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.
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 Rossi
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
- Slow cooker
- 2 pounds chicken wings, necks, backs, or other parts (raw parts or carcasses from a rotisserie chicken or roast chicken)
- 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
- 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.
Instant Pot Chicken StockToss 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’ Reviews
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.
Originally published February 17, 2021