Amy Keyishian

Chicken Broth: Buy It vs. Make It

Chicken Broth Homemade and CannedI was listening to a group of gourmet friends discussing how they make their chicken broth, each one praising her own version to the skies.


“What’s the point?” another friend asked. “You can buy boxes of broth.”


“What’s the point?” someone else echoed. “You can buy sweaters, too.” She poked at our friend’s lushly detailed hand-knitted cardigan. Point taken.


I’ve been on a roast-chicken kick lately anyway, since I finally tried the Mark Bittman method—roasting it upside-down in a preheated cast-iron pan—that has revolutionized my life not just because it’s tasty, but because it only takes about an hour. If I’ve borked my dinner deadline I can still make it in under the wire. (Story of my life.)



So I followed my friends’ instructions, saved up a bunch of carcasses and gizzards, asked the butcher at my local grocery store for his extra necks and backs (prompting these two questions: why are butchers weirdly, Dexter-ly hot, in their blood-stained aprons, and is there anything grosser to ask for than “extra necks and backs?”), and threw the whole thing in a stockpot, where I let it simmer while doing other stuff around the house all afternoon, adding water when it got below carcass-level.


How’d I do?


No doubt about it, this is a cheap option, if you don’t count the hours you have to be near the kitchen. (I don’t. I still have to hang out for a toddler’s afternoon nap.) The organic free-range chicken broth I get (I like Swanson-brand chicken broth) is 10 cents an ounce, around $3.50 a quart, and considering I was going to throw out the carcasses anyway and the odds-and-sods from the hot butcher are under $3 for a huge takeaway container, you can’t complain about the price. On the other hand, a tablespoon of Better Than Bullion runs around 60 cents, and that’s plenty if I’m just adding broth to another dish.


This is kind of a pain in the butt. There’s the storing, then re-roasting the carcasses and gizzards (a step you can certainly skip, but it provides a ton of flavor), then simmering for hours, then straining, then letting it cool enough to pour into the freezer bags. A perfectly fine rainy-day activity, but not something I want to devote a regular weekly day to.


Freaking fantastic. But this is a minus, too, because right now I’ve got a bunch of quart-size bags stacked in the freezer, and I refuse to use them for anything that doesn’t deserve them. You know, the way you won’t waste the good scotch on a mixed drink? So honestly, as a mom, I would do this once in a while, but still buy the boxes and the bullion. This stuff gets saved for soup and anything that requires a really superior base, like risotto. Everything else is just fine with the bought stuff.


Use your homemade chicken broth in some of these recipes:


Egg Drop Soup with Chicken and Noodles


Chicken Hot Pot with Mushrooms and Tofu


Classic Risotto with Peas


 Ready to move on from chicken broth to chicken stock? Try this chicken stock recipe.




12 Responses to “Chicken Broth: Buy It vs. Make It”

  • Amanda Fletcher says:

    I know this is a wicked-old post, but I’m loving this series and wanted to chime in here.

    I keep a bag in the freezer of ALL my veggie and herb chopping scraps – ends and peels and whatever. And another for chicken carcasses/bones. My large crockpot fits roughly 2 ex-chickens and a bag of scraps, plus water to nearly cover without overfilling. Now, the key to post-cooking ease is using a slow cooker liner. Cook it for a few hours on high or overnight or all day on low, then turn it off and let it cool a smidge, just so you can get at the bag without burning yourself on steam. Put a strainer over a bowl, gather the liner and pull the whole thing out of the crockpot, and poke a hole in the bottom of the bag over the strainer-bowl. The bag holds the big stuff and makes it easy to throw it out after, and the strainer catches anything that makes it through the hole. Refrigerate overnight to solidify the fat and (hopefully) gel the stock, portion and store as you wish.

    Cost is nothing but time, which is long but almost entirely passive. Effort is negligible – and believe me, I am L. A. Z. Y.

  • Valentina says:

    My dream retirement just includes that I’m able bodied enough to enjoy it. I suppose I’d just like to live by water.

  • Dan says:

    Relaxing on the beach with hubby. Home in both cities where my son’s live.

  • Lola says:

    Oh no! I are not able to make it and I am so sad! I really want to go however the girls are throwing me a going away party that night at Angie’s. And that i need so much clothes for my new job. So bummed. In any case, possess a blast and that i would go when using the dress its fab! XOXO

  • Sophia says:

    I make homemade stock all the time, I use to l make it once once or twice a month. It really should be used all the time, it is much more healthy for you than store bought, because store bought is usually not made with bones as well. Also for over 10 years until three month ago we lived in a tiny apartment with a very little freezer, I got around having full strength stock in my almost non existing freezer buy cooking down the stock till it was just a think dark jelly, less that an demi-glasse. like from a 8 quart stock pot to 1/2 cup, I would them place it in to a shallow dish and let cool, once it was cool I would cut it into small cubes and just throw it into what ever I needed stock or flavoring. You only need a very tiny amount, and space and since it is so reduces it will not get freezer burnt like other kinds of ready to use stock.

  • Steffie says:

    I love your comparisons especially the Hummus comparison! Why don’t you use a crock pot to make your stock?

  • Sherry says:

    I’d like to get the recipe for the Mark Bittman Chicken she was talking about. If I could get info on where to get that short of buying his cook books, I would appreciate it. 7 kids, money is a bit tight for extras.

  • Suzanne Favreau says:

    I always make my own broth and pretty much everything else from scratch, BUT I really like to cook (the process and the product), and I have the time to do it. I’ve been cooking from scratch for 30 years, prefer my own food to most packaged things, and don’t consider the prep as work.

  • Teri Elmore says:

    I much prefer making my own chicken broth mainly so I know what’s in it. I buy chicken hind quarters on sale or use the bones after deboning breasts; throw them into my crock-pot along with onion, celery, carrot, seasonings and water. Cook overnight on low. Strain into a container in the morning (either make a potpie for hubby and/or feed the dog whatever chicken is there) and refrigerate so that the fat solidifies on the top. Remove the fat and freeze broth in one cup (or whatever)containers. I suppose it’s more work but it’s worth it to me.

  • Dj says:

    I use box broth and I’ll buy store brand…low sodium varieties then I just season them up. Not as good but I don’t have hours to spend at home making my own. I ran out of boxed broth and had already started the veggies for soup and I used some Swanson concentrated broth that I bought to try. Oh…that stuff is GREAT!! Great flavor and really convenient. Beats the heck out of any kind of boullion I’ve ever tried.

  • Liz Theroux says:

    As one who has to watch my salt content, I still would rather make my own using the chicken carcass. I don’t salt at all and use garlic powder, sometimes italian herbs, onions, thyme, etc.

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