Don’t throw out that leftover chicken carcass after dinner! Use it to make Instant Pot Chicken Stock instead. Using an Instant Pot drastically reduces the cook time when making homemade stock while sealing in that rich chicken flavor!
What Is Chicken Stock?
Chicken stock is one of the most versatile ingredients available to a home cook. If you’ve purchased it at the grocery store without looking at the ingredients list, you might not know what actually goes into making chicken stock from scratch nor how it’s prepared.
In a nutshell, chicken stock is a mixture of chicken, water, herbs, and aromatics (most often celery, onion, and carrot).
It’s typically made by submerging a chicken carcass or chicken bones in water and flavoring it with your choice of veggies and herbs. Then, the aromatics, bones, and spices are all strained out and you’re left with a robust stock that has an evenly balanced flavor of chicken and aromatics.
The exact ingredient ratios will vary from recipe to recipe, and it will also depend on the exact kind and quantity of herbs, aromatics, and spices you keep in your own home. So know that when it comes to making chicken stock the method is more important to remember than specific measurements.
The key to making a good chicken stock is the bones. You MUST include the bones (not just the meat!) in your stock since they provide natural collagen, which makes for an ultra rich stock.
Difference Between Chicken Stock vs. Chicken Broth
Chicken broth and chicken stock are very similar ingredients, with a few key differences. In my experience, you’re fine to use the two interchangeably in recipes but it’s helpful to know what makes them unique!
Chicken stock is deeper in color and richer in flavor than chicken broth. Stock is made using the carcass, or bones, of the chicken. The meat can also be included, but the key ingredient is the carcass which releases collagen as it breaks down and makes for a stronger stock.
Chicken stock is traditionally not salted, and it’s very “meaty” and chicken-forward in flavor. Stock also must be cooked for much longer than broth since the chicken bones need time to break down and release their collagen.
Chicken broth is lighter in both color and flavor than chicken stock, with a shorter cook time. The key ingredient is the meat of the chicken. Broth is commonly made by submerging a whole chicken in water with herbs and aromatics and cooking it until the meat is done.
The meat can then be used in other recipes and the carcass (bones) is discarded. Chicken broth is salted and relies more on the aromatics and seasonings to lend flavor to the final product.
It’s not as meaty in flavor (which is confusing since it’s made with the meat!).
Difference Between Chicken Stock vs. Bone Broth
Don’t be confused, bone broth is a type of stock!
Both chicken stock and bone broth are made with a combination of bones, aromatics, and water. However, bone broth is simmered for much longer than stock and is made with specific bones that contain lots of connective tissues.
Because of this, bone broth is said to contain more collagen and protein than stock.
Why Make Homemade Chicken Stock?
This recipe for homemade chicken stock is made in an Instant Pot. By pressure cooking the stock, the cook time is drastically reduced and that rich chicken flavor gets sealed in rather than evaporating off — which is what happens when cooking stock on the stovetop!
There are so many reasons to make chicken stock in an Instant Pot versus buying it at the grocery store.
Chicken stock can be made using leftovers. Use a roast chicken you made for dinner last night, or buy a rotisserie chicken that’s been picked clean for another recipe.
Chicken stock uses up vegetable scraps. Any time you peel carrots, chop onions or celery, or have veggies on hand that are about to go bad, toss them into a freezer bag to save for future stock making!
Making homemade chicken stock is budget-friendly. You can make a big batch and can or freeze it for future recipes.
YOU get to control the ingredients and amount of salt in chicken stock. Many store-bought chicken stocks contain unnecessary preservatives or are too salty for my taste.
In this post, I’ll be sharing my top tips and tricks for making Instant Pot chicken stock. Keep reading to find out which vegetables work best in homemade chicken stock, how to strain the stock before storing, and more!
Instant Pot Chicken Stock Ingredients
You’ll need very few ingredients to make chicken stock in an Instant Pot. The vegetables and aromatics can be substituted to use up whatever you have on hand, but here’s what I recommend starting with:
- Chicken bones (see notes below on the different types of chicken you can use)
- Fresh parsley and thyme
- Bay leaves
- Whole peppercorns
- Pink himalayan salt (optional)
- Whole onion
For the complete ingredient list and detailed instructions to make instant pot chicken stock, scroll to the bottom of this post for the FREE printable recipe card.
What Chicken Parts Are Best for Making Stock?
You three options when selecting the chicken parts to use when making stock:
- Chicken wings — My preference for making chicken stock in the instant pot, but if chicken wings aren’t on sale or I don’t have any on hand I’ll use one of the following options instead.
- Leftover chicken carcass — I always save the bones after serving a roast chicken for dinner, taking care to pick off as much of the meat as possible. If I buy a rotisserie chicken from the store, I’ll pick off the meat to use in soups or salads that week and freeze the carcass for the future.
- Rotisserie chicken carcass (if you need stock now) —If I want to make stock and a big batch of soup on the same day, I’ll buy two whole rotisserie chickens. First I’ll remove the breast meat and thigh meat (save for the soup), then I’ll cut the remaining carcass into smaller pieces so it fits into the Instant Pot. From there, I’ll use the carcass to make the stock.
What Vegetables Are Best for Making Chicken Stock?
The best vegetables for making chicken stock include: carrots, celery, yellow onions, leeks, and other mild vegetables.
Avoid using cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts since they’ll make your stock bitter.
And NEVER add potatoes to chicken stock. They’re high in starch and will make the stock gummy in texture.
Tools Needed to Make Instant Pot Chicken Stock
I suggest having the following kitchen tools on hand when making Instant Pot chicken stock.
- 8 Quart Instant Pot — See my note below on what to do if you own a smaller Instant Pot.
- Chef’s Knife and Cutting Board — For preparing the aromatics.
- Kitchen Mallet — Optional, but it makes breaking the carcass into smaller pieces quick and easy.
- Measuring Spoons — For measuring out the spices.
- Fine Mesh Colander — For straining the stock after it’s finished cooking.
- Cheesecloth — Is placed over the colander to catch the smaller pieces of bone and spices in the stock.
Note: This recipe was developed for an 8-quart Instant Pot. The smaller Instant Pot will not fit all of the ingredients with the correct amount of water. However, you could “hack” the recipe and use the smaller Instant Pot and use less water than 16 cups, then add the remaining water to the stock after it has been strained.
How to Make Chicken Stock in an Instant Pot
Whether you’re making chicken stock from a carcass or wings, the cooking process remains the same.
- Remove any excess meat from the carcasses, then break the carcasses into smaller pieces.
- Place the bones at the bottom of the insert of an 8-quart Instant Pot.
- Add the parsley, thyme, bay leaf, peppercorns, salt, onion, garlic, parsnip, carrots, and celery.
- Fill the Instant Pot with water, stopping at the max fill line.
- Secure the lid and seal. Set the pressure to high and cook for 1 hour.
- After cooking, let the pressure reduce naturally for at least 1 hour.
- After 1 hour, manually reduce any remaining pressure.
- Strain the stock into a large bowl or pot through a fine mesh colander that’s been lined with cheesecloth.
- Place a fine mesh colander or strainer over a large stock pot. Line the strainer with a double layer of cheesecloth.
- Let the stock cool to room temperature. Then, cover and chill in the refrigerator overnight.
- After chilling, the fat will have risen to the top and solidified. Using a spoon or ladle, scoop the fat off the top and discard.
The above is simply a quick summary of this instant pot chicken stock recipe. Check out the full recipe in the free printable recipe card at the bottom of this post for all the detailed instructions.
Instant Pot Chicken Stock Tips and Tricks
- Break chicken carcasses into smaller pieces — This makes it easier to fit into the Instant Pot.
- Use carcasses from homemade roast chicken or from store-bought rotisserie chickens — Do NOT use the bones from fried chicken; they’ll be far too greasy.
- Don’t fill above the Instant Pot max fill line — The Instant Pot will overflow.
- Keep your hands, face, and eyes away from the Instant Pot when releasing the pressure — The steam will be hot and can burn you!
- Freeze chicken carcasses until you have enough — You’ll need 3 pounds of bones total before you can make the stock. (That’s roughly two rotisserie chickens’ worth.)
- Wash veggies before cutting them — If you plan on saving vegetable scraps for making chicken stock later on, wash all of your veggies before cutting them. Washing the veggies before peeling them is so much easier than washing frozen, dirty vegetable scraps later on!
Chicken Stock Recipe FAQs
Got questions about how to make this instant pot chicken stock recipe? Here are the answers to a few commonly asked questions. Feel free to leave any other questions in the comments on this post and I’ll respond with answers.
What are the best bones for making chicken stock?
Whatever you have on hand!
I prefer using chicken wings, but you can also use the carcasses of two rotisserie chickens from the store or simply freeze leftover chicken bones from your weeknight dinners until you’ve accumulated 3 pound’s worth.
Just make sure to pick the bones clean as you don’t want there to be too much meat in the stock.
How many chicken bones do you need to make stock?
You’ll need 1 pound of bones for every 4 to 6 cups of water.
It varies depending on how rich you’d like your stock to be. The more bones, the richer it will be! I prefer to use 3 pounds of bones to 16 cups (4 quarts) of water.
Can you make chicken stock on the stove?
Yes! If you’re in a hurry or want really clear colored chicken stock, cook it on the stove for 4 to 6 hours so you can monitor it.
Skim the foam off the top as the stock cooks, and don’t let it come to a rolling boil; stock should be cooked at a low simmer.
Can you make chicken stock in a slow cooker?
Yes! Simply add all the ingredients to a large slow cooker and cook for 8 to 10 hours on low.
How to remove debris from chicken stock
The stock must be strained to remove the bones, herbs, spices, and aromatics before using in recipes.
You can use an Instant Pot strainer insert to help you remove the bulk of the debris. Or, if your stock pot has a pasta strainer insert you can use that.
After straining the bulk of the debris out, I like to place a fine mesh strainer on top of a large stock pot. I line the fine mesh strainer with a double layer of cheesecloth and strain the stock again to remove the smaller debris like whole peppercorns and tiny bones.
How much stock does this recipe make?
This recipe makes approximately 4 quarts of chicken stock (16 cups or 1 gallon).
Chicken Stock Storage Instructions
Instant Pot chicken stock should be stored in an airtight container in the fridge or freezer. I recommend storing it in 1 or 4 cup portions (1 cup great for small uses; 4 cups equals the size of a standard 1 quart carton of broth from the store).
For more details on how to freeze chicken stock, follow the guidelines shared in my soup freezing tutorial.
How long is chicken stock good for?
Homemade chicken stock will last up to 4 days in the fridge, and 6 to 12 months in freezer.
As previously mentioned, making chicken stock is more of a method than a specific recipe. Here are a few ways you can customize your homemade stock:
- If you are on a low sodium diet or prefer less salt, omit the salt and season to taste after the fact.
- Use rosemary in place of thyme if you want a stronger herb flavor.
- Omit the garlic if you don’t like garlic.
- For a more basic unseasoned stock, just use water, bones, onion, carrot, celery, and a bay leaf. Season to taste afterwards with desired herbs, salt, and pepper.
Ways to Use Homemade Chicken Stock
There are so many chicken stock uses to be aware of. You can use it any time a recipe calls for chicken broth, noting that stock will impart a slightly richer flavor than broth. You can find all of my chicken broth recipes here.
Additional ideas for using chicken stock include:
- Risotto: Butternut Squash Risotto and Asparagus Risotto.
- Soups: Roasted Cauliflower Soup, Chicken Potato Chowder, White Chicken Chili, Andouille Sausage Soup, Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup, Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup.
- Main Dishes: Chicken Pot Pie, Indian Butter Chicken, Chicken Marsala, Orange Almond Chicken and Rice.
Try Making Chicken Stock at Home!
Next time you’re looking for a way to use up leftover chicken scraps, give this Instant Pot chicken stock recipe a try!
Did you think it made the most delicious chicken stock? Leave a comment below and give it a review for others to see what you thought of this recipe.
On Instagram? Share your photo and tag me with @goodlifeeats and #goodlifeeatsrecipes. I’d love to see your photo of your homemade stock!
More Homemade Stocks:
Don’t throw out those vegetable scraps, use them to make vegetable broth instead! In this post, I’m sharing how to make vegetable broth from scraps or whole vegetables, answering commonly asked questions about homemade broth, and what to make with this vegetable broth recipe.
Making homemade turkey stock is relatively simple after your Thanksgiving Feast. Homemade turkey stock is so worth the effort!
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- 3 lbs chicken bones* (see note)
- 1 bunch of fresh parsley, stems cut off and discarded
- 2 sprigs fresh thyme
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 tablespoon whole peppercorns
- ½ - 1 tablespoon pink himalayan salt (chunks not finely ground), optional depending on if you want salted stock
- Whole onion, skins and all, quartered
- 3 cloves garlic, smashed
- 1 parsnip, chopped
- 2 carrots, chopped
- 3 celery, chopped
- Water to fill up to the max fill line (about 16 cups)
- Remove any excess meat from the carcasses and save for another use.
- Then, break the chicken carcasses into smaller pieces - a kitchen mallet or meat cleaver and cutting board are helpful for this task. Place the bones at the bottom of the insert for an 8 quart Instant Pot.
- Next, add the parsley, thyme, bay leaf, peppercorns, salt, onion, garlic, parsnip, carrots, and celery.
- Then, fill the Instant Pot with water stopping at the max fill line.
Secure the lid and seal. Set the pressure for high and cook time for 1 hour.
- Cook at high pressure for 1 hour, then let the pressure reduce naturally for at least 60 minutes*.
- After 60 minutes, manually reduce any remaining pressure - be careful to keep eyes, hands, and arms away from the pressure releasing as it is very hot.
*Note: you can let pressure fully release naturally if you prefer
- Place a fine mesh colander or strainer over a large stock pot. Line the strainer with a double layer of cheesecloth. Carefully pour the contents of the Instant Pot insert through the lined strainer. The Instant Pot insert will be hot, so I recommend using pot holders when holding it.
- Discard the debris collected in the lined strainer.
- Let the stock cool to room temperature. Then, cover and chill in the refrigerator overnight (or for several hours).
- Then, after chilling, the fat will have risen to the top and solidified. Using a spoon or ladle, scoop the fat off the top and discard.
Note: do not discard down the drain as this will clog your sink. I recommend transferring it to an old can or jar that you plan to discard in the trash.
How to Make with Fresh Whole Chicken
- Alternatively use 2 fresh whole chickens. Cut the breast and thigh meat off and set aside for later so I can use them in other recipes since they don’t add much flavor to the stock.
- With remaining carcass, break it into smaller pieces (wings, drumsticks, etc) and resume with the recipe.
Note: with this method I typically pull any of the cooked chicken off the bones when straining the broth and freeze it. It can be used in soups, enchiladas, casseroles, etc.
How to Make with Various Chicken Parts
- The best bones to use are: Necks, backs, wings, wingtips, and feet. These bones are high in collagen which yields rich stock. 3 pounds total miscellaneous parts for this recipe
Note: there isn’t much meat on these bones that is worth saving IMO, so I usually just dump everything after making the stock.
*Types of chicken parts you can use (you need 3lbs total):
Chicken wings — My preference, but if chicken wings aren’t on sale or I don’t have any on hand I’ll use one of the following options instead.
Leftover chicken carcass — I always save the bones after serving a roast chicken for dinner, taking care to pick off as much of the meat as possible. If I buy a rotisserie chicken from the store, I’ll pick off the meat to use in soups or salads that week and freeze the carcass for the future.
Rotisserie chicken carcass (if you need stock now) —If I want to make stock and a big batch of soup on the same day, I’ll buy two whole rotisserie chickens. First I’ll remove the breast meat and thigh meat (save for the soup), then I’ll cut the remaining carcass into smaller pieces so it fits into the Instant Pot. From there, I’ll use the carcass to make the stock.