Welcome to Slow Cooker Week! We’re sharing all our favorite Crock Pot recipes, tips, tricks, and advice this week—and including the Instant Pot, of course, since it slow cooks too. Here, see how to make an easy Crock Pot chicken stock that you can keep on hand for all sorts of uses.
Homemade chicken stock is liquid gold, and not terribly difficult to make—but if you don’t have time to tend a stockpot, no problem. Making easy Crock Pot chicken stock is a great way to get a rich base for soups, stews, and so much more, without having to do much at all. In fact, it basically makes itself overnight.
Related Reading: Enter to Win a Gourmet Wolf Slow Cooker Through March 9!
After 12 hours in the slow cooker, you’ll have a flavorful stock you can use right away or stash in the freezer. Yes, you can make chicken stock a lot quicker in the Instant Pot, but there’s a lot to be said for low and slow…and waking up to ready-made chicken broth after a good night’s sleep.
So next time you roast a chicken, save the leftover bones and scraps of meat. In fact, do the same thing with a store-bought rotisserie chicken. In either case, if you’re making the stock within a day or two, find a place for the carcass in the fridge. Otherwise, store it in an airtight container or zip-top bag in the freezer (use kitchen shears to cut the chicken into smaller parts first if need be).
What You Need for Slow Cooker Chicken Stock
Besides the chicken carcass and a slow cooker big enough to fit it, you’ll need roughly chopped carrots, celery, and onion (about one of each), plus some peppercorns and bay leaf. And water, of course. That’s it.
How to Make Crock Pot Chicken Stock
1. In your Crock Pot or slow cooker, combine all of the above ingredients with enough water to cover them. (The water can be up to ½ inch from the top of the crock.)
2. Cover with the lid and set the temperature to low.
3. Let cook for 12 hours. Strain out the solids when it’s done.
Cuisinart Fine Mesh Strainers, 3 for $12.99 on Amazon
Pour the stock through the largest of these to filter out the bones and bits.
Don’t Be Salty
You may have noticed salt wasn’t included in the ingredients above, and that’s intentional—if you salt your stock now, it may be too salty for certain dishes you make later (like risotto, where the stock will be reduced further). So salt to taste as you use the stock in individual recipes to be safe.
What About Reducing the Liquid?
Most people, including many Chowhounds, agree that’s not necessary; after 12 hours of cooking at a perfect simmer, the stock should be rich and flavorful enough as is. Of course, you can always experiment. (To that end, you might want to follow pikawicca’s lead and tip in any leftover pan drippings for extra flavor, or even add a little white wine like onefineleo, who also lets the stock simmer for 20 hours!)
How to Store Homemade Stock
You have a few options, but some of our favorites are:
Reusable Gallon Freezer Bags, 4 for $15.99 on Amazon
These extra thick, leak-proof silicone bags are perfect for storing broth until you need it; lay flat to freeze without taking up much space.
Ball Mason Jars, 12 for $15 on Amazon
A classic option that you can freeze or keep in the fridge.
Souper Cubes Extra-Large Silicone Freezing Trays with Lids, 2 for $36.99 on Amazon
Freeze 8 1-cup portions with these lidded trays.
OMorc Easy-Release Silicone Ice Cube Trays, 4 for $11.99 on Amazon
Or freeze smaller portions for when you just want to add a little bit to a sauce; these include lids too.
How to Use Homemade Chicken Stock
Naturally, it makes a great base for soup of all kinds, and you can use it any time a recipe calls for chicken stock or broth—but use it to replace water when cooking things like rice, couscous, quinoa, and other grains too.
Is Slow Cooker Chicken Stock Actually Good?
Only one way to find out! But we’ll leave you with this lovely endorsement from Chowhound Will Owen: “I used to use my crockpot for almost nothing but this – my wife referred to it as The Shrine to Our Lady of the Perpetual Broth. The house tended to smell like chicken almost constantly, since we eat so much of it, and the dog was always prancing around the kitchen on tiptoes, in hopes that someone would drop some of what smelled so good.”
Visit our Slow Cooker Week headquarters for everything else you need to know (and cook).
Header image courtesy of Jennifer A Smith / Moment / Getty Images