Slow Cooker Chicken Stock

Slow cooker chicken stock or broth is gloriously easy. Just toss raw chicken parts or carcasses in a slow cooker with vegetables, water, and herbs in the proper proportions, walk away, and come back later to a rich, deep, concentrated, out-of-this-world, paleo-friendly stock.

A large measuring cup of slow cooker chicken stock on a wooden table with a ladle on the side.

Slow cooker chicken stock has cast its spell on us. It’s not that making chicken stock from scratch is difficult. But it just 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 and not worry about the gas flame being a little too high and causing the stock to boil raucously and turn cloudy and bitter or being a little too low and extending the already long process. Or you can actually leave the house and not have to worry if all your worldly possessions will go up in flames.

The slow cooker strategy simply ensures the stock burbles sleepily and remains clear as can be. 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, just as everyone who’s tried it seems to say. [Editor’s Note: But in case you do want to occasionally go back to the old-fashioned approach, we’ve also got the perfect Roast Chicken Stock recipe for you.]–Renee Schettler

How To Tweak Chicken Stock To Your Liking

Homemade chicken stock isn’t hard to make, either in a slow cooker or a pot. 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 or pot with some water and chances are it’s not going to be terrible. Although it may not be as rich, deep, and complex as it could be. While we’re all for the spirit of experimentation, we’ve made a lot of chicken stock in our day, and we prefer the precise proportions of chicken, water, vegetables, and herbs in the recipe below. And folks who’d followed the recipe to a t are waxing poetic about it being their default, go-to, never-again-will-they-stray, foolproof chicken stock recipe from here on. Still, if you’re the sort who doesn’t like to necessarily adhere to a recipe, 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 add a…well, we think that’s sorta obvious what herbs add.
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.

One last thing. Whatever you do, don’t rely on mere bones and water. Trust us. [Editor’s Note: When we (and by “we,” we really mean our editor in chief, 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, assured 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.]

Slow Cooker Chicken Stock

  • Quick Glance
  • (5)
  • 15 M
  • 12 H
  • Makes 8 cups
4.8/5 - 5 reviews
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Special Equipment: Slow cooker



Toss all the ingredients in your slow cooker, add enough cold water to cover, and cook on low for at least 12 hours or overnight. That’s it. If you like, you can skim the surface toward the beginning of cooking to remove any froth that floats to the top.

Strain and let cool completely. Freeze in resealable plastic bags in 1- to 2-cup portions. Originally published January 22, 2013.

Print RecipeBuy the Easy Slow Cooker cookbook

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    Instant Pot Chicken Stock

    • Toss all the ingredients in your Instant Pot, add enough cold water to cover,  and set to the slow cook mode on the less setting for at least 12 hours or overnight. You may need to skim the surface toward the beginning of cooking. Strain and use or let cool completely before refrigerating or freezing.

    Recipe Testers' Tips

    This slow cooker chicken stock recipe is one of the easiest recipes ever! And it 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!

    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—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.

    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. 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.

    I usually freeze stock in 2-cup amounts, which seems to fit most of my needs.

    WOW! This was the best chicken stock ever. I would highly recommend it. I don't think I will ever make chicken stock any other way in the future. Although I've been making my own chicken stock for some 40 years, I've always made it on the stovetop in either a stock pot or pressure cooker. Making it in a slow cooker was a first for me and it will be my go-to way of making it.

    I used a 2-pound chicken for the stock because that was what I had available. The leek and bay leaf were also new to my stock-making and were perfect additions. I set my slow cooker on auto-shift, which cooked it on high for 2 hours and then shifted to low. After letting it cook for about 12 hours total, I removed the top and let it cook for another 4 hours to allow the liquid to reduce and the flavors to concentrate.

    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 stock pot 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.

    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.

    What an incredibly simple and easy way to make homemade chicken stock. An incredibly flavorful stock. And the part I like most is you can assemble everything and forget about the stock.

    I used the carcass of a roast chicken I had made at home and I let it cook in the slow cooker overnight with the other ingredients and voila! The next morning I had an incredibly flavorful stock. I had about 8 cups of stock. I find the flavor of this chicken stock to have a lot more depth because of the cooking time and I love the idea of adding leeks to the mix. It had a very dark color and one could easily use it in French Onion Soup. Five stars for this recipe.

    I've made chicken stock in a slow cooker before but without paying particular attention to proportions and mostly just tossing in whatever suitable ingredients I had on hand. The basic formula in this recipe produces a fantastic stock and one that is easily replicable over and over again. Starting with chicken wings, I got a beautiful clear and brown stock with very little effort.

    It was still bubbling when I ran out in the afternoon and I turned it off to strain and cool in the evening, after 12 hours and 50 minutes cooking time. In fact, the straining part was probably the most time-consuming aspect of the entire process, and that has to be done regardless of the method used for stock making.

    It took approximately 10 cups water to cover. This pretty much filled my entire cooker, which is an oval 6-quart Crock Pot. I used the thyme and the bay leaf.

    This filled a large rectangular Ziploc container to the very top—above the 8 cup/2000ml mark so about 9 cups.

    I made this a second time, kind of on the fly, using a small rotisserie chicken carcass and about half the amounts of the other ingredients (light green part of leek and 2 medium shallot lobes instead of onion). This filled the cooker about half full. I went with 10 hours on low because of starting with just bones and the chicken's cooked wings. Good but not as rich as starting with uncooked chicken.

    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). As the weather began to get cold, I had 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. 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.

    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.

    SO EASY! And this slow cooker chicken stock tastes exactly as chicken stock should.

    It took 5 min to put the ingredients in the slow cooker and cover them with water. I didn't have any fresh thyme available, so I used 1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme and that turned out to be just the right amount. I added 1 dried bay leaf. I cooked it on LOW overnight for 12 hours.

    I used 8 chicken drumsticks (800g) which yielded 340g of dark meat to be used in another recipe later. I took the skin off the chicken drumsticks I used and there was no "scum" on the surface to skim.

    At the end of cooking, I strained the vegetables and meat, leaving the stock, letting it cool, and then putting it in Mason jars for storage. Looking forward to using it in the chicken gumbo recipe!

    I always keep a 2-gallon resealable plastic bag in my freezer for stashing the carcasses of the Thanksgiving turkey and roasted chickens to use in this recipe. Now that I have an Instant Pot, I will never go back to the slow cooker version. I plunked the bones and all the vegetables and seasonings in my 8-quart Instant Pot and filled it to the 1/2 mark with cold water—10 cups. I cooked it on high for 1 hour and let the pressure release naturally. I have a soup setting on my IP, so I used that. All told, it took a bit under 2 hours to make stock. Not too shabby.

    Ten cups plain water went in and 10 cups of lovely, albeit cloudy, stock came out. Even unsalted, the flavor is rich, meaty, and heady. I used 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme instead of fresh, so I strained twice through a fine-mesh strainer to remove all the solids. I chilled it overnight before portioning it into 2-cup containers.

    If you’re worried about the ring taking on the smell or flavor of the stock, don’t. I ran everything through the dishwasher (following the manufacturer’s instructions, of course) and all is well.

    This is my preferred method of making chicken stock. I like using the Instant Pot as I can set it for a longer cook time and get that rich, deeply flavored broth I prefer with a minimum of fuss.

    I used the leftover skin and bones from a 4-pound roasted chicken along with a couple little bags of chicken bones I had stashed in the freezer. I also used a medium leek, a small onion, 2 medium carrots, peppercorns, bay leaf, and thyme. I like that with the Instant Pot I can set it to cook overnight and if the stock isn't as deep as I'd like I can set it for a few hours more.

    To make the broth, I added everything into the pot, added a good 8 cups of water, and set it to cook for 16 hours. Since it was in slow cook mode, I didn't have to skim anything off at all. I used a clear lid on the Instant Pot so I could see if any skimming needed to be done before I went to bed for the night. Had the chicken been raw I'd have used the saute function for cooking the bones a bit before adding the other ingredients and water.

    After letting it cook all night, I allowed it all to cool a little before straining it and was rewarded with a rich deep yellow chicken broth. I prefer not to add salt to the broth at this point as that can be adjusted on a dish by dish basis. I had enough for 2 quart jars and a bit left to add to into a dinner recipe that evening. The resulting broth is one of the reasons I love to roast chickens just so I can make a pot of broth.


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    1. I am anxious to try this! I have made first bringing to a boil on the stove and then putting the stock pots in the oven overnight and then pressure canning. This looks simple enough to make overnight in the crockpot then measuring out into 1 and 2 cup freezer bags to have on hand! 1 cup, because having those are great for broth sipping!

    2. I am a stock buff. I was lucky enough to grow up with bubbling pots on the stove weekly. It has always been a guilty pleasure on its own, and now the health benefits are being recognized. It makes you feel better, a comfort. I can’t make a proper sauce to accompany meat without homemade stock, it would feel like using a box cake mix. This is a wonderful entry-level stock. It delivered wonderful results with minimal effort-—a stock hack. The flavor is there, and you could vary this stock in many ways. Fennel, leeks, chicken feet, veal bones could all be added to enhance flavor. The liquid does not reduce as quickly as on the stove, due to the covered slow cooker. This makes it ok to get a long and deep broth. I have already made this again, as it is so much simpler than my regular routine and don’t have to worry about the flame being on while sleeping.

      1. Virginia H., I envy your stock-sipping childhood! And I just want to say how much we appreciate you taking the time to let us know how well this shortcut stock worked for you. So happy you found another approach to add to your stock-making arsenal!

    3. I’ve made chicken stock in a slow cooker before but without paying particular attention to proportions and mostly just tossing in whatever suitable ingredients I had on hand. The basic formula in this recipe produces a fantastic stock and one that is easily replicable over and over again. Starting with chicken wings, I got a beautiful clear and brown stock, with very little effort.

      It was still bubbling when I ran out in the afternoon and I turned it off to strain and cool in the evening after nearly 13 hours cooking time. In fact, the straining part was probably the most time-consuming aspect of the entire process, and that has to be done regardless of the method used for stock-making.

      I used the thyme and the bay leaf. The stock pretty much filled my entire cooker, which is an oval 6-quart Crock Pot.

      I made this a second time kind of on the fly using a small rotisserie chicken carcass, and about half the amounts of the other ingredients (light green part of leek and shallot instead of onion). This filled the cooker about half full. I went with 10 hours on low because of starting with just bones and the chicken’s cooked wings. Good but not as rich as starting with uncooked chicken.

      1. Love hearing that you appreciate this recipe as much as we do, Pat! Appreciate you letting us know your feelings as well as your results depending on whether you used a carcass or fresh chicken. Looking forward to hearing what you make with your stash of stock…

    4. I make the slow cooker chicken stock from Smitten Kitchen, which calls for 3 pounds of chicken wings. I have a riff that I think would also work well with this great-sounding recipe. Sometimes I want a really strong stock, and instead of reducing it further, this is what I do. I make the recipe as is, strain the stock, and refrigerate it overnight (once it’s cooled, of course.) The next day I roast until very dark 3 more pounds of chicken wings and use them to make the stock again using the stock I had refrigerated in place of water. In other words, I make a double stock. It is delicious and sometimes is just the ticket.

    5. I’ve had the flu all week and I’ve been feeling like I’m encased in cement so this is very — I mean REALLY — timely for me. Chicken broth and my slow cooker are all that get me out of bed.

      Since it’s become my lifeline I’ve discovered several things this week. I ran out of things like necks, wings and carcasses days ago so I’ve been keeping my pot going with Costco rotisserie chickens. They’re cheap and easy and still make a fine broth.

      I’m removing the meatier chunks of chicken and reserving them for a month-long binge of chicken salad later when I can taste it. I put what remains in the slow cooker with the veggies and the apple cider vinegar from your bone broth recipe and let it go.

      I sip through the day and replace what I remove from the pot with fresh water. Someone with a finer palate than my flu has granted me might be able to tell the difference but the color remains good to the last quart before I go to bed at night. At that time I put what remains in a big quart canning jar, rinse out the pot, toss the contents and get tomorrow’s started with a fresh carcass and replenished veggies. I have that finished quart through the morning and the next pot’s ready by lunchtime.

      I am probably getting 10-12 quarts of broth out of my 6 quart slow cooker.

      Because I am so low energy I am not fiddling with straining or using that excellent cheese cloth tip. I pose a hand strainer on the edge of my pot and submerged in the broth and ladle strained broth out of that. The thin metal handle of my strainer keeps the lid open just enough to put a stop to the sputtering that would, otherwise, be all over my counter.

      I’m not bothering when I can’t taste anything subtle, but I think it’s worth mentioning that I am using smoked salt more and more as my go-to rather than a finishing salt. It adds a bit of dimension from anything from this broth to cookie dough and I’ve added it to my repertoire of hmmm-what-IS-that-flavor substitutions like browned butter and buttermilk. Just a little more flavor and what could be wrong with that?

      I know this has become a tome but I would just add that I stopped putting my slow cooker away a couple months ago. Now it’s permanently on my counter as a small oven. I bake 2 potatoes in it rather than heating a whole oven. I melt chocolate in it. I rewarm leftovers or roast small casseroles on the steaming rack. And I can warm dinner rolls at a lower temperature than dinner in the hot oven.

      OK. That’s the end of this fevered oration but I hope there’s something useful for someone in it. Mostly, thanks for the broth and bone broth recipes. They’ve been a lifesaver!

      1. Love this, Rainey! All of it. Except the part about you being under the weather, of course. Thank you so much for sharing your tricks and here’s sending you wishes for healthy mojo…

    6. Here’s another tip to make it even more simple. Whenever I make any kind of stock, I place all of the ingredients–bones, vegetables, herbs, spices–in a large piece of cheesecloth and tie it into a pouch. Put it into the slow cooker and cover with water. Once done, just drain and toss the pouch of scraps. You are left with clear stock. No need to strain the finished stock and clean up is so simple.

    7. Thanks, Beth – that was my inclination, but sometimes you guys have cooking information I’ve never considered! :-)

    8. Regarding the leek: the entire leek, bow to stern, with just the roots trimmed off? Or just the bulb? Since the solids are strained off, it wouldn’t make a difference in that regard, but I wasn’t certain about the taste that the more open greens might impart.

    9. I’ve always wanted to make homemade stock because I make almost everything else homemade and I want to avoid the sodium from store-bought stock. However, having it on the stove forever just wasn’t for me. When I saw this recipe about a week ago, I knew it was the one (I love my crockpots!!). I roasted a chicken for supper one night. The next evening I placed the carcass as well as the raw parts from inside the chicken (neck, etc), celery, carrots, onion, and leftover caramelized onions from another meal into the crockpot (with water, of course). I left it on low over night for a total of about 15 hrs. The house smelled fantastic! The stock turned out an amazing rich, golden color. It made 7 1/2 cups’ worth. I froze it in 1/2 and 1 cup portions. Used 1/2 cup that evening in gravy and it was great. I will never buy a bouillon cube again! I just wish I had a bigger freezer. Thanks so much for this easy, adaptable recipe!! I will be making this again and again!! :)

      1. Amanda, that’s so terrific to hear, thank you for taking the time to let us know. We so appreciate it. And we couldn’t agree more, there’s just no substitute for homemade chicken stock.

    10. I like this post because how it shows how easy it is to make this stock and does a very good job describing it. Once I made an “Everlasting Chicken Broth” recipe that was amazing. My friends also like to know these kinds of recipes, so thanks for sharing this recipe!

    11. Okay, so I’m way behind on this. I had two carcasses, one from the deli and one from my own oven. All in with a handful of baby carrots. It smelled so good by about hour 18, my sweeter half took some out for his midnight snack and rolled into bed and snored so hard it woke me up. Stock fit for the Bear with no effort but to save the carcass? I believe!

      1. Louise, welcome to my world! I sometimes break down the carcasses and freeze them if I’m not stocking. Best of all, you can drop them right into pot frozen.

        1. I know! No one should be this excited about chicken stock. I take it back. We should get more excited about chicken stock. A reason to buy chicken with the bones. I totally get it now. And just to clarify, I did put in the leek and the onion. Just didn’t have big carrots on hand. And I don’t like thyme.

          1. I concur. We should whoop and holler about chicken stock! And I’m with you on the thyme, I never put herbs in my chicken stock, as it imparts too much distraction to the resulting dish. A superb chicken stock is something to really get excited about.

    12. I’d characterize this as a rich stock…great to make on a busy day. After all, we can’t all slow roast the carcass and stand by the stockpot and I would rather make something else than used a canned or boxed broth.

    13. I make my broth in a CrockPot like above but add 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar and cook for 24 hrs. I start on high to get a bubble then turn down to low. The vinegar draws out the nutrients and minerals from the bones. This can be done with beef also.

    14. Thank you for this. I’ve been trying to convince friends for years that my process of dumping bones and vegetable scraps in a crock is the way to go for easy, clear stock. Like some of the testers, I tend to let mine go overnight or left alone during the day while I’m out of the house. As a space-saving measure, I strain the stock into a large pot and then bring it to a boil and reduce it. Depending on how long I let it go, I end up with something akin to chicken jello. This ends up actually lasting in the fridge longer and is easy to toss portions of into rice or sauces or whatever else might need a flavor boost without getting too diluted.

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