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
  • (7)
  • 15 M
  • 12 H
  • Makes 8 cups
4.9/5 - 7 reviews
Print RecipeBuy the Easy Slow Cooker cookbook

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Special Equipment: Slow cooker

Ingredients


Directions

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

Want it? Click it.

    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' 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.

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    Comments

    1. 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.

    2. 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…

    3. 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.

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