Richly savory with notes of fresh thyme and sweet bay, this fool-proof chicken broth recipe is both easy and delicious. You can sip it on its own or use it to make nourishing soups such as Wild Mushroom Soup or Tomato and White Bean Soup.
What is it?
Unlike bone broth, which is made from bones, chicken broth is traditionally made using a whole chicken or the meaty parts of the chicken. It simmers for a shorter period of time and has a delicate flavor. The recipe below also includes onion, garlic, and herbs which improve the flavor of the broth and give it an element of richness.
Tips for good broth
If you can boil water, you can make good chicken broth. The process is both simple and straightforward. Yet, there takes some nuance and skill to make a homemade chicken broth.
- Scrub the chicken with salt. Scrubbing the chicken with coarse salt helps to dislodge any bits of debris from the chicken's skin that could muddy the flavor of the broth. This is especially important if you're using a pasture-raised chicken from a local farm, as they tend to have more debris (such as small feathers) attached to the bird.
- Boil it twice, discarding the first broth. While it seems wasteful to boil the bird, discard the broth, and boil it again, this process produces particularly good results. Blanching the bird improves the flavor and clarity. If you skip this step, your broth may be muddy in flavor and appearance.
- Skim any foam that rises to the surface. When you boil a raw chicken, you'll find that a gray foamy substances floats to the surface of the pot. This scum is made up of protein and fats, and it can introduce off-flavors to your broth. Removing it improves the broths flavor and its color and clarity.
- Add most vegetables and herbs at the end. With the exception of onion and garlic, you should add most vegetables and herbs toward the end of cooking. If you add them at the beginning, they can make your broth taste overcooked, bitter, and unpleasant.
- Allow plenty of headspace when freezing in jars. Because water expands when frozen, your broth will expand in the freezer. Allow at least two inches of headspace and use a wide-mouthed jar when freezing in glass.
- Reserve the chicken meat. Once the chicken cools to room temperature, you can safely remove the meat and use it for chicken salad, chicken chili, or other dishes calling for leftover cooked chicken.
- Add salt just before serving. Chicken broth tastes better with a little sea salt; however, add it at the very end right before you serve the broth. Since liquid evaporates while the broth cooks, adding it too early may result in an overly salty flavor.
Chicken Broth Recipe
- Stock Pot
The first boil.
- Scrub the chicken all over with coarse sea salt, and then rinse it well under cool water.
- Place the chicken in a large stock pot, and then fill the pot with cold water until it covers the chicken by about 2 inches. Bring to a boil over high heat, and then turn the heat down to medium and allow the chicken to continue to boil for about 20 minutes. Skim and discard any foam that rises to the surface of the pot.
- After 20 minutes, pour off the broth, and remove the chicken from the pot. Rinse it once more with cool water to remove any bits of scum or debris that adhere's to the bird's skin. Rinse the stock pot, and wipe it clean with a dishcloth.
The second boil.
- Return the chicken to the cleaned pot, add the onion, garlic, and peppercorns. Cover with water by two inches, and then pour in the wine. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, and then turn the heat down to medium-low. Simmer, uncovered, about 3 hours, removing any scum that rises to the surface.
Finishing the broth.
- To finish the broth, drop in the thyme and bay leaves, allowing the broth to continue cooking a further 30 minutes. Then, carefully remove the chicken, strain the broth through a fine mesh sieve into jars. Transfer it to the fridge where it will keep about 1 week, or to the freezer where it will keep about 6 months.
- You can pick the leftover meat off the carcass and reserve it for recipes that call for cooked chicken, such as chicken chili or enchiladas.
Using homemade chicken broth.
- Skim off and discard any fat that has risen to the surface of the broth while it sits in the fridge. Then use the broth as your recipe instructs; alternatively, pour the defatted broth into a saucepan and bring it to about 165 F, season with salt and serve.
Lemongrass Ginger Chicken Broth. Add a 2-inch knob of chopped ginger to the stock pot along with the garlic, onions, and peppercorns. Then skip the thyme and bay, and add a 6-inch slice of lemongrass and 6 chopped green onions to the last half hour of cooking.
Vegetable-Rich Chicken Broth. Add 3 chopped carrots, 5 chopped ribs of celery, and a bunch of parsley to the broth to the last half hour of cooking.
Parmesan Broth. Add the rind of a hunk of parmesan cheese to the broth pot along with the garlic, onions, and peppercorns. It gives chicken broth a rich savory note, but may yield a cloudy result.
Store homemade chicken broth by pouring it into mason jars. If storing in the refrigerator, allow 1 inch of headspace and use it within 5 days. If storing the broth in the freezer, allow 2 inches of headspace to allow for expansion and use it within 6 months.
Homemade chicken broth will last about 1 week in the fridge and up to 6 months in the freezer.
Boiling it once, and discarding the water, before boiling the chicken a second time improves the flavor and clarity of your broth.
Traditionally, chicken broths such as the recipe above were sipped on their own as a restorative. You can add chopped herbs and a pinch of sea salt for seasoning. Or, you can use it as the base for soup recipes.
As with most foods, your nose knows. If the broth smells putrid or sour, it's likely bad. It may also take on a viscous texture or turn cloudy.
If your chicken broth gels in the fridge, that's a good sign. It indicates the formation of gelatin, and it will return to its liquid state when you heat it on the stove.
Wine gives the chicken broth a deeper flavor and a punch of acidity. If you avoid alcohol, you can add a squeeze of lemon instead.
If you have a leftover chicken carcass, you can use the carcass to make bone broth which relies on bones rather than meat. True broth is meat-based and warrants the use of a whole chicken.