Use your leftover Thanksgiving turkey bones, some water and vegetables and simmer it all together to make Thanksgiving Turkey Stock!
For years we have cooked Thanksgiving dinner and the turkey comes beautifully out of the oven, is cut up and served to the guests and then what’s left of the bird has been thrown away.
For years I thought about saving it and making Thanksgiving Turkey Stock but it seemed like so much work. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that with very minimal effort making stock is easy and delicious!
Why Should You Make Thanksgiving Turkey Stock?
Our ancestors had some mad skills when it came to making something from nothing. I think a lot of it was because they practiced zero waste cooking – using every usable part of everything. My generation has really never experienced the struggles that they did. We are very lucky!
Making Thanksgiving Turkey Stock is easy and rewarding. The result is delicious and worth it. If you’ve never tried it, I encourage you to take a page from generations before us and try it. You won’t regret it!
How to Make Thanksgiving Turkey Stock
Thanksgiving is over, the company has left, dishes are done and the leftovers have been put away. What’s left of the Thanksgiving turkey is usually not much. But it’s enough! I suggest that if you plan to make this go ahead and put the bones into the refrigerator until the day after Thanksgiving.
The first thing to do is to pick all of the meat off of of the bones and set it aside. Put everything else (skin, unusable parts, bones) into a big stock pot.
When I was researching how to make Thanksgiving Turkey Stock, a lot of people said that they gather up all of the kitchen scraps from the holiday meal prep and toss them all into a pot with the turkey bones. They referred to peelings, onion and carrot tops, potato skins, everything leftover from the dinner prep. They said that it could and should go in to the pot with the bones.
Since I had not done this, I just chopped up and tossed in some onions, carrots, celery, garlic and some spices and it turned out just fine. I have learned now though and about a week before Thanksgiving or Christmas, I get a large Ziploc bag and I start throwing in all of the normally thrown away veggie scraps, keeping it in the freezer and adding to it.
I know it sounds strange that you would want to put scraps in your soup but the flavors are amazing and you are going to end up straining it all out so it doesn’t matter if it is things you wouldn’t usually eat. If you just add chopped carrots, onions, celery and garlic it is delicious too!
Add a couple of extra onions, cut into chunks, and a head of garlic, cut in half. Skins and all. No need to peel anything for the stock.
In addition, add thyme, bay leaves, whole peppercorns, dill and salt into the pot. Add just enough water to cover the bones. The amount of water you add should be around 3 quarts. Adding more than that may result in less flavorful stock.
Place the stock pot on the stove over medium heat and bring the mixture to a boil. Stir and reduce the heat to medium-low. Allow the mixture to gently simmer for the next 4-5 hours, stirring occasionally.
Important: You can’t rush this part. The veggies, the bones and the remaining meat will all break down and it will begin to look more like the picture below. Be sure to taste it! If it needs salt, add some. When the flavors have developed and everything has broken down, remove the stockpot from the heat.
The stock will need to be strained in a two part process. First, use a colander to remove the bones and vegetable solids. The easiest way is to use a large bowl with a colander over top and pour the stock pot out into the colander. This removes the large parts.
Second, strain again using a fine mesh strainer over the bowl or the pot that will be used to refrigerate the stock in. This will remove the smaller parts.
Refrigerate the strained stock at least overnight, for up to two days. The excess fat will separate and rise the top and the cool air of the refrigerator will solidify it, making it easier to scrape off.
The stock will appear jiggly like jello rather than watery like broth. This is really the difference between broth and stock. The gelatin is formed by the long cook on the bones that draws out the flavor.
Scrape the top layer of fat off and discard. Don’t worry – the minute the stock is exposed to heat it will become like broth again, delicious and flavorful. You can freeze it now or use it to make Turkey Noodle Soup.
Whatever you choose to do you should be proud that you made something wonderful from nothing. Enjoy!
Other Thanksgiving Recipes You May Like
Parker House Dinner Rolls – these perfectly soft and delicious dinner rolls are great as an addition to Thanksgiving dinner and also as a vessel for leftover turkey sandwiches. Yum!
Turkey Noodle Casserole – when leftover turkey gets old, whip up this delicious casserole and finish up those leftovers. Make it or freeze it for another time. Comfort food!
Holiday Stovetop Potpourri – Great for any time during the holiday season, this little mixture simmering on the stovetop will make the whole house smell wonderful and inviting as your guests arrive!
Simple Homemade Cranberry Sauce – Super easy and just four ingredients!
Easy Classic Pumpkin Pie – the perfect ending to a Thanksgiving feast!
Thanksgiving Turkey Stock
- Leftover turkey carcass
- 2 carrots cut in large chunks
- 3 celery stalks cut in large chunks
- 2 medium onions cut into chunks
- 1 head of garlic cut in half
- 2 tsp dried thyme leaves
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 tsp whole black peppercorns
- 1 tsp dried dill or one small bunch fresh
- 2 tsp salt
- Pick all remaining usable meat off of the turkey carcass and set aside.
- Place the turkey carcass and vegetables into a large stockpot and pour in only enough water to cover (usually about 3 quarts).
- Add thyme, bay leaves, peppercorns, dill and salt.
- Bring to a boil over medium-high heat.
- Stir and reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer for 4-5 hours, partially covered, stirring occasionally. Over this time the liquid will reduce and thicken a bit, the bones and vegetables and carcass will break down and there may be a layer of oil or fat on the top of the stock.
- Somewhere between 4-5 hours, remove from the heat and carefully strain the solids from the stock using first a colander then a finer mesh strainer.
- Use immediately or refrigerate overnight to remove the fat prior to freezing or making Turkey Noodle Soup. Enjoy!