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Slow cooker chicken broth?

I've never made chicken broth before, so I'd appreciate a little help. I've recently found out that I can't tolerate onions or garlic, so I can no longer use store-bought broth in my recipes. I'd like to try making my own in my slow cooker.

My slow cooker is a little over 3 quarts. My plan is to use chicken wings, and I was thinking about 2 - 2.5lbs? Do I aim for filling the cooker halfway with chicken or something? Then 3/4 full of water? I'm not sure if there's some magic ratio of chicken to water! LOL! I may add a couple carrots and a stalk of celery to hopefully get some flavor in there! And cook on low for 8 hours, right?

Thanks for any advice you can give me. Cooking does not come naturally to me, so I usually need very specific instructions to be able to turn out something decent.

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  1. I have never made stock or broth in a slow cooker, but maybe others have had a positive experience. No matter what you do, you will need to brown the chicken, carrots and celery on the stove first before adding any liquids. This will give some flavor and depth, which you will definitely need since you can't have onions or garlic. After browning the chicken (leave skin on and bones in!), brown the veggies in the fat. Then, and only then, would I transfer them to a slow cooker and add water, seasonings, and other veggies. But I still vote for doing the stock on the stove, where you can get a good simmer to release those flavors. You will also lose more liquid to evaporation, which will help concentrate the flavor of your stock.

    1. I frequently make chicken broth in my slow cooker--I put in the chicken pieces, put in some salt, cover it with water and let it go for at least 24 hours (I do check the water level and add more if necessary). Good stuff and very easy.

      1. Just use enough water to submerge the chicken, you want it as concentrated as possible. You can always dilute later.

        You forgot the salt. I salt my stocks, lightly.

        1. No browning needed to make chicken stock in the slow cooker. In fact, this has turned out to be the only thing I use my slow cooker for. Fill the pot about half full of chicken bits - wings are fine, as are bones which are left from de-boning parts - add a sliced carrot, sliced celery and a handful of fresh parsley (tie it into a bundle so it's easy to fish out) and some peppercorns. Turn it on to high heat to begin cooking (an hour or so) and then turn it to low and let it cook as long as you want. Overnight is good. In the morning strain out all the stuff and salt to taste. Done and perfect.

          21 Replies
          1. re: Nyleve

            I make a lot of chicken broth and make it often but I make it on the stove in a stockpot. I've found tht it takes the water way too long to come to a simmer in my 6 qt. crockpot and that's not safe. I don't brown my chicken but I do use one whole chicken cut up and 3 extra thighs for great flavor. I also use onions ( I know you can't so skip this) but celery, carrots, parsnips and fresh dill. I learned to use dill and parsnips from a Jewish woman who made the most incredible broth I've ever had. Been doing that ever since - about 30 years now. I simmer the broth after skimming for about 2 hours and come up with awesome, rich stock. Strain through a cheesecloth lined sieve to remove the "debris." Oh and be sure NOT to stir the broth once you put all of the ingredients into it. You'll stir up debris and your broth will not be clear. Add some sprigs of fresh parsly about 30 minutes before done for a great fresh flavor.

            Make a lot of it at once and you can freeze it in small containers.

            1. re: The Drama Queen

              If you're actually worried about food safety in a long simnmered stock, you can start with water off the boil.

              1. re: The Drama Queen

                Why isn't it "safe"? It does eventually come up to a safe level and will stay there. I no longer use my slow cooker but when I did I put in a whole chicken, covered with water, put on high for an hour and then low til the breasts are done. Remove the breasts, thighs, legs if you wish, return to the cooker and cook....forever. I used no vegetables and no seasoning because I want it to be completely versatile, esp. for Asian dishes.

                Nowadays I use feet and backs, start it in the DO on top of the stove, bring to a slow boil, cover, put in a 200 degree oven for 12 or more hours. But I'm making stock not broth. Thanks again, Sam :)

                1. re: c oliver

                  Yep -- if it will get everything in a soup or stew up to a safe temperature, why would it not get the stuff for stock up to a safe temperature?

                  Having said that, I make stock with Alton Brown's recipe http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/al...

                  although I rarely have everything in exactly the same proportions -- stock for me tends to be made from whatever I have on hand, and most of that is trimmings from veggies...

                  But it's the most consistent method for making good stock that I've found.

                  I bought a pressure cooker this year, and have been told you can make great stock in those, too -- but haven't tried it yet.

                  1. re: c oliver

                    As I mentioned I make a lot of broth at one time. It takes about 3 hours for the broth to come to a safe temperature and that's too long as far as I"M concerned. You do what you want but I don't want lukewarm chicken sitting in a pot for 3 hours. At any rate, I understant the the OP's house is too warm to turn on the stove but I prefer that method to 10 or 12 hours in a crock pot. As an aside, I don't use chicken breasts alone since breasts don't have anywhere near the flavor of dark meat. I always add a few thighs along with the whole chicken. And yes, if I make roast chicken I save the carcass because it adds a deep flavor to the broth . Forgot to mention that. Necks, feet and backs make a great addition to the broth but I can't for the life of me find anyone that carries those items anymore. I mean NO ONE. Wish I knew where you people were getting yours.

                    1. re: The Drama Queen

                      Not trying to change your mind -- it's your house and your kitchen...but I truly don't understand why a crockpot full of stock is any different than a crockpot full of stuffing or chili or baked beans or pot roast or lamb stew or apple butter or anything else.

                      We've all been eating all of those things from the crockpot for a few generations now -- and heating a volume of food A isn't going to be any faster than food B, C, or D.

                      Any of the resident food scientists out there reading?

                      1. re: sunshine842

                        sunshine, I see that you are relatively new to CH - and much admired by many :) But it's important that you learn RIGHT THIS MINUTE that food safety is a hotly debated topic and the fearful are rarely if ever swayed by any data. Here is the late, great Dr. Sam Fujisaka's magic house thread:


                        1. re: c oliver

                          ah, but I've been here plenty long enough to have gotten my teeth kicked in. Probably deserved a few times, absolutely not deserved a lot of times.

                          "I've already made up my mind, so don't confuse me with the facts."

                      2. re: The Drama Queen

                        Google King Ranch Market Las Vegas. You have multiple locations there. You can buy every part of a chicken, cow or pig.

                        1. re: c oliver

                          Yeah, been there several times but it's a drive. It' difficult to get through this place. Not sure if you've ever seen it but it's uhhh shall we say - unappetizing?

                        2. re: The Drama Queen

                          Couple of answers. I get huge (and I mean huge) bags of chicken bones at an Asian supermarket for 99 cents a bag. Must be 2 or 3 lbs in there. And the quality is great because the turnover is fast. You have to get over the general disarray of the place and the seemingly unsanitary look - which, in fact, is deceptive but we have such a love for order and odorlessness that anyplace that looks like a mess is perceived to be unsafe.

                          Second point - what if a person put all the solids into the slow cooker and topped it up with boiling water from a kettle? Would that satisfy the concerns for food safety? The unit would then be starting from a higher temperature point and not require such a long period of heating to reach a technically safe temp.

                          1. re: Nyleve

                            Your boiling water from the kettle theory is fine, but when you pour boiling water over cold chicken and veggies, you lower the temperature of the water so you start from lukewarm water anyway. I prefer to use my 8 qt stock pot. I can bring 7 quarts of food to a boil in 12 minutes on my electric range. Why wait 3 hours to cook this in a crock pot. For one thing, my crockpot doesn't hold as much as the stockpot and when it's filled with so much chicken and veggies too much water is displaced giving me less broth. I guess when it comes down to it, in the time the crockpot comes to a high enough temperture, my stovetop broth is done, cooled and on it's way to the freezer. I'm puzzled as to why anyone would make chicken stock in a crockpot for 8 hours but as I said, to each their own in their own kitchen. This is how I've been doing it for 50 years.

                              1. re: The Drama Queen

                                >I'm puzzled as to why anyone would make chicken stock in a crockpot for 8 hours but as I said, to each their own in their own kitchen.

                                Time, that's all. I've never made stock without a slow cooker, but my impression is that stock on the stovetop requires a bit of babysitting -- skimming, etc. -- which I'm just not able to do. Also, with my schedule, sometimes it's far more convenient to cook something for eight or ten hours than it is three, particularly if I can leave the house in the meantime.

                                I usually use a whole chicken for my stock, nothing else (except extra chicken parts, if I have them) fill my 6-qt slow cooker to the top with water, and cook it for 10 hours. I get nice-tasting stock with a good gel.

                                ETA - I usually get over 9 cups of stock, which is plenty for our two-point-five person family.

                                1. re: darklyglimmer

                                  LOL love the 2.5 person family thing. I live alone and I can't get enough chicken soup. I also use the stock to make other soups since I like the rich flavor it gives other soups and sauces. NIne cups wouldn't last me long enough but I see your reasoning for making it in the crockpot. Being retired, I have all the time in the world. ;-)

                            1. re: The Drama Queen

                              Its not safe because it takes way too long for the chicken to come up to 165 degrees. It spends too much time in the dager zone with bacteria multiplying. Even if it eventually comes to temp, some bacteria throw off heat-resistant spores which will make you sick justy like the bacteria itself will.

                              Use boiling water.

                              1. re: The Drama Queen

                                Chicken back and necks are not difficult to find here in Australia. Most butchers have both of them readily available in bags ranging from 500 grams (1 imperial or US pound) to 5 kilos (10 imperial or US pounds) . I have never had any trouble finding them in a certain butcher shoppe in Port Macquarie NSW.

                              2. re: c oliver

                                It is safe. I use the slow cooker if I'm not going to be around all day but prefer a bigger quantity. I consider the USDA the more extreme source and they say it's safe. There is no difference between making most meals in a crockpot and making stock.


                                "The direct heat from the pot, lengthy cooking and steam created within the tightly-covered container combine to destroy bacteria and make the slow cooker a safe process for cooking foods."

                                I love doing the stock in the oven, too. I start off my stock on the stove by simmering chicken thighs in vegetables and removing the chicken when done, keeping the meat but adding the bones back in. Add necks, back, carcass, bones whatever remains I have, etc and pop in oven. So easy.

                                1. re: chowser

                                  Yeah, the last time I did it in the oven also. Then after about 8 hours, I had an aha moment. Hello. I have an induction cooktop and can it down to crazy low. So I said, aw, what the heck and did it another 8 hours there. A few gallons and I'm still loving it. Nothing but feet and backs. Period.

                                  1. re: chowser

                                    Making chicken broth in the oven is something I never considered. That's an interesting concept. Now tell me why you do it that way. Does it come out tasting differently than stovetop?

                                    Took a look at my manual and it says: "Use as little liquid as possible in your slow cooker since there is no evaporation. The more liquid you use, the longer it takes to come to the correct temperature to begin the cooking process." Amen.

                                    1. re: The Drama Queen

                                      It's not different from stove top but it's easier because I don't have to babysit and regulate the liquids or make sure it's not simmering too high (I have an electric stove, unlike lucky c oliver with the induction!).

                                      I think as long as you're cooking the food as long as you do, as high as it is, it's safe. I've heard concerns about it but most reliable sources, eg USDA, say it's fine. As liquids go, taking longer time to come to temperature is more about cooking time than food safety.

                            2. Water - Use enough to cover everything.

                              No onions - Means less flavor. The basic broth/stock has your basic mirepoix of onion, carrot and celery. May want to throw in a leek if it's not an issue, although, I'd guess it is (being related and all).

                              Time - 8 hours is super-excessive. A couple is fine. Ideally, you want to start with only the chicken and skim the stuff that surfaces (And with wings you're going to get a lot of fat floating on top). After an hour of that, dump the vegetables/herbs; this way you don't lose any flavor from them when you're skimming.

                              More flavor - You can take the broth that was just made and further enhance it. Some restaurants will use the first broth/stock and use it as "water" for the second, more precise round of creating broth/stock. Here, you can use raw or roasted parts for different/more flavor, add an acid (for your needs) and stronger herbs/spices for your specific dish.

                              1. I use a slow cooker for making chicken stock very frequently since I live in an area with long, hot summers. A large stockpot full of long-simmering stock isn't practical for me when outdoor temperatures are in the triple digits for about 6 months of the year.

                                Having said that, your slow cooker seems quite small, less than a gallon, so you won't be making a lot of stock each time you do this. Go ahead and jump into the project. Almost all the information that you've received, so far, will work. Brown the meat & vegs? Go for it, if you'd like to. Don't brown the meat and vegs? That's OK too. You'll find what works best for you. Making stock isn't rocket science. Give yourself permission to try, keep some notes and experiment. If you want a different outcome in the future, make the necessary changes.

                                I turn on the slow cooker to high as I loosely fill the slow cooker with chicken pieces -- bones, wings, necks, feet, backs -- whatever you have. Adding some actual meaty pieces will deepen the flavor but you can get some decent stock without using a whole bird. Add carrots, celery, parsley, peppercorns, bay leaf, parsnips, salt - any or all, it's your choice. Would leek tops be possible for you? If so, use them. If not, omit and press on with your project. Add water almost to the top of the slow cooker, cover and you're good to go.

                                Slow cookers will vary in temperature. Mine runs quite hot so I can make good stock in 6-8 hours. Once again, there's no set absolute. Remove the lid and taste the stock after 4 hours or so. What do you think?

                                My single rule is to cook this long enough so the chicken meat itself is pretty flavorless -- it has given its "all" to the pot. You'll need a colander and/or strainer and bowl large enough to hold your liquid. Drain the stock into the bowl. If possible, put this bowl into a larger bowl containing a lot of ice cubes and some water. It will help to chill the stock quickly so you can refrigerate it sooner.

                                After the stock has chilled, there will be a hard layer of fat on top. I remove this and throw it away. If the stock is nicely gelled, you will have made some decent stock. If it is pretty watery, cook it longer and/or use more meat & bones the next time. You can still use this, it simply won't be a strongly-flavored stock.

                                Good luck on your project. None of us were born knowing how to do these things and, I'm willing to bet, that most of us have some tales of stunning mistakes! I know that I certainly do.

                                9 Replies
                                1. re: Sherri

                                  To OP: listen to Sherri. She's a star :)

                                  1. re: Sherri

                                    Excellent. That's all there is to it but you nailed it. I used to use the slow cooker but got frustrated with how little it made.

                                    1. re: chowser

                                      For mammoth vats of chicken broth/soup, a slow cooker is stupid and pointless. But let's say you buy a bunch of chicken breasts and de-bone them yourself, you can make a small batch of broth with the bones practically without doing anything at all. Just throw stuff together in the slow cooker and go to sleep. In the morning you have maybe a quart or two of stock and you can use it or freeze it. Absolutely fantastic. If I were to save up all those bones until I had enough to make a big pot of stock on the stove, most likely they would get lost in the freezer before I ever got around to doing anything with them. There's a time and a place for most appliances.

                                      1. re: Nyleve

                                        Exactly. I love my slow cooker and would replace it immediately if it died. I'm in and out of the house and leave the stock in it but wouldn't do that in the oven or on the stove.

                                      2. re: chowser

                                        Chowser and c.oliver - thank you for your kind words. CH has always been a great place for learning. While I may have some experience and learning on one topic, I can always learn something new here.

                                        One of the points being missed in this discussion is making stock in a huge stockpot is different from making stock in the slow cooker. Granted the final product is stock, but we're talking about two very different ways of accomplishing the same end. Each has its own merits. The OP asked for guidance making stock in her crock pot; that's what I provided. I saw no need to become entangled in a discussion of the merits of one over the other.

                                        Again, thank you both for your kind words. I'll be tough to live with for a while, swelled head and all .............................

                                        1. re: Sherri

                                          "The OP asked for guidance making stock in her crock pot; that's what I provided." And I appreciate that very much. I just need something no-brainer, walk-away easy. Playing the sympathy card here, but I'm having a hard time balancing homeschooling my 4 kids, researching my food/health issues, learning how to cook differently, and cooking from scratch a lot more. I need all the shortcuts I can get right now. I want to focus more on learning to bake bread, which I have never done. I also can't have gluten as my neurologist thinks it's causing my nerve problems. Brown rice gives me severe stomach pain, and it's in virtually all gluten free breads and mixes. At the end of this week, I'm planning on researching how to bake with white rice flour.

                                          Hope I'm not sounding like a pathetic whiner, but I tried to reintroduce a new food, and the severe stomach pain started last night. I guess I just feel a little pathetic right now. Fortunately, I had already given the kids the week off from school, so I think I'm going to lie down and see if it helps.

                                          1. re: sreese68

                                            Absolutely no need to apologise. You have your hands full and anything that makes things even just a little bit easier is definitely worthwhile. I admire you for wanting to make things from scratch - you are doing the right thing. The slow cooker may not be everyone's cup of tea, but to make a small batch of chicken stock without practically lifting a finger it's the perfect thing. You'll be very happy with the result.

                                            1. re: sreese68

                                              I loved every pot of stock I made in my slowcooker. The only reason I switched is I simply couldn't get that many chicken feet and backs into it :) I'm retired and have all the time in the world as drama queen says. I also bought a teensy tiny upright freezer last year so I have more room for things like stock. With all you're doing, I'm amazed you want to do. Congratulations and stay well.

                                              1. re: c oliver

                                                My mom made the most fantastic chicken broth when I was growing up using backs, feet and necks along with some wings. But that's when chickens were chickens and tasted like chicken. LOL.
                                                My teensy tiny freezer (5 cu.ft) is my life saver. I fill it with broths, both chicken and beef; soups, pestos, pasta sauces, cranberry sauce and apple sauce. Best money I ever spent. I'll bet you agree.

                                      3. Thanks to everyone SOOOOO much! My current diet is quite limited, so having chicken broth I can use will be very nice! I've looked at everyone's suggestions and will start experimenting.

                                        In answer to questions/suggestions: I'd prefer to use a slow cooker because it's already 90 degrees here and my old house's kitchen gets hot.

                                        My slow cooker is on the small side. I may buy a bigger one but want to be sure I'll use it enough first.

                                        And I can't have leeks, unfortunately. My body doesn't absorb fructans (onions, garlic, leeks, wheat and more) or excessive fructose (honey, agave syrup, tomato paste, a number of fruits +) correctly which leads to stomach problems/pain, fatigue, and irritability. I can have the tops of green onions, so I may try that.

                                        Thanks again!

                                        2 Replies
                                        1. re: sreese68

                                          Parsley and a bay leaf are good ideas too if you have them.

                                          1. re: sreese68

                                            Sorry about the no onions. That'd drive me crazy.

                                            Good luck with your stock. I work full time and live in Louisiana (it gets hot) so I've come to appreciate my slow cooker's stock-making magic.