Why is it, do you suppose, that homemade chicken stock seems to require far less effort and patience when left to burble in a slow cooker than when left to burble on the back burner? Perhaps because you can walk away from it—that is to say, you can walk away from it and not worry about the gas flame being too low and being extinguished by a breeze, or the flame being too high and causing the stock to boil raucously and turn cloudy. It’s not that making chicken stock from scratch is difficult. The slow cooker strategy simply ensures the stock burbles sleepily and remains clear as can be. And once you make homemade chicken stock in a slow cooker, chances are you’ll be so wooed by the ease with which it comes together, you won’t want to go back to making it any other way. [Editor’s Note: But in case you do, we’ve got the perfect Roast Chicken Stock recipe for you.)–Renee Schettler Rossi
LC Sly Stock Substitutions Note
A homemade chicken stock recipe isn’t hard to stumble upon. Just Google it and see for yourself. But a reliable homemade chicken stock recipe? That’s another matter entirely. Sure, you can certainly toss chicken (whether raw parts or the carcass of a roasted hen) and whatever vegetables and herbs you happen to have on hand in your slow cooker with some water and chances are it’s not going to be terrible, though it may not be as much to your liking as it could be. While we’re all for the spirit of experimentation, we prefer the proportions below. Still, if you’re brazen enough to veer from the formula in the recipe below, we’ve a few things you may wish to consider in terms of ingredients…
Leeks lend a milder allium experience than onions.
Celery imparts a rather clean, almost astringent note.
Carrots ensure sweetness.
Black peppercorns—just a few, mind you—lend depth of flavor and complexity.
Herbs, well, we think that’s sorta obvious.
Same goes for garlic.
Ginger imparts a warming sharpness that’s a boon to anything Asian, though best used sparely and only with other ingredients such as lemongrass or onion.
Just don’t rely on mere bones and water. Trust us. [Editor's Note: When we—and by "we," we really mean Renee—first made homemade chicken stock as a very young twenty-something straight out of college, she poured water over roasted bones and let the potion simmer for hours, assure that the gods of stockmaking would smile favorably upon this effort. They did not. Let it be a lesson to you. It certainly was to her, er, us.]
Slow Cooker Chicken Stock Recipe
- Quick Glance
- 15 M
- 12 H
- Makes about 2 quarts
- 2 pounds chicken wings, necks, backs, or other parts (raw parts or roasted carcasses)
- 4 smallish carrots, rinsed and roughly chopped
- 1 leek, rinsed and roughly chopped
- 1 smallish onion, peeled or unpeeled, roughly chopped
- 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
- 1 fresh bay leaf (optional)
- 1 sprig fresh thyme
- Cold water
- 1. Place all of the ingredients in your slow cooker, add enough cold water to cover, and cook on low for at least 12 hours or overnight. You may need to skim the surface toward the beginning of cooking.
- 2. Strain and let cool completely. Freeze in 1- to 2-cup portions.
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Testers ChoiceTesters Choice
Jan 22, 2013
I love the idea of throwing everything into a slow cooker, not having to monitor it, and—voila!—in the morning having delicious chicken stock. We always save our chicken leftovers in the freezer for stock and my collection was getting heavy, so this recipe came at just the right time. Normally it’s worth making stock the regular way, on the stove, but this was ingenious! Not having to stir it every few minutes and being able to walk away was great. I loved the use of the leeks in the stock, too—I’d never thrown those in the stockpot but thought they added a nice, mild onion flavor. The resulting stock after 12 hours was very deep in color, which was beautiful. I might add a pinch of salt to the stock next time I make it, but other than that I give this recipe two thumbs up. A great recipe to have during the colder months for all of the soup we all plan to make. In addition, it never hurts to have a freezer full of stock. I may try this method again but for making beef stock next time.
Jan 22, 2013
This is one of the easiest recipes ever! I usually make my stock the old-fashioned way—a large batch at a time in a huge pot with everything in it and all the stirring and checking. Then trying to strain that stock is another job in itself. This recipe is so easy and the result was fantastic! I let it go overnight—for probably 13 hours—then I shut the slow cooker off and let the stock cool. I then strained it into a 4-quart measuring cup and poured it into 1-quart containers for freezing. I used a 6-quart slow cooker and got just a bit over 4 quarts of stock. This makes the best low-sodium chicken stock ever. You don’t add any salt at all. Even my husband asked why we hadn’t tried this before. This is my new chicken stock method forever!
Jan 22, 2013
This is very similar to a recipe I already use to make stock. I do add a few more veggies and herbs to the mix, but this one makes a lovely, dark, flavorful broth. Making the broth over a long time in the slow cooker seems to make a better broth, in my opinion, than doing it on the stove. The broth has a deeper flavor. I’d highly recommend this for making any kind of broth.
Jan 22, 2013
I’ve made chicken stock in a pot on the stove, using a pressure cooker, and now using a slow cooker. For ease and cleanup, the slow cooker is my winner. I made the stock on a weekday: I dumped everything in the pot in the morning and then came home to a pot of stock! No waiting or watching required (assuming you’re okay with leaving your slow cooker unattended). I used a glass measuring cup to pour stock through a strainer into a large bowl and when the pot was almost empty, just poured the rest into the strainer and pressed on the carcass to get all the goodness out. I usually freeze stock in 2-cup amounts, which seems to fit most of my needs. In a pinch, I think I could get away with just the chicken bones and a bay leaf, if I didn’t have surplus carrots or onions to throw in.
Jan 22, 2013
As the weather began to get colder, I pulled out a couple of soup recipes that I’d found last winter but never made. Both were specific about using homemade chicken stock, not canned. I’ve an old favorite stock recipe, but it does require a little time and attention. When I saw this recipe, I liked the idea of the easy assembly and the long cooking time. I also like the idea of leaving it for 12 hours and going about the other things I need to do (like rake leaves before the first big snow of winter). I not only had on hand all of the pieces of chicken, but also a nice, well-roasted, brown chicken carcass in the freezer. The end result was a very rich, deeply flavored stock. At first I hesitated to give this a TC, because it’s so simple and not very different from many other stock recipes. But in the end, that’s a big part of the reason for my giving this a TC. While the stock is indeed very good, it’s the very simplicity that makes this a keeper in my book. I’ve a very large slow cooker, so I can make much more and freeze it.
Jan 22, 2013
I liked how easy this stock was to put together and that it resulted in a nice clear broth. I let the chicken parts stew for about 18 hours. It’s a great alternative to canned chicken broth that I can use directly from my freezer.
Slow Cooker Chicken Stock Recipe © 2010 The Editors of Ryland Peters & Small. Photo © 2010 Ryland Peters & Small. All rights reserved.