Put your turkey carcass to good use for this gorgeous, richly flavored turkey stock. It’s the perfect base for soups, stews and other dishes down the line.
Homemade Turkey Stock Recipe photo by Taste of Home

It doesn’t take a lot of effort for homemade turkey stock. Simply reserve the carcass from your seasoned roast turkey, along with any turkey parts you don’t want to eat like giblets and the neck. (Save that leftover turkey meat for turkey enchiladas and other turkey leftover recipes!)

Then throw it all in a large pot with some aromatics like carrots, onion, celery and herbs. In a few hours, you have a gorgeous golden elixir that you can use for other dishes. And since it freezes well, even months later! Here’s how to make a great turkey stock.

Turkey Stock vs. Turkey Broth

Although the ingredients and cooking technique are similar, there is a difference between stock and bone broth and regular broth. They’re pretty much interchangeable in recipes, but there are slight differences in how each is made.

Turkey stock is always made with bones. In this case, it’s the carcass of a previously roasted turkey. Thanks to the collagen in those bones, which comes out during the long low-and-slow cook time, the stock should gelatinize once chilled. You usually don’t add seasoning while it’s cooking—the roasted turkey was already seasoned—but you can add salt and pepper after it’s been strained. Although it has “broth” in the name, bone broth is basically a stock that cooks a lot longer.

Regular turkey broth, on the other hand, can be made from uncooked or cooked meat. Also, it’s well seasoned with salt and spices if you like, and you can make it in much less time. It also won’t congeal when cooled the way stock does, since the collagen and gelatin haven’t been extracted from the bones.

Ingredients for Turkey Stock

Homemade Turkey Stock IngredientsTMB Studio

  • Leftover turkey: After picking all the meat from the turkey carcass, use that carcass and any parts you didn’t eat (e.g., neck, giblets, wings) for this stock. You use the roasted turkey to rely on those already-cooked bones and collagen for a richer flavor and body.
  • Vegetables: Carrots, celery, onion and garlic help also create a richer-tasting stock. To make this more of a waste-free recipe, you can even add any removed tops and bottoms (and peels!) of vegetables to the pot since you strain everything out before storing.
  • Herbs: Subtle flavoring from herbs like thyme, basil and parsley make any turkey stock even better. You can use herb stems here in addition to the leaves.

Directions

Step 1: Put everything in a pot

All the ingredients in the potTMB Studio

Place the turkey carcass, water, carrots, celery, onion, thyme, basil, parsley, bay leaf, and garlic in a stockpot. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover and let the brew simmer for 1 hour and 30 minutes.

Editor’s Tip: If you reserved the neck, giblets or any other uncooked parts, heat them with the carcass (and maybe a little olive oil or leftover turkey drippings) before adding the vegetables, herbs and water. That little bit of caramelization will create an even richer-tasting turkey stock.

Step 2: Cool and strain the stock

Cool and Strain the StockTMB Studio

Discard the turkey carcass, and let the stock cool for one hour. Then strain everything through a cheesecloth-lined mesh strainer. Discard the vegetables, herbs and any other chunky parts.

Editor’s Tip: This is a good time to taste the turkey stock to adjust the seasoning. Since you used an already-roasted bird, there will be some seasoning. But if you want to add extra salt or pepper, do it before it cools.

Step 3: Skim the fat and store

If using the turkey stock immediately, skim fat from the top now. Or refrigerate the broth for eight hours or overnight, then skim fat from surface (this allows the fat to solidify, making it easier to remove from the surface). Store in airtight containers in the refrigerator or freezer.

Recipe Variations

  • Use your slow cooker: You can use the slow cooker to make your turkey stock. Put everything in the cooker, turn it to low, and cook for up to 10 hours. When it’s finished, follow the steps above for straining, skimming the fat and storing.
  • Use your Instant Pot: To make turkey stock in a pressure cooker, put all the ingredients in the pot (you may need to cut the carcass into smaller pieces). Cover with water. Cook on high pressure for 60 minutes, and then use a natural pressure release. Follow the above instructions for straining, skimming and storing the stock.
  • Add different herbs or spices: You can add or subtract any fresh herbs here, but parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme are the most common. Or try pink peppercorns or a few pieces of fresh ginger for turkey stock with some extra flair.

How to Store and Freeze Turkey Stock

Store turkey stock in glass jars with tight-fitting lids or other airtight containers in the refrigerator for up to four days. Freeze the stock in freezer-safe containers or bags for up to six months.

Turkey Stock Tips

Homemade Turkey StockTMB Studio

Can you overcook turkey stock?

Yes, especially if it’s at a rolling boil. To ensure your stock doesn’t overcook, make sure it simmers over low heat for an extended amount of time. Cooking over a high heat for a long time emulsifies the fat, making it nearly impossible to separate and remove. It also kills the subtle flavors you’re looking for from the aromatics.

How do you use turkey stock?

Use turkey stock the same way you’d use chicken stock: in turkey soup, stews, stir-fries, sauces. You can even drink it straight if you want. If you’re subbing it in for chicken stock, like in this turkey potpie recipe or turkey and wild rice soup, make sure to check the salt level in whatever you’re cooking (it may need more seasoning).

Homemade Turkey Stock

I remember my mother making this homemade stock after every Thanksgiving. It is wonderful adding it to soup and freezes well to use at any time.—Angela Goodman, Kaneohe, Hawaii
Homemade Turkey Stock Recipe photo by Taste of Home
Total Time

Prep: 10 min. Cook: 1 hour 50 min.

Makes

3-1/2 quarts

Ingredients

  • 1 leftover turkey carcass (from a 12- to 14-pound turkey)
  • 4 quarts water
  • 2 medium carrots, sliced
  • 2 celery ribs, sliced
  • 1 medium onion, sliced
  • 3 fresh thyme sprigs
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh basil
  • 1 sprig fresh parsley
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 garlic clove, minced

Directions

  1. Place all ingredients in a stockpot. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer 1-1/2 hours.
  2. Discard turkey carcass. Cool broth 1 hour. Strain through a cheesecloth-lined colander; discard vegetables and herbs. If using immediately, skim fat from broth; or refrigerate 8 hours or overnight, then remove fat from surface. Broth can be frozen up to 2-3 months.

Nutrition Facts

1 cup: 33 calories, 1g fat (0 saturated fat), 1mg cholesterol, 89mg sodium, 1g carbohydrate (0 sugars, 0 fiber), 2g protein.