Friday, November 25, 2011

How to Make Turkey Stock

For many of you Thanksgiving revolved around a turkey, right? You can make good use of the leftover bones and skin and create a nourishing bone broth. Stock made from leftover vegetable scraps and the bones of animals is extremely economical. Think of how much that box of organic chicken broth costs at your local grocery store? And think of the added flavors and strange ingredients in those store-bought stocks. A gigantic pot of homemade stock can be made for less than the cost of one store-bought carton of stock.

Turkey stock is dark and richly flavored. It can be used to make soup (such as wild rice and veggie soup or turkey-noodle soup), turkey tetrazzini, turkey meatballs, in sauces, or simply heated with garlic and herbs to sip on if you have a cold. And it is remarkably easy to make! All you need to do is add veggies, water, and the leftover turkey bones and skin. Then cover and walk away from it. Come back a few hours later and strain into jars. That's it!

Homemade Turkey Stock

If your turkey carcass is still whole, you will need a large pot in order to make this. I use my 12-quart All-Clad Stock Pot. The trick to making a good stock is to have a good balance of water to veggies and bones. You can salt it or leave it unsalted. I like to add a moderate amount of sea salt to my stocks. Some people prefer to omit the salt because it is easier to cook with this way. For example, you might end up adding too much salt to the recipe that the stock is used in. Feel free to add a variety of vegetables and vegetable scraps to this stock. Most varieties of mushrooms work well with turkey to create a richly flavored stock. I used shiitake in this batch. Don't add squash peels, potato peels, or tomatoes. Leeks, onions, garlic, carrots, celery, mushrooms, savory herbs all pair well with poultry stock. I add a little vinegar to my stocks which helps to pull the minerals from the animal bones creating a nutrient-rich stock. This is especially important for growing children and pregnant and nursing mamas.

1 turkey carcass (meat pulled from the bones)
2 large onions, chopped
1 leek
1 head garlic, cut in half cross-wise
2 to 4 large carrots, chopped
4 to 5 staks celery, chopped
1 pint mushrooms, chopped
handful of fresh rosemary
handful fresh thyme
handful fresh marjoram
handful fresh sage
half a bunch parsley, chopped
2 teaspoons black peppercorns
1 tablespoon sea salt
6 to 8 quarts water
2 to 3 tablespoons raw apple cider vinegar

Place all of the ingredients into a very large stainless steel pot, at least 12-quart, if not larger. You will want to add enough water to just cover the turkey and vegetables. It might be more or less than what I have indicated above.

Cover and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer for 3 to 6 hours. Turn off heat and place a large colander over another large pot. Pour the stock through the colander. Let the vegetables and bones sit in the colander over the pot for at least 10 minutes to fully drain.

Then take about 6 to 8 clean quart jars and place them on your counter. Use a ladle to fill each jar. Leave about 1 to 2 inches of space from the top of the jar if you plan on freezing them. Let them cool. Then place what you want to into your freezer, uncovered, to leave room for expansion. Cover them once they are frozen. Source:

Turkey-Noodle Soup made from stock, leftover meat, noodles, and veggies

More Stocks and Soups:
Healing Nettle Chicken Stock
Super Immune Boosting Chicken Soup
How to Make Nourishing Beef Bone Broth

About the Author

Alissa Segersten holds a Bachelor's of Science in Nutrition from Bastyr University. She is the founder of Whole Life Nutrition, the mother of five children, a whole foods cooking instructor, professional recipe developer, and cookbook author. She is passionate about helping others find a diet that will truly nourish them, and offers elimination diet recipes, healthy gluten-free recipes, paleo and vegan recipes, as well as tips for feeding your family a nourishing, whole foods diet. Alissa is the author of two very popular gluten-free, whole foods cookbooks and guidebooks: The Whole Life Nutrition Cookbook and Nourishing Meals. She is also the co-author of The Elimination Diet book. Connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram!


  1. A few times I had broken mason jars in my freezer, so thank you for sharing your post. I will try your method of leaving the top off while freezing. Thanks so much Ali! Wishing you a wonderful day filled with love.

    PS I came to your blog on Thanksgiving Day to refresh myself how to make gravy. I usually don't measure either but I wanted to be sure it turn out. Thanks it worked very well.

  2. I love this idea. I did it before Thanksgiving so I'd have stock for my stuffing and gravy. I love doing it now for great soup. Thank you!

  3. this looks delicious! I love soup and making great stock is a part that I tend to skip (since it involves planning ahead and all that) but freezing it and having some on hand sounds crazy smart!

    Thanks for this post Ali!

  4. Such a great idea. Since I have had so many food aversions, it is good to have a reminder of the healthy things I need to be getting in my diet right now. Thanks!


  5. I threw all my bones and leftover turkey in the freezer because I wasn't up to making soup right away, but will definitely enjoy making your version of stock later, Ali. I've always loved using vinegar to get out that calcium. :-) Having stock ready to go in the freezer is one of the best things in the world in my opinion. I truly hate buying chicken stock or broth, even when I know it's safe.


  6. I'm a big fan of homemade broth, whether from meat or veggies. Like Shirley mentioned, often times I break up the carcass and freeze it if I don't want to deal with it at the time. I've never added apple cider vinegar to the mix, but I've thrown in just about everything else! Will add that next time around. Great post and perfect timing!

  7. I didn't know that about the vinegar! Thanks :)

  8. I have my carcass saved to do this now. How long could you save the bones without freezing them? I am putting mine in the freezer tonight because I am recovering from the holiday. It will take me a week or more before I am up to it. I have also found that by putting my chicken carcasses in the crock pot I can allow the stock to simmer unattended, even overnight.

  9. Thanks for the tip about adding vinegar. I had never heard of that before.

  10. Ah yes, one of my only regrets for not having T-giving at my house was not having a carcass with which to make stock. I might have to buy a turkey post-T-giving just so that I can refresh my own stock of stock (ha! ha!). Thanks for the careful directions and especially about freezing in the jars!

  11. Great post! The only regret I have for not having T-giving at home was not having the carcass with which to make stock. I might have to break down and make a post-T-giving Turkey just so I can make stock from the bones!

  12. Just found your blog! I love homemade turkey broth. Instead of freezing the mason jars and taking up freezer space is to pressure can the jars after they are filled. I did a post detailing the method on my blog if you are interested.

  13. Pretty much exactly what I did too, but I also threw some pastured chicken feet in to and all of the stems from my Swiss chard from my garden (can not bear to throw them out) and then let it cook longer. Love this recipe! ;) My freezer in the garage is stocked with stock!! ;)

  14. Brilliant idea Ali! We've been dabbling in making homemade chicken broth lately.

  15. I just made the stock. I followed the recipe exactly except for omitting the parsley (non available), garlic (garlic allergy in the house), and the turkey (we're vegetarian!). Although the recipe is for a turkey broth, it also makes a fabulous veggie stock.

    On the weekend I also made your chocolate birthday cake. Great success every time I make it.

    Thank you for all of your recipes. Can't wait for your second cookbook to be released as I've already exhausted the recipes from the first book!

  16. I threw my carcass in the freezer just so I could make this! I'll definitely do so very soon. My "recipe" (which really isn't a recipe, more of a toss-whatever-looks-good thing) is typically similar to yours, but I love your addition of mushrooms. I bet they add a lot of depth. Yum.

  17. It is a comforting feeling to have a freezer stocked with stock!

  18. I love your recipes. I really appreciate all your hard work and dedication to living healthier. Having someone to help me navigate this road is tremendously helpful! (love the turkey stock recipe and toffee bat recipe!) Thank you!

  19. Thank you for all your hard work on this blog; I appreciate it so much! Your cookbook is on my Christmas list! (love the turkey stock recipe and toffee bar recipe!)

  20. Just did this yesterday and it was wonderful!

  21. Do you seal the jars afterwards? I didn't see that. New to canning and wanting to try this with either turkey or chicken. Thanks.


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