Let me start by saying how hilarious and unlikely it is that I would be sharing a chicken broth recipe online. Or any recipe, for that matter! My mother did not like to cook. When I left home, she gave me a cookbook called, The I Hate to Cook Book. Seriously. Like many of us who grew up in the seventies and eighties, I was raised on pre-packaged meals and high fructose corn syrup with the occasional canned vegetable.
I’ll tell the story of my transformation to eating real, nutritious food in a separate post (or posts!), because it’s a bit of a long one. For now, suffice it to say that shopping for food and preparing food for myself and my family has become a huge part of who I am as a person and as a parent. Our culture doesn’t do us any favors where eating healthy is concerned. If we want to change our familys’ health for the better, we have to be committed to swimming against the stream and taking control of the food we eat.
Real food, made easy
This chicken broth recipe is a great place to start. It has become a staple at our house, something we rarely run out of, as I make it almost every week. We use it in recipes (like my favorite chicken salad, which I’ll post soon, and these fabulous pressure cooker refried beans), for soups, and even as a drink, in line with coffee or tea, but with so many more health benefits!
It takes some time to cook, but most of that time is passive, which makes it a really forgiving recipe. You can prep it in just a few minutes (10 or less!), turn on the stove, and walk away for as long as you need. Truly! You can let it simmer in the pot for anywhere from three hours to three days!
Chicken Broth Ingredients
For this chicken broth recipe, you will need:
- A whole chicken. I recommend buying organic, preferably pasture-raised chicken. Even though I eat animal products, it matters to me that the animals were treated humanely while they were living.
- 3-5 carrots, depending on size.
- An onion.
- One head of garlic.
- 1 bay leaf.
- 1 tsp black peppercorns. (I eyeball it.)
- 1 tablespoon salt. I recommend Himalayan sea salt.
And a big pot!
Chicken broth recipe, with photos
First, unwrap the chicken from its packaging and rinse it with water in the sink.
Next, put the chicken in the pot and fill it with water, about two inches from the top. (Use filtered water, if possible.)
Next, rinse your carrots. You can scrub them if they’re really dirty, but there’s no need to peel them. Just snap them in half and throw them in the pot.
This can be a really fun thing for kids to do or a great way for mom or dad to work out some frustration! I love Gilian’s game face with the carrot snapping!
Next, peel and quarter the onion, and chop the garlic in half, unpeeled. Throw it all in the pot. (You can add other vegetables, like celery, to experiment with the flavor. My friend, Tiffany, encouraged me to add cilantro stems recently, which I otherwise would have discarded. I tried it, and they added a whole new delicious dimension! Experimenting encouraged!)
Add one bayleaf, one teaspoon of black peppercorns, and one tablespoon of salt. And just like that, your prep work is done!
Time to cook!
Now, put your pot on a burner, and turn it up to high. (But don’t leave home quite yet!)
When the water starts to boil, You’ll notice some froth-like impurities collecting on the surface of the water. Skim them off the top and turn the heat down to a simmer. Partially cover the pot with a lid.
From this point, let the chicken cook at least 3 hours.
If you want to leave it for longer, no problem! Just be sure to check the water level every few hours, as it will boil down and evaporate. You may need to add several more cups of water to restore the water level and bring it back to a boil, then a simmer, as before. (You will also need to adjust the salt to taste, when finished.) The longer you cook the chicken, the more nutrients it will yield.
The final step in the process is to strain the broth and save the chicken, which is perfectly good to eat! I like to use glass containers as much as possible, and it helps to have a fine mesh strainer and a ladle.
You can either ladle the broth out with the chicken still in the pot or pull the chicken out first. Just have a big dish waiting to store the chicken in, and be prepared for it to fall apart a bit.
Once the chicken is out, something in me often wants to speed up this process and pour the broth straight out of the pot through a strainer into a large container, but that never goes well. Trust me! A little patience here goes a long way.
Final yield: around 12-16 cups of nutrient-dense chicken broth and one delicious boiled chicken.
A few tips
Unless I’m making soup or something else requiring a large amount of chicken broth, I like to store the broth in 4-cup and 2-cup glass containers. No need to measure later for a recipe, because I already know how much is in the dish. (Just add a little water later if the fill level is below the top.)
If I’m going to use the chicken broth in the next 24 hours or so, I keep it in the refrigerator. Otherwise, I store it in the freezer. This keeps it as fresh as possible and doesn’t allow bacteria to grow. You can thaw it easily in the refrigerator overnight or on the counter for an hour or so. And if you don’t freeze it right away, it should be okay in the fridge for 3-4 days at least.
If you’re trying it out as a drink for the first time, yay for you! There’s almost nothing more nutritious you can put in your body. I like to say that chicken broth is like breastmilk for a baby! (There’s a reason we used to give people “chicken soup” when they were sick…but it wasn’t Lipton’s or Campbell’s! It was fresh from someone’s kitchen and made with love. ) If it doesn’t taste completely amazing right out of the pot, add a pinch of salt, and try it again. A tiny adjustment can make a huge difference, and it truly is delicious as well as good for you.
Never buy chicken broth again!
Several years ago, I remember hearing Martha Stewart say that there’s no need to buy chicken broth when it’s so easy to make yourself at home. At the time, I scoffed. But I’m here to tell you now that Martha was RIGHT! After making my own, I will never use store-bought chicken broth again! And there’s no way on earth I would drink it from a coffee cup. (That stuff is just not meant to sit on a shelf, people!) Now YOU can make it at home, too. Enjoy!
My go-to chicken broth recipe
- Large pot, fine mesh strainer, ladle
- 1 whole organic chicken
- 3-5 carrots
- 1 onion
- 1 head of garlic
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 tsp whole black peppercorns
- 1 tbsp sea salt
- Unwrap the chicken from its packaging and rinse it with water in the sink.
- Put the chicken in the pot and fill it with water, about 2 inches from the top. (Use filtered water, if possible.)
- Rinse your carrots. You can scrub them if they're really dirty, but there is no need to peel them. Just snap them in half and throw them in the pot.
- Peel and quarter the onion. Chop the garlic in half, unpeeled. Throw it all in the pot.
- Add one bay leaf, one teaspoon of black peppercorns, and one tablespoon of salt.
- Put your pot on a burner, and turn it up to high. When the water starts to boil, you'll notice some froth-like impurities collecting on the surface of the water. Skim them off the top and turn the heat down to a simmer. Partially cover the pot with a lid.
- From this point, let the chicken cook at least 3 hours and up to 72 hours, adding water as necessary for longer cooking time.
- After 3 hours, remove from heat and let cool slightly. Carefully remove chicken (it will fall apart) and store in a separate container for use in soup or another recipe.
- Ladle the broth through a strainer into one large or several small containers. Enjoy in recipes or as a soothing drink!