When I tell people that I make my own chicken stock, they look at me like I am crazy. But this is actually an easy and affordable thing to do. Every two weeks (pay week) I buy a set of chickens from Sam’s Club (they have them at Costco too). I can usually get 2 good-sized chickens for $8-$10 total. The meat from these will make 3-4 meals for my family of 5. Every time you see a recipe on this site that calls for chicken I have used meat from a whole chicken that I roasted and made stock from. Using a whole chicken and making our own stock saves us a ton of money ($15-30 per week depending on what is on the menu).
The process here is simple and thanks to my slow cooker, does not require much work. I make one chicken and a set of stock each week.
- Defrost chicken (overnight in the sink or several days in the fridge works fine)
- Line the bottom of slow cooker with carrots, celery, garlic, onion, seasonings (we use oregano, thyme, and a touch of rosemary), salt, and pepper
- Rinse chicken
- Place chicken in slow cooker over veggies and seasonings
- Fill slow cooker with water to about 1 inch below top of the crock
- Set on high and leave it alone for 8-10 hours
- At the end of the day take the chicken out of the crock and allow it to cool. Separate into meal-sized servings and freeze. Put the slow cooker in the fridge overnight to allow the fat to rise to the surface and solidify.
- In the morning skim off all the fat
- Pour the liquid through a sieve to collect all the veggies and any chicken pieces or bones and collect in a large bowl.
- Strain stock again through cheese-cloth to get all the small solid pieces out. Sore in the fridge (we use coffee creamer bottles) for use throughout the week. Freeze if you don’t expect to use the stock in the coming week. (TIP: Freeze in ice cube trays then store in a zipper bag for easy adding to recipes.
UPDATE: To get a second batch of stock put the bones, skin and any chicken “remnants” you aren’t setting aside for future use in meals back into the slow cooker with carrots and celery and seasonings. Cover with water and cook all day again. You will get a 2nd batch of stock this way. Freeze it for later use.
For a true roasted chicken ball foil in the bottom of your slow cooker and don’t cover with water. Rub the skin of the chicken with butter and seasonings. You won’t get stock this way, but you will get a nicely roasted chicken with browned skin just like it was done in the oven. We don’t eat the skin so it works well to make stock and cook the chicken in water for us.