Follow these easy steps to learn how to make the best turkey stock that’s flavorful and fully of body. This homemade turkey stock is perfect for lending a rich, savory flavor to soups, casseroles, and of course, gravy.
If you’ve ever made your own stock, you know there’s a certain kind of magic that happens when water, meaty bones, veggies, and aromatics mingle together in a simmering stockpot. The water gets richly infused with fat and flavor, transforming into a savory, golden elixir.
Homemade turkey stock (and chicken stock too) lends a richness and complexity to dishes that the store-bought stuff simply can’t match. I use it in casseroles like my turkey avocado tetrazzini, and soups, like my turkey pot pie soup. But the main reason I make turkey stock is for gravy. If you can get ahead of the game plan and make your own turkey stock, you’ll have the best flavor base for your Thanksgiving gravy. Your turkey and your guests will thank you.
Part of the beauty of making stock is precision isn’t really required, meaning, you don’t really need to follow a recipe, but rather use it as a guide. But if you’re the type who thrives of following recipes step-by-step, the recipe below is one you’ll come back to time and again.
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What’s in the BEST Turkey Stock
You don’t need a ton of ingredients to make your own turkey stock, and chances are you have a lot of these already hanging out in your pantry and fridge.
Here’s what’s in this turkey stock recipe:
- Turkey parts—2-3 lbs of wings and backs
- Onions (or leeks)
- A whole head of garlic cut in half
- Bay leaves
- Fresh Italian parsley
- Fresh thyme
- Black peppercorns—use 6-8 peppercorns. If you add too many the stock will be extra spicy.
- Kosher salt–seasoning the broth with kosher salt is important as that is what provides the pronunciation of its flavor.
How to Make Turkey Stock
Making turkey stock is actually incredibly easy. Not much is more comforting than walking into a room to the smell of simmering stock on the stove. The best part is, it’s totally low-maintenance. Start it on a Sunday afternoon and forget about it while you clean your house (it’ll do it’s thing, perfuming everything around you with a warm, cozy, savory smell). Or, start it in the evening while you go take a bath and settle down with the latest show you’re binge-watching.
Roast your turkey parts. Arrange your turkey parts on a baking sheet, toss with olive oil, and roast at 400°F for 1 hour, or until golden brown, turning the parts every 20 minutes or so.
Wrangle up the supporting cast. Vegetables and aromatics are two important flavor building blocks for your stock. Bonus? There’s no need to even peel them! Just cut it in half and toss it in, papery skins and all. Cut the larger vegetables into large pieces before adding to the pot.
Simmer down. Add all of your ingredients and water to your stockpot and bring to a boil, then reduce to a gently rolling simmer for at least 1 ½ hours up to 3 hours. The stock will reduce quicker if you simmer it uncovered, but I like to cover my pot 80% of the way with a lid so the liquid doesn’t evaporate so fast.
Strain and discard. Fish out all the, bones, vegetables and herbs. Place a colander that fits over a Pyrex glass 4-cup measuring cup and slowly drain the stock into the glass, separating it from any straggling solids. The colander will catch any veggies or bones that may fall from the pot. Next, use a fine-mesh strainer and strain the stock into your next recipe’s soup stockpot. Or, if storing to use later, strain into 1 quart glass canning jars and cool before adding a tight fitting lid (these are my favorite).
Is Turkey Stock the Same as Broth?
Stock and broth are sometimes used interchangeably, but they’re actually quite different. Turkey and chicken stocks have a deeper, richer meaty flavor and thicker consistency. They are always made with bones, but not always meat. Stocks often simmers longer than broth, for a more substantial flavor and thicker consistency. They’re best for recipes where the liquid is more prominent (like hearty soups, stews, and gravies).
Broth is made from meat simmering with water but tends to be more basic and it usually doesn’t simmer for as long. Therefore, it has a more mellow flavor. Both stock and broth typically feature veggies, herbs, and spices. If you need liquid to add to something that already has a lot of flavor, such as tomato soup or risotto, use broth.
How Long Does Turkey Stock Stay Good In the Fridge?
Homemade stock will stay good in the fridge for 4-5 days. Signs it’s time to discard are when the broth gets cloudy or doesn’t pass the smell test.
Don’t be alarmed if you see a gelatinous layer of fat form on the top of your stock as it cools in the fridge. Gelatinous blob=more flavor, and more flavor is good. It’s just collagen rendered from the turkey bones, and it also helps preserve the stock while in the refrigerator. However, if you plan on freezing it you’ll want to scrape off the fat before doing so, and freeze it for up to 6 months.
How to Freeze Turkey Stock
- Make sure to leave an inch of space between the stock and the top of the container you’re freezing it in. This allows enough room for the liquid to expand in the freezer.
- Freeze stock in freezer bags, in 4-cup portions, since that’s the amount of stock or broth many soup recipes call for. Fill the bag and lay flat on a shelf until frozen, then stack upright like little turkey stock soldiers.
- If you want to freeze smaller portions of stock for recipes that don’t call for much, ice trays or 1-inch muffin tins are the perfect vessels, and each one is roughly equivalent to ¼ cup. Tip: These reusable silicone liners will make this a snap.
- Always remember to label and date! Homemade stock will stay good in the freezer for up to 6 months.
- To thaw your stock, simply place it in the fridge 1-2 days before you want to use it.
What to Use Turkey Stock For
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How to Make the BEST Turkey Stock
- 2-3 lbs turkey parts wings and backs
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 4 carrots unpeeled and cut into halves
- 2 ribs celery cut in half
- 1 yellow onion cut into quarters (you can also use leeks)
- 1 head of garlic unpeeled and cut into half crosswise
- 1 parsnip unpeeled and cut into 3-inch chunks
- 1 bunch of fresh Italian parsley
- 6-10 sprigs fresh thyme
- 6-10 whole black peppercorns
- 2-3 bay leaves
- 1-2 tablespoons kosher salt
- Preheat the oven to 400°F. Arrange your turkey parts on a baking sheet, toss with olive oil, and roast for 1 hour, or until golden brown, turning the parts every 10 minutes or so.
- Add the roasted turkey parts, carrots, celery, onion, garlic halves and parsnip to a large stockpot. Add cold water, covering everything by at least 1-2 inches—about 12-16 cups of water. Add a handful of the parsley (with leaves and stems intact), thyme sprigs, peppercorns, bay leaves, and kosher salt.
- Bring to a boil, then reduce to a lightly rolling simmer and cook partly covered for 1 ½ to 2 hours or until the stock is amber brown and tastes well flavored. Add more salt to taste if necessary.
- Turn off the heat and allow the stock to cool or if using immediately, fish out all of the bones, veggies and herbs, and discard. Place a large colander over a Pyrex 4 cup glass measuring cup and slowly drain the stock from any straggling aromatics so the colander catches anything that may fall from the pot. Then, use a fine-mesh strainer to strain the stock into your next recipe's soup stockpot. Or, if storing to use later, strain into 1 quart wide-mouth glass canning jars and cool before adding a tight fitting lid. Refrigerate for up to 5 days or freeze in gallon bags for up to 6 months.
More Turkey Recipes
- The BEST Roast Turkey
- Juicy Turkey Breast
- Herb Butter Rotisserie Turkey
- Roasted Turkey Breast with Lemon and Oregano
- Turkey Avocado Tetrazzini Recipe
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