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What did I do wrong? Homemade chicken stock

I made homemade chicken stock last night for the first time, using leftover bones from a whole chicken, onion, and carrots. I put the stock in the refrigerator overnight, and every recipe I read says that the fat should rise to the top and solidify. It's been 9 hours and the stock is still all liquid. Does it just take longer for the fat to solidify or did I do something wrong?

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  1. Unless it is very concentrated then the stock itself will probably remain liquid at fridge temps, but yes, the fat should be a solid layer (maybe about 1/4 inch thick?) on top. You must have used only the least fatty bits of chicken carcass I guess, and therefore there is almost no fat to see. Most people would probably include the skin, which would indeed yield quite a lot of fat.

    4 Replies
    1. re: Robin Joy

      agree RobinJoy

      I do mine with a whole chicken cut up or otherwise.
      skin and all.
      there is much fat that layers on top of pot when put in frig after a few hours, always.

      and for yumcoconut, did you season it with salt and pepper and a lot of onions and carrots and celery also did you add any fresh herbs? a big pan of water and all those ingredients make for a good flavored full bodied stock. buy those quart or smaller sized reusable containers and divvy it out among them, then freeze for later use.

      1. re: iL Divo

        I agree, except for the salt. Stock shouldn't be salted, except for the incidental salt that may be included from leftover roast chicken bits. When you use chicken stock in a recipe, you need to be able to easily control the amount of salt in that recipe. Also, you might want to reduce the stock to concentrate it, and then you could end up with over-salted stock.

        Generally, whole black peppercorns are used.

        1. re: sandylc

          I stand by salting (I never add a salt lick full) and altho peppercorns are the preferred method, I can't be bothered fishing them out so my Michael Chiarello wooden wine bottle pepper mill works perfectly.

          1. re: iL Divo

            The peppercorns are captured when you strain the finished product.

    2. I usually wait closer to 24 hours for all the fat to congeal. It's probably there but not solid yet.

      7 Replies
      1. re: coll

        Thanks. I'll wait until tonight and see what happens. I did not use much skin so maybe that is why there is not a lot of fat.

        1. re: yumcoconut

          If you didn't use much fat you wont' have much fat on top. And it sounds like you need to cook the stock more to concentrate it. The more concentrated it is, the more gelatinous it will become.

          1. re: wincountrygirl

            true wincountry, I let mine simmer all day long, with the lid barely half cocked.
            also, one of our supermarkets here, and I know this'll sound gross, sells chicken feet.
            when asking why, butcher told me it makes much better stock/broth as much more gelatin in them \?/

            1. re: iL Divo

              Yes - that. although sounding truly yucky sounds like it would add a lot to stock - as marrow bones do to beef stock. Actually, thanks for the tip!! Next time I make chicken stock I'll add some feet.

              1. re: iL Divo

                Apparently, you're not into dim sum. Chicken feet is a dish in its own right. Thete's more to eat on a chicken foot than you think.

              2. re: yumcoconut

                The best stock uses everything from the chicken that was not eaten. This includes ALL skin, fat, bones, connective tissues, and any leftover drippings. You will not get a good stock if you pick through the remains and add only bones, for example.

            2. If you didn't use the skin of the chicken or much meat, you might not get a layer of fat. You don't really find that much fat in bones, especially if they are from a previously roasted chicken.

              5 Replies
              1. re: Terrie H.

                I agree with Terrie………..I don’t think you necessarily did anything wrong.

                Bottom line is, are you pleased with the taste? Is it something you can work with? If yes, then it was a success. We aren’t launching the space shuttle here, there are no “right” answers and there are many ways to accomplish similar results in cooking. Find a way that works for you and provides the desired outcome.

                I’ve made what I would call chicken broth more than stock several times based on what I used, this past Thanksgiving I definitely made turkey stock as I was able to extract much of the gelatin from the bones and it is very concentrated………it is what it is…..if it tastes good, eat it.

                1. re: Terrie H.

                  This is my thought, too. At this point, the stock should be gelatinous and not liquid, though. I wonder if there was high enough bones to water ratio for the stock.

                  1. re: chowser

                    Ditto. If I use too few bones sometimes, my stock won't be very gelatinous and will remain liquidy after refrigerating. Likewise, the less fatty meat/skin used, the thinner the fat layer is on the top.

                    1. re: chowser

                      Sometimes, my "poor man's stock" is still liquid, because the bones have been roasted already, meat is off the bones, and not much in the way of gelatin is present. and yes, too much water for the amount of bones. But, with the addition of vegetables, it's more like a vegetable broth, with the addition of a bit of chicken flavor.

                      1. re: wyogal

                        Try cracking the bones. Sometimes, that helps.

                  2. When I cut up chicken wings, I usually save and freeze the tips to throw in with the carcass when I make stock.

                    1. It's also possible your fridge isn't cold enough. My experience is the fat doesn't really get hard until it's below 35F.

                      Agree that if the stock itself is still liquid and not jellylike, you just haven't reduced it enough.

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: acgold7

                        My refrigerator is set at 38 and the fat always solidifies in my stock.

                        1. re: acgold7

                          "Agree that if the stock itself is still liquid and not jellylike, you just haven't reduced it enough."

                          Does this mean the solution is to simmer it longer on the stove? I'm not so good with the kitchen lingo. :)

                          FWIW I just checked it and there is what appears to be a thin layer of almost solid fat on top. But it's pretty sparse.

                          1. re: yumcoconut

                            "Does this mean the solution is to simmer it longer on the stove?"

                            Pretty much:


                            1. re: Jen76

                              I would add that you add more chicken meat and/or bones to it, bring it to a boil, and cook with the lid off for a while so it can reduce some. Ten minutes before you turn off the heat, cover the pot and reduce the heat so it won't boil over, and let it simmer for ten or so. Then turn the heat off, let it sit out until it's no longer smoking hot, and put back in the fridge. The last part with the lid isn't necessary, but will help kill off any bacteria that floated in while it was cooking uncovered, which there's probably very little of, but may make you feel better about the stock sitting out covered while it cools enough to refrigeratge it. BTW, once the lid is on and the heat is off, don't take the lid off again until after it's cold.

                              i'm guessing your stock wasn't made with the fatty part of the chicken (hence not much fat on the surface) and it may be fairly weak too (why it isn't gelatinizing).

                        2. Too much water or the liquid is too hot.

                          In my case, my stock does not go totally solid, more like a very thick gel. The fat does float to the top. Usually, it takes a few hours.

                          In your case, I bet you use a big water-to-chicken ratio, or the stock is too hot and is still need some more cooling.

                          1. I generally strain the liquid into quart jars after simmering, and cool the stock in the jars. That way, the fat is more concentrated and easier to remove. I also can pick the bones clean of meat more easily that way.

                            1. Did you include the pan drippings from the original cooking of the chicken? The fat usually comes out when the chicken is first cooked, and these fats and juices need to be saved for the stock.

                              1. Bone broths don't generally have a fat layer. I make bone broth all the time.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: rasputina

                                  They don't if you have nothing but bone, but when I debone chicken parts there is a lot left besides bones.

                                2. have not read the replies yet so if this is a dupe, forgive.
                                  you said leftover bones? did you mean already cooked bones or did you debone your chicken so they were raw?
                                  did you use any chicken or just bones?

                                  1. Thanks again everyone. I got sick (strep) shortly after I last posted so I tried eating the broth/stock - yuck. It tasted awful. I can only guess the off taste was from the gizzards.

                                    I'm going to be roasting a whole chicken soon and am going to use your tips to try to make an edible stock/broth/soup this time.

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: yumcoconut

                                      I doubt it would be gizzards creating an off taste, but it could very well be the liver, which never should be included in stock. I often make a fine stock using just gizzards and hearts which are
                                      a great bargain at the market. I havent seen mention in any post about roasting your stock ingredients prior to simmering, perhaps I missed it. But the finest, richest, most flavorful stocks are created when all the ingredients, bones, skin, bits and pieces of the carcass and gizzard and hearts are roasted along with vegetable bits in a 350* oven for at least an hour or 2 before putting in the stock pot even if they are from an already roasted bird, For veg, use the base of a bunch of celery, carrots, onions and their skins, garlic unpeeled, parsley stems etc (no need to dice...largish chunks are fine), when it is all deep brown and crispy place them in your stock pot, cover with COLD water add a few peppercorns and deglaze the roasting pan and add those drippings, bring just to the boil and keep it at the barest simmer for at least 12 hours, uncovered. Strain once through a coarse sieve and again through a cheescloth or coffee filter to clarify. This should result in a clear, deep brown, richly flavorful stock

                                      1. re: yumcoconut

                                        It probably tasted yucky simply because it wasn't cooked long enough to get all the chicken flavour out of the bones. The longer you cook stock the better. I always make it in my crockpot and leave the thing to go for at least 24 hours. Then I strain it out and boil the liquid down some more on the stove to concentrate it. Ideally, it's done when it tastes good enough to drink straight!

                                      2. If there wasn't a lot of fat in your base, there won't be a lot of fat in the stock. Simple as that. Whether or not it congeals depends on how much gelatin you got out of the chicken while it was cooking. Pre-cooked chicken bones don't have nearly as much fat OR gelatin in them because some was removed during the first cooking. A lot of the fat is in the skin - did you put any chicken skin into the broth? If not, well there you go.... If the stock wasn't cooked for a long time, it won't thicken. And so on.