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How to Make a Homemade Stock

Someone ladling bone broth into a bowl.
Madeleine Steinbach

Sure, it’s super convenient to pick up a carton of premade stock at the grocery store, but nothing beats the rich, natural flavor of the homemade stuff. Plus, you can use this liquid gold as a base for a variety of different soups, stews, and sauces. From prepping to simmering, here’s how to make your own stock.

What Is a Stock?

Similar to a broth, a stock is a savory liquid base for soups, sauces, and other dishes. To make one, you simmer animal bones, onions, celery, carrots, and aromatics in water for several hours. Typically, the bones are also blanched or roasted prior to being simmered, which provides different outcomes.

When bones are blanched ahead of time, it creates a more neutral-tasting, light-colored stock, which is referred to as “white stock.” Pre-roasted bones, on the other hand, will create a “brown stock,” which has a deeper flavor.

Fish stock is the exception to many rules when it comes to creating a stock. For example, you can simmer beef or chicken bones all day, but a fish stock can be made in just an hour.

Many people also add a few tablespoons of apple cider vinegar to extract nutrients from the bones. After about 12 hours or more of simmering, you’ll have a collagen-rich liquid that’s gelatinous after it cools.

Homemade Vs. Store-Bought

A stock pot full of stock ingredients simmering on the stove.
Emilee Unterkoefler / LifeSavvy

Simmering a soul-satisfying stock made from beef or chicken bones, fresh vegetables, and fragrant aromatics is nothing short of amazing. When you create your own stock, you’re not only making a perfect base for many popular dishes, but you’ll also have a cold remedy!

The only problem is the amount of time it takes to create this savory liquid. While you can prepare your ingredients and have the pot on the stove in under 30 minutes, the simmering can take many hours.

Buying a stock at the store only costs a few dollars and takes a few minutes, so the convenience is inescapable. If a recipe calls for just a small amount, the stuff at the store is a good option.

We recommend you make your stock whenever you have the extra time. A rainy or snowy weekend when you’re stuck indoors is the perfect time to fill your home with the gratifying scent of simmering stock.

After it cools, you can freeze your stock for up to three months in freezer bags. This way, you’ll have some on hand for many meals to come.

Ingredients

A stock pot with mirepoix and aromatics surrounding it.
Emilee Unterkoefler / LifeSavvy

Before you can get started, you’ll need to purchase and gather the following ingredients for your stock:

  • Animal bones: You can use chicken, beef, pork, lamb, fish bones, or game meat.
  • Mirepoix and other vegetables: Mirepoix is a fancy French term for the combination of onions, celery, and carrots. While it’s typically diced, you can skip that step when making stock. Just peel and cut your onion in half, wash your carrots and celery, and then throw them in the pot whole. Leeks are also commonly used.
  • Aromatics: These are herbs, spices, and various veggies that add depth and fragrance. Everything in mirepoix is an aromatic, but here are a few other great options you can add:
    • Fresh thyme
    • Fresh rosemary
    • Fresh parsley
    • Garlic
    • Bay leaves
    • Peppercorns
    • Cinnamon sticks
    • Star anise
    • Ginger
    • Sage
    • Shallots

Sometimes, people add their herbs and spices via a sachet d’épices, which means “spice sachet.” These are used to prevent having to remove any small spices later. However, when making a stock, you strain everything out after it’s cooled, so this is an unnecessary step.

How to Make a Stock

Roasted beef bones with vegetables in the background.
Emilee Unterkoefler / LifeSavvy

Now, we’ll walk you through the steps for making your own homemade stock. First, gather these ingredients:

  • One gallon of water
  • 2-4 pounds of your animal bones of choice
  • A few carrots
  • A few stalks of celery
  • One onion, peeled and cut in half
  • 1 head of garlic, with top sliced off
  • 1-2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar
  • Your aromatics of choice. (We’re using bay leaves, peppercorns, fresh thyme, and parsley.)

After you have everything you need, it’s time to get your simmer on! Follow these steps:

1. Roast or blanch your bones ahead of time:

  • Chicken bones: Roast for about 15 minutes at around 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Beef, pork, or lamb bones: Roast for about 30 minutes at around 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Fish bones: You don’t have to pre-roast these, but be sure to wash them well before simmering.

2. While bones are roasting, prepare your vegetables and aromatics.

3. After your bones are done roasting, add them to a large stockpot, followed by the other ingredients. Fill with water until everything is submerged.

Various vegetables, herbs, and spices including carrots, onion, garlic, celery, bay leaf, and peppercorns.
Emilee Unterkoefler / LifeSavvy

4. Simmer your stock for at least 12 hours. For chicken, do not exceed 24 hours, and for beef do not exceed 48. At least 12 hours will do the trick, so there’s no need to simmer for days.

Warning: Never leave your stock unattended on the stove. Always schedule a time to make it when you’ll be home and fully awake the entire time.
A stockpot full of beef bones, carrots, celery, herbs and peppercorns simmering on low heat.
Emilee Unterkoefler / LifeSavvy

That’s all there’s is to it! As you can see, the process is pretty simple, but just time-consuming. If you want, you can prep all of your ingredients a day ahead in addition to roasting the bones. Store everything in the fridge, and then just get up early the next morning to start simmering.

Again, after about 12 hours, you’ll have a delicious, savory stock.

What Can You Make with Stock?

Many recipes call for stock, but some of the most common dishes in which it’s used include:

  • Soups and stews: Various meats and vegetables are added to stock to create these hearty, delicious meals. Nothing beats a rich, full soup or stew made with homemade stock.
  • Gravy: After making a roux, you can slowly add your stock to create the perfect creamy mouthfeel. Try it for Thanksgiving this year.
  • Rice, quinoa, or risotto: Use stock instead of water to add a much deeper flavor.
  • Bone broth: This is basically the same thing as the stock you just made, so pour yourself a mug and drink up! It’s the perfect thing to drink when you have a cold.

If you’ve shied away from making your own stock up to this point, you’ll kick yourself after following this easy recipe. So, gather those bones, veggies, and aromatics, and get to simmering!

Emilee Unterkoefler Emilee Unterkoefler
Emilee Unterkoefler is a freelance food writer, hiking enthusiast, and mama with over ten years of experience working in the food industry. Read Full Bio »
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