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Slow Cooker Chicken Stock

Slow Cooker Chicken Stock


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After we’ve eaten our roasted chicken and all that remains is the bird’s carcass, I begin snapping bones for chicken stock. That sounds medieval, and I suppose in some ways it is, but it’s also resourceful and logical.

How to Make Chicken Stock in the Slow Cooker

I prefer to make chicken stock in the slow cooker on weeknights when we’ve eaten roasted chicken for dinner. I toss the newly disassembled carcass into the pot then add vegetables, herbs, and water.

Next, I set my slow cooker to low and let it simmer all night.

I typically strain it in the morning, but if I’m too busy, I continue to let it simmer away until my work day is done. Twelve to 24 hours is a perfectly reasonable amount of time for chicken stock to simmer.

I wouldn’t go any longer than 24 hours, however. All of the flavor and nutrients have been extracted from the bones and vegetables at that point.

Chicken Stock in the Slow Cooker vs. Stovetop

I’ve made as many batches of chicken stock on the stovetop as I have in the slow cooker. The method I choose depends entirely on the amount of time I have.

The greatest benefits to slow cooker stock are flexibility and temperature control.

Broths and stocks shouldn’t boil because the high temperatures can release flavor profiles that can impart a flat, dirty flavor to the stock. It also breaks down proteins that emulsify with the liquid, giving the stock an off-putting flavor and texture.

A slow cooker set to low provides a nice, even heating method and a low, long simmer. I always use the low setting when making chicken stock in the slow cooker. This keeps the sediment minimal and prevents the fat from emulsifying.

What Size Slow Cooker To Use?

Any slow cooker at least 6-quarts or larger should work fine for this method.

I have a pretty basic Hamilton Beach 8-Quart Slow Cooker. It’s not digital and it has three settings: warm, low, and high. It’s just the right size to fit the carcass of a 4-pound bird, the vegetables, and herbs in this recipe, along with six cups of water.

What Ingredients Do I Need to Make Stock?

Bones and water are all you need to make stock. Most people, myself included, prefer to enhance the flavor of stock by adding various vegetables, herbs, and spices. For this recipe, I use carrot, onion, celery, parsley stems, thyme, garlic, bay leaf, and peppercorns.

In the past, I’ve made stock with uncooked chicken (like wingtips and necks), but most of the time, I use bones that have already been roasted and are left over from dinner. Roasted bones add another layer of flavor, and it’s a good way for me to make the most out of our food dollars.

Chicken Stock vs. Broth

To keep it simple: Stock is made with bones. Broth is made with meat. Stock is usually richer and thicker because gelatin is released from the cartilage, tendons, skin, and bones. When stock cools, it should be gelatinous and jiggle like cold gravy. When it’s heated it will be thinner, but still have body to it.

Broth is what remains after poaching meat sans bones—either in a slow cooker or on the stovetop. It’s typically thinner than stock and not as rich, but still flavorful. When it cools it will keep the same viscosity it has when warm.

Ultimately, stock and broth serve the same purpose in your kitchen. You will pour them into soups, stews, and sauces to add body and volume to the final dish.

Wondering about “bone broth”? Further confusion results from a product you’ve probably seen—and maybe consumed—called bone broth. This product is really nothing more than stock, because only stock is made with bones. But bone broth has a better ring to it when it comes to marketing!

  • For more on this topic see What’s the Difference Between Stock and Broth.

Snapping the Bones

I prefer a voluptuous stock rich with gelatin, collagen, and marrow, so I snap as many chicken bones into it as I can when preparing my stock. Snapping the bones helps to release marrow stored in the chicken bones, and opens avenues to expose more ligaments allowing them to release collagen.

I usually snap the spine in half, separate the wing tips from the wing and the drumette, and split the rib bones. I separate the thigh bones from the leg bones and call it a day. There is no need to break out hammers or cleavers to smash or cut through femurs. Break what can be easily broken. That will release enough of the good stuff to give you a rich, velvety stock.

Where’s the salt?

I don’t salt my stock because I use it in different recipes. If I add salt at this stage and use the stock in a recipe where I reduce the liquid, the dish could end up too salty.

I usually wait and just season the dish for which I’m using the stock.

What’s that layer on top of my cooled stock?

When homemade chicken stock cools, you will have a layer of yellow fat on top. You can skim it off and discard it, or use it within 24 hours to spread on toast with salt. To keep chicken fat longer you need to heat it to remove the moisture from it.

Help! My stock turned to Jell-O!

You haven’t done anything wrong! The cooled stock will be thick and jiggle like Jell-O, which is due to the gelatin and collagen from the bones. It will liquify again once you warm it up.

Why is My Stock Cloudy?

I like my food like I like my friends: imperfect and dynamic. Fussing over clarifying chicken stock should be left to restaurateurs who are charging people $30 for a bowl of consommé. I don’t clarify stock with egg or worry about how cloudy it is or isn’t. All of that is for aesthetics and style.

Cloudy stock is perfectly edible and delicious. If you have lots of sediment, it will likely sink to the bottom. Feel free to pour your stock slowly out of the jar and leave the little bits of sediment in the bottom. Or don’t. It’s up to you.

Can You Freeze the Ingredients for Making Stock?

Not in the mood to make stock right after you finished making dinner? I get it. Put the chicken carcass in a zip-top bag and keep it in the freezer for up to 9 months. You can also freeze scraps from onions, celery, carrots, and herbs.

When you have a free day, toss everything into the slow cooker, cover with water, and set it to low. There is no need to thaw the bones or the scraps.

How To Store and Freeze Stock

Stock will keep in your refrigerator for about 5 days. If you aren’t going to use it in relatively short order, go ahead and freeze it. Just allow room for expansion.

I’ve kept chicken stock frozen for a year and still used it. It’s perfectly safe to eat it. If it has freezer burn, the flavor could be compromised, but it’s still probably better than something from a can. When you’re ready to thaw it just leave it in the fridge for a day or warm it over low heat.

What are Some Ways to Use Homemade Chicken Stock?

Ahh, chicken stock! How do I use thee? Let me count the ways!

  • Freeze some stock in an ice cube tray for weeknight meals. Add one or two cubes to your skillet dinner and make a pan sauce.
  • Use a bunch of stock for your soup or a little less for a risotto.
  • Use it to cook a batch of grains for the week.
  • Drink it cup-of-soup style when you’re not feeling well. Just warm the stock up in a pot on the stove and add a little salt.

Ultimately, you can use homemade chicken stock in any recipe calling for stock or broth.

Slow cooker stock is a great way to start making stock from scratch. Your time commitment is minimal because you don’t have to babysit a pot on a stove all day, and you’re using bones you would’ve thrown away anyway.

You might as well give it a try. Once you do, you’ll wonder what took you so long.

MORE WAYS TO USE YOUR HOMEMADE CHICKEN STOCK

  • French Onion Soup
  • Egg Drop Soup
  • Weeknight Chicken Ramen
  • Mushroom Risotto
  • Butternut Squash Risotto
  • Chicken and Dumplings

  • 1 medium carrot, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 stalk celery, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 small onion, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 4 pounds skinless chicken leg quarters
  • 6 sprigs fresh parsley
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 20 whole peppercorns
  • 9 cups water

Combine carrot, celery, onion, chicken, parsley, thyme, bay leaf, garlic and peppercorns in a 6-quart slow cooker (see Tip). Add water.

Cover and cook on High for 4 hours. Strain and let cool to room temperature.

Tip: For easy cleanup, try a slow-cooker liner. These heat-resistant, disposable liners fit neatly inside the insert and help prevent food from sticking to the bottom and sides of your slow cooker.

To make ahead: Refrigerate cooled stock airtight for up to 1 week or freeze for up to 3 months.

Nutrition Note: After straining and skimming, stock has negligible calories and nutrients.


Easy Slow Cooker Chicken Stock

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Making your own homemade chicken stock just got a whole lot easier! All you need is a slow cooker, rotisserie chicken, and some basic veggies + spices. No really guys it’s that easy!

You pick all the meat off your rotisserie chicken or roasted chicken and save the bones, skin, spine, etc. to use in the stock. Then throw everything into your slow cooker and eight hours later you have a delicious homemade chicken stock to use in ALL of your recipes.

If you try Slow Cooker Chicken Stock, don’t forget to leave feedback and a rating.


Slow-Cooker Chicken Stock

  • I'm so stoked about this stock! See what I did there?

Did you know that you can make Slow Cooker Chicken Stock? Did you know this? As in, throw a bunch of stuff in a pot, leave it be while you live your life the way it was meant to be lived, come home to find a most gawwwgeous stickidy stock ready for whatever you have magnificently planned for it? Did you know this?

Well guess what. You can make slow cooker chicken stock. You can! As in, you can throw a bunch of stuff in a pot, leave it be while you live your life the way it was meant to be lived, come home to find a most gawwwgeous stickidy stock ready for whatever you have magnificently planned for it.You totally can!

So before I start repeating even MORE paragraphs, Imon' go ahead and take ya through it.

Grab a chicken (duh), an onion, some celery and carrots, garlic, bay leaves, whole peppercorns and salt. My peppercorns are white in this picture because I spilled an entire thing of black peppercorns on the floor about 5 minutes before this. It was n'awesome.

Stick it all in a slow cooker and add about 6ish cups of cold water. Where it covers the chicken. Now, turn that thang on low and fugget it.

Then about 8 hours later come back and take the chicken out. Seriously, that chicken is going to fall apart. It's such a beautiful thing. You'll just separate the meat from the skin and bones, saving the meat for later use. Or eat some now. Throw the skin and bones back in the pot.

Then, place a big colander in a large bowl. Carefully pour the stock into the colander, separating the solids from the liquids, lawk sew.

Theeeeeen, okay. Quick chat. Some people like to skim the fat off the top of their stock periodically throughout the day. I didn't see much on mine, so I skipped that part. BUT, what I did do was pour the stock into a fat separator, which did the trick!

And then you'll just pour that liquid mutha lovin' gold into mason jars or whatever containers you have on hand. Ugh, don't you just want to cuddle them?


INSTRUCTIONS

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Me and Chicken Stock go way back!

Every week when my dad was alive he would put on two enormous pots of beef and chicken stock. It would simmer away all morning until golden and rich. We called this delicious stock “brodo”. We would have it as a light broth with some pasta like garganelli in it and Parmesan cheese.

But it was also the key ingredient in all of dad’s more substantial soups, risotto, pasta sauce and his casseroles of varying types. I wrote about it some time ago. From dad, I learnt the importance of a good stock.

For complete ingredient quantities and full instructions, please scroll to the printable recipe card bottom of the page.


  • bones from 1 to 2 chicken carcasses
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 2 to 3 celery stalks, chopped
  • 2 medium yellow onions, ends trimmed, discarded and onions cut in half
  • 8 sprigs fresh parsley
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 teaspoons black peppercorns
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 12 cups filtered water

  1. Snap any bones you physcially can and add them to your slow cooker along with chopped carrots, celery and onion halves.
  2. Add in the parsley, thyme, bay and peppercorns.
  3. Pour in the cider vinegar and water. Cover and cook on low for 12 hours.
  4. Use a slotted spoon to remove the vegetables and discard the carcass using tongs. Set a mesh strainer into a large measuring cup (I needed two 8-cup measuring cups) and line with cheesecloth.
  5. Carefully pour the broth into the cheesecloth lined strainer. Once filled, move the strainer to the other measuring cup to pour the remaining homemade turkey stock through.
  6. Allow the stock to cool completely before storing.


Slow cooker whole chicken and stock recipe

Daughter #2 asked me the other day if I was “ever going to put that thing away?” She was referring to my slow cooker, of course. Not that Daughter #2 is complaining since she’s the first one to the dinner table every night and has always been the easiest one to cook for. But she had a point. That slow cooker has has become part of the family!

But I wasn’t about to shelve my new baby so soon. Just when I thought cooking a whole chicken couldn’t get any easier, I decided to put my Easy No-Fail Roast Chicken method to the test in…the slow cooker. Believe me, I don’t normally mess with the easiest, most popular dinners in my repertoire. But roasting a whole chicken is something that needs to be started well before I get home some days and I need a back-up. That and I was on a roll and feeling lucky, so I figured this was going to work like everything else I’ve been trying. I decided to prep the chicken in basically the same way I do an oven-roasted chicken — rubbed on the inside and out with some kosher salt early on, stuffed with a bit of fresh thyme and some crushed garlic and cooked on a bed of onions. I usually add cut lemons to the cavity, but I was nervous that cooking the lemons for a long time would result in a bitter taste, so I left those out. The only other change I made was to rub the outside of the chicken with a little olive oil mixed with paprika so that the skin would get a little color and not be pale and unattractive.

The conclusion is that I think I should call this recipe “Easier than Easy No-Fail Roast Chicken and Still So Darn Good.” The chicken was predictably fall-off-the-bones. In fact, I had a hard time getting the chicken out of the slow cooker in one piece! My kids love super soft meat and my husband likes chicken that is beyond well done. I’ve made chicken once or twice a week for the last 17 1/2 years and he has asked me every single time if the chicken is cooked through. No comment on whether or not that is annoying since my husband occasionally reads my blog AND Valentine’s Day is coming up. Get my drift? My point is that this chicken satisfies everyone, including me since it takes all of 5 minutes to prep and you can do it 8 hours before you want to eat dinner. “Is this cooked through?” “Darling, it’s been cooking for 8 hours.”

So you all know I am completely obsessed with making homemade chicken stock. I swear, if teaching cooking classes and blogging doesn’t work out, I will go into the homemade stock-making business. The world must know the goodness of homemade stock somehow! So before I served this chicken to the family, I removed and reserved all the bones. I put the bones back in there with a chicken back I had in the freezer plus some stock veggies (onions, carrots, celery) and water and I made chicken stock overnight. It was delicious. And because there was no skin and foam and such, it turned out to be such a clear stock with minimal fat. It’s crazy not to try this! (Sorry I don’t have photos. It was too dark in my kitchen and the images didn’t turn out well.)

Cooking a whole chicken in a slow cooker opens up so many possibilities for what you can do with the meat. You don’t have to cut the chicken into traditional breast, thigh, drumstick pieces. You can use the meat just as you would rotisserie chicken meat and heaven knows there have been more articles on what to do with rotisserie chicken meat than how to get your baby to sleep through the night. Just to remind — chicken soup, enchiladas, tacos, pot pie, sandwiches, salads and so on. For those of you who do not have a slow cooker and feel excluded, please revisit the Easy No Fail Roast Chicken Recipe. I still love you and I will put away the slow cooker and come back to you. Eventually. Wink, wink.


The Benefits of Bone Broth

Some of the many benefits of homemade bone broth include supporting your gut and joint health, your immune system, and even your hair, skin, and nails.

The key ingredients in bone broth that contribute to these benefits are the collagen and gelatin that are released from the bones during the cooking process. Since collagen and gelatin are derived from the same sources, they have identical amino acid profiles. Most of the amino acids found in gelatin and collagen have anti-inflammatory properties, which makes them beneficial for supporting overall well-being.

Collagen is a structural protein, and the most plentiful protein in the body. It’s a building block for bones, hair, skin, and nails, and plays a role in forming animal tissue. In its raw form, collagen isn’t ideal for consumption and needs to be processed before we can enjoy eating it.

Gelatin is a processed form of collagen. Well-made bone broth contains gelatin because the process of boiling animal bones for a long period of time breaks the collagen down into gelatin. While they aren’t exactly the same substance, you can’t really have gelatin without collagen. Think of gelatin as the processed form of raw animal collagen.

While you could choose to consume a supplement in powder or capsule form, you can also get collagen and gelatin in your diet the original way: by drinking bone broth. In fact, the jury is still out on whether or not supplemental collagen is as effective as consuming it in whole foods. With bone broth, the simmering time of the bones (up to 24 hours) allows collagen and gelatin to be released into the broth, which many believe is digested quicker than a powder.


HOW TO MAKE SLOW COOKER CHICKEN BREAST

  • Add chicken in whole breasts: Keeping the breasts whole will keep in as much moisture as possible since the meat is so low in fat. If you cut the breasts into chunks, the chicken will come out more dry and tough.
  • Shred minimally: When shredding or cutting you don’t have to shred the chicken too small or it’ll be like a filling versus a meal.

EASY DINNER IDEAS FOR SLOW COOKER CHICKEN BREAST

  • Chicken Tacos: Use Taco Seasoning instead of the spices in this recipe. Once cooked, shred chicken and serve in soft taco shells with your favorite toppings.
  • ChickenAlfredo: Add a teaspoon of dried oregano and basil to your spices to make Italian chicken. Cook fettuccine per package instruction, until al dente. Drain pasta and add jar of your favorite Alfredo (or make Quick JalapenoAlfredo) to a pan. Warm sauce and serve over noodles. Top with sliced chicken breast.
  • Chicken Casserole: Add chopped or shredded chicken breast to your favorite casseroles that call for cooked chicken.
  • Chicken Soup: This would make a great “kitchen sink” Chicken Soup. Take veggies that you have leftover and cook in a pot with 4 cups veggie or chicken broth. Add any cooked rice or pasta and this chicken breast. Serve with a side of Dinner Rolls.
  • Chicken Salad: Use this recipe as the chicken in Chicken Salador top a leafy green salad with all your favorite toppings like bell peppers, onions, mushrooms, and sliced chicken breast.

Making Crockpot Chicken Breast for Meal Prep

Slow Cooker Chicken Breast is a great meal prep chicken recipe! You can increase the recipe, but be careful not to cook more than about 6 breasts at a time in a large 6-8 qt slow cooker. You don’t want the chicken too crowded. Once cooked, allow to cool completely before storing. Freeze in individual portions for an easy dinner for one. Reheat by thawing in the fridge overnight and cooking in the oven at 350 degrees until warm.

MORE EASY SLOW COOKER CHICKEN DINNERS

Slow Cooker Bacon Brown Sugar Garlic Chicken

Slow Cooker Buffalo Chicken Sandwiches

Slow Cooker Rotisserie Chicken

Slow Cooker Indian Butter Chicken

HOW TO STORE SLOW COOKER CHICKEN BREAST



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