Kalyn's Kitchen

How to Make Turkey Stock

Here are all my tips about How to Make Turkey Stock, and this post also has ideas for turning that stock into tasty turkey soup. And I think turning the turkey carcass into turkey stock is one of the best things about Thanksgiving! 

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How to Make Turkey Stock (and Turkey Soup Ideas) found on KalynsKitchen.com

Thanksgiving is almost here and by tomorrow I’ll have a house full of guests, so I’m sharing this early so you’ll have it when a big turkey carcass is staring you in the face! One of my favorite things about Thanksgiving is making the house smell good with a big roasting pan of turkey bones and veggies simmering on the stove. And turkey soup is a Thanksgiving tradition in many families, and personally I believe you can’t really make good turkey soup without turkey stock.

I’ve been making turkey stock for years, but I’m not a stock purist; I think a little Penzeys Turkey Soup Base is a good thing, both for gravy and turkey stock. But even if you didn’t remember to order that in time or you don’t want to use it, read on; there are more tricks to making turkey stock taste good. And you can check Thanksgiving Recipes for more ideas for leftover turkey!

How to Make Turkey Stock (and Turkey Soup Ideas) found on KalynsKitchen.com

Tips for How to Make Turkey Stock:

(Scroll down for more complete printable recipe.)

  1. Start with as many turkey scraps as you can possibly save from the turkey, including things like skin and bones that you might otherwise throw away.
  2. Don’t add turkey “giblets” which often come packed inside the turkey.
  3. Along with the turkey scraps and bones, be sure to include a generous amount of onion, celery, and carrots. This is a good place to use things like the celery ends or leaves that get cut off.
  4. I leave the vegetables in fairly big pieces so they’re easier to scoop out at the end.
  5. Put the turkey scraps and bones, carrots, celery, and onion into a soup pot, add some thyme and sage and a bit of Penzey’s Turkey Soup Base (affiliate link) and cover with water.
  6. If you have a big roasting pan that you cooked your turkey in, simmer the stock right in the pan, which will let all those browned bits of turkey and skin get cooked off and they’ll add flavor to your stock.
  7. If you don’t have Penzeys Turkey Soup Base, another brand I’ve used is Better than Bouillon Turkey Base (affiliate link), which is sold in many grocery stores. (Edit: Shirley from Gluten Free Easily tells me that Better than Bouillon no longer guarantees their products are gluten-free, although Kara uses them and has no issues with her son who is gluten-free.)
  8. Let the stock simmer and reduce all day, until the flavor is as concentrated as you’d like it.
  9. Then strain and put it into containers for the freezer and you can enjoy turkey soup all winter long!

How to Make Turkey Stock

One of my favorite Thanksgiving traditions is saving the turkey carcass and turning it into delicious turkey stock!


  • turkey carcass (including skin, bones, and any scraps of turkey that didn’t get turned into sandwiches)
  • carrots
  • celery
  • onion
  • dried thyme
  • dried sage
  • water
  • turkey soup base (optional, but I usually use some to add extra flavor)


  1. Save the entire turkey carcass, including any bits of skin or things like wing tips that are cut off before cooking the turkey. Leave a bit of meat on the bones when you’re stripping the carcass.
  2. Put turkey carcass into a big stock pot with water to cover, leaving a bit of room to add vegetables.
  3. Add a generous amount of cut-up carrots, celery, and onions to the stock pot.
  4. Add dried thyme (about 1/2 tsp. per quart of water) and dried sage (about 1/4 tsp. per quart of water.) You can also use a blend of spices called Poultry Seasoning if you prefer.
  5. Adding a small amount of turkey soup base can really increase the flavor of the stock. I prefer Penzeys Turkey Soup Base, but I’ve also used Better Than Bouillon brand. If you don’t have either of these, you could add a tiny bit of soy sauce or some Kitchen Bouquet to give the turkey stock a bit more flavor and color.
  6. Let the stock simmer all day on the stove, adding more water as needed. I usually start with a small amount of turkey soup base, thyme, and sage, and then after a few hours I taste to see if I want to add more of those ingredients.
  7. When you’re ready to stop cooking the stock, use a fine-mesh skimmer to remove the vegetables, or strain the stock through a fine strainer into a different pot.
  8. Taste for flavor and simmer to reduce until the flavor is as concentrated as you want it. (If you’re not going to use it right away and you have limited freezer space, you can boil it down to a very small amount and add water when you use it.)
  9. If the stock seems fatty, use a fat separator to remove fat, or put the stock in the fridge overnight and the fat will rise to the top where you can scoop it off.
  10. Frozen stock will keep in the freezer for at least six months, and delicious turkey soup will taste good all winter!
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Weekend Food Prep:

Making things like turkey stock from food that would have been thrown away has to be the ultimate Weekend Food Prep idea! This recipe has been added to a category called Weekend Food Prep  to help you find recipes you can prep or cook on the weekend and eat during the week!

Favorite Turkey Soup Recipes from Kalyn’s Kitchen:

Low-Carb Turkey Soup with Zucchini Noodles
Leftover Turkey and Sweet Potato Soup with Black Beans and Lime
Low-Carb Turkey, Mushroom, and Zucchini Noodle Soup
Slow Cooker Turkey (or Chicken) Soup with Kale and Sweet Potatoes
Coconut-Lime Turkey (or Chicken) and Rice Soup)
Slow Cooker Turkey (or Chicken) Soup with Spinach and Lemon
Turkey and Cannellini Bean Soup with Sweet Potatoes and Rosemary
Turkey Barley Soup

Turkey Soup in the Slow Cooker or Instant Pot:

The BEST Slow Cooker and Instant Pot Turkey Soup Recipes ~ Slow Cooker or Pressure Cooker

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    40 Comments on “How to Make Turkey Stock”

  1. Pingback: Veggie Chicken Alfredo | What's Cooking

  2. Thanks for many a great dinner! I freeze my stock in muffin tins then store in ziplock bags. My size muffin tin gives me perfect 1/4 cup portions of stock

  3. Emily, great idea to use the carrots. Glad you liked the post.

  4. This is a fabulous post, thank you! I just made stock with Thanksgiving leftovers, including about a pound of cooked carrots. I'm not sure how much they added to the flavor, but I thought I'd try to get everything out of them before I threw them out!

  5. The vegetables and the meat are both pretty flavorless after they've been cooked for hours in the stock, but you could use the vegetables in your compost pile if you have one.

  6. Just curious to know, do you keep the vegetables after draining the stock and put them back in, or do you get rid of them? Seems like a waste to get rid of them.

  7. I want those friends who give you turkey carcasses!

  8. I made turkey stock for the first time this year. I used 3 turkey carcasses (2 friends were nice enough to bring me theirs), stuffed them all in my biggest stock pot, and simmered them with veggies, garlic cloves, and fresh/frozen herbs for an entire day. After that I just plop the whole pot (covered) into an insulated cooler full of ice on the kitchen floor (putting it in the fridge would just heat the fridge). The next day I skimmed the fat off the top and bagged it up to freeze. I got 8 quart freezer bags out of it. I plan to use it for noodle soup and matzo ball soup since my last batch of chicken stock only lasted half the winter.

  9. Thanks a bunch, I almost threw that turkey carcass away. Now its in my pot and I am on a mission to get some homemade stock. On the menu tonight is Turkey Pot Pie courtesy of allrecipes.com, featuring my left over Christmas bird and my homemade stock. Thanks again.

  10. Thank you. I was referring to after you cool the stock and then skim the fat off it. I like to add vegetables and noodles to make a good soup but wasn't sure whether the vegetables could be reused.

  11. Not completely sure I understand the question, but I'm talking about adding vegetables to the stock here. The veggies get thrown away, but they add a lot of flavor to the stock liquid. This is a good way to use vegetable scraps (I save them in the freezer.)

  12. You say to use large chunks of vegetables – my question is, do you use them when you make the soup, or start with fresh vegetables?

  13. ~M, I do think you're right that it's main the liver that's strongly flavored, but in writing a post about this I'm not sure how to explain to people who've never made stock (or possibly never seen giblets) what parts are good and which aren't, so it seemed best to say to leave them out.

  14. That's so interesting that you toss the giblets…the only one I've ever heard to keep out is the liver. Our turkey stock (made with the remaining giblets and carcass) is so tasty this year! Happy holidays!

  15. i love making homemade stock! I typically throw in the leftover carcasses, whatever scraps I have; 2-3 onions cut in half, a few bay leaves, celery, carrots, whole peppercorns,garlic clove(s),sliced lengthwise, and parsley. I like to bring it to a boil for about ten minutes and then I simmer for as long as I can. I then strain the stock and return it to the stove and power boil it for 10-20 minutes. I put the pot in the sink and surround it with ice and cold water for a quick cool down. I ladle it into freezer containers and enjoy! Homemade stock makes such a difference when making any dish. Good luck!

  16. Mary, certain parts of the giblets are really strong flavored, so depending on exactly what is in the giblet pack, it may make the flavor a bit off.

  17. D'oh! I already put my giblets, plus the water I was simmering them in into the stock pot. Why should I not use the giblets/neck?? Did I just ruin the whole thing? I haven't put the whole kit n kabooble on the stove yet. I was going to do that tomorrow. Should I try to find the giblets and neck and remove? Please explain! Thank you very much! 🙂