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Kalyn's Kitchen

How to Make Turkey Stock (and Turkey Soup Ideas)

Here are all my tips about How to Make Turkey Stock, plus Turkey Soup Ideas. And I think turning the turkey carcass into turkey stock is one of the best things about Thanksgiving! Check Thanksgiving Recipes for more ideas for leftover turkey!

Click here to PIN How to Make Turkey Stock.

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.

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

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. Don’t add turkey “giblets” which often come packed inside the turkey. 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. I leave the vegetables in fairly big pieces so they’re easier to scoop out at the end.

Put the turkey scraps and bones, carrots, celery, and onion into a soup pot, add some thyme and sage and a bit of Penzeys Turkey Soup Base and cover with water. 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. This is a familiar sight on my stove the day after Thanksgiving. If you don’t have Penzeys Turkey Soup Base, another brand I’ve used is Better Than Bouillon, which is sold in many grocery stores. (I’ve also heard that Trader Joe’s Turkey Soup Base is good, but I haven’t tried it.)

Let the stock simmer and reduce all day, until the flavor is as concentrated as you’d like it. 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 Lemony Turkey (or Chicken) Soup with Spinach and Orzo
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 (and Turkey Soup Ideas)”

  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! 🙂

  18. Hope you enjoy the stock. I'm making some turkey at my stock right now too!

  19. This article was very helpful, in spite of being a few years old. I will bookmark it and use again. My turkey stock is simmering away on the stove right now. I'm not sure about how important it is to skim the foam, but I guess I'll see how much I get!

    I added rosemary because I have some left in the garden that hasn't been kissed by frostbite yet. I also added some of the roasted onions that were in the turkey when it was roasting. It smells great already! Thanks again.

  20. Ben, that's not a problem. When you reheat the stock it will liquefy again. Isn't it fun to make stock?

  21. Hi Kalyn,

    I'm a first time turkey stock maker! I used your recipe to make stock out of a holiday turkey we received for the Christmas…with a slight modification. I put it in the crock pot for about 24 hours or so. Everything seems fine, however I put the stock in the fridge to get the fat to congeal, and the whole thing turned to a jelly-is this okay?

    Thanks for the recipe!

  22. Jessica, you can definitely use raw turkey parts to make stock. I do think the roasting adds some flavor, but probably not significantly better. I make chicken stock with raw chicken all the time.

  23. I just got a 17# turkey from my farmers market and I'm not even hosting Tgiving. So I cut it up and am freezing the pieces-parts. My question is about using a FRESH turkey back for stock. What happens when you use fresh turkey? Is the resulting stock appreciably different? Or should I roast it ahead of time. I was thinking to skip this, since the whole point is that I'm not cooking any turkey right now.

  24. ~M, I would probably make the turkey stock, and then add the mushrooms to the soup, but I think you could do it either way. I've never made stock with mushrooms and I'm not sure how they would react with the long cooking.

  25. I love stock – beef, chicken, turkey, it's all good. The richer/more gelatinous the better.

    Someone suggested to me to add mushrooms (but no grains or dairy so unlike your turkey-rice-mushroom version) to turkey stock/soup to add a savory meatiness since turkey is so lean…basically, not to make turkey soup/stock like chicken soup/stock. Since you're the stock queen (hehe), I thought I'd ask for your opinions. Would you add it to the stock-making part or the post strained part (when you add fresh carrots, onions, celery, etc. too)? Thanks for your input!

  26. Thanks Jeanne. I think I’m addicted to making stock. Makes the house smell great.

    CCK, love that idea of roasting turkey wings and using them to make stock. Thanks for sharing.

  27. That is such a great explanation of how to produce wonderful turkey stock, Kaylyn!
    When I am not roasting a whole turkey, I am able to buy a package of fresh turkey wings at my local market. I roast them with veggie and then make broth using your method. As you say, it is wonderful to have in the freezer.

  28. Great tips, Kalyn. People think making stock is this difficult and mystical activity but it couldn’t be easier, and nothing tastes better in soups than home-made stock…

  29. Peter, I agree, turkey soup is great!

    Tammy, good tip about the onion skins. I’ll try that for sure. Thanks!

  30. I’m a turkey stock fan! Great directions, I bet your post-Thanksgiving day soup is awesome. For color I simmer onion skins with the rest of the veggies. Turns everything a lovely dark brown.

  31. I just enjoyed a soup from saved turkey (yum). A valuable lesson here, thanks for sharing.

  32. Susy, you’re brilliant! I love the idea of roasting the bones. I’ve done that with beef stock, but not turkey, but I bet it makes a difference.

  33. I always make stock!!! Sometimes I roast the leftover bones in the oven until they’re brown to make a richer stock.

    • Too late now to roast all the bones because just turned off my 20 quart pot of stock that’s been cooking all night!  Do you just put the pile of wings, legs and carcass on a pan and cook a couple more hours in low oven or what??  Let me know. Thx 

    • Hi Merilee,
      I have roasted the bones quite often for beef stock (to remove some of the fat, that runs out on the baking sheet.) I haven’t tried roasting the turkey carcass, but I agree it would probably make a richer stock if you had time for that step. If you use a roasting pan, I’d just take out all the meet and roast the bones in that pan at 300F or so for a few hours. Happy Thanksgiving!

  34. Jesse, if you’re roasting turkey you MUST make turkey stock. It’s delish.

    Bee, you’re always so thoughtful. Spreading nice greetings around the web! Thanks, and Happy Thanksgiving to you too. We have a lot to be thankful for, don’t we!

    Lydia, in my family I’m famous for it. Even before I say anything someone will say “Don’t throw away the turkey carcass, Kalyn will want it.”

  35. I agree — turkey stock is a very happy by-product of the whole turkey roasting tradition. I always make stock on the day after Thanksgiving.

  36. happy thanksgiving, dear kalyn.

  37. YUM! Would you believe I’ve never HAD turkey stock before?? I’ve always stuck with chicken or pork… wow, a whole new animal for me to tinker around with! Thank you!

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