Homemade Turkey Stock

It happens every Thanksgiving. In a shockingly short amount of time, the beautiful bird you spent hours roasting to perfection is ravaged and picked clean down to the bone. What remains of your holiday centerpiece is nothing more than an unappetizing carcass.

But don’t be so quick to throw that turkey carcass out. Instead of tossing the bones into the trash, toss them into a stockpot. Add celery, onion, water and seasonings and in a few hours you’ll have flavorful turkey stock for the months ahead.

After cooking an entire holiday meal, no one wants to spend more time in the kitchen. Don’t worry; this no-fuss, straightforward recipe takes only minutes to put together. Then, you can step out of the kitchen and let the stock simmer to completion.

Turkey stock can be used in any recipe that calls for chicken stock. Turn your stock into a nourishing post-holiday soup or freeze 1-cup (250 ml) portions to use in a variety of recipes.

Servings: Approximately 8 cups of stock

Time in the Kitchen: 15 minutes, plus 3 hours to simmer the stock


  • 1 cooked turkey carcass, cut or broken into pieces. If a little bit of meat is still attached, that’s fine.
  • 4 celery stalks, chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Enough water to cover the carcass in a stockpot by one or two inches


Throw the bones, celery, onion, peppercorns and bay leaves into a stockpot and cover with water. Bring the water to a boil then immediately reduce the heat so the water is at a very gentle simmer. Simmer, uncovered, for three hours. If foam rises to the top, skim it off occasionally.

Strain the solids out and discard. Let the stock cool completely before covering with a lid.

The stock will keep for several days in the refrigerator or for months in the freezer.

*Note that no salt is added to the stock. Wait to add salt until you’re using the stock in a recipe, that way, you can be sure to add the right amount for the specific recipe you’re cooking.

Healthy Sauces, Dressings & Toppings Coming Soon!

As I noted last week, the book is now at the printers! I’m really happy with how it has turned out, and I’m sure you’ll love it. In case you missed the announcement last month, this new cookbook is all about turning ho-hum meals into Primal masterpieces with delicious and nutritious sauces, dressings, marinades, condiments, and other toppings. It includes over 120 easy-to-prepare recipes inspired by traditional and contemporary cuisine from around the world. From the staples (ketchup, mustard, hot sauce, mayonnaise) to the innovative (Blueberry Chutney, Coconut Cilantro Pesto, Avocado Lime Dressing), every recipe will enhance the nutritional value of your meal, using only Primal-approved ingredients. That means no gluten, grains, legumes, added sugar, or unhealthy oils. The recipes we developed for this cookbook have already changed the way I prepare my Primal meals. I can’t wait for it to do the same for you.

If you’re a long-time Mark’s Daily Apple reader, you know that I always do something special for devoted readers when I release a new book. Primal Blueprint Healthy Sauces, Dressings & Toppings drops on December 10th, and this book release will be no different. In fact, it will be bigger than ever…

At the beginning of December, I’ll be offering a bunch of fantastic free gifts to anyone that orders one or more copies (it will make the perfect holiday gift!) during the week leading up to the release date. So stay tuned and be ready to jump on this special offer while it lasts.

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55 thoughts on “Homemade Turkey Stock”

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  1. May I respectfully suggest adding a couple of tablespoons of lemon juice or apply cider vinegar to the pot early on?

    The acidified water will draw more minerals from the bones, enhancing both the flavour and the nutrition of the stock.

    1. Yes, I put white wine in the broth, about a cup of wine. This works the same as vinegar or lemon juice to bring out minerals.

      I cut the onion in quarters rather than chopping, and add a couple carrots as well as celery. I cook this for about an hour before adding the wine.

      You can simmer for even longer than the three hours if you want a very rich and gelatine-y broth.

      Very easy recipe, just as it says and the broth is an excellent base for lots of different types of soup!

      1. By the way, if you use wine, the alcohol boils off the stock, so only the flavour (and mineral-drawing acidity) is left.

        1. You can boil most of the alcohol out but you can never boil all of it out. Some of the alcohol bonds hygroscopically with the water so to get all of it, you’d need to boil off all the water too.

          If you’re sensitive to it then be aware of this.

    2. Its important to use a cooked turkey carcass. Boiling raw turkey bones results in a not great tasting broth. Always bake your turkey or beef bones before boiling for stock. For example, you can buy raw turkey necks at most stores. Bake them in the oven until cooked fist. Don’t just throw raw turkey necks in a pot of water.
      Chicken is ok raw, but turkey is not. Taught in chefs training.

    3. Absolutely (acid-loutely?). The best turkey stock I ever made was the day after a huge turkey party at our house. Carcasses, leftover veggies, and all the wine/beer/mead left over in people’s glasses went straight into the stock pot. Simmered it for about a day and a half, and it came out nice and thick, like jello.

  2. Used to make turkey-fried rice (good to whip up while the stock is simmering slowly!). Now it’s turkey-friend cauliflower-cous. YUM!

    Great idea to prepare in advance for *after* the feast 😉

  3. I have never made stock before but want to give it a try, thanks for the recipe. So can chicken and turkey stock be used interchangeably? I have seen lots of recipes that require chicken stock but never turkey stock.

    Your book sounds great. Delicious primal sauces would be great. Can’t wait.

    1. Turkey stock has a richer flavor. I prefer turkey stock, but have chicken stock on hand because pastured chickens are easier to get year round.

      1. i like chicken stock best myself…it seems fattier. both are good though!

    2. Give it a go Wayne. You will be pleasantly surprised how richer soups and casseroles will taste using home made stock, rather than water or store bought facsimiles. 🙂

  4. For those of you with a pressure cooker I highly recommend using it over a regular pot. The higher temperature is enough to push the Maillard reaction and you’ll end up with a far richer and more deeply colored stock.

    1. Pressure cooker is a great piece of advice, but try to find a canner that is not aluminum.

      1. i just use my aluminum pressure cooker to process the jars of stock after I cook the carcass down. that way there’s more room in my freezer for large meat purchases. home canning is not difficult.

        1. Yup! That’s my tip. Pressure can your stock. Last summer my friend gave me 10 lbs of beef bones that gave me 30 quarts of stock. It’s been handy to just grab a quart from the pantry shelf rather than have to remember to thaw some.

          Those bones also gave me two pints of tallow. Delish!

  5. Three hour stock? That’s a good warmup, but serious stock requires a little more commitment. I used to leave my five gallon stock pot on the stove for eight hours, and get pretty good stock, but the constant babysitting was a little tedious. I don’t know why it took me so long to figure out that the correct approach is to stuff the thing to the top with all the old bones out of the freezer, and stick it in the oven. No more stirring. 225 degrees for twenty hours effortlessly makes proper stock Two-and a half gallons at a time, that then get frozen in two quart ziplocks. It looks like jello when refrigerated and makes hugely better gluten-free Gumbo (another story entirely.) The pressure cooker is another excellent method, but mine isn’t nearly big enough to hold three months of accumulated bones.

    1. Wow that is intense. Not going to lie everytime i make stock I’m a bit dissapointed In it. So maybe I need to give this a shot.

      1. A few tips to making the best stock:
        -Add a little tomato paste. It ups the acidity and the savoriness. Just a tablespoon or two for a recipe the size of Mark’s.
        -Keep the heat low. 185F is actually perfect. You probably don’t even want to see bubbles. Just a gentle induction current as the hot liquid at the bottom rises to the top.
        -Roast the bones for more flavor. Even a turkey or chicken carcass that’s already cooked will benefit from additional roasting before going in the pot.
        -Cook it longer. The three hours in the recipe will give a good liquid for soups, etc. But you really want to reduce the total liquid by at least half to make something that will make a difference in sauces and other dishes. A minimum of 8 hours is probably best. Cooking in a low oven, as others have mentioned, is a good way to make it a little less effort. You can even do it overnight while you sleep.
        -Don’t expect the finished product to blow you away with flavor. It won’t have salt, so it will taste bland. And it is meant to add dimension to other ingredients, not to take over flavor completely.
        -Wait til the last hour of cooking before adding your veggies. All the flavor in the veggies will be extracted after an hour. Any more than than that tends to dull the flavors a little.

    2. The oven?? BRILLIANT! Thanks for the tip. I’ve been doing broths and stocks either stovetop or in my cock pot, but this sounds like a great alternative.

    3. It doesn’t take as long because the turkey was already roasted. Uncooked bones take longer.

      1. The twenty hours is for all the old collected bones from cooked birds. I’ve never tried from raw bones, but I might have to now. Thirty hours wouldn’t be a problem if it’s winter and the house needs heat.

        Some of the stock bones are from smoked turkey and chicken that sat in the smoker for 10 hours already. I might be subconsciously building up to making hundred-year-eggs.

      2. Uncooked turkey bones broth does NOT taste as good as with pre roasted bones.

  6. I would definitely add some apple cider (about 2-4 Tb.) This makes it more of a bone broth than a simple broth. I cook it on low in the crock pot for about 48 hours for poultry, more for red meat bones. I cook it with carrots and celery and then a bouquet garni of herbs de provence for the last 12 hours or so. I personally don’t care for onion or garlic, so I leave it out.

    Assuming that you have a good, non-CAFO turkey (or whatever animal) you can leave the fat rather than skimming it off. It makes for a really nice addition to your soups (or just broth for a morning treat.) If you cook it long enough, you will not only get a great mineral punch from your broth, it will have a nice thickness from all the great cartilage you have pulled out. (I dilute mine 5 or more to 1 when I make it up into soup or a drink, depending on thickness.)

    I’m off for some turkey broth as we speak. (I have also made duck broth — yummy.)

  7. If you bring the temp up slowly and never let it hit a rolling boil your stock will remain clear. Boiling it will make it cloudy.

  8. I love making stock – using the whole animal just seems right some how and my freezer is full of it! I use it for everything and one of my favourite breakfasts is chicken or beef-marrow stock, with some homemade sausage (meat, fennel, celery, herbs in a food processor – no casing) and vegetables poached in the stock. I can not WAIT to make turkey stock! Any left over vegetable peices, like tops of fennel bulbs, ends of celery or onion, center stems of greens I save and freeze – and pop in the stock! Trash becomes nourishment 🙂

  9. Too funny! I just did this last week. (We do a “practice” Thanksgiving every year in late October.) My final step was to reduce it by half, mostly because the turkey carcass was so big, I had to use my biggest pot, and I didn’t really have enough room to store three gallons of broth in my fridge and freezer. Reducing it really made the flavor fantastic, though.

  10. I keep a ziplock bag in the freezer, in which I put all poultry bones (even leg bones that I’ve gnawed on) and all parts of onions that would otherwise go in the compost bin. Those brown papery onion skins pack a lot of flavor. Also, I use poultry shears to cut the leg bones in half to expose the marrow.

  11. When I prepare a broth I make sure I have (apart bones and meat of course): 2 carrots, celery root or stalk (if possible, with the leaves), 1 big onion, 2/3 cloves of garlic, 2 bay leaves, 3 cloves, salt and a mix of pepper grains.
    Then I add some extra herbs, according to what was left from the previous days: my broth tastes different every time, but always good.

  12. I just made some chicken bone broth this week (cooked on low for just over 24 hours on the stove), and I’ve turned most of it into a delicious chicken tortilla-type soup (minus the tortillas, of course). It’s definitely delicious, and will be dinner tonight!

  13. I actually have chicken stock simmering in my crock pot right now. A couple of suggestions I’ve picked up from MDA regarding stock: Pour some of it into ice cube trays and freeze so that you can use small amounts from time to time at a later date. Also pour stock into Ziploc quart freezer bags and freeze them on a tray or baking sheet so that when frozen they will be flat which makes for easy freezer storage.

  14. My grandmother taught me how to make stock! 🙂 I usually make it from moose, reindeer or beef but I always leave it on the stove for at least three days. Then strain in, reduce it until it looks like syrup and pour it into ice cubes. Then every time you are making soup, stewes etc just throw one cube into it. Full of flavor and minerals etc!

    Just quickly fry an onion, carrots and celeriac in some butter. Add the bones, water and some apple cider vinegar. Dont let it boil, the water should just move slightly. Then leave it on the stove for a few days. 😉 I usually cook some meat in the pot as well, it makes the stock even richer.

    1. I’ve always been curious as to whether reducing the stock so much would cause any nutrient or collagen/gelatin loss. It would certainly be easier to store smaller quantities of ultra-concentrated stock, if it’s all the same!

      1. When you reduce it that much, it’s pretty much a demi-glace. You aren’t going to lose any more nutrients than you already would have from making stock, and you are actually concentrating the collagen. Even at room temp, demi-glace is pretty gelatinous.

  15. Making this right now, as ‘Thanksgiving #1’ is in the books for me. Made a 20lb bird today for dinner (unstuffed). Threw in the carcass, larger leg bones, celery, onion, rosemary, 2 bay leaves, garlic, fresh sage, fresh italian parsely, carrots, 1/4C red wine vinegar, pan drippings, and added water. It will simmer all night, then I’ll strain it and simmer it down a bit more. Usually I do stock in a crock pot (which is what I did today for my stock for my gravy) but this carcass is way too large!

  16. I use the crock pot to make stock. I set if for an 8 hour cycle, twice. This allows it to cook for about 16 hours without having watch it.

    1. I also throw in whatever herbs I feel like adding from my herb garden and an assortment of veggies and garlic. Then, after it is cooked, I pour a cup and a half portions into zip lock bags and freeze. After tasting homemade chicken stock, I cannot go back to canned/boxed, which tastes like nothing comparatively.

  17. What method do you guys use for straining it? I’m pretty new to all this fancy cooking stuff (meaning life outside of processed food).

    1. If you have a metal mesh strainer (cheap ones available even in the grocery store kitchen supply aisle), that will get the majority out. If you want to get a little fancier, you can use a clean dish towel or even a couple of layers of paper towel. Some grocery stores sell cheese cloth, which is just a loose weave fabric that works pretty well. Just layer the cloth or paper towel into a collander set on top of a large pot or bowl and pour slowly.

  18. I have a cup of bone broth every morning, so I always have stock on hand. I make mine in the slow cooker for 24 hours and do use organic cider vinegar. Every batch is different — the latest thing I tried is putting the garlic through the press v. adding cloves, and I’m very happy with the flavor. (This version was chicken).

    As for straining, I use a colander. I prefer to leave the fat and the little bits and pieces v. straining through cheesecloth. I use the broth in cooking too and it’s fine with this low level of effort. “The pour” is always a great chance to scald myself, but it’s also a great little exercise in lifting heavy things and being mildly coordinated. (I knocked the colander into the pot last time, don’t do that).

  19. I second or third the pressure cooker recommendation; 30 minutes cooking and you will have stock. The Fagor brand is stainless steel. Homemade stock is great for – gasp – risotto.

  20. Since the new book is listed as primal…. what is the percentage of casein free recipes? ( ghee appears to be fine at this point) I’d love to pre-order now, if I can actually use the recipes. Also, it appears only as hardcover on Amazon…. will it also come out as an e-book?

  21. I can see now that I’m not showing enough commitment with twenty hour stock. The next batch will sit in the oven for 48 hours, I’ll do a better job of breaking up the bones, and add a little cider or wine.
    Of course I’m now dreaming of moose bones…

  22. I see a lot of people are advocating very long simmer times for their stock, and I used to do this myself, but I found that intense boiling for around an hour/hour and a half gives you a much ‘fresher’, tastier stock for soups etc. Letting it boil endlessly can lead to an overcooked, less appealing, brown mush.

    1. I can’t quite figure this out myself. The idea behind stock is to reduce the liquid so that the flavors and collagens are concentrated. Cooking for 20+ hours would just reduce everything down to paste, unless you have a huge stockpot and an equally huge oven to put it in.
      Boiling certainly won’t hurt the stock – that’s how it’s done in Mexican cooking. It does make for a cloudy stock, but that’s really only an aesthetic thing.

      I also don’t understand how you can make stock in a crockpot. They only get up to the proper temp if the lid is on, and then there’s no way to reduce the liquid. At that point your really just making a big pot of turkey soup.

  23. i just made a big batch of turkey broth and was delighted to discover how much I like it. I’m not a big fan of turkey meat but when I was looking to pick up something to make some bone broth with I saw turkey backs and necks. I roasted them for a bit and the cooked them into a delightful broth!

  24. Mark,

    Thanks for the post, we prefer chicken to turkey, but your post has reminded me that the holiday seasons and all it’s temptations is just around the corner. This year I’m trying out primal baking for the family, and have found a great book by Lada Fleischman,using Coconut and Almond flour, specifically for baking at Christmas time. Has anyone used this book before?

  25. Boiling the liquid during the process is not recommended. As mentioned previously it makes a cloudy stock. Boiling releases proteins into the stock that cause this cloudiness and also add to the bitterness and a gummy texture that is somewhat unpleasant.

    I usually only simmer my stock for about 1 1/2 hours – just enough for the cartelege to disolve into the stock and release the calogens. A good test for checking the doneness is to taste one of the veggies or a piece of the meat. If they have not much taste and are a bit “watery” in flavor, you have transfered most of the nutrients and flavor into the stock.

  26. Making my first bone broth now with accumulated chicken bones from the college dining hall. It’s been going on the stove, covered, for almost 45 hours now. We’ll see how it goes, but I intend to eat what remains of the bones rather than strain them. Texture, if nothing else.

  27. Save every scrap of veggies you prep in a ziploc baggie in the freezer. (onion ends, carrot tops, celery roots…) That way, when you are ready to make stock you have plenty of veg on hand for the pot! I do the same with chicken bones. I can get 3 in a gallon ziploc and it makes the BEST stock.

    ACV in the water.
    Veggies and bones.
    24 hours on low.
    When it cools into a ‘gel’- it’s perfect!

  28. I typed a very lengthy reply detailing how I made my first stock ever, got distracted by the add an avatar button, and lost it all! Suffice to say, I made my first ever stock! I have 8 quart baggies frozen with 3 cups each in my deep freezer and I am soooo excited!! Thanks Mark for the recipe and guidance, it is much appreciated!

    PS I actually managed to lose 3.5 pounds since Monday, even while indulging quite a bit for a couple of days!!

  29. Storage… I make so much at a time I can’t use it before I assume it would go bad. I’m not very good with frozen as I always forget to get it out and thaw in time to use. So, I’ve been canning mine. But at a GAPS support group meeting someone told me not to can as I was destroying the nutrients with the high heat. What’s your thought on that? Wouldn’t the same hold true for those processing in a pressure cooker to start with too? Or, is canning OK?? I’m really hoping it is, because I’d hate to waste my precious bone broth. Thanks for your opinion!!

  30. I am meticulous about counting protein, fats, and carbs (in grams) because my husband has Type 1 Diabetes and we follow Dr. Richard Bernstein’s Diabetes Protocol. Protein will be converted to carbs in the liver. If Bob eats too much protein, he will have a blood sugar spike post meals. I have been trying to find nutritional data regarding bone broth and hydrolyzed collagen. I know homemade bone broth will be different every time – so generalities here will do. My greatest concern is this: While hydrolyzed collagen data is expressed as amino acids – do I count it towards our protein requirements and how do I do this??? Same with bone broth – does it count as protein? Thanks. Love all the info. 🙂