How Long Should I Cook Chicken Stock?

Dear Home Ec 101,

Thank you for making your lovely page about the French and Asian methods of cooking chicken stock. I have a question: If I have a long period of free time, can I cook the stock longer than four hours. I’ll often have up to seven hours at a time. Is there any benefit to cooking longer? It seems like it would give more time for vegetable and chicken goop to turn into liquid, but I’m not sure if this is really true.

Signed,
Simmering in CincinnatiĀ 

Heather says:

As long as you remember the difference between boiling and simmering and keep your chicken stock simmering, a long simmer is just fine. Chicken stock with a long, slow simmer does tend to have a richer quality to it. Since I work from home, it’s no big deal for me to throw the bones and vegetables in the stock pot first thing in the morning and check on it occasionally, but not everyone has that luxury.

If you have tested your slow cooker’s temperature range, it’s perfectly fine to use, as well. I’m just weird and prefer using the stove.

Alton Brown’s recipe for chicken stock suggests simmering for 6 – 8 hours. When I shared the recipes for chicken stock, my intent was to make the concept seem as simple as possible without compromising results. Many people would look at a recipe with a 6 – 8 hour simmering time and write it off as impossible. You know and I know that simmering does not mean you have to hover over the pot, but there are those who don’t. My goal, here on Home Ec 101, is to take the intimidation factor out of the kitchen. Cooking is both a craft and an art, anyone can become competent in the kitchen, but there are also those who have a gift.

Chicken StockI digress, back to the question:

If you want to make chicken stock with an extended simmering time, you may find it necessary to add water during the process. It’s really no big deal, just keep an eye on it and if the water level drops below the bones, simply add enough hot water to get everything submerged again.

Now, something to consider, if you want a clear stock, skip the vegetables if you want a long, slow simmer. Personally, I don’t care about clarity, but some people do.

Enjoy!

Send your questions to helpme@home-ec101.com.

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Comments

  1. I like to do stocks in my slow cooker. dump everything into the slow cooker in the morning, and come back to a great smelling house after work.

    in fact, i think i need to make some more soon

    • After I pull the cooked chicken out, I let it cool and debone it. I put the bones and skin back in the pot to simmer. Typically I let simmer for 4 to 6 hours but one time I let it simmer for 12 hours. After the simmer I use a metal ladle to scoop it into a soup strainer. I use the back of the ladle to squeeze out every last drop. Then I put it in the fridge to chill overnight to let the flavor to infuse. What I noticed with the 12 hour simmer, after being in the fridge over night it looked like jello. I am going to try it this weekend. Figure get everything simmering by 9 pm and let it go over night. I am not afraid because my bed room is next to the kitchen.

  2. IllumeEltanin says:

    I tend to make stocks, all kinds, in my 20-quart stainless steel stock pot. However, I bring it to a gentle simmer, skim it, and then set it overnight in the oven at 200 degrees F. It works for me, but I am curious if there may be safety issues with doing so.

    • HeatherSolos says:

      @IllumeEltanin no, not as far as food safety is concerned. You bring the stock up into the safe temperature range on the stove and the oven keeps it out of the danger zone. You are a-ok on that front.

      Some people may want to point out that you’re leaving the oven unattended, but umm yeah, I can’t get that worked up about it, myself.

      • IllumeEltanin says:

        @HeatherSolos I only do things overnight in the oven when I am home and the fire detector has been tested first. First came across the idea in the original “The Frugal Gourmet” cookbook from the recipe for beef stock and have been doing it for years ever since for all of my stocks. I love the richness I get from the long simmer.

  3. I tend to cook broth on the stovetop overnight. Not generally recommended, but the thermodynamics of a big pot are such that if it hasn’t needed adjusting in the first four hours, I don’t expect it to need attention in the next eight. (Our last-one-awake, first-one-up interval isn’t very long either.)

  4. I’ve always added a cup of vinegar to the stock after you get it to a boil and turn it down to a simmer. It leeches all of the goodness out of the bones, and when the stock is cooled, it turns all goopy and gelatin-like. When you heat it back up, it’s liquid again, but sooooo rich.

  5. stacey colletti says:

    I am having a dinner party and I want to have chicken wings as part of the meal. How long should I bake them for to make them taste perfectly tender?