I had mine in the oven Thanksgiving night, but for those of you who still have some bones, cover them with water and put them in a low oven for eight hours or over night. Later, add some onions and carrot, bay leaf and tomato paste. Reposting this repost from last year. Works great with chicken carcass as well. Or any roasted bones for that matter!

Illustration by Pierre Lamielle
Illustration by Pierre Lamielle

(first published 11/29/09)

At a reader’s request I’m reposting on how to make perfect stock, by slow cooking it in the oven.  It’s a very low-maintenance, easy way to make stock—just stick it in a low oven and forget about it. I’d meant to post on Friday but the weekend has gotten away from me, and now most people have either discarded their carcass (sadly) or put it to use.  But there may be a carcass or two hanging around.  Also, since this method works with a chicken carcass as well, any time of the year, and because Pierre sent me two turkey illustrations, better late than never! (Pierre has just published a funny, fun, thoroughly unique cookbook, called Kitchen Scraps: A Humorous Illustrated Cookbook.  Congrats Pierre, excellent work!)

Turkey Stock: Oven Method

Put all the turkey bones in a pot. The more meat left on them the more flavor your stock will have. You may want to break them apart so that they fit more efficiently in the pot. Cover them with an inch or two of water. Put the pot in the oven and turn the oven to below 200 degrees (180 degrees is best). Leave them in the oven, uncovered, for at least 8 hours and as many as 16 (I don’t think you can over cook this stuff; beef bones, you can, the stock can get overly boney).  If you have an enormous pot of water and bones, you may want to leave bring it to a simmer, and then put it in the oven.  Remove the stock from the oven and add to the pot:

2 large Spanish onions, cut up

4 large carrots, cut up

4 bay leaves

1 tablespoon pepper corns, cracked with a s saute pan (optional)

5 or 6 cloves of garlic (optional)

2 tablespoons tomato paste (optional)

several sprigs fresh parsley and thyme (optional)

Bring to a simmer on the stove top, then turn the burner to low and cook for an hour on the stove top, or return the pot to the oven for a few more hours.

Strain the stock through a fine mesh strainer or once through any kind of strainer, then again through kitchen cloth.  Chill, remove the fat from the top.  Freeze in pint deli cups.  Or make the following very easy soup!

Turkey and Leek Soup

This is a simple soup that shows how easy good food is when you have some fresh stock around. Leeks make everything better!  Use the leek tops in your stock if you have them; use only white and pale green part of the leek in your soup.

3 or 4 leeks well-cleaned root end and dark leaves discarded, halved and cut into half-slices.

2 tablespoons butter

Salt to taste

6 cups turkey stock

2 cups left over turkey, shredded or cut into bite-sized pieces

2 cups croutons (preferable homemade, sauteed in butter or olive oil till crispy)

Saute the leeks in butter over medium low heat until very tender, 30 to 45 minutes.  Season them with a three finger pinch of salt (or two). Add the stock and bring to a simmer.  Add the turkey and bring it back to a simmer.  Serve garnished with croutons.

Serves 4 to 6

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50 Wonderful responses to “Turkey Stock: Oven Method”

    • ruhlman

      I’ve tried using fried chix bones and it results in a fried not-good flavor.

      so far the only good reason NOT to deepfry a turkey

    • Kara

      @john – The best stock I ever made was from a fried turkey carcass

      @ruhlman – Fried chicken is vastly different from fried turkey. There is no comparison. Try it.

      • tommy

        Just so happens, I still have a fried turkey carcass. Covered with water and in the oven, so will test it out and report back.

  • Jason Sandeman

    I think that the idea is to use the leftover carrion, err, carcasses from Thanksgiving. I like this idea, but I am not sure I want to replace my huge stock pot. LOL

  • Claudia

    I had mine in a big pot overnight as well, on the stove top, verrrrrry low. My oven is a tad undependable on temp. But, a great idea not to waste that lovely carcass. Especially when you’ve paid through the nose for an organic, free-range, sustainable, etc, etc, bird.

  • GregK

    I do a variation of this slow process with chicken all the time; I’d do it with turkey if I could. This is such a brainless way of making broth, I feel guilty if I don’t do it.

    1) Line a 5 qt crockpot with a few layers of cheesecloth so that about 5 inches hang over the rim of the pot. (Think of a plus sign or asterisk.)
    2) Place the carcass on top. Drop in aromats around the carcass.
    3) Add about 4 qts water and fold the cheesecloth over the top to form a sort of floating bag. Everything should be just submerged.
    4) Put the lid on the pot, turn it on low and go to bed.
    5) In the morning, carefully twist the top of the cheesecloth bag around stout tongs and then very carefully lift the solids from the broth, let drain a bit, and discard the whole bag. (To make this easier, you can simply lift the bag vertically, move a colander under it, and then let it drain back into the pot.)

    When this process is done, your crockpot now has an excellent broth ready for cooling and storage. You can filter the broth, but I’ve found the with sufficient cheesecloth and gentle removal from the pot, this is often unnecessary for everyday cooking.

    • luis

      I love your idea of the cheese cloth. My new Aroma rice maker/pressure cooker/steamer will hold a 160 deg temp steady. (new electronics) My slow cooker will go to 200 deg and up on keep warm.. I think. I can test this so either way I like your concept very much. Hate to leave an oven unattended but I don’t sweat a slow cooker for 8-10 hrs.
      The turkey carcass is frozen awaiting the arrival of my new cleavers… so this one can happen in the near future.
      Julia and Jacques brown the turkey bones on a skillet prior to using them for stock. But they don’t fry them and they don’t over do it. I think I will give this a try.

    • luis

      Reading your post for a second time. YOu do set your slow cooker on low which is > 200 deg in mine. A fast simmer I’d say but then again you skip the stove top reduction step. Genius….
      My slow cooker will roll to keep warm after it times out. In low I can hit it for three hrs or so… let it keep warm the rest of the night.
      Not Rhulmans oven method at all….This is closer to the stove top method. I like it for convenience’s sake. I think both methods might be equivalent cause the oven method ends up in a simmer anyway.

      • GregK

        The cheesecloth was a lucky inspiration — hey I’m lazy — it saves me a ton of work before I need to go to my day job.

        A few additional comments:

        I usually roast my carcasses. I grill roast chicken all the time, so if I can, I throw the carcass back onto the grill to roast before making broth. This is a smokey borth, but I love it. If I was lazy (there it is again) and got a store bought rotisserie chicken, I’ll throw it into a 425 degree oven until it’s well browned, any hotter than that and the smoke becomes a serious issue. (I’m looking at *you* Barbara Kafka…)

        With the exception of bay leaves, pepper, and a little garlic, I’m going to try Micheal’s timing for the veg (I think the mirepiox only). I think this will improve the process — I’ve seen the liquid saturation he mentions below. With a little pre-prep this is an easy change to the process.

        • luis

          Yes definitelly leave veggies for last hour or so. Rhulman is got it right. I never knew or understood veggies give it up in such short amount of time. But somehow I suspected this… Rhulman has tied it all up for us in a way that makes sense.

  • Susan

    I have both wings and one leg left over, the carcass got tossed. I can’t believe that..where was I? We always make stock from the carcass. So, I’ll just do what I did for the gravy stock with these left overs, just not as condensed. I did your oven and reduce method and it was probably the best turkey wing stock I’ve ever made. The gravy was outstanding as was the dressing moistened with it.

  • Les C

    The New Orleans thing is to make “Turkey Gumbo” with the leftovers – carcass stock, new mirepoix w/o carrot, thyme, bay, some oyster dressing for thickening, reseasoning, leftover bits of meat, oysters poached in the last few minutes of cooking, some roux if thickening needed. Some people sprinkle with file powder in the bowl. Eat with rice. It is a rather thick soup, like a bisque.

  • Jeffrey

    i love this method, Usually I just add the vegetables to the carcass overnight. I was wondering why you do the veggies as a separate step?

    • ruhlman

      this is important. veg left in the stock overnight will disintegrate and fragment, and they soak up an unnecessary amount of stock reducing yeild. they give up their identity in an hour, all you need to leave them in for.

  • Helen C

    I am dying to try this..I have not tried the slow oven method.Too late for Canadian Thanksgiving which was weeks ago. I do something similar with all bones, pork roasts, Beef bones, even little BBQ chickens. I have gallons of frozen flavourful broth available at all times. Just make sure to defat! I also make broth from Shrimp shells, lobster shells( you get the picture) for use as broth in chowders.

  • Lisa

    I used the recipe that was posted before, minus the tomato paste, and got a couple quarts of lovely stock that made outstanding gravy.

  • Mo

    I have done this method with much success for years.
    I live at almost 6000 feet and I think it might be worth mentioning that you might want to take into account the temp water boils at your home. I need to keep my oven at 210F to 215F to make stock.
    I tried 200F once and all I had was turkey tea:)

    • Mantonat

      I don’t think altitude has much to do with making stock at below-boiling temperature. 200F is 200F regardless of the altitude, even if water boils at a lower temperature. A bigger concern is the calibration of you oven. Older ovens (or less expensive ones) may not be able to maintain a steady temp. at a low setting. Use an oven-safe thermometer to test the real temperature of your oven when set at 200F, then adjust accordingly. (I also live at altitude).

  • patrad

    One carcass for me fits perfectly in a crockpot. Thanksgiving night it goes in crockpot on low. . . next day, strain and freeze. I’m not sure but prob a little more energy efficient and I’m more comfortable leaving the crockpot on overnight than the stove. . . Next day add mirepoix, potatoes, garni and kluski noodles . . I want more!

  • Derrick

    Michael, I’d like to take this opportunity to thank you for your tip about using handkerchiefs to strain stock. They work marvelously.

  • Cindy

    Love this method! I made it overnight and it’s so clear and rich. On the stove, I end up boiling the stock which makes it cloudy, etc.

  • Paul

    I assume you do not stuff the bird. If so, how do you deal with the murky’ness of the resulting stock caused by the bits of stuffing clinging to the carcass or even the change in flavor?

    • ruhlman

      I didn’t stuff the bird this year, but if I had, I’d have made sure to rinse the cavity well before making stock.

  • Nicholas L. Hall

    Have you had any experience with SuperBags in stock making? I’ve been curious for a while, after reading something about them a while back over at StudioKitchen. Shola used his for tomato water, but I don’t recall anything about stock. I figure you could use them to pre-clarify stock as it cooks, improving both yield and flavor for consomme without the added steps of making a raft, etc. Thoughts? Also, do you think a properly made turkey stock would have sufficient gelatin to use the freeze and thaw method of clarification, or would it require add’l gelatin?

    • GregK

      Dave Arnold over at cookingissues.com has talked about Superbags and paint straining bags for doing this. There are cooks using Superbags to make stock, but apparently they’re a pain to clean.

      • Nicholas L. Hall

        Well, I made a lovely turkey stock at work on Thanksgiving eve, for the turkey breast roulade I braised at work on the day itself, and have some stock left from that. Gonna try the gelatin clarification method with that. I’ll let you know.

  • Karin

    Adding my kudos again. I started using this after last year’s posting and have not made stock any other way since. I buy organic chicken on sale. Save the breast and use the rest for stock. I always seem to need at least 3-4 quarts in the freezer and this is the most carefree way to maintain it.

  • Karen

    I made turkey stock with the giblets, neck and 2 turkey wings (purchased separately from the bird) the day before T-Day to use in the gravy. The instructions came from Bruce Aidells in the Nov issue of Bon Appetit (“Ultimate Turkey Stock:”). The gravy was excellent and after the feast, I added the leftover stock to the turkey carcass using the recipe above (along with a few parnsips). The resulting soup was deeply flavorful and deeply comforting.

  • Wilma de Soto

    Thanks to Ruhlman for posting this recipe again. I recollect asking him to repost it last year and he did. I think it should be an annual post.

    How about reserved roasted Turkey juices that I saved in the refrigerator and wound up with a tall container full of, “Turkey Juice Gelatin” with “Turkey Schmaltz” on top. Would this freeze well or should I use ASAP?

  • Chris

    Thank you Michael, for posting this originally and reposting it again. I was one of those folks who always tossed away turkey and chicken carcasses … until you posted this last year. From that point on, I make stock out of every chicken or turkey we roast. Lately I’ve been doing it in our slow cooker, but the results are always wonderful. I’ll never discard another carcass again without making stock. Use every piece!

  • Comal Caliente

    First I’d like to say that the illustrations are great! I have used the oven method in the past which works great and seems like less of a hassle than boiling. This year for leftover turkey pot pies I ended up roasting the wings and some other bones and boiling with left over broth, veggies and water to somewhat “stretch” the goodness for a gravy to cover my filling.

    Thanks for all the tips this year, thanksgiving has been such a great experience for me and all these posts make the holiday that much better and full of information.

  • Patrick Barnes

    What method do you recommend when using raw chicken/turkey parts? When the local amrket puts whole chickens on sale for $.69/lb I buy one and make stock from it.

  • Jess

    I make stock from the deep-fried turkey carcass every year; it turns out as though I roasted the bones, without that extra step. Very dark, rich flavor. I tend to use it for French onion soup or just freeze it in small portions to use in pan sauces, since it’s so deeply flavored.

  • JC

    This looks very similar to your notes in Elements. I have used this method in the past with great results except that I had to take mine out of the oven and keep it on the stove top. When I put it into the oven it just couldn’t seem to keep the oven at the correct low temp (around 180) and I would wake up to stock boiling away and already cloudy. Any suggestions (besides getting a new stove)?

  • oskie

    Can I use half and half cream for the turkey soup instead of tomatoes or can I use both?

  • Randy Shore

    I’ve been telling people for years to avoid boiling stock and they look at me like I’m a pregnant alien-human hybrid lifeform. It’s too bad so many ovens have unreliable temp in the low range. Do you have a solution to that problem, Michael?

  • luis

    Rhulman, the cleaver is in the house and I am making turkey stock. No frying or browning any turkey parts… but I did hit it in the nu wave. Then into the slow cooker and I have the mirepoix ready to go the last hour just as you said. Not the oven method right now but Michael I am making stock…..you are slowly transforming my cooking life… I remember when a quarter pounder was haute cuisine and an egg mc muffin was…the ultimate breakfast.

  • David Williams

    I was unintentionally testing your thesis that you can’t cook it too long. Mine has been in the oven for 30 hours. Only problem is that someone (who must go unnamed for fear of their life) turned off the oven sometime today. The stock was down to 122 degrees when I got home. I’ve raised it back up to 185-190, but it no doubt spent more than an hour in the “danger zone” under 140. Would cooking it back up to 190 kill the baceria or should I throw it all out?

    • ruhlman

      good lord, don’t throw it out! it’s probably fine as is (since you basically pasteurized it), but yes, bring it up to 190 again, it will taste better. can develop sour flavors if left under 120 for a long time.

  • zach

    michael – have you compared roasted vs raw bones/carcass with this method? wondering if raw will suffice? – thanks

  • ruhlman

    with poultry raw is fine, will be a paler non-roasted tasting stock, just skim as soon as it comes up to heat.

  • Comal Caliente

    I made a stock utilizing the slow cooker. I placed a carcass and some roasted chicken wings along with some veggies in a slow cooker overnight for 8 hours on low. The broth is rich and flavorful. definitely makes the process a lot easier.

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