How to Make Homemade Turkey Stock
I’ve known for a really long time that it was pretty much sacrilege to throw away the bones and carcass from the Thanksgiving turkey (or any roasted poultry, for that matter). However, I totally cop to being lazy for an equally long time. After spending days preparing for Thanksgiving, the last thing I want to do the next day or the day after that is spend more time in the kitchen. However, last year I finally bit the bullet and made sure I saved all of the turkey scraps, carcass and all, once we were done cleaning up Thanksgiving dinner. A couple of days later, I threw all of it, along with a bunch of vegetables and aromatics, into a pot and let it simmer for a couple of hours. The house smelled fabulous, and once everything was strained, I had about four quarts of homemade turkey stock. I froze a couple, gave one to my grandparents, and started using the other right away.
The stock is so flavorful, and, to my surprise, it really didn’t take much time at all. You really just throw everything into a pot and let it go. I think I spent the afternoon catching up on Homeland episodes while the pot simmered ;-)
This Thanksgiving, don’t throw away the turkey carcass or leftover bones! If you aren’t going to make the stock immediately, put everything into a zip-top bag and keep it in the refrigerator for a couple of days, or freeze for a week or two. Then, while you’re relaxing or getting the house decorated for Christmas, throw everything in the pot and let it work its magic. When it’s done, you’ll have some fabulous turkey stock, which is perfect for any recipe that you’d use chicken stock, or in any of these dishes that are perfect for using up leftover turkey: Turkey, Mushroom & Wild Rice Soup, Turkey Pot Pie, or Turkey Tetrazzini.
Do you have a favorite recipe for using up Thanksgiving leftovers?
One year ago: Chocolate Peanut Butter Fudge
Two years ago: Chubby Hubby Truffles
Three years ago: Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
Four years ago: Empire Cookies
Homemade Turkey Stock
- Turkey carcass and bones from 14-pound turkey
- 1 large yellow onion, halved (unpeeled)
- 1 carrot, peeled and cut into large chunks
- 2 celery stalks, cut into large chunks
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
- 5 sprigs fresh parsley
- 3 sprigs fresh thyme
- 1. Place the turkey carcass and bones in a large stockpot and cover with at least 5 quarts of water, or enough to ensure that the water covers it by at least 1 inch. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Skim off any fat or foam that rises to the surface.
- 2. Add the onion, carrot, celery, bay leaf and peppercorns. Reduce the heat to low so that the stock is at a very slow simmer. Simmer, uncovered, for 2 hours.
- 3. Add the parsley and thyme to the stock and simmer for an additional 2 hours.
- 4. Pour the stock into a large bowl through a fine-mesh sieve and discard all of the solids. Allow to sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes, or until a noticeable skin forms on the surface. Using a spoon, skim off the layer of fat, then let the stock cool to room temperature. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
- 5. The next day, remove the layer of fat that has collected on the top of the stock, then portion out the stock into quart-size containers or freezer-safe ziploc bags and store. The stock can be refrigerated for up to 3 days, or frozen for up 6 months.
Did you make this recipe?
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I have used your recipe the last few years and love it. Question – my stock always gets gelatinous once it is cooled. Does that happen to you?
Hi Jaime, So happy to hear you’ve enjoyed this stock recipe! Mine does not get gelatinous, though. Are you skimming the fat off after you refrigerate? I wonder if somehow it’s incorporating into the entire stock?
It is amazingly better if you toss the carcass in the oven and roast the bones to deep brown. It intensifies the flavor.
You can also do this in the crockpot. I even throw my carcass and leftover skin etc. from Rotisserie Chickens from the store in the crockpot and make chicken stock.
As a long devotee of crock-pot stock making, I must tell you that I have found an even better way: a pressure cooker. I throw all the same ingredients in, get it to pressure at high heat, and then reduce to medium for at least an hour. I then use the quick-release method to check for the proper liquid level, add water as necessary, reseal and return to heat for another thirty to sixty minutes. (Just made the precursor to this years’ Thanksgiving gravy with some turkey necks last night. it was a snap, and I’m ahead of the game for the big day.)
The pressure quickly leaches all of the minerals and protein out of the carcass, and resulting stock is incredibly rich–a gelee, actually. Downside is that I think my kids and dogs really enjoyed days of coming in from the cold to a house redolent of the great smells of “crock stock”, which I made nearly every week. The pressure cooker yields more intense flavors, but a shorter period of olfactory bliss.
Was your stock cloudy before it separated in the fridge?
Hi Mary Ellen, No, it wasn’t particularly cloudy, but it might differ based on how much fat was on the turkey scraps.
Hi Michelle, I was curious as to why you say to not peel the onions? Does it add something to the flavour? I’m making the stock right now and it smells great so far!
Hi Kathryn, It does impart some extra flavor, as well as color. Enjoy the stock!
I’m curious to know if you use the fried turkey carcass. I always throw mine out as it’s so nasty and greasy after being fried. I regularly make chicken stock when I roast chickens and use a similar method to you. How do you make the stock taste good with a fried bird?!
Hi Clare, I do use the carcass from the fried turkey. I’ve done it two years in a row and have never found it to be all that gross. In fact, I was surprised this year that there was hardly any grease to skim off the top!
While I wash the Thanksgiving dishes, my husband strips the meat off of the bird, and he makes the stock. Then we all enjoy dessert while it’s simmering away. We freeze most of the stock, but always leave some out for turkey soup a day or two after Thanksgiving. So easy and so good. :-)
Thank you for this recipe! I used this to make stock with my turkey carcass and your gravy recipe to make the BEST gravy for our Thanksgiving. I froze all the leftover stock and I am excited to just pull it out of the freezer for some delicious homemade soup this winter! I followed your recipes exactly and it all came out perfectly.
It has been a few years since I have taken the time to make stock. I forgot how easy it is to do, and now I am stocked up. Thanks!
I always thought it felt too wasteful to discard such a large batch of vegetables, but then I picked up the tip of collecting the ends of stock veggies (ends of onions, celery, carrot, etc.) in a ziplock bag in the freezer. Whenever I chop something up, I throw the bits I don’t use into the bag, and after a while, I have a bag full of veggies ready to make a great stock. Talk about reducing waste all around!
How do you handle the bits of meat that are still on the bones?
Do you leave them in the stock or discard them?
Hi Aj, I leave them on the bone for making the stock, but everything gets strained out when it’s done.
I always pick all the chunks of meat out of the strainer and add to the stock. Makes great soup.
I’ve started making all my stock in the crock pot. Throw everything in and leave it overnight. So easy and, for me, less work than making sure the pit is simmering for a few hours. I think it’s better as well.
I also put mine into the crock pot overnight. Super easy!
Ok, you’ve inspired me. I’m going to do this on Friday… I think I’ve never made turkey stock, because my aunt used to make the most awful turkey soup you ever wanted to taste. It just turned me right off. God rest her soul, she was a horrible cook. A most loving aunt, but horrible cook.. lol. This looks wonderful. Count me in for sure. :-) Have a wonderful Thanksgiving..
I’m afraid I am guilty of throwing away carcasses but know I really shouldn’t. Stock time it is!
I roasted a chicken and made stock with the carcass last week. It was so much better than I ever thought it would be, I can’t wait to do the same with turkey this year!
Once I have skimmed and defatted my stock, I like to simmer (not a fast boil) it and reduce by about half. You need less storage space, and you can always add water when you’re ready to use it.
Oh, further reducing it, awesome. Thanks for the idea.
Thanks for the recipe for turkey stock! We always make Turkey Noodle Soup. Best soup. Ever!
I always make turkey stock the day after Thanksgiving. As crazy as it sounds, after that big meal, I really want to keep the good smells going in the house and straight-up turkey soup the next few days is heavenly!
Thank you for posting this! I’m making my first turkey EVER this year (weird for a food blogger, but I’m first and foremost the very lucky daughter of an amazing home cook) and I’m already hating the thought of all of the waste. I will definitely make stock with the bones, etc., now!
I’m a newbie when it comes to stock so forgive me but what happens to all of the vegetables after you’ve finished making and straining the stock?
I just throw them out. Not worth saving, in my opinion, as their flavor has already gone into the stock.
I discard them.
I’m trying to come up with alternatives to plastic when it comes to freezing stock. Any suggestions? I was thinking washed out milk cartons might work.
Try freezing in ice cube trays and then store them in freezer in container of your choice.
This is great. Am rocking the stock right now. I might even eat some of it for dinner tonight.
Amazon sells quart plastic BPA free containers. Check it out.
Oh, cool. Thanks, Beth! I’ve been saving and using the ones from the Chinese restaurant down the street, but I highly doubt they’re BPA-free, so I have to wait a long time to put broth in them so as not to heat them up. By the way, on this recipe, am I the only one who thought, “Please tell me the fat that’s skimmed off isn’t thrown away.” What a shameful waste of all that cartilage and stuff. Do you know how expensive Knox powder is at the store? Besides, you can skim it off and save it and it turns into gelatin. I use it to make gravy instead of or with butter, and it turns out great. You can use it in place of butter in a lot of ways, too. I’d never get rid of it, especially after all that work. Just sayin’!!!
Thank you for making stock so accessible!!! You are so right – – and it makes the best stock. It’s so worth getting over your fears! Happy Thanksgiving, Michelle!