Voodoo Stock: Chicken Feet & Chili Peppers

Chicken feet – gnarly, repulsive and disturbing – make for the very best stock. Devoid of little else but tendons, bone and cartilage (sound appetizing yet?), chicken feet produce a fine golden broth that’s rich in all those obscure nutrients that make a good stock so nourishing: glucosamine chondroitin, collagen and trace minerals.   Moreover, a chicken stock is an excellent source of calcium without .   Understandably, a stock made from chicken feet gels beautifully just as a good stock should.

Saturday morning, I pulled out a bag of chicken feet and as I peeled the yellow membrane from the feet and hacked away the talons, I couldn’t help but reflect upon my relationship with food.   Dear God, I thought, I was a vegan once!  I used to gag at opening a package of lunch meat, and now I can peel and hack my way through a bag of chicken feet with nary an ill feeling   That is until my 4-year old tapped me on a shoulder with a disembodied claw.   Eeeew! Then there was that time when I accidentally left a bag full of chicken feet fresh from the farmers market in the fridge at the office.

chickenfoot

Chicken feet can be difficult to find – that is, until you know where to look.   They don’t come packaged on little Styrofoam trays, wrapped in plastic. Ethnic markets – those last bastions of traditional foods – often carry chicken feet, heads and other miscellaneous parts that are forgotten in conventional cooking.   Farmers markets can be another source.   Most importantly, your local farm offering pastured poultry may also have a stash from the latest harvest.   If purchasing your chicken feet at a market, they will usually run you $1 – $2 per pound; however, if you purchase your whole chickens farmer-direct they will often throw the chicken feet in the bag at your request.   These chicken feet came from a local, family-run farm that also specializes in grass-fed lamb.

3chickenfeet

Preparing Chicken Feet for the Stock Pot

In many cases, the chicken feet will arrive already prepared, more or less; however, if you receive them directly from your local farm you may need to dress the chicken feet yourself.   This is easy.   First, you’ll rub them with salt and scald them briefly in boiling water followed by an icy bath.   This practice enables you to more easily peel the yellow membrane on the foot.   After peeling the yellow membrane from the feet, chop the talons off at the first knuckle.   Some cooks prefer to leave the talon on the foot. In the above picture, you’ll see chicken feet in the three stages of preparation: 1. fresh, 2. peeled and 3. declawed.When blanching the chicken feet, take great care not to blanch the feet too long or you will overcook the feet, fusing the yellow membrane to the foot and activating the gelling process. Moreover, overcooking will also cause the tendons in the feet to contract, making peeling virtually impossible. Be brief.

peeling chicken feet

Once the feet are fully prepared by cleaning, blanching, peeling and talon removal, they’re ready for the stock pot.   A stock prepared from chicken feet, like any stock, is widely variable and can be seasoned based on your personal preference.   Preferring a mild-tasting broth in most recipes, I usually season my broth with vegetable scraps including celery leaves, onion and carrot peelings; however, from time to time, I like to change the flavor of the stock a touch and heat it up with chilies, ginger and other spices.   The stock recipe detailed below is very well-suited to Asian-inspired dishes and perfect for cold and flu season when a nourishing, mineral-rich broth infused with chilies and spice can help clear the sinuses.

asian-inspired chicken foot stock

By Jenny Published: November 30, 2009

    Prepared from chicken feet and no other bones or meat, this stock produces a solid gel. One pound of feet will produce approximately ½ gallon of well-gelled stock. Its aroma is faintly reminiscent of Top Ramen, no joke. Even if you prefer to season your stock with a mild combination of onion, celery and carrot or herbs of your choice, follow the same method as outlined below.

    Ingredients

    • 1 lb chicken feet (Peeled and Talons Removed)
    • 1 2-inch Knob of Ginger
    • 1 Star Anise
    • 3-4 Fresh Cayenne (or other) Chili Peppers
    • 1 bulb garlic (Peeled)
    • 1 4-inch stalk of Lemon Grass (optional)

    Instructions

    1. Add all ingredients to your stock pot.
    2. Add water to cover.
    3. Simmer for a minimum of 4 hours and up to 12, adding more water as needed or desired.
    4. Skim any scum that rises to the top.
    5. Strain solids from the broth through a fine mesh sieve or cheesecloth.
    6. Bottle and reserve the stock.
    7. Serve in Asian-inspired soups and dishes.

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    What people are saying

    1. Local Nourishment says

      I do remove the membrane, but rarely de-talon. If the talons are clean, why would that be necessary? I was thinking that the claws would probably add keratin to the final product.

      • says

        Agreed! I leave as much material there as possible to contribute to the stock. Besides, I figure that eating a rendered rooster spur gives your immune system a kick in the pants. ;)

        • janet says

          Oh,geez. Wish I’d seen the two comments above. Giving a pedicure to a pound of chicken paws was pretty creepy :/

      • says

        Question: Do you simmer covered or uncovered for for 4-12hours? I’m concerned that if it’s uncovered all the water will evaporate. I plan to put it on the stove before bed and don’t want to wake up to a burnt pot of chicken feet. Thanks for letting me know!

      • Artylouie says

        I am so pleased to read this recipe – nobody believes me when I tell them I used to eat chicken feet when I was a little girl – everyone goes UGGHH. But my mother and father had home grown chooks, and every part of the chicken was used – if there were any eggs inside in the process of being laid (e.g. without shell) they also went into the soup pot. I can still close my eyes and remember the taste of that chicken broth.

    2. Kelly says

      So why cut off the talons? Or do you throw them into the stock too, just separate so the bones have a little exposed marrow? My chicken lady prepared a few for me, scalded and skinned, then froze them for me. I tried adding one to my chicken carcass stock, no gel (cooked for about 30 hrs in crock pot). Does it take a whole pound to get the gel? Thanks!

        • Matt says

          I find that when peeling the feet the outer dirty nail/claw comes off leaving just the soft part of the foot that the claw grows out of. No cutting required!!

        • Lori says

          I’ve never cut off the claws. They always seem pretty clean to me. In fact, I never peeled my feet before either, but I think they might have already been peeled.

          • Lori says

            Oh, and sometimes I get lots of gel. It seems like I need to include more feet, however. The last batch I did I had one chicken carcass and about 6 feet and no real gel. Very odd.

            • says

              We have only ever butchered roosters, who have huge feet (and big spurs), and we always get a nice gel/demi glace. Maybe it takes more hen feet since they’re smaller?

        • Laurel says

          No, you don’t have to cut off the toes. the outer part of the claw just pops off when you’re peeling the skin. Just bend the claws backward and they pop off. Most of you probably get chicken feet that have already been peeled/popped.

    3. Cathy says

      I also didn’t know about the peeling part. I don’t consider myself a queasy person normally, but am not sure I can stomach doing that. In part maybe because of our hens in the back yard who are as much pets as they are egg-layers.

    4. Katie says

      I had no idea you were supposed to remove the yellow membrane. Although the time I got chicken feet (attached to the rest of a chicken from a family farm), I don’t remember them being that yellow, so maybe they were already peeled.

      The little feet make me feel sad :-( The rest of the chicken doesn’t look so much like a chicken any more, with the feathers gone. But the feet still look like they could be walking around.

      I can see why you would remove the talons — I remember finding those little claws floating in my stock, and if I was squeamish I would have been totally grossed out!

    5. Jenny says

      Katie -

      The chicken feet you came across may very well have already had the yellow membrane removed.  In my experience, it’s more common to find them already cleaned and ready to go than to find them with the membrane intact.  It was faintly disturbing to see the chicken feet with all their flexibility ((shudder)), but, man, they made some darn good soup.

      - Jenny

    6. Jenny says

      Kelly -

      You really don’t NEED to cut off the talons.  In fact many folks leave them on.  I prefer to cut them off because I find that I have to skim the scum off the surface of the stock considerably more often if I leave them in.  Moreover, they sometimes fall off the rest of the foot and float around the soup pot which isn’t at all appetizing.

      While I get a good solid gel from nearly all my stocks, I still can’t figure out what makes the difference between a stock that will gel and one that won’t.  Some folks I’ve come across say it has to do with the amount of water used, but that hasn’t been my experience and I think there may be another factor at play.  Even if you don’t get a solid gel, you still reap the rewards of LOADS of minerals and other goodies.

      - Jenny

      • Jeanmarie says

        I strain the stock so don’t worry about talons. Most of the chicken feet I use are store-bought, but we occasionally harvest one of our own chickens, and I’ve never bothered with peeling the membrane.

        Chicken feet look sweet to me. I don’t understand why people think they’re gross. The feet in the photo above and available at the store are obviously from very young chickens, so they just look sweet and it makes me kind of sad.

    7. says

      Thanks for the good info! Maybe I’ll be brave enough to pick up the bag of feet next time I’m at the ethnic market. Interestingly enough, I used to work at an engineering firm that did work at a processing plant for a national brand of chicken. It was rumored the feet were the most profitable part of the bird. Every chicken foot was shipped to China, where I presume home cooks are making stock just like yours!

    8. says

      Whoa dude. I had no idea I might have to “prepare” the feet from the farm. I’ve been pining for chicken feet to make stock ever since I read about the gelatin factor. I showed my husband these pics and he said, “I’ve think you’ve gone too far.” ;) I’ll have to hide the feet from him if I ever get my hands on some!
      :) Katie

      • says

        Too funny, Katie! I received a gift of duck feet last week from co-workers. I was so excited – hubs was so grossed out! I believe the exact words were “you have finally flipped” ;)

        Well….the feet are hiding in the freezer for now until I can sneak ‘em into a lovely stock…

        – Kathy

      • Lori says

        That’s too funny! I have to hide them from my husband too. And when I’m making my stock, I push them under everything so he can’t see them.

    9. Julie says

      Thanks for the post–it was educational and entertaining! When I saw the first photo I realized what you meant when you mentioned that “chicken feet can be a little disturbing”. Yes, they are. But once I got over that I appreciated the tutorial on how to prepare them and make a rich gelatinous stock. I hope I can find some in the area. Nope, I ain’t gonna find these at the local Stop and Shop on a styrofoam tray wrapped in plastic. He He

    10. Susan R says

      My friend gave me some feet from her ‘franken’ chickens. The ones bred to grow fast and meaty. Although they were truly pastured, the feet seemed too deformed to cope with. I used one (did blanch it) then threw the rest…they just grossed me out. Now your pics make me want to find some normal chicken feet and try again. Thanks for the great tutorial!

    11. Lisa Imerman says

      We are lucky as the farm where we get our chickens does have the option of getting the feet with them (for a charge). I forgot to request them this year when I ordered and the owner emailed me and said that she knew I usually got feet with my order and did I want them. What wonderful customer service. I love knowing my farmers!!

      We put a few feet in each pot of stock and I think it does help the stock to gel!!

      I am glad ours come all cleaned and ready to go, I don’t know if I could do that peeling part of the prep.

      Lisa

    12. says

      AHAHAHA! I know what you mean Jenny! I often look back at my long years as a vegetarian and vegan and just marvel at the changes I have made to my diet! I will be sure to ask for the feet the next time I buy my pasture raised chickens!

    13. Mary P. says

      I have heard that feet from factory farmed chickens will not yield much gelatin in a stock – has anyone else heard of this or know if it is true?

      • Elys says

        Ok, so this comment is 5 years old, but it’s for anyone who stumbles upon this article. The broth from chickens who had the freedom to exercise, eat their instinctual omnivorous diet, and generally happy will gel better than factory chickens. Their exercise develops the feet. The diet supports their health. Factory chicken legs are in crippled condition because they’re bred to grow fat so quickly and the ligaments, tendons, muscles and joints can’t catch up. Their legs snap. So the outcome feet are weak compared to healthier chickens. Not to mention, *cough* supporting factory farms is not good *cough*

        At my local farmers market, chicken feet are at a great price. People don’t buy chicken feet that often I presume. $1-2 dollars per pound.

    14. Jeanmarie says

      Great photos! The spice mix looks interesting. I’m not sure I’m brave enough to spice my stock; I just love having lots of plain stock to work with.

      Funny how we have very different reactions to chicken feet. I find them to be very sweet looking, and I feel a little sad, though grateful, when I use them.

      I have bought chicken feet from Berkeley Bowl, in Berkeley, CA, and a butcher shop in the Ferry Building in San Francisco. Here in Mendocino County I was able to buy some whole chickens from the farmers market (now closed for the winter) that had their feet intact. I just cut them off and popped them into the freezer along with other bones I was saving, and they got used the day after Thanksgiving along with the turkey carcass. Not that much gel, but a rich stock nonetheless.

      Never have I every done any preparation of the feet whatsoever. I didn’t know about the yellow membrane; maybe it was already removed for me? And I certainly didn’t declaw them. Everything gets strained out. You’re working too hard!
      It’s true there is nothing like the feet to gel things up. I wish I could get a steady supply where I am now. I’ll try a Mexican market, but the problem there is no way to know (given my level of Spanish) how the chickens are treated.
      Thanks for another lovely, informative post.

    15. Pippi says

      I actually do get chicken feet on a styrofoam tray! I wish I didn’t because I’m not fond of styrofoam, but put up with the environmental guilt so I can have the wonderful stock.

      As for skimming, it used to be my downfall. I could never get it off, I’d forget, or I’d let it boil back in. Yuck. Then a friend of mine who grew up in rural China taught me her trick: she pours boiling water (or runs hot, hot water from the sink) over the chicken feet before putting them in the stock pot. I don’t need to skim like crazy anymore! I can even do it in my crockpot!

    16. says

      I ran out of chicken feet last month and asked our local chicken gal if she had any extra feet. She laughed and said few people even want them so they don’t even keep any extra than what she uses(!!!!) She did have a couple extra birds in the freezer I could take, though. It was about a week until I could stop by and get the birds. When I did, she had a HUGE bag (10-12lbs) of turkey feet for me for FREE. They raise pastured turkeys on their organic farm and had just done the last Thanksgiving butcher. I am planning on throwing a couple into every batch of broth. The feet look huge compared to chicken feet, can’t wait to spook the husband with those babies!

      In my experience, the quality of ingredients directly affects the gel (including water quality!)

      Your broth recipe is very similar to that of a traditional Vietnamese Pho…a culture near and dear to my heart.

    17. says

      Your posts are so helpful! I have always been a little leary of chicken feet. Haven’t quite dove into them, but your pictures made me wade in the water a bit, and I am much closer to trying!

      Thanks for all you do and share!

      Warmly,

      Molly
      Organic Spark

    18. says

      Awesome! I’ve always wondered what to do with chicken feet (I’m strangely obsessed with all things “not normal” in food and cooking). Definitely going to get some!

    19. says

      Jenny, I love this! I was able to actually visit one of my family farms this year and help them process 100 chickens. I came back with loads of feet! On the farm, I was taught by a fellow Latino to put the feet right into the fire for a few seconds, the outer skin peels right off. If I ever buy them I’ll definitely blanch them. I have a question. I have had no luck at all getting my chicken stock to gel. I did have a lady comment on my stock post that she breaks up the bones before adding them into the pot. Do you have any suggestions?

      Thank you!

    20. says

      I once made chicken *head* stock. When I stirred the pot and had a few heads roll up and “look” at me, I felt like a witch. I was too chicken (ha! pun intended!) to eat the stock after I made it. Which is sad because I went through a lot of trouble to get the heads and it gelled very nicely.

      Next time I’ll use one head at a time and add to my regular batch of bones. I’ll definitely try adding some feet too, now that I knwo how to prepare.

      Thanks!

    21. Alison says

      Great article. Once I saw a little girl in a Chinese restaurant gnawing on what what was obviously chicken feet. It totally grossed me out. But I have matured and am anxious to try this nutrient dense stock. Thanks for the article. And I have a local farmer who will sell me feet! Here goes.

    22. Valerie says

      I bought some feet and heads from the Amish at the WAPF conference last month. (I met you there on Saturday and we had a great chat.) I had fun showing them to my kids. I’m not sure if my local source for pastured chicken sells feet & heads. I have an ethnic grocery near me, which I am pretty sure sells chicken feet and other stuff. Is it worth it to buy factory farmed chicken feet?

    23. Mary Anderson says

      Oh my what a great post. I’m not normal by my own admission and I love chicken feet. When I was a little girl my great grandma would kill chickens and make a stew from the feet and the unborn soft eggs. It was my favorite meal. In the last few years I’ve become reacquainted with the little “feets”. I live on an island in Hawaii so finding them is a chore. We did have a local farm but they closed so now my grocer gets them from another island. I stew them like grandma did or use in broth for pho. I also feed them to our dogs who are “raw fed” and love the crunchy morsels. Much mahalo for the posting. You are a brave and out of the box lady. I enjoy all your writings.

    24. Velcromom says

      I make my bone broth with mostly chicken feet, and I never clip off the claws. No need, I’ve found, and a lot easier too! :)

    25. Bernadine says

      ~LMAO~ Chicken feet have a long history of funnies stories with me and my hubby, started by a chinese acupuncturist and dim sum in Las Vegas – but as it pertains to stock – I so need to find a new sorce! but I do have to say – I feel like I am butchering a childs hand – creeps me out to know end.

    26. Lisa P. says

      Ah! Why did it take me so long to find you! I ‘ve been looking for a great site like this! I just bought some chicken feet yesterday to add to my pho ga (chicken pho) recipe. I can’t wait to try it and savor the rich broth. Such a comfort food, even for this corn fed white girl.

    27. says

      My kind of cook! I have raised and butchered my own chickens, and always clean and use the feet. I dip them in hot water, and take off the outer part of the talons. You want to that because a free-range chicken’s feet have walked through a lot of muck that you don’t want in your soup. With luck the rest of the skin peels off easily, like taking off a glove.

    28. darlyne says

      I was able to find chicken feet at my local wholefoods. I think the butcher peeled off the membrane… it didn’t look so yellow. I could barely look at the feet when I put them into the pot though… with the nails all intact. I don’t think I could really touch one, let alone hack the talons. So I put the whole feet in there and used a spoon instead of actually touching them. Maybe in time, I’ll get used to it.

    29. Mimi says

      An excellent tutorial. Thank you! I had no idea I had to skin those feet. I’ve used feet in my stock for quite a while now and it still never gels.

      I printed your tutorial back in November and stuck it under the cover of my NT book. I am finally going to make another batch of stock. I usually make a couple of gallons at a time and just use about two pounds of feet along with lots of leftover carcasses and heads. I will peel the feet this time and hope it makes a difference.

      Your instructions say “be brief” when blanching the feet. I’m not sure what that means. Do I bring a pot of water to a rolling boil and then dunk them in, wait 10 seconds and take them out? Or do I wait 30 seconds? 1 minute?

      I am enjoying your site very much.

    30. says

      Why do you peel the feet, remove the talon, etc. ? Why not just wash the feet well and then cook them?

      We make broth from the carcasses of the organic chickens we buy locally. No feet. But the broth of bones simmered all day makes a solid gel just like the gel in your photo.

      Our chickens don’t come with feet. I’ll ask the farmer what they do with the feet. Bet we can get a bunch.

      I know a woman from China who loves chicken and duck feet. She just cooks them a bit and munches away happily.

      Hey, I was a vegetarian for 30+ years. Two years ago I learned to hung and shot a doe. Used all but the bones. Made soap with the tallow.

      Thanks,
      Shivani

    31. Jenny says

      Shivani -

      I peel the feet first and remove the talons because I find that I don’t need to skim the broth as often and it lends itself to a much better flavor.  I’ll bet that if you ask your farmer, they’ll give you the feet.  You might ask about acquiring the heads as well because they lend themselves to a good stock too.

       

      Take Care -

      Jenny

    32. Leah says

      At one lucky, lucky time in my life, I had easy access to chicken feet and they made the BEST stock I’ve ever tasted. I never even put any onions/carrots/celery in it…just pure chicken-y goodness.

      I’m working to get in touch with the local growers in my new area, but it’s a slow process. I’m crossing my fingers that someone will have feet for me.

      Oh, seeing those pictures of feet sure brought back good memories.

    33. JenE says

      Kitchen Stewardship referenced this post recently. Thank you so much for posting this info! I didn’t know about the prep work either. Everyone’s comments were helpful as well!
      Thanks again!

    34. says

      we have alot of wonderful dim sum houses in the san fran by area.when im with my caucasian friends and they get squeemish about eating chicken feet with black bean sauce and chilies,i like to ask”you eat the drumstick?this is just a little bit lower on the leg’!”. they try it and love the texture,flavor and working the skin off the bones with their tongue and teeth. when mom is with me she has to have a extra order. she has said making this dish is better left to the restaurants but we have always thrown in chicken feet for broth at home..from sharkfin soup to everyday soups with veggies it adds the dif of a so-so broth to a very deep flavored broth..

    35. Jen says

      I’m doing it now! I ordered a 10 pound bag of pastured, organic chicken backs and necks, and a 5 pound bag of feet from my local organic delivery service. I threw 16 feet in with the 8 carcasses, since I figured that was a natural ratio. :) I still have 31 feet left. I don’t think I’m brave enough to make a feet only stock, but I have no problem throwing them in with other bones.

      The feet I received look clean and are flesh colored, so I assume the membrane was already removed. Now reading that not all chicken feet are yellow in the comments has me a little worried. Hopefully it will be OK! I did remove the claws, which was a bit disturbing. It helped knowing the health benefits to my family will be huge.

      Thanks Jenny!

    36. maria v marfil says

      I make mine in the pressure cooker with the seasoning of my choice for about one hour; if not
      totally tender, I put it back some more minutes. (Please, don´t try if you have no experience with
      pressure cookers.)
      They get very tender and all the joints separate letting out all the gelatin.
      I strain it through a fine colander. When it cools off I put it in the refrigerator for some hours
      until it gets very cold so I can clean the fat that will come to the surface; I don´t need the
      cholesterol.
      Does someone knows if the nutritional value diminishes with this process?
      And, yes, you can make chicken stock with other parts of the chicken, but the result is totally
      different and if you want the gelatin, the feet of the chicken is what you need. I use it to treat
      my osteoarthritis.

      • says

        It’s my understanding that the high heat associated with pressure cooking will denature the proteins, so I tend to avoid both pressure cooking and pressure canning.

        Incidentally, I’m actually a big fan of cholesterol and dietary fat – they both play a vital role in cognitive function and general health that is heavily and unjustly ignored by the current prevailing dietary dicta. Have you read The Cholesterol Myths? Or this is a good article on the subject: Myths & Truths about Cholesterol.

    37. bj says

      You have no business using shark fins. Your country men painfully slice off the fins and through the living shark back in the water to drown or be eaten alive. It is a reprehensible act of torture and if you are buying fins you are equally at fault. Sharks are necessary for the health of our oceans and they are being killed for the most stupid of reasons… ego based bullshit soup.

      Please do not do this again, and change your perspective to improve the health of our oceans and our marine inhabitants. Relinquish the idea of eating the fins of our sharks who are being slaughtered at record numbers.

      Be a savior of the seas, not a murderer.

    38. vicky says

      We raise our own meatbirds and this past fall I had my dh keep the feet. We feed them to our dog for snacks. Since we follow the prey model diet for our dog or raw food diet she gets these as a treat. She loves them and they look so funny when she is gnawing on one. But perhaps I will have to share this with my dh for the next time he wants to make some soup!

    39. says

      We just processed our first chickens last weekend and my stock with chicken feet is beautiful and smells heavenly. I was really worried about the whole process b/c I came from a Vegan background also. But it was surprisingly peaceful and now our freezer is filled with meat and stock! But I will admit to throwing out the heads, I was a little too squeamish to put those to good use. I will be trying this Asian-inspired chicken stock recipe, it sounds wonderful.

    40. Rosalyn says

      We raise and sell pastured chickens – I have huge bags of feet, our folks haven’t caught on yet. I do not clean my feet – the broth strains fine and I typically add one or sets of feet to each carcass I boil, so I haven’t noticed a taste difference.

      Somes I’ll make a huge pot of just straight chicken feet broth, and then I’ll freeze it in icecube trays – great to add to soups without the fam noticing. Or to cooking water for pasta, potatoes or veggies.

      And to the woman who mentioned the ‘franken chickens’ – we raise the hybrids, but because we limit their feed and force them to forage, they don’t get feet issues. It really depends on how the chickens are raised.

      Great article, thanks so much,
      Rosalyn

    41. Dani says

      You made me giggle with that “used to be vegan” comment. Same here, I’m often amazed at the things I do for food now, that used to make me gag or cause me to spin off in some kind of quasi health and morality rant. Ha ha good times.

      But we seem to be on the same wavelength lately. I’m making chicken stock this weekend. And yes absolutely chicken feet are awesome in chicken stock. I discovered them in my butchers freezer a while back and thought hey why not, and bonus they’re cheap. And what resulted was absolutely the best stock we ever made.

    42. says

      Recent vegan (family of 5)for 11 +/- years and we’ve turned to raw milk and poultry as we became allergic to soy. Few questions …..why do you want gelled soup?? It doesn’t sound good at all! I am not squeamish and can cut/ hack up a whole chicken ( learning to cook as a carne is totally different…especially when adding 15 years of vegetarian to the mix!). I think ill stick with chicken fried in fresh butter and coconut oil. I even go a heart attack point extra and make gravy out of the drippings ….its SOOOOOO GOOD!

      WHY gel?

      Honey

      • Noah says

        According to the Weston Price Foundation (who in turn seem to have gotten this info from the experiments of Dr Francis Pottenger), the gelatin in a broth such as this (or beef broth with knuckle bones, etc…) aids in digestion due to its hydrophilic nature. Supposedly cooked meat is hydrophobic (may repel your digestive juices), therefore eating gelatin with cooked meat makes the meat more digestible.

        I have not found any other research on this topic one way or another. All the research I’ve found on gelatin focus on its nature as a protein rather than a digestive aid. However, in my personal experience, I’ve noticed that any meal I eat that includes a rich gelatinous stock sits very well. I sometimes wake up with an achy stomach if I didn’t eat well the day before, but if I ate a dinner that included a good stock my stomach has never hurt the next morning (even on occasions when the rest of my diet that day was quite subpar).

        Hope that helps!

    43. Emily says

      Inspired by this post, I was able to obtain ~2lbs of chicken feet. Since this will be my first attempt at stock of any kind – is there a particular type of container that is best suited for storing the prepared stock? And can I just freeze the stock?

    44. says

      I realize this is an older post ~ but thank you! I have friends who are so grossed out that I’m going to make broth from the feet of the chickens I butcher this summer. Why should anything go to waste? If it can be used in a productive manner, I believe it should be used!

    45. Cathy C says

      It’s chicken processing time on our little farm and for once the chicken feet are coming into the kitchen, destined for the soup pot. The dogs and the pigs are so sad! They love the special treat that chicken feet are.

      Blanched up my first batch before seeing this post – a 30 second blanch and I could only get the skin to peel to the first joint. Threw them back in the pot of boiling water for a good 2 minutes – this time the entire skin/membrane peeled off, leaving the bone and meat and ligaments intack. Hmm. Did not look like the chicken legs I had been eyeballing in the oriental grocery store earlier this week (which did come shrinwrapped on styrofoam trays, btw) but figured the denuded legs would be fine stock making nonetheless. Glad to find your guidance here, just in time for the next batch of fresh legs to make their journey this way.

      I’ve read that cooking any chicken-based stock for too long breaks down the gelatin – that there is a window of opportunity that results in great gel. Too short or too long, not so great gel.

    46. Rowe Schell says

      Just spent the afternoon making soup stock with chicken feet –grew up on a wonderful Mennonite farm where there was an abundance of ” la feet” –my mom always used them !! Today I added 4 cups of fabulous organic chicken broth –great flavor–very low sodium –bought from the local supermarket.
      I read at the beginning of this website that chicken feet were not available in styrofoam covered with plastic in the store. Well fortunately here in Edmonton, Alberta ..approx pop of 800,000 to 1,000,000 –we have the large supermarkets with just that—and they are completely cleaned and ready to go !!
      …………..now cows feet just don’t seem to work the same way ………..or have I missed something?? Ha Ha !!

    47. Carolyne says

      I became the *Awesome Mom* to my pre-teenage sons some years back, when I used the chicken feet for greetings to Halloween trick-or-treaters in the neighborhood, then the next day they went into the stockpot.

    48. Toni says

      Hi Jenny,

      I know this was an older post but I’ve got a question. I bought about 50 feet from a local farm…don’t think that the chickens were totally grass fed, but everyone of my feet has black rough spots on the bottom and a little black spot on some back near the cut. I’ve tried to research this and haven’t come up with many answers on it. Have you ever had black spots on yours? Do you think it would be ok to make a broth with? Some sites I found said about just cutting off black spots and some said it was a bacterial infection and shouldn’t be consumed or made into broth.
      thanks,
      Toni

    49. Ruvi says

      Hi,
      Its an interesting note on chicken feet. Just found this while i was searching some info about chick feet. One of my friends running business like this and having an issue regarding to that. Does anybody know what we can do to the waste or the skin peeled off from the feet? my friend is looking for a simple safty method to handle that waste. According ot him it takes long time to decompose, so having problems with his workplace. If anybody knows a way to biodegrade it soon or re use it for some other purpose please let me know. Thanks.

      Ru

    50. Barbara Grant says

      Chicken feet vary in color, depending on the breed of chicken. I have yellow, green, and gray/black feet. When I scald them, the water is just below a boil, and I count to ten and take them out. Longer and they start to cook.

    51. Candace says

      I love love love this post! I was vegetarian/vegan for at least 10 years and I started feeling like something needed to change! I preface with that tidbit because I, for the first time, helped my mom butcher a couple of her chickens that she has raised with the good stuff, you know, good food, bugs, grass, and the like : ) The best part, aside from spending good time with mom, was that I knew I needed to save those nasty feet because I came across this post the other day! I am so grateful to our Lord for you and all you have to share with the world! I pray that God will use you more!!!

    52. Vivian says

      I added one pound of chicken feet to my soup chicken and had a marvelous chicken stock. If you want to get more calcium in your diet, adding chicken feet is a good thing to do. I strained my stock after many hours of simmering and today I had a pleasing gelatanous stock! I will do this every time from now on. Those little feet were cute too, I must say but I did snip off the toe nails before throwing it into the pot!

    53. pamela says

      Hi, Jenny. I was wondering – do the chicken heads also provide gelatinous texture to the stock, or should one omit them from the stockpot?

      Thanks.

    54. says

      If I’m not able to make an arrangement for purchase chicken feet from a local grower, is it really safe to get them from an Asian Market? I’m wondering about where they get their’s from. I saw packages of them when I was shopping in there with my son last year. He spent a year in Thailand and so we needed to get the real goodies for a few dishes he wanted to make for us.
      I’m just wondering how different their feet would be from any ol’ package of Pilgrim’s Pride or Purdue chicken I’d find in my local grocery store.

    55. Dan says

      To have a liquid gel when cooled, you needs lots of gelatin. In this instance, chicken feet are small so the amount feet you need will be much greater. Also, since it is covered by a very tough skin, the connective tissues within the joints and especially the ball where all of the toes meet are protected from the dissolving power of water. You will need to expose these tissues to maximize the formation of gelatin. So then you will have to increase the amount of feet and also to bifurcate the feet, lengthwise ideally. Try msking a pork stock with a pound of bigs feet. Once the pigs feet starts falling apart, you’ll realise what is neccessary to achieve a jiggly stock.

    56. says

      I want to try this but I don’t know where I could find these in the UK. I get gelatinous stock enough from just bones, but chicken foot stock would be most effective for making portable soup, which I make a lot. I also think that one of the main reasons I really want to try this is to completely freak out my kitchen-mates (I share a kitchen with 4 other people in a student acommodation). It’s a pretty quiet kitchen (they all just use the microwave), and so I mostly have it all to myself; bu I lovewatching people’s reactions to all my fermentation jars, crockpot, and various bags of organs, shellfish and bones in the freezer (you should have seen one guy’s face when he walked in on me skinning a beef tongue). I wonder how they’d react to chicken feet lying on the counter. If I get my hands on some, I’ll make sure to leave them next to the microwave! MUAHAHAHA!

    57. George Yancho says

      There was a question concerning chicken feet with black spot on the bottom.It stated it could bacteria. I had this 2 days ago and cut the black off with my felay knife and made stock.The stock tastes ok , but I only ate about a cup full last night and today. Am I in any danger to continue eating it and eating the feet? I thank you in advance for for your quick responce. GY

      • Jen Z says

        George, you’re safe, assuming you boiled them. Bacteria dies in boiling water. Those are the calluses on their feet; just like the ones on your feet.

        When I do my chicken feet stock, I just throw them in there. I don’t peel them (although next time I might), or snip the toenails. When the stock is done, I run it through an old linen pillow case and it strains out all of the particles and I get a lovely broth.

    58. Laurel says

      You DON’T have to cut off the toes. The outer part of the claw pops off easily. After you scald it and peel the skin just bend the claws backward and they just pop off.

    59. zhinka chunmee says

      WOndering why one would consider this asian inspired?
      There are definately NO asians in my North Dakota area, loads of Germans, Native Americans and Ukrainians and all make chicken feet stock.
      It is a bit racist to call such a wide spread food asian inspired.

      • Jen Z says

        Really?

        The seasonings she uses in the recipe; ginger, star anise have an asian flair. Didn’t you read the whole article before you flipped?

    60. Cindy says

      I don’t know if someone already addressed the issue of stock not gelling; I didn’t have time to read all the posts. I’ve heard there is a “window” of cooking time that is good for getting a nice gel. If you cook too long, it will loose the gel. I’ve recently read that there are two kinds of broth: meat and bone. Meat is cooked for a shorter time (2-4 hours) and will gel well and is soothing to the stomach. Long cooked broth (up to 24 hours) will pull the minerals out of the bones and will probably not gel well. Both have great, but different benefits. I’m only beginning this broth journey, so I haven’t had a chance to try both, but I thought I’d pass it on…

    61. Rudy says

      Interesting – I’ve never used chicken feet in stock before. Seems like a lot of faffing around, when a split veal foot or pork trotter does such a good job. I guess that would impact on the flavour though. I really like this website and its “hands-on” articles! Thanks for taking to time to share your knowledge!

    62. emmer says

      shades of my childhood and the summers spent on the family farm in central kansas! my uncle was the only one who appreciated a good chicken foot, and ate them with great, slurpping gusto.
      when my own children were young, we lived on a little farm-ette and raised our own chickens for meat and eggs. i didn’t “get” the nutritional value of the feet then, but was too frugal to waste them, so many went to the weaner pigs we grew out. and then one halloween, feeling mischievious, i painted the toenails of a batch of chicken feet in orange and black and pinned them to a clothesline strung over the front porch so that they dangled in the faces of all who came trick-or-treating. the screams were wonderful. :-D

    63. Rachael says

      Great post. So if the feet you buy at the store are not bright yellow, they have likely been peeled already?
      Also, you hinted at this in one post above, but if your broth, beef or chicken, does not gel, its worth keeping? I’m always disappointed when it doesn’t as I feel like the gelatin and other healthful elements aren’t. Could there be some gelatin there and just not enough for gelling?

    64. Leeann says

      I have made stock but have never been told how to store it for long term use. Can anyone help me on this? I am now trying to source chicken feet for myself because this will turn my gumbo into a prize winning recipe!

    65. says

      Yesterday, at the farm where I work (I’m mostly with the vegetable crops), I was taught how to slaughter/butcher a chicken… like you, it amazes me that I used to be a vegan. Because they didn’t need the feet, I took them home, & I’m excited to try this recipe – but how many feet is a pound? We only did two birds, which obviously won’t be much broth, but will it at least be enough for a pot of soup?

    66. Lynda C says

      about 15 years ago I was visiting with a Chinese family in Calgary, Alberta. Additional family members had come to visit. After looking at my body shape with heavier thighs and legs, one said to the other; “she needs chicken feet and garlic soup.” I was repulsed at the thought of eating anything with dirty chicken’s feet in it…(I know where those feet have been.) Anyway, these posts were wonderful and now I’m interested in trying chicken’s feet broth. Tonight I made broth from one of those grocery store chickens which are already cooked and hot for you to take home at the last minute. Maybe the answer to chicken feet being Asian inspired might be linked to Chinese medicine. Obviously from all of the posts many ethnicities/cultures have used chicken feet for eons.

    67. Eleanor says

      Must I use the Ginger and cayenne? I don’t want a stock that is spicy. Just a straight up onion, celery, carrot stock is best for me and mine.

    68. Ret says

      Chicken feet can be difficult to find – that is, until you know where to look. They don’t come packaged on little Styrofoam trays, wrapped in plastic.”

      No there aren’t and yes they do. I just picked up a 1/lb styrofoam package of “organic” chicken feet from the local Whole Foods.

    69. Robert says

      I have a book titled “Beard On Bread’, written by an expert bread-maker. In his instroduction, he tells about a sweet Jewish neighbor who made the most delicious chicken soup he has ever tasted. He never could figure out why her soup was so much better than any other, until one day he happened to visit her house while she was preparing chicken soup, and observed her throwing a couple into her pot. Ever since reading that, I have tried in vain to find a place which carries chicken feet. I have driven as much as fifty miles from home because I heard of a place which “might” carry them, only to come home empty-handed and extremely disappointed. Is there anybody out there who can help me? I live in Greensboro, NC.

      • Karen says

        Robert,
        Go to the Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project website: http://fromhere.org/. I don’t know if the info they have reaches as far as Greensboro, but it may give you some clues as to where to start a local search for chicken feet. My first attempt is on the stove as I write. I may have “scalded” them too long. I did the scalding and peeling in ever smaller batches, as I found that the sooner I peeled after they came out of the water, the easier the peeling was. They never turned orange/yellow….I think my farmer/neighbor may have washed them in a light bleach solution because when I cut open the bag, I got a faint whiff of bleach. I’m wondering if this did something to the membrane that prevented the yellow from developing.

    70. Ashley says

      Jenny, I noticed that this broth says to simmer up to 12 hrs. I typically do a 24hr stock with my chicken bones. Would it not be a good idea to simmer the chicken feet along with the bones for 24 hrs???
      I got a bag of chicken feet from my farmer and now my husband keeps asking me at every meal whether or not he’s eating chicken feet. I just keep saying, “I don’t know. Does it taste like chicken feet?” Actually, until reading this post I wasn’t really sure how to cook them. By the time I get around to it, I’ll bet he forgets to even suspect anything. :)

    71. Amanda says

      Hi Jenny,

      How do you keep your stocks fresh? Do you just store them in the fridge and then use them in time? Or freeze them for later use?

      Amanda

    72. Holly B. says

      I live in Mexico. I have read the same book by James Beard, and remember the place where he talked about the Jewish mama whose broth was legendary, and how he learned it was because of the chicken feet she used.

      So I tried to find chicken feet, of course! I asked for them anywhere I bought meats – no cigar. I’ve been buying chicken at a small family store very near my home for several years now, but it wasn’t till a month ago, when I asked for a whole bird, that I got feet along with the giblets. Oh, happy days! After buying another whole bird, I now have four chicken feet. They DO look like they need peeling. I had been a bit put off at the thought of having to scrub dirt out of such multitudinous crevices. But these looked very clean. The thought of having to laboriously pull the skin off was a second turnoff. Now, here, and other sites online, I’ve learned how to get the membrane off by scalding. All right! I’ve just removed the meat from that second bird, and have a good pile of bones, together with both necks and pairs of feet, to make a good broth. I’ll simmer it very slowly, covered, with vegs and seasonings added near the last. I’ll chop the meat fairly fine, and add it to the broth, but will only simmer it for another hour or so, then maybe add noodles or dumplings. But I also want to see what a broth made of pure chicken feet, nothing else, would be like. So that’ll probably be my next project.

      Now that I have a source of good, cleaned chicken feet, I plan to buy a lot more. I have to wonder why most people don’t know about using chicken feet in broth.

      I’ve read here that using a pressure cooker can denature the proteins. Does that also happen if you simmer broth in a kettle for many hours? Is it the length of time it cooks, or just the higher temperature, that makes the proteins get denatured? I like simmering my broth for hours, but maybe I shouldn’t? Denatured proteins may not be as tasty, nutritious or digestible, but I don’t know. Does anyone know?

      I also intend to break every bone I can, before simmering my broth, to extract as much of the marrow as I can. The chicken itself roasted up, yielding a lot of gelatin. I like that.

      One good thing about the chicken and eggs I can get locally is that they are not battery-raised. Salmonella is a problem in the States from uncooked chicken juices, but the reason the threat is so serious is because they ARE battery-raised. One gets sick, and in a day, they all do. These local stores offer birds grown locally, by individual families. The egg yolks are orange, and taste wonderful. I love eggnog as a nightcap, and I often make it, using two raw eggs. Never had a problem. So I think the chicken I buy is also free of salmonella. Most people just sigh and never use raw eggs, and panic if their chicken meat has even a hint of rosy color. I prefer the meat cooked through, but don’t worry if I eat some that isn’t quite fully cooked. If there is ONE reason to buy your chicken from a local farmer, that’s it. Salmonella is highly unlikely.

      Some of you may want to google “chicken confit.” It’s a French recipe. Made with all kinds of meats. It’s all cooked and seasoned to taste. The meat is chopped fairly fine, then pressed hard into a loaf pan. The loaf is sliced for sandwiches. Any fat on top helps preserve it, but remove it when serving. It’s a good change of pace from standard luncheon meats.

      I haven’t read anything here about making a fine broth, then reducing it considerably, so it doesn’t take up much room in the freezer. I’ve done it before, and you can adjust the strength by how much water you add to it. You can add water to reconstitute it, or use the intensely concentrated liquid for some special purpose. But I have a question about that. Does the intensive boiling denature the proteins? Or does it weaken the flavor at all?

    73. Mary says

      I live in Maryland, and have found chicken feet at farm stores, but they are more expensive than what I read other commenters pay for them. I occasionally buy them from Sally Fallon’s farm store, which sells them for $4 for six small feet. They do come deskinned, however.

      I think as more people return to traditional foods, the price of animal parts that we now consider bargains will become as difficult to afford as meat. In my area, the price of grassfed beef liver varies wildly. It’s whatever the market will bear I guess.

      • Rebecca says

        I always throw 4 to 6 feet in with my chicken broth. I don’t declaw or peal them though. I figure my broth cooks for two days so any dirt or such will certainly be sterilized. I also strain everything out of my broth so no floaty thingies there. I would peal and declaw if I were preparing them to eat though.
        We get them for a buck a pound (here is Seattle) but I expect they will go up as others have mentioned as people get back to being more familiar with how healthy for us they are.

    74. says

      Some people have mentioned trouble with gelling…also didn’t notice any mention here, but I’ve always included a splash of vinegar when making every batch of bone broth. Acid helps draw more minerals from the bones. Regarding getting a good gel, it’s likely it wasn’t boiled long enough: “Two hours simmering is enough to extract flavors and gelatin from fish broth. Larger animals take longer–all day for broth made from chicken, turkey or duck and overnight for beef broth.” from the Weston A Price Foundation website.

      Just saw chicken feet at the groc store & thought, “oh been meaning to try them, rather than just carcasses”. Now seeing your post, think I’ll go pick me up some :). Thanks for all you do!

    75. Rita says

      I just froze a batch of stock made with chicken feet. The yellow skin was already off when purchased.
      I through them whole into a large pot of water with my special seasoned salt mixture and good dash of vinegar. Simmered for 12 hours. at which point I placed outdoors in a shed. 20 degrees outside. Next day it was very gelled, then defrosted enough to get my hands into it and broke the bones into pieces to expose the marrow. Added some more water and simmered for 4-6 hours. I just need to that extra simmer to squeeze every bit of goodness those feet gave up for me. Cooled used some for dinner tonite and froze the rest. I would have canned it but didn`t have the time. After the last storm loosing electric I would hate to lose this healthy stock.

    76. RobinAKAGoatMom says

      I’m very lucky my chicken farmer throws in heads and feet as a thank you for being a long time customer. First time I made stock with the heads and feet was a bit gross but the flavor amazing. I don’t do this type of cooking unless any visitors are real food friendly! I freeze up all my stocks, broths in various sizes including ice cube trays. I make several batches from each pot of bones or heads and feets. I haven’t used Swansons or boullion cubes in 6-7 years, one basket in my chest frrezer is all types of beef, bison and chicken stocks and broths. Besides the wonderful flavor, my hubby and I find alot less aches and pains in recent years. Even as were aging and manage 30 acres.

    77. says

      I just processed my first batch of chicken feet – thank you for the instructions!

      The membrane came off easily from about half the feet – the other half seem to be solidly attached. Is there any help for this? Should I just put them in anyway? I am stumped about what to do with the ones that I can’t get the membrane off of…

    78. herama says

      I’ve been making “chicken foot stew” for my pets for several months now. At first it really creeped me out, but I’ve become used to clipping off the nails and seeing a pile of feet on my counter. I like to take pictures and show them to people!

      I’ve been having lots of problems with tendonitis for a couple years now, and it seems that bone broth could help. Would chicken foot stew be as beneficial as a bone broth? And how bad would it be to make it from “natural” (i.e. no antibiotcs) chickens, but ones that are NOT organic or pastured? I worry that I’d be ingesting concentrated amounts of bad stuff, but the only place I’ve found pastured and organic feet they were asking ridiculous prices. (I think it was over $5/lb).

    79. Cindy says

      A thousand mahalos for this site! I was searching for chicken necks to make a broth with and the store did not have any, but they had all these chicken feet (on Styrofoam trays!), so I gulped and bought one. Quick Google and I found you! I normally make make my chicken stock from whole chickens, or bone broth from beef, so this will be a new one for me, and I’m going to use your recipe since I LOVE Thai cooking. I think I could make some killer Tom Yum Ka with this stock.

      Thanks to all the previous posters for the laughs!

    80. Ronja says

      My Butcher reccomended browning them on a pan for 15 or 20 minutes before I thorw them in a stock pot. I think the membrane is already off mine and I’m excited to make this! (I’ve also got a raw back, a carcass from chicken dinner, and some necks!)

    81. Alicia says

      Emiliano’s in Memphis, Tennessee sells chicken feet on a foam tray wrapped in plastic. I thought they were expensive though, $6-$7 for chicken feet!

    82. ele says

      I have a Hamilton Beach slow cooker. If I want to set it to 12 hrs would I put it on low or high? I like to have it going overnight so I can cool and freeze it during the day.

    83. robinakagoatmom says

      I cook my head and feet stock when no one else is home and label it H&F stock! I usually package some in ice cube trays as its such a great addition to flavor many dishes. I have containers of the cubes in the freezer so really convenient to just grab 1-3 to add. I’ve never had a batch not gel.

    84. Yvonne says

      Hi, I put some chicken feet in my crock pot on Sunday night. It was a busy week and it’s now Friday night. I had them on the keep warm setting because I’ve found that low just burns the stock. Should I throw it out and start over? I’ve heard of perpetual stock………..

    85. Laura says

      At one local grocery store here, they actually *do* come on Styrofoam trays wrapped in plastic, already peeled of the membrane. :) not expensive either

      • Dale says

        Great comments! We just finished the process for the first time and all I can say is this makes me and my wife so thankful for these little birds. Now I completely understand why the Native Americans would bow down to thank the hunted animals for their sacrifice for the families who would be able to eat and sustain life. It gives me a whole new outlook and reverence for life. It also makes me feel it is my obligation to use as much of the animal as I possibly can and not waste anything. In doing so we gain so much of the healthy benefits that would otherwise be thrown away. I couldn’t do it but my girls ate the giblets. I could hardly watch as they wolfed them down only to ask for more.

    86. Anonymous says

      I am trying to figure out how many chicken feet I should buy for my stock. Can you please give me an idea approximately how many chicken feet would equal one pound? Thanks.

    87. says

      Actually, chicken feet can be had in little Styrofoam trays in the freezer section of our local Food Whole, it’s one of the only things I can afford to buy at that place. And it makes stock to die for! Drinking some with coconut milk, paprika, and fresh garlic right now for my poor, sick, body.

    88. rebecca says

      This tutorial was frustrating. Be brief? Cam you give a time frame o f what i s considered brief? I boiled for one minute or a bit less, and i couldnt peel any of them. It flat out didnt work and it was a waste.

    89. Dawn says

      Where do you get chicken feet? I have never seen them in a grocery .. Not Kroger or whole Foods…. As a single woman I am looking for ways t make bone broth ( love it) without wasting an entire chicken as I never eat all the meat( even with the cat and dog helping).. Tips appreciated :-)

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