The Bird That Keeps on Giving

Thanksgiving is right around the corner and you can make the most of your turkey (or chicken, duck, or goose) by saving the bones for stock. Homemade stock is more economical, more flavorful and healthier than store-bought, packaged stocks, or bouillon cubes. And it’s E-A-S-Y!

Follow these steps and you can make stock without even making a trip to the grocery store.

  • First, save your bones! Even if you don’t have enough to make a full pot of stock, stash them in a freezer bag (label it!) and, once you have enough, fire up the stock pot.
  • Second, save your raw vegetable odds and ends. Some of the most commonly used vegetables are also be used to make stock, so hold onto your carrot peelings, onion scraps, potato peelings, celery ends, etc. Note: do not use cabbage, collards or broccoli unless you plan to use the stock to make those kinds of soup! Like the bones, store your vegetable scraps in an air-tight container or zip-top bag in the freezer.
  • -Third, save those stray flavor-boosters. This includes parsley stems, leftover sprigs of thyme, random garlic cloves, whole peppercorns, and bay leaves too crumbled to use in a dish.

Happy Kitchen stock-making tips:

  • Use more bones than vegetable scraps, at least 5 to 1 by weight.
  • Never let the stock get to a rolling boil; simmer it slowly and skim off the foam that rises to the top.
  • For more robust flavor and darker stock, roast your bones in the oven first (425 degrees for 15-30 minutes, more or less depending on quantity of bones). Not required if you are using a roasted chicken or turkey carcass.
  • DO NOT make stock from a smoked turkey or chicken. We’ve tried it, and the smoke-flavor overpowers all other flavors, even in a chili!
  • To salt or not to salt? Not adding salt to your stock leaves the stock open for more possibilities in the future—to make rice, soup, braise vegetables, etc.

In case you were wondering, “What’s the difference between a stock and broth?” Technically, stock generally means “made with bones,” but broth does not (though in many recipes the terms broth and stock are used interchangeably).

Basic Stock (from The Happy Kitchen cookbook):


3-4 lbs. chicken (or other bird) parts (wings, backs, necks, whole carcass, etc.)

1 large onion, quartered

4 cloves garlic

4 stalks celery

Large handful fresh garden herbs (parsley, rosemary, thyme, basil, etc.)

5 quarts water


Combine the chicken, onion, celery, garlic and herbs in a large soup pot. Add cold water. Cover and bring just to a boil—not rolling. Immediately reduce the heat and simmer gently for 2 hours with the lid partially on. Skim off any foam that rises to the surface.

Strain and discard the vegetables (these are great for your compost). Remove the meat from the bones and save for another use. Discard the bones.

Bring the broth to room temperature quickly by putting in multiple bowls or pans, then refrigerate for several hours. Skim off the fat that rises to the top and hardens.

Use within 7 days if stored in the refrigerator; otherwise, freeze in 2 to 4 cup quantities (or the quantities that you usually need). Stock will keep for up to a year in the freezer.

Want to brush up on your stock making skills before the big day? See our current class listings!