double the cost, but we often get three weekday meals off it, so it's worth it to me. The chicken meat is used in salads, pasta dishes, quesadillas, sandwiches, pot pies and stews and, when the carcass is picked clean, it's time to make chicken stock. (Of course, you can also do this with a chicken you've roasted yourself.)

Chicken stock from scratch couldn't be easier. It allows you to control the flavor and salt content, and it freezes well. You will need:

  • 1 chicken carcass with some skin/meat left on the bones
  • 1 yellow onion with skin
  • 2 carrots, ends trimmed off but not peeled
  • 1-2 ribs celery, preferably with the leaves
  • 1 bay leaf

Put the carcass in a 4-quart pot. Cut the onions, carrots and celery into a few large pieces and add to the pot. Cover with cool water. Bring the pot to a boil and then reduce heat to a slow simmer. Let it simmer away until you have about 1 quart of liquid left (about 90 minutes or so). Then cool slightly (for safety) and strain the stock into a freezer-safe container (be sure to leave room for expansion as it freezes). You can also let the broth to cool in the fridge so you can skim off the fat. Discard bones and vegetables.

A few tips:

  • The onion skin adds a rich brown color to the stock as well as flavor. The celery leaves add a depth of flavor too. I sometimes keep a Ziploc bag of onion skins and celery leaves in the freezer so I will be sure to have them when I'm making stock.
  • The holy trifecta of carrots, onion and celery is what the French call mirepoix (pronounced “meer-pwah”), but feel free to experiment. If I have leftover scallions, parsley, shallots, turnips or other vegetables handy, in they go. There are no real rules for making stock — only guidelines.
  • Carrots add sweetness; reduce them if you like an even more savory stock.
  • Play with herbs and spices. Add a few peppercorns if you like a bit of spice. Thyme goes well if you're using turkey bones. Think of what you'll make with the stock and season accordingly.
  • I prefer to make my stock without adding salt (although there is some in the store's spice mix) and then salt to taste later when I am using the stock in a recipe.
  • Set a timer to remind you to check the stock periodically.
  • If you're in a climate where you can grow your own bay leaves, this recipe is even cheaper to make.

Homemade chicken stock beats even the best canned/cartoned stocks. I haven't experimented with making beef, vegetable or seafood stock, but it's on my list of things to learn. Maybe somebody has a recipe to share?

As a frequent beneficiary of this chicken stock, I can vouch for its quality. It's darned handy to have a couple batches in the freezer. This is a fun and tasty recipe to use for stew, pasta, and more!

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Myles
Myles
13 years ago

Toss the mirepoix in olive oil and then broil in the oven for a bit until just beginning to brown. This will give your stock an extra dimension of flavor and earthy fullness. This will also darken the stock so don’t do it if clear stock is needed for presentation.

John
John
13 years ago

No need to limit yourself to chicken, either (although to my palate, chicken is the best for adding flavor to darned near anything!) – beef stock is also handy to have. I’ve tried making vegetable stock a time or two as well, but it wasn’t as satisfying as stock made with meat and bones. The recipes and I use are from Mark Bittman’s “How To Cook Everything”, subtitled “Simple Recipes For Great Food”. This book contains not only 1500 recipes, but the basics about.. well, everything. From equipment to what to know about buying various foods, this book seems to… Read more »

Mia
Mia
13 years ago

I love to make my own stocks! The overly salted grocery store stuff is way to expensive and not very flavorful either. Here’s my recipe: Once I have a gallon freezer bag full of veggie leftovers I use my crockpot and simmer with 1 and 1/2 gallons of water for 6-8 hours. For beef or chicken stock, I add 1 to 2 C of meat leftovers. I like using leftover tomatoes or tomato sauces/paste for the beef. I then freeze the strained stock in 1/2 cup portions using a muffin tin, then pop them out and store in a freezer… Read more »

Liz
Liz
13 years ago

usually making my own stock is the only way I can figure on having cheap, additive free soup without having to pay a bundle for it… this is the only way to go when making soup!

Matt
Matt
13 years ago

Making beef, vegetable or seafood stock is much the same process as making chicken stock. Just substitute fish bones(white fish bones are best, or shellfish such as shrimp,crab, lobster, etc make EXCELLENT stock) for seafood stock and beef bones for beef stock. Another great way to add flavor to stock is to roast the bones and vegetables before making the stock. Just roast the bones in a 400 degree oven until they begin to caramelize then add your mirepoix and roast until they begin the caramelize then brush them with tomato paste. This is key and will add richness and… Read more »

Jennifer
Jennifer
13 years ago

If you add a tablespoon or two of vinegar, it will leech the calcium out of the chicken bones into the broth. Makes it healthier and doesn’t effect the flavor at all. I love to make my own broth.

Jennifer

Patrick
Patrick
13 years ago

Any suggestions on decent, cheap freezer containers? We make stock, but it gets freezer burnt after a few months (nasty ice crystals form inside our gladware.)

Andrea >> Become a Consultant
Andrea >> Become a Consultant
13 years ago

I like to do this, too. But be careful about food safety. Carve up your chicken and serve it. Don’t leave the chicken on the table during the meal. It’s already travelled from the grocery store. Make the stock on the second night. Cooked chicken is only good for two days.

Barbara
Barbara
13 years ago

I do this with the rotissarie turkey from the supermarket. I freeze the bones until I have a few, roast them in my oven, then make stock.
Yummy:-)

MVP
MVP
13 years ago

Good post. My husband makes his own rotisserie chicken on our grill. Then, once we’ve removed most of the meat for meals, I use the remaining pieces to make chicken stock (thanks for the recipe, I always just made it up as I went along!). I agree with everyone that this is much healthier and more economical than buying it at the store.

brad
brad
13 years ago

Another good option is to check your local butcher (even the one in the supermarket); they will often sell chicken frames (bones with some meat left on them, perfect for making stock) for dirt cheap. You can also find fish frames (and fish heads) at most fishmongers; these are excellent for making stock. And if you eat shrimp, buy the shell-on variety and save the shells. Once you have a few cups’ worth of shells (I freeze the shells until I have enough ready), you can make a delicious light shrimp stock with them just by cooking them in water… Read more »

Brian C.B.
Brian C.B.
13 years ago

1) Throw leftover chicken bones, etc., into your freezer until you have enough to make stock. Do the same with carrots, onion, celery, etc. 2) People, you do NOT boil stock. You raise the temperature to 190-200 degrees Fahrenheit (an instant read thermometer is your friend) and keep it there for hours. Eventually, all the collagen in the bones is leached out at this temperature. The stock, once strained, will be clear. There will be minimal or no skimming required because the constituent elements of the stock (fats, collagen, etc. won’t separate. This is true for beef stock, too, which… Read more »

Jess B.
Jess B.
13 years ago

Homemade stock from rotisserie tastes so much better that the salty stuff in the grocery store–no comparison! I usually make it the classic way you’ve described; you can also make a Chinese-style stock this way by adding about 3 slices of ginger and some chopped green onions to the mix. This works well for hot & sour soup, etc.

I have the same troubles as Patrick–ice crystals and bad freezing results. Any ideas out there for the perfect container?

Marie
Marie
13 years ago

We make veggie stock all summer with trimmings from cooking, onion/garlic skins and leaves (we grow our own–it’s one of the easiest staples to grow, in my opinion). Since we have a large garden and also are part of a CSA (community supported agriculture), we do a lot of blanching and freezing for the winter. Once a week (when we get the CSA delivery) I’ll blanch the lightest/mildest veggies first (i.e. peas) (30 sec – 1 min in boiling water**, then straight into ice water or the freezer on a cookie sheet), gradually working up to the strongest/darkest (i.e. beet… Read more »

Moon
Moon
13 years ago

I don’t know if that counts as REAL chicken stock, though. But, if it works for you… I spent a whole weekend making beef stock for sauces. It’s just great. You can freeze it and use it for up to a year. It does take the whole weekend, though. It involves crushing or splitting bones and baking them and then slowly simmering the stock for a whole weekend. You start with 50 quarts and end up with about 10 quarts, but it so thick that you only need to use a couple of tablespoons to make your final sauce. I… Read more »

Amelinda
Amelinda
13 years ago

Ice Cube Trays.

To the people who asked about a good container for this, here is your answer – I would make stock, but as a single person I rarely had reason to use the entire container at once, so it would get freezerburnt, etc.

By making small, easy to handle frozen pieces of stock, I could use just as much as I needed. AND I would use it faster.

For example, I could pull out a single cube and cook my frozen vegetables in it, or a big handful to make a pot of soup for two.

Catherine
Catherine
12 years ago

Do you have leftover strong coffee? Dump it into the stock for a fuller flavor, browner color. The flavor blends as well as wine.

mick
mick
12 years ago

for those who keep leftover veggie peels and/or have commented that veggie stock isn’t as full flavored…

1) roast the veggies first as Miles said; and
2) when you use peeled potatoes for other meals, scrub the potatoes first and freeze/add the peels to stock minus bad parts, of course, and any sprouts. The minuscule amount of potato adds that extra heartiness to an all-veggie stock.

deRuiter
deRuiter
12 years ago

Thought for the day! Buy a pressure cooker at a yard sale! Make sure you get the metal cap which fits over the steam vent. Put in chicken bones, chicken skin, vegetables, put metal cap over steam vent, heat on HIGH until the cap begins to jiggle. Lower heat to simmer (very low), the metal cap will jiggle occasionally but not constantly. Cook for an hour or hour and 15 minutes. Turn off heat and allow steam to come down slowly, DO NOT REMOVE METAL CAP. When pressure is down, pour contents through collander (lined with cheesecloth if you want… Read more »

deRuiter
deRuiter
12 years ago

Dear Friends, OOOPS! When using the stock recipe made with chicken bones in my previous post, ADD A QUART OF WATER OR TWO QUARTS DEPENDING UPON THE SIZE OF YOUR PRESSURE COOKER, WITH THE CHICKEN SKIN, BONES AND VEGETABLES. You must add water with your ingredients for this to work as stated! Never, never, never dry cook things in the pressure cookes, you must add water.

Ange
Ange
11 years ago

Are you kidding? Rotisserie chickens are pumped full of salt water to make them look plump. They’re much worse for you than buying a whole chicken & adding water & mirepoix & seasonings. You end up with delicious chicken. I use Pioneer Woman’s recipe.

Hannah
Hannah
11 years ago

Thanks for the recipe! I made a batch yesterday but I used the crockpot instead of the stove. It turned out awesome 🙂

MrHeathen
MrHeathen
9 years ago

I collect disposable plastic water bottles so I can freeze my stock in bottles of 16 and 32 oz.

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