Chicken Stock – Using the Whole Chicken

Chicken Stock – Using the Whole Chicken

Last July, after much debate and in preparation for the Kitchen Garden & Coop Tour, we culled four of our laying hens.  Culling is never an easy thing for us, but it is part of the agreement we made with each other before we got chickens back in 2010.

After culling and cleaning the four, we bagged them up and stuck them in our freezer to be used for stock whenever needed.  Last weekend, we pulled one out for the first time and finally made some stock.  Let me tell you, it was the most delicious chicken stock I’ve ever tasted!  I don’t know if it was the age of the chicken (three years old) or the length of time it all cooked down (I took an unexpected nap in the afternoon and it cooked about two hours longer than I had originally intended) but it was simply divine.

Here’s what went into our large stock pot:

  • 1 chicken, 3-5 pounds
  • 3 large carrots, cut into 2 inch pieces
  • 3 celery stalks, cut into 2 inch pieces
  • 1 onion, quartered
  • 5 cloves of garlic
  • 3 bay leaves
  • Generous pinch of pepper (or 1 teaspoon peppercorns)
  • Enough water to cover all ingredients plus 3 inches (adding water as needed to keep everything mostly covered)


chicken stock - in process


The stock simmered over a medium heat for about 8 hours and was perfect (despite the nap).  Depending on the age of your chicken your simmering time could vary from 1 1/2 hours for a brand new/fresh chicken to 6-8 hours for an older bird.  Of course, whether or nor you are planning to eat the meat is also a factor.  The older your bird is, the tougher the meat is and the longer it will need to cook.  Our bird was three years old and the 8 hour cook time was perfect for her as she became Chicken & Dumplings for dinner!  The meat was absolutely perfect!


chicken stock - 6 quarts


This pot brought us six quarts of pretty condensed stock, three of which went into the fridge to cool.  They will soon be stripped of their fat layer, placed in freezer bags and then into the freezer for later meals.  The other three quarts (diluted with another two quarts of water) were used as the base for our Chicken & Dumplings (which will last us through many meals this week).

What’s your favorite way to use an old(er), dispatched chicken?




Linking up to Frugal Days, sustainable Ways #99 and The HomeAcre Hop

Written by Melissa @ Ever Growing Farm


  1. Wendy

    something else I have found useful, especially when doing carcasses, or beef bones is to add a spoonful or two of Apple cider vinegar. You can’t taste it when you are done, but it helps leach minerals from the bones and add them to the broth. It softens them up so much that the bones almost disintegrate.

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  4. Leona

    I love to cook with chicken stock. I use it for 90% of my recipes that add water. Water? BORING.

    I’ve recently learned a new tip I thought you might like.

    First, for clarity, I only use the carcasses. I keep them in a freezer bag until I have 2-3 and haul them out for a stock-making marathon.

    I don’t add any additional salt or ingredients. That way I am not limiting what recipes I can use it in.

    Finally (and here’s the tip), I boil the bones three times. After each boil, I put the stock in a huge pan and mix them up for even flavor. The third boil is the best because they bones have become rubbery and you get the flavor from the marrow.

    Love the blog!

    (Hope I didn’t overstep!)

    1. Bee Girl

      Leona, thank you for sharing! No overstepping, at all…this is brilliant! Three times, ha? How long do you boil it all each time? Also, do you add in any vegetables, or simply cook the carcasses?

      1. Leona

        Yep, 3 times. I bring it to a rolling boil and them bring it down to a brisk simmer for 20-30 minutes. (lid on) Then drain and onto the next batch. If the bones aren’t rubbery by the third batch you might want to boil longer. Frankly, I’ve never timed it before! 😉

        I don’t put in any veggies or seasonings at all. I only add extra chicken if there is leftover. I like keeping the broth flexible for use in any recipe.It may not be as rich as your’s but it’s more flexible for multiple recipes and soups. (Sweet potato sausage soup…. mmmmm)

        1. Bee Girl

          Perfect! Thank you so much for sharing your process! I love learning how others do the things I am learning to do and playing with 🙂 BTW – that sweet potato sausage soup sounds divine!

        2. WandaMG

          Hello – Thank you for your post. Every time I’ve tried to use chicken/turkey carcasses for broth I end up with a pale, anemic waste of time. Boiling them 3 or more times sounds perfect. Making the broth without any other additions also works because then it can be seasoned according to the dish being prepared. Thanks again!

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