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Use a leftover turkey carcass, veggies, fresh herbs, and seasonings to make this simple, flavorful turkey stock (which can be used just like broth) on the stovetop or in the slow cooker or Instant Pot.
Or, if you have a chicken carcass instead, try our chicken broth recipe (3 ways!).
Why It’s Worth Making Turkey Stock
If you’re like most Americans, you end up making turkey once or twice a year for the holidays. It takes some work and it’s not cheap. So, let’s make sure you get your money’s worth out of that bird by using the carcass to make turkey stock–which is actually very easy!
The advantages of homemade turkey stock is that it’s nutrient dense, free from any weird additives that you often find in store-bought broth or stock, and cheap. It’s very versatile and can be used as a substitute for chicken broth in any recipe, too.
As long as you have a turkey carcass on hand, the rest of the ingredients can be adjusted according to what you have.
- Turkey carcass – Include the bones, skin, and any leftover meat, such as what’s leftover from Roasted Turkey Breast.
- Veggies and fresh herbs – Our recipe uses 1 onion, a few carrots, a few stalks of celery (leaves and all), 1-2 garlic cloves, a handful of fresh parsley, and 1-2 thyme or rosemary stems. But, you could also use what’s leftover from Roasted Turkey Breast too.
- Optional seasoning: peppercorns, bay leaf, and salt
I usually don’t salt my turkey stock/broth so that I can control the amount of salt in whatever recipe I use it in later, but feel free to add in some if you’d like.
How to Make Turkey Stock (3 Ways)
This recipe is all about flexibility–using the ingredients you have on hand and cooking the stock using your method of choice (stovetop, slow cooker, or Instant Pot).
Here’s an overview, but more precise instructions are in the printable recipe card at the bottom of this post.
Place a turkey carcass, your veggies or herbs, and enough water to cover the carcass (about 10-12 cups) in a large stock pot, slow cooker, or Instant Pot. You can also throw in fresh peppercorns, a bay leaf, and salt, if you’d like.
Cook the Broth
You have three choices of how to cook this stock…
Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and simmer, uncovered, for 2-3 hours.
Cover with the lid and slow cook on LOW for 8-12 hours.
Instant Pot Method
Lock and seal the lid. Cook at high pressure for 45 minutes with a quick release.
Strain the Turkey Broth
Using a colander/strainer over a large bowl or pot, strain out the solids from the broth. Let cool on the counter up to 2 hours only (then must be refrigerated to be safe!).
Use or Store It
After the broth is cool, either refrigerate and use within 3-5 days, or divide into freezer containers–like mason jars, Souper Cubes, or Pyrex containers with lids (leave at least 1-inch headroom for expansion)–and freeze for up to 3-6 months.
How to Freeze & Thaw Stock
To Freeze: Cook and fully cool the stock. Divide into freezer containers–like mason jars, Souper Cubes, or Pyrex containers with lids (leave at least 1 inch head room for expansion)–and freeze for up to 3-6 months.
To Thaw: Thaw in the fridge for 24-48 hours or using the defrost setting on the microwave.
Tip: I prefer to freeze it in 2-cup increments, making it faster to thaw and a good portion size for recipes.
These two terms are often used interchangeably. Broth is traditionally made by simmering just the meat and vegetables, while stock is made by simmering primarily the bones and vegetables for a long period of time. Stock is usually more concentrated and flavorful. Broth and stock can be used in the same ways in recipes.
Yes, you can use just turkey bones to make a flavorful stock. Repurposing leftover turkey bones in a stock is a smart way to extract a rich turkey flavor and create a concentrated, gelatinous liquid.
To enhance the flavor, you can add aromatic vegetables like onions, carrots, and celery, as well as herbs and spices.
Simmering the bones for several hours helps to extract the savory goodness from them.
Turkey stock can be used interchangeably for chicken stock or broth in recipes. It makes a particularly good base for soups, sauces, and gravies. You can also warm it up and drink as a nutritious, comforting beverage.
To remove excess fat from turkey stock, let it cool completely overnight in the refrigerator. Then, discard the layer of solid fat on top.
Roasting turkey bones in a 400°F oven for 30-45 minutes before making stock is not necessary, but it can enhance the flavor of the stock. Roasting the bones, as well as any meat or vegetables you plan to include, can add depth, richness, and a deeper color to the stock by caramelizing their natural sugars.
According to Medical News Today, bone broth like this turkey stock recipe is highly nutritious, may protect joints, fight osteoarthritis, reduce inflammation and heal the gut, aid sleep, and support weight loss. Sounds good to me!
Did you make this? Snap a photo and tag us on Instagram at @thrivinghome so we can see your creations and cheer you on!
- 1 turkey carcass (like what’s leftover from Roasted Turkey Breast)
- 1 onion, peeled and roughly chopped
- 1–2 large carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
- 1–2 celery stalks (leaves and all), roughly chopped
- 1–2 peeled garlic cloves
- A handful of fresh parsley (a small bunch)
- 1–2 fresh thyme stems (sub: small rosemary stems)
- 12 cups water (enough water to cover the carcass)
- Optional seasoning: 1 teaspoon peppercorns, 1 bay leaf, 1 tablespoon salt
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1. Place a turkey carcass, onion, carrots, celery, garlic, parsley, and thyme and 12 cups water in a large stock pot or in a 6+ quart slow cooker or Instant Pot. Optional: Add in the peppercorns, bay leaf, and salt.
2. Cook the turkey broth using one of these methods:
- Stovetop: Bring to a boil and reduce to a low simmer. Simmer, uncovered, for 2-3 hours.
- Crockpot: Cover with the lid and slow cook on LOW for 8-12 hours.
- Instant Pot: Lock and seal the lid. Cook at high pressure for 45 minutes with a quick release.
3. Using a colander/strainer over a large bowl or pot, strain out the solids from the broth. Let cool on the counter up to 2 hours only (then must be refrigerated to be safe!).
4. Either refrigerate and use within 3-5 days or divide into freezer containers–like mason jars, Souper Cubes, or Pyrex containers with lids (leave at least 1 inch head room for expansion)–and freeze for up to 3 months.
- Can You Use a Chicken Instead? Absolutely! You can use your leftover chicken carcass to make delicious Chicken Broth instead.
- Where We Get Our Turkey: We get our turkey (in the fall) and all our meat from ButcherBox. We highly recommend this service to source healthy meat–like organic chicken, uncured bacon, wild salmon, and grass-fed beef–and have used it for years ourselves. Read my full review here.
- How To Thaw Broth: Thaw in the fridge for 24-48 hours or using the defrost setting on the microwave.