Making chicken and vegetable broth

Sarah asked a few days ago how I make chicken broth. I'm not really qualified to write the authoritative article on it, but I can tell you what I do. My approach is fairly laid-back.

Method 1: Need chicken?

Here's how I usually make chicken broth: I buy chicken thighs in big packages for a dollar a pound or less, rip the skin off, and freeze them in appropriate portions. When a recipe calls for plain chicken (shredded, etc.), I just pull out a package or two. I thaw it in the microwave for awhile, then toss it in a pot of boiling water (about 1 pint of water to each thigh to begin with, if you want to measure). If I'm feeling ambitious, I might add salt, a celery stalk, a carrot, some leftover onion, a bay leaf, and some peppercorns, but usually I don't think about that.

I cook the chicken until it registers done on my thermometer, then pull everything else out of the broth. Refrigerate overnight, then pour through a fine-mesh strainer to get rid of fat and other gunk.

This is my favorite method of cooking chicken, as I don't have to babysit it on the stove and I get some nice chicken broth into the bargain.

Since most soups I make are fairly strong-tasting, I'm not really picky about the flavor of my broth as the spices end up masking it. In fact, I think I prefer the broth that I make with nothing but chicken, water, and salt.

Method 2: Got chicken?

Sometimes I also make chicken broth out of bits and pieces of leftover chicken, giblets, bones, and such. It's also very easy. Just plop everything you have in a pot and add any leftover vegetables you might have hanging around, but not too much of any one thing (pick vegetables that you won't mind tasting in your chicken broth: you might want to skip the broccoli). Toss in a bay leaf, some salt, and a few peppercorns too, if you like. Or just stick with the chicken.

Cover with water by double or triple and bring to a boil. Simmer for an hour, or as long as you like. Strain into another container and discard all the solids from the pot. Refrigerate the broth overnight, then pour through a fine-mesh strainer to remove fat and little bits of gunk.

Method 3: Got veggies?

Why stick to chicken? I used to do vegetable broth all the time, saving ends of carrots, celery leaves, artichoke extras, potato peels, and anything clean and technically edible. Try to keep a balance: a bit of cabbage is fine, but if you add too much, you know what your broth will taste like! Toss it in a bag in the freezer until you have enough, and proceed with Method 2 above.


  1. Great Ideas! I do have chicken broth in my freezer as we speak, but I love the vegie broth idea! Im so going to do that, and I'm going to share your idea with all my daughters! thanks! Lewaina

  2. I love the veggie broth! I'm going to have to try that!

  3. Thanks for your methods. I've been hearing about using veggie scraps for broth a lot lately. It sounds like a good idea!

  4. I do the same, and you can also make a yummy beef broth from beef bones the same way. And the turkey carcass from Thanksgiving or Christmas always goes into a pot.

    One note for someone that hasn't made broth with bones before, it will get a bit gelatinous. Gelatin is made from bones, and when you cook the bones in the pot for a long time, it can thicken. I just add extra water when using it.

    I also like to have a tomato type broth, using beef or veggies as a base. Just add some fresh tomatoes or a can of stewed tomatoes.

    Now I'm hungry!

  5. Yum...I agree that homemade is better!

  6. wow! great ideas! thanks for sharing them!

  7. I just started this recently, making and freezing my own broth, and I have loved it!

  8. I've never made broth. I guess I just don't use it often enough. I figure I only use a can of broth (.50) like once a month or so.

    I always feel guilty when I throw away ham or turkey carcasses when they still have so much meat on them. Every year I say I'll make soup with the pickings left on the turkey bones, but I'm always too worn out to do it. I guess I should quit being a slacker :)

  9. I can't live without chicken broth. Recently I was roasting such a huge chicken that the thighs just weren't getting done without the breast turning to cardboard, so instead of bothering with trying to get the thighs cooked some other way, I threw them in with the carcass to make the broth. Well. I have never in my life had such a delicious broth. It's true what Julia Child said, I guess, that if you can add some meat, it's even better!

  10. So I tried cooking some chicken broth last night...thanks for your tips...and like TJ said, it is quite gelatinous when I pulled it out of the fridge this morning. When you make yours do you add water? And how do you store it? And then what do you usually make with it...soups? I know, lots of questions from me this morning.

  11. Sarah, after I make my broth, I usually freeze it in quart portions unless I'm going to use it within the week. I use my quart freezer boxes, or if I'm out, just a quart freezer bag.

    Gelatinous broth doesn't really bother me--it's just what happens when you use the bones. I don't usually add water, because when you heat it up again, it will turn back to liquid. So as long as you're using it hot, it's not a big deal, at least not for me.

    I usually use it in soups, because we make so many, but sometimes I also cook rice in it, or I use it for other recipes that call for chicken broth.