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. 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!

  2. 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!

  3. 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!!

  4. 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. 🙂

  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 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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!!)

  9. 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.

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