Easy Homemade Chicken Broth

Before you roll your eyes and stop reading this post after seeing the title, let me just get this out of the way: I don’t make my own chicken broth.  Well, not always. Okay rarely.  You know Mr. Swanson? Well he and I have a very great relationship. I use a lot of chicken broth in my cooking and I practically buy the canned stuff by the case.  It tastes great, it’s relatively inexpensive, and let’s face it- I don’t have time to simmer my own home-made broth each week.  BUT, hear me out.  There are times when it’s actually really cost effective, not that time consuming, and super convenient.

Enter exhibit A: The Costco Rotisserie Chicken.

Okay, well any rotisserie chicken, but I pretty much always buy mine at Costco (speaking of Costco, did you see what I saw there this weekend??)  In fact, on most Costco trips I just grab one even if I don’t really have a plan of what to do with it.  And every single time, I leave the store and load my boxes of stuff I never knew I needed until I walked into Costco completely planned purchases into my car, and then I take the chicken up front with me.  Without fail, before I even get out of the parking lot, there’s a leg missing.  Case in point:

I honestly forgot that I bought this chicken for the express purpose of taking a picture of it and took that chunk off before I even got to the first stop light.  Doh!  If any of you are ever driving around the Boise area and see some crazy chick in a blue Armada holding up a whole rotisserie chicken and chewing off the leg, just honk and wave, okay?

Wow Tangent.   Anyhow.  Rotisserie Chicken.  Most people slice off the nice white breast meat first.  At least that’s what I do.  Then I pull off the good looking stuff to roll over into another meal, like Taquitos or something, and then I put the rest in the fridge.  I always have good intentions of doing something productive with the leftovers, but the next day after everything is sort of congealed and carcass-y looking (oh my gosh I hate the word carcass, especially in relation to food I’m eating but I sort of can’t avoid it here) I always end up tossing it in the trash.  And I sort of feel a little bit guilty every time thinking that there are people all over the world that would pick every bone clean on that thing.  There’s still quite a bit of meat on there- I just don’t want to actually eat it.  So I started making broth with it- and guess what?  It’s so easy.

I always have carrots, onions, and celery in my house- and that’s really the base.  It takes about 2 minutes to throw together, an hour to simmer away on your stove without you even touching it, and then you can pop it in your freezer in portioned containers to use whenever.  I’ll show you how!

1.  Throw a bunch of stuff in a big stock pot with your left-over chicken (ahem) carcass.  Really no measuring required here.  The absolute minimum would be a quarter of a large onion, 2 ribs of celery, and a couple carrots (or baby carrots like I have) plus some salt and pepper, and herbs.  Since it’s the dead of winter and I have no fresh herbs (and because this is easy, remember? I threw in some parsley from the store and some dried herbs from the spice cabinet.  I also added garlic.  Because I add garlic to everything.

2.  Add water so it covers your chicken by at least an inch or two

3.  Bring pot to a simmer, cover, and cook for about an hour.  Generally you see broth recipes that need much longer to cook. The problem is that in order to do that you have to start out with a huge amount of stuff because it will reduce so much.  I’ve found that this quick-cooked simple broth has a great flavor in just about an hour.  Depending on what’s in there, you may get some stuff floating on top (looks sort of foamy) and you can just scrape that off with a spoon. When it’s all done cooking, taste the broth with a spoon and add salt and pepper to taste.  If it’s really flavorful, you can always add more water at this point to stretch it out.  Strain out all of the solids and you’re left with delicious, flavorful, homemade broth.  I turned right around and made homemade Chicken Noodle Soup and grilled cheese sandwiches for dinner and it was SO good.

I put the rest in my freezer for later!

Like I said, if you’ve already got most of this stuff on hand anyway- why not?


Two very quick answers to questions we get asked all the time:

Q:  Do you have a basic Chicken Noodle Soup recipe?
A: We both love to use this recipe– just omit the dumplings, add noodles, and replace the milk with broth.

Q: What’s the difference between broth and stock? Are they interchangeable in recipes?
A: The quick answer is that both broth and stock involve simmering water and vegetables with parts of a chicken.  Generally broth is made with chicken meat, like a whole chicken while stock is made with a large quantity of bones.  Often in stock, the bones are roasted first as well.  Overall, stock is known for having a deeper, richer flavor.  Because the bones contain a lot of gelatin, stock usually has a little more body.  I think this is true for homemade restaurant quality stock, but when it comes to the store-bought options, there’s not a huge difference (in my opinion).  Some companies aren’t even consistent in labeling.  So are they interchangeable in recipes?  Generally speaking, yes.   I buy broth 100% of the time.  It’s more widely available and I like the light, clean flavor.  I believe Kate does the same which is why you’ll see us call for broth in most all of our recipes.  The recipe above does contain bones, but it’s mostly the meaty chicken scraps attached that gives the broth its flavor.



  1. At the end of last year, I said, “I will start making my own chicken broth after New Year’s.” That hasn’t happened yet. But, thanks for the gentle reminder.

  2. We always through any leftover chicken bones in a gallon ziplock bag in the freezer and then when there are enough I make a HUGE batch up. Our boys strip a chicken clean in something like 5 minutes flat so all we EVER have left is a bare naked carcass! LOL We also make our stock in a crockpot and strain afterwards using a colander lined w/ a flour sack towel or cloth diaper (yep much better than cheese cloth!)…

    Umm now I think I need to make a run to go get a rotisserie chicken… once the youngest is off to school!!! I have to remember NEVER read your blog on an empty stomach, first thing in the morning!!

    Have a great day! (still looking for your book in our area… off to check the ONLY bookstore in the are or maybe I should check Barnes & Noble in Indianapolis… I have an OLD giftcard plus birthday money!!)

  3. I’m like you – I frequently pick up a costco rotisserie chicken just because you can do about a thousand things with them…. and they’re such a good value. One day I was pressed for time on the opposite side of town so I grabbed a rotisserie bird from the grocery store – it paled in comparison…. cost a dollar more, and was way smaller than Costco’s.

  4. I made my own stock for years, and finally I read an article about making it in the oven (in a stock pot) instead of on the stove, for super low, even heating. The results were SOOOOOO much better. the next time, I realized that my oven on low was going to be similar to a crock pot, so I transferred everything to the crock pot. Even better, and easier, and safer, and with much less wasted electricity.

  5. You can’t beat the Rotisserie Chickens at Costco. They are so meaty and have so much white meat on them. I buy them just because every time I am there too. I’ve made stock before with them before but got out of the habit. I am like you and kind of get squeamish about all the congealed leftover meat the next day. But if I make stock with it….great idea! Thanks for reminding me! Can’t wait for your cookbook!

  6. I always make your fabulous Fauxtisserie chicken, and after we’ve eaten one meal and I’ve cut off any extra meat for another meal, I dump the carcass right back in the crockpot (I don’t even wash it out–just remove the balls of foil!). Add some water, veggies if I have them, and put the crockpot on low for the night. In the morning, fresh broth. My freezer is now packed with the stuff, since I make a chicken every week or so. 🙂

  7. I also always feel guilty for throwing my ‘carcass’ (agree not a fun word for your food) away! Now I won’t have to!!! Thanks sooo much!!

  8. I am always saying I am going to make my own but never do. I think I will try this cause I am planning on making chicken and dumplings. I also have to thank you guys for helping me start to use whole chickens (I had a weird goss out thing with them). After i read your fauxtisserie chicken post I decided to tackle my first whole chicken and found out it wasn’t so bad!

  9. Every time we have a turkey (which is about 6 times a year….love it) I am always thinking that I should make stock with it. But then the time gets away from me, and I just toss the carcass (yeah, gross word!). I’m doing it this time! Thanks! And thanks to Peggy, cuz I was wanting to know the easy way to strain this giant pot of gook….four sack towel in colander sounds perfect!

    We don’t have Costco here….sounds like we need one!

    Love your blog and all your recipes…..they are so great with all the pics, too!

  10. Using the Costco chicken is a great idea!! I was with my Sister in law at Costco in Orem, UT on saturday and we searched for your amazing cook-books and we bought 8 of them!!!! She’s giving them to all her friends at book club and I am giving them to my sisters!!!! Thanks so much!!!

  11. I need to admit that not chopping the vegetables was a revelation. Every Thanksgiving, my mother in law stops us from throwing out the carcass, saying we should make broth, and every year we end up tossing it out a few days later. But tossing it in a pot with some scrubbed, whole vegetables and a handful of seasonings? I can totally handle that. Great post, thanks.

    (I also love the fauxtisserie/overnight broth suggestion. Brilliant!)

  12. Thank you! I was just thinking that I’m relying too heavily on canned (okay, those cardboard-like carton thingees) of broth and I should make my own. Sometimes. Maybe.

  13. I have thrown all of the ingredients into a crock pot and just let ‘er rip for several hours without having to watch it. Then I pull the insert out of the pot and refrigerate it and throw away the fat that floats to the top and solidifies.

  14. Love this idea especially totally get the carcass mess at the end and love the idea of actually using it. Love the cookbook. Totally obsessed with it.

  15. Thanks for the recipe! I also make homemade chicken broth in the crock pot. I cook a whole chicken in the crock pot all day, remove it to pull off the meat and then put everything back in the cooking juices. Then I add ingredients as you suggested along with approximately 6 cups of water. Cook all night on low, place in fridge in morning for a couple of hours so you can skim the fat off the top. Then, the best part, I freeze in a muffin tin so that I have 1/4 cup broth cubes and can throw them in recipes during the week. I like to make our brown rice with it instead of water.

  16. I did this last week, only with a couple of Sam’s Club chickens 🙂 I didn’t even throw in any veggies and it made a very flavorful broth. Oh, and make sure you pick off all the remaining meat. I got a ton to use for soup.

  17. THANK YOU!!! I always leave the “carcass” (ugh) in the fridge with good intentions of doing this and have never known how, so my husband always throws it away! Now I can do this!! THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!!!

  18. You can have all that nice moist healthy white meat . . giver me the wings, that is what disappears when I am driving home.

    Have you tried the Kirkland Chicken Stock? It is lower in sodium and has lots of flavors that I LOVE.

    I often re-roast the carcass of chickens and turkeys with water in the bottom of the sealed up pan until it is very browned then dumb it all into the pot. Makes richer broth that can stretch farther.

  19. Even if I’m just trimming chicken breasts for the freezer I throw the trimmings in a little bag and freeze that as well. Same with onion trimmings. And the carcass, lol! One thing nice about making your own broth is that you can control the salt content, which is very very high in canned broth and stock. Chicken broth in the freezer is like, well, money in the bank!

  20. Although the recipe is terrific, easy and just what I needed….I have to say the dialog that went into this chicken broth posting is my favorite part!!! I seldom laugh right out loud when reading recipes. But the visual of driving out of the Costco parking lot gnawing on a chicken leg AND the side comments on the word “carcass” were hilarious. Thanks for “humor and personality plus” with the cooking!!!

  21. Oh my goodness! We just made the fauxtisserie chicken yesterday and when Jake asked if he could throw the “carcass” out I told him “No! I’m going to make chicken broth out of it!” He looked at me like I was crazy (which I am, I didn’t have the foggiest clue on how to do it) and behold, you and your mind reading ability, you provide the directions. Thanks Sara, you are a true friend!

  22. Who knew all these years I was making broth and not stock. Thanks for the explanation of the difference. I’m going to try the rotisserie method…sounds so much tastier and easier than using a whole raw chicken (not to mention sounding more appetizing than having to clean out and handle said raw chicken)

  23. Hello,
    I am a fellow Boisian (actually Meridianite), and since you mention Costco… do you have the digital pressure cooker that can be purchased there? It is amazing and I’m looking for more recipes. This broth could be cooked up in less than 10 minutes with the pressure cooker. What do you say you do a segment on digital pressure cooker recipes?!!! AND, I DID see what Costco had this week-end! I think I bought one right after you took that picture because the runaway shrink-wrap was in that exact spot!!

  24. I can’t believe how easy that is! is it the same for Vegetable Stock? my alton brown Turkey that I do at Thanksgiving calls for Vegetable Stock and it is a pain in the butt to find! maybe I can make my own???

  25. Katie… (please excuse me if I’m over-stepping…) but you can definitely make your own vegetable stock. I keep homemade vegetable “stock”, beef stock/broth, chicken broth, and sometimes fish stock in the freezer at all times.

  26. I have learned to de-bone the chicken after the first meal! While it’s still warm and has not been refrigerated. Then it’s easy to get the meat off. After I get the yummy meat off THEN I use those bones for broth. Meat simmered in broth gives all of it’s flavor to the broth and is tasteless. So use the good meat for some other yummy recipes. 🙂

    1. This is exactly what I do. Also I throw in onions, peel and all. The peel gives a beautiful color. Then I strain everything. Add back in diced onions, carrots, celery and at the end, add in noodles and the diced cooked chicken meat and you have the most fantastic and easy chicken noodle soup. The meat stays tender and not soggy or stringy. Also done on the pressure cooker knocks back the time for a midweek meal. YUM.

  27. I have heard about doing this, but never brave enough to do this.
    Amazing recipes. I can’t wait to get your book.

    Ana – NothingsBroken.com

  28. I was just wondering what you do with the veggies…do you eat them or just toss them? I’ve never made homemade broth and know I’d want to eat the veggies (I hate to waste) but wondered if they were mush by the end of cooking time. BTW, I totally had to LOL at the picture in my head of you chomping on that rotisserie chicken! LOL!

    1. The veges give all their flavor to the stock. Luckily I have a flock of chickens I give all my left over stock goodies to. They love the over cooked onions and carrots…. nothing wasted. Adding in fresh carrots to the new soup makes a world of difference. I wouldn’t do it until I tried it and now I am converted.

    2. The first time I made my stock, I kept the carrots, and they were awesome! It was a pain in the neck to pick them out, since I had cut them up into small pieces. I discarded the onions though. I don’t care if the nutrients have been boiled out of them, they tasted great. Just making my second batch right now, put in large pieces of carrots and celery, making it easier to remove at the end, then will slice them up. I will be keeping those…

  29. This is such a useful recipe. I use chicken broth all the time and I get those chickens from Costco a lot, too. So glad I can save some money and use those carcasses for something! Thank you!!!

  30. I make your fauxtisserie chicken about twice a month, my husband LOVES it. And I always make chicken broth with the leftovers. Its the easiest thing in the world, freezes well and tastes great! I freeze mine in 2 cup portions. I usually end up with about 20 cups of stock for about $1.50.

  31. @Veronica,
    A good way to make stock without wasting any vegetables is to save the ends of onions (the part you chop off so you can cut it) & the ends of celery (and the leafy part of the celery)and carrots that get cut off. I just stick all the ends in a ziplock bag in the freezer, so by the time I want to make chicken stock/broth, I usually have enough and don’t end up wasting anything!

  32. You can also do this in the crockpot, and can cook the chicken in there first too instead of a rotisserie one. I usually throw the carcass in there after dinner with the extras (onion, carrots, celery, dried herbs) and then let it cook on L while we sleep. In the morning (the house smells odd for breakfast but hey, whatever, right?), I fish out the bones and puree everything else (veggies too) into broth. Then I freeze it in 1-1.5 cup portions in ziptop bags (you could do 14 oz as that’s a usual can of broth, I think). From my one $3.49 chicken, I get: 1 main meal of chicken meat, at least one more baggie of meat to freeze for casseroles, taquitos, etc., and then 6-7 cups of broth for later. That’s a good deal!

  33. You wouldn’t believe the amount of times that I have a “carcass” sitting in the fridge the day after and I have no clue about what I should do with it (the word carcass really does sound bad lol). After reading this I went downstairs and literally followed your receipt step by step and the broth turned out amazing! I highly recommend that anyone that has leftovers try it out, you really don’t have much to lose (especially if you are going to be throwing most of the leftover out anyways).

  34. I live in Boise too, (just since right before Christmas), and I live fairly near the Costco. I stop for a chicken every chance I get, and next time I’m going to hold up a “Our Best Bites” sign when I’m there. Watch for me!!! I cut all the meat off and make soup in my digital pressure cooker. We had chicken burritos tonight, love, love, love, and I took soup to my sick DIL. Thanks for a fun post!

  35. I have a habit of making a roasted chicken at least once a week as part of this habit I just put all the parts of the cut up chicken that I know my family won’t eat into my big pasta pot(why the pasta pot? because then all I have to do is let it drain into the bottom and dump the top part into my composter!)with a couple of onions cut in half and whatever not so great looking fresh veggies I have in my fridge I cover with water add a tiny bit of salt and simmer while Im cooking dinner it cools down while we eat then after dinner I just put in freezer containers and voila homemade I know whats in it stock!

  36. Okay, I have a question for you– I have made my own broth but I ended up using it right away (chick noodle soup), but I think I will try to make it more often. And, sidetrack, I am like you, I can not eat all the meat off it! The dark stuff grosses me out. ANYWHO– so my q is this- you buy broth, is there any reason why bouillon cubes are different? I use so much that I plow right through a costco sized container in no time at all. I used the stock in the jar, but I really do use so much that I just started using the cubes. So I would really like to know what you think. I hate unwrapping them, but other than that, is there a downside? Thanks!!!

    1. Heather- I keep a big container of Costco bouillon in my pantry too, but usually use it only if I’m out of broth, or I just need a little and don’t want to open a whole can/box of broth. There’s nothing wrong with bouillon, but it does generally have a lot more sodium and artificial flavors. I think the flavor of broth and stock are a lot cleaner tasting. That being said, bouillon can work just fine in most recipes that call for broth, you just have to be careful about adding salt to the recipe since the cubes tend to be a little saltier.

  37. Oh my goodness….you are right, I almost skipped reading this post but then I read it once I saw your “roll your eyes” comment….so glad I did! I have tossed soooo many of the costco chickens as well! Now I cant wait to get my next one to make some broth! Lol…thanks a bunch-love you gals! You never let us down!! 🙂

  38. When ever I poach chicken for recipes like soups, stews, etc. I always cook them with celery, carrots, onions, etc. so I can get stock/broth out of it. I actually store it in a ziploc freezer bag in my veggie drawer. I date it too. Sometimes I freeze it in ice cube trays and then pop them out, put them in a ziploc bag so I have a little to use in other recipes.

    Another great way to make broth is in a crockpot. Set it up over night.

  39. I love to make my own broth from rotisserie chicken carcasses! I always chop up the leaves from the middle of the celery bunch because they have so much delicious flavor. We don’t have a Costco near us (huge frown), but our grocery store has great rotisserie chickens. They have a honey jalapeno seasoned chicken that made a delicious pot of stock!

  40. I can go one better. Throw everything in the crockpot and go to bed. When you wake in the morning you can pretend someone made soup for you while you were sleeping 😉

  41. This is exactly what I was looking for! I found you through Pinterest and after several websites found this one that is for left over Rotisserie chicken. Thanks so much!!

  42. I always buy 5 of those chickens at a time and then go home and pick off all the meat, I put the meat in 1 cup portions in small bags inside a large freezer bag and use for lots of different recipes. So I really should just just boil up all the bones. How do you clean the four sack after draining the stock through it? I would be nervous to just throw it in the laundry since it has so much oil in it.

  43. I’ve been all over the Food Network; too much EVERYTHING!!! This is the one that I want to try out.


    Celtie and family of soup lovers

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