Homemade chicken broth tastes better and is healthier than canned. Here's how to make clear chicken broth from scratch!
Why you'll love homemade chicken broth
I prefer to make my own simply because it has:
- much more flavor - add herbs and aromatics to deepen the flavor of broth made from scratch
- less sodium than store brands - you control the amount of salt
- no sugar - yes..some brands include sugar
- all-natural - no fillers, preservatives or additives; homemade is healthier than processed
- freeze for later - have homemade chicken broth on hand at all times
- versatile - use as the base for Chicken and Dumplings soup or as an ingredient in Southern Cornbread Dressing
Some national and store brands include sugar, cane sugar or honey in their broth! WHY?
I cannot imagine, but when you make your own, you know exactly what's in it!
Make a big batch of chicken broth and freeze it for later use. Some folks pour the chicken broth into ice trays and freeze them--great idea! Just grab a cube when you need it!
The difference between chicken stock and broth
The terms "stock" and "broth" are often used interchangeably, however stocks--chicken, beef, veal or fish-- generally have the bones included in the preparation.
Broths are formed from the meat only, for instance, with boneless chicken breasts, seasonings and aromatics.
How to make clear chicken broth from scratch
Chicken broth is made by cooking chicken in water with seasonings, spices, herbs and aromatics.
If you use boneless chicken, it's chicken broth. If you use bone-in chicken, it's chicken stock. You can use either.
- Place thawed chicken in a big stock pot, add big pieces of onion, celery, a few bay leaves, a little salt/pepper, and any herbs you like--parsley, rosemary, etc. -or-
- Make a "bouquet garni" with the herbs so they're easy to remove
- Cover with water and bring to boil for 10-minutes (to avoid botulism)
- Cook low and slow for about 2 hours - covered
- Check the water level frequently and replenish if it gets low
- Once the broth is done, remove the chicken and large chunks of onion and celery, then strain the broth through a tight strainer twice
Common aromatics for Bouquet Garni
Bouquet Garni is a combination of fresh herbs that are bundled together, tied with a string and added to soups and stews. You can make your own or, use dried bouquet garni found on the spice aisle at your grocer.
This recipe calls for dried bouquet garni, but you can substitute with fresh if you prefer.
How to make bouquet garni with fresh herbs:
Use as little or as much as you like: parsley, sage, thyme, rosemary, basil, tarragon, marjoram, savory, or dill.
Bundle the herbs together and secure with a string. Place the "bouquet" in the water. Remove when broth is done.
White or dark meat?
Use either white or dark, however, dark meat generally has a stronger flavor than white meat.
Boneless? Skinless Chicken? Bone-in?
For the most robust flavor, buy dark, bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs. The fat from the skin renders a nice flavor to the stock, as do the bones.
You can use white bone-in or boneless chicken with the skin on or off, but the flavor won't be as hearty as a stock/broth made with dark meat.
Troubleshooting homemade chicken stock/broth:
- Use thawed poultry only; do not place frozen chicken in water. Properly thawed chicken is safest for making broth from scratch because the meat doesn't rest in "The Danger Zone"
- Use larger slices of onion and celery -- they're easier to remove than small, diced pieces
- For clear broth, strain through cheesecloth, a tightly woven strainer or a flour sifter. Allow broth to cool, remove solids from top and strain again.
- Freeze broth and remove solids
- Freeze up to six months
- Refrigerate up to three days
How to make clear chicken broth
When you boil and simmer the chicken with aromatics, the broth will be cloudy due to the chicken fat and solids.
- To make clear broth, strain it twice in a mesh strainer that has tiny holes in it (almost as small as a flour sifter.)
- Then, freeze the broth in a glass jar.
- Once the fat has risen to the top and the broth is cold, scrape off the fat with a spoon.
Freezing and storing broth
There are various methods for freezing homemade chicken broth.
- Recommended method: Pour the cooled liquid into small storage freezer bags. When ready to use, simply place bag in hot water to thaw
- Pour the broth into an ice cube tray (if anyone still knows what those are:) wrap the tray in plastic and freeze it. Just pop an "ice cube" of broth into your soup or stew, and you're good to go!
- Glass jar: Not recommended If you use a glass jar to freeze the broth in, allow about 1"inch of air in the jar for expansion and realize you run the risk of the glass cracking
The beauty of freezing chicken broth in smaller portions is that you'll have it on hand at any given moment!
You can safely store cooled chicken stock or broth for up to three days, provided it's in an air-tight container. Smell the broth/stock first and if it smells sour, it's rancid and not safe to consume.
It's also nice to have on hand particularly if you or someone in your family is feeling puny...or has the sniffles. Chicken broth is known to work wonders for colds and the winter blues--comfort food at its finest!
- Easy Chicken and Dumplings
- Chicken Spaghetti Casserole
- Chicken Pot Pie Soup with Puff Pastry
- Condensed Soup Alternative
- New Orleans Cajun Chicken Gumbo
Homemade Chicken Broth
- 1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken thighs
- 32 oz. water (may need more)
- 1 large onion quartered
- 2 large carrots peeled and chopped in half
- 2 stalks celery chopped in half
- 3 cloves garlic , cut in half
- 2 tablespoons bouquet garni , dried
- 3 bay leaves
- In a large stockpot, add chicken thighs, onion, celery, carrots, bay leaves and bouquet garnis; boil for 10-minutes
- Reduce heat to medium low and cook for two hours, covered
- Remove bay leaves and strain solids from broth in a mesh colander; repeat until broth is free of solids
- Pour strained broth into a glass jar and freeze until fat solidifies (about an hour)
- Use a knife or spoon and skim fat off of chicken broth
- Thaw chicken first; do not place frozen poultry in stockpot
- Cut onion into quarters and celery in half-you want big chunks, which will be easier to remove than diced pieces. This ensures a clear broth.
- Bouquet Garni is an herb mixture of: savory, rosemary, thyme, oregano, basil, marjoram, sage and tarragon. This recipe uses dried. You can use fresh if you prefer.