Making chicken stock in a slow cooker is so easy! Just toss some chicken bones, vegetables, herbs, and a little water in a slow cooker and walk away. Hours later with almost no effort, you will have a delicious golden versatile stock that is better than anything you can buy in the store. Making your own homemade chicken stock is also a great way to save money and use kitchen scraps.
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What is the difference between chicken broth and chicken stock?
The easiest way to understand the difference between a broth and a stock is to think of stock as an ingredient and broth as a it’s own stand-alone food. Typically stock is not seasoned with salt so that when it is used as an ingredient in a recipe the dish does not become too salty.
Stock is made with just the 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 will be thick and jiggle like jello. Stock will liquefy again when you heat it.
Broth is what remains after poaching meat without the bones. It’s typically thinner than stock because it doesn’t contain and gelatin and is not as rich. When it cools it will still be liquidy.
Generally stock and broth are interchangeable in recipes. Just be careful when using broth in a recipe that will be reduced down. You may want to add less salt to the dish to keep it from becoming too salty.
Why make your own?
Because this chicken stock is made in the slow cooker, you literally dump all of the ingredients in, set the temperature to low, and walk away. There is no monitoring and there is no stirring. You can actually make chicken stock while you sleep. After dinner, toss all of the ingredients in the slow cooker and go to bed.
Delicious and Healthy
Chicken stock purchased from the store can be incredibly high in sodium and generally lacks flavor. When you make chicken stock at home you control all of the ingredients.
Versatile and Handy
Chicken stock is the foundation for many dishes. It can be thickened with flour to form a roux, mixed with wine and herbs and reduced into a sauce, or enriched with cream and butter. From simple soups and braising meat to cooking flavorful rice and beans, always having stock on hand gives you a jump start on some quick and delicious meals.
I am always looking for ways to cut down my grocery budget and reduce my food waste. By making homemade chicken stock, using the leftover chicken bones and vegetable scraps I can easily stretch a whole roasted chicken into 3 to 4 meals.
How do you make chicken stock?
The key to making delicious chicken stock is to let it simmer over low heat for hours. This is what makes the slow cooker the perfect kitchen appliance for this task. It excels at simmering chicken stock at a constant low temperature for hours with no babysitting from you.
For this recipe, I have used carrot, onion, celery, parsley, thyme, garlic, bay leaf, and peppercorns. But the possibilities are endless. I like to use whatever I have available in the kitchen.
To make chicken stock even more frugal, I usually freeze well-washed kitchen scraps like carrot tops and peels, celery leaves, zucchini peels, onion skins and ends, leek tops, herbs, etc. in a ziptop bag. I usually avoid beets because they will turn the chicken stock red and cruciferous vegetables, like broccoli or cauliflower, because they will give off a sulfurous smell.
You can also freeze chicken bones and wait to make your chicken stock on a day that is more convenient.
Tip: There is no need to thaw the vegetable scraps or chicken bones before making your chicken stock. Just toss them straight from the freezer into the slow cooker.
How long should you cook it?
Simmer your chicken stock on low heat for at least eight hours. Twelve hours or even twenty-four hours would be even better. The longer you cook your chicken stock the richer and more intense the flavor becomes. After twenty-four hours you have probably extracted as much flavor as possible.
How to use homemade chicken stock
This chicken stock is so delicious and easy to make you will never want to buy store-bought chicken stock again. Use your homemade chicken stock to make soup, flavor mashed potatoes, cook dry beans, or make a batch of rice.
The easiest way to store chicken stock is to freeze it. Allow the chicken stock to cool and then pour it into ice cube trays. Once the stock has frozen, store the chicken stock cubes in an air-tight container that is labeled with the date and contents. Freezing chicken stock in an ice cube tray makes it easy to portion out just the right amount. I like these silicone ice cube trays they are flexible which makes removal really easy. The frozen chicken stock will keep up to one year.
If you know you will be using your chicken stock within the next week you can also store it in the refrigerator.
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