February 6th, 2014
11:45 AM ET
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America's Test Kitchen is a real 2,500 square foot test kitchen located just outside of Boston that is home to more than three dozen full-time cooks and product testers. Our mission is simple: to develop the absolute best recipes for all of your favorite foods. To do this, we test each recipe 30, 40, sometimes as many as 70 times, until we arrive at the combination of ingredients, technique, temperature, cooking time, and equipment that yields the best, most-foolproof recipe. America’s Test Kitchen's online cooking school is based on nearly 20 years of test kitchen work in our own facility, on the recipes created for Cook's Illustrated magazine, and on our two public television cooking shows.

Homemade chicken broth can improve your cooking by leaps and bounds. But the traditional method for making chicken broth requires a whole chicken, leeks, carrots, celery, parsley sprigs, thyme, bay leaves, salt, and peppercorns - not to mention at least 2 1/2 hours of simmering.

We prefer to keep it short and simple and found a faster way to a rich, flavorful broth. We use only chicken legs, onion, bay leaves, and salt in our Quicker Chicken Broth, which only takes 60 minutes to cook.

You may be asking...

Why not just use canned broth?
Storebought broth is fine for many recipes, but homemade is so much better. To prove it, we held a blind taste test for 15 cooks, pitting our Quicker Chicken Broth against our favorite storebought broth. The “rich,” “meaty” homemade broth won in a landslide.

Is there a difference between broth and stock?
It depends whom you ask. These days, many sources use these terms interchangeably. But technically, stock is more concentrated and has more body. It’s made from meaty bones, which are sometimes roasted before they are simmered to extract even more flavor. Broth is lighter: A whole chicken or chicken parts are simmered until the chicken is done. Recipes for the home cook that call for broth or stock to make, say, rice pilaf rarely distinguish between the two.

Why simmer the broth? Can’t I boil it so it’s ready even quicker?
No. It’s important to simmer, not boil, or the grease will blend into the broth. At that point, it’s less likely to separate, making the broth difficult to defat.

What if I don’t own a fat separator?
A fat separator makes quick work of defatting hot broth, but you can use these three tools instead: time, your refrigerator, and a spoon. When you let the broth chill for several hours, the fat solidifies on top and can be easily removed.

What can I do with the chicken fat?
Chicken fat is loaded with flavor. If you’re making soup, use the fat (called schmaltz in Yiddish and used with abandon in Jewish cooking) instead of oil to sauté the aromatics. You can also use it in place of butter when making a roux for gravy or stew. Chicken fat will keep in the refrigerator for three days; it also freezes well.

chicken broth

Quicker Chicken Broth
Recipe from Cook's Country

Makes 2 1/2 quarts broth and 3 cups meat

A cleaver is the best tool for hacking through the chicken legs. If you don’t have one, use the thick heel end of a heavy-bladed chef’s knife or leave the legs whole and double the simmering time. If you’re not making soup and don’t need meat, you can use any combination of chicken backs and/or wingtips in place of the legs.

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
4 pounds chicken leg quarters, cut into 2-inch pieces
1 onion, chopped
2 quarts water
2 teaspoons salt
2 bay leaves

1. Heat oil in Dutch oven over medium-high heat until just smoking. Add half of chicken and cook until browned all over, about 10 minutes. Transfer to bowl and repeat with remaining chicken. Transfer chicken to bowl with first batch; carefully remove fat from pot and save for another use.

2. Return chicken to pot along with onion, cover, and cook over low heat until chicken releases its juices, about 20 minutes. Add water, salt, and bay leaves, and bring to boil over high heat.

3. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, covered, until broth is rich and flavorful, about 20 minutes. Strain broth into large bowl and let stand for 10 minutes before defatting. Remove meat from bones, discarding skin and bones, and reserve meat for another use.

More from America's Test Kitchen:
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Do You Recognize These 6 Vintage Kitchen Gadgets?
TV's Bridget Lancaster Shows Every Step to Chicken Noodle Soup

Chicken soup recipe for the banged-up soul
Black chicken stew for the ill and adventurous soul
How to make chicken stock
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Filed under: America's Test Kitchen • Content Partner • Cooking • Make • Soup • Staples

soundoff (186 Responses)
  1. Rhett Tayor

    This web site is really a walk-through for all of the info you wanted about this and didn�t know who to ask. Glimpse here, and you�ll definitely discover it.


    July 30, 2014 at 9:52 am |
  2. Joyce

    So, I'm simmering a small whole chicken with carrots, celery, garlic and turnip...bay leaves, and thyme. Then, I'm going to remove the chicken from the pot, let it cool, remove the meat....roast the bones and return to the pot. Is there any name for this? Seems to be a combo of stock and broth. I don't care...it just seems to have the potential of being fairly yummy.

    April 28, 2014 at 11:21 am |

    Look, if all you 'goyim' want to make light of this, then have at it.... You know not whereof you speak, as usual. The 'alltishkites' [old ones] from the old country did NOT get so fancy-shmancy with their cooking.... they were GRATEFUL they had anything at all. You don't have to make a 'gansa-ge-shickta [a big story] from this... you cooked what you had and ate what you cooked... good or bad... YOU ATE IT AND WERE GRATEFUL YOU HAD>ANYTHING< IN YOUR BELLY. Now, STOP being so smug, DO SOME HOMEWORK, and LEARN HOW TO COOK! [REALITY! WHAT a concept!]. To me, the derisive comments are simply from grade school drop-outs. Look up the grasshopper and the ant on google.... I doubt that you will... THAT'S WORK! So, starve.....

    March 4, 2014 at 2:25 am |
  4. John Hillman

    People that do not know the difference between stock and broth should not write about them.

    STOCK is broth PLUS bones and a lot of them. If you use a chicken carcass you are making STOCK. If you just use the meat, you are making BROTH.

    When cooking, they can usually be used one for the other. However, the TASTE will be very different.

    February 9, 2014 at 5:05 pm |
    • chefP

      Actually you are incorrect. Stock is made from simmering raw ingredients and then straining out the solids, leaving you with a highly flavored thin liquid. Broth is basically the same thing only you are leaving pieces of the solid ingredients in it. It has nothing to do with bones vs no bones. You can make stock or broth out of fish, poultry, beef, beef bones, shrimp, crab, vegies....basically anything.

      February 9, 2014 at 6:30 pm |
    • culiary teach

      The definitions of stock and broth will vary according to where and how you learn to cook. it serves well enough to assume they are both the same thing and usually work with stock.

      February 10, 2014 at 6:45 am |
  5. tex3owl

    I agree w/jT...when I cut up a chicken I use all the skin, wingtips, breast bones, tail, and the back to make my chicken broth.

    February 9, 2014 at 4:03 pm |
  6. puftwaffe

    So much wrong with this recipe. First of all, why are we not using mirepoix and herbs if able? It takes no more time to prep, costs maybe $2 more, and produces a much more flavorful stock. Second, if the chicken is being browned first anyway in this recipe, then the idea of making the stock first and using the cooked chicken for something else after is entirely backward. The only reason to use raw chicken to start making stock is make to make WHITE stock, and you don't brown it before simmering. If we're making brown stock (as this recipe more or less is), then prepare a separate meal with the legs and reserve the bones and meat scraps for use in the stock. Relatively little meat is actually needed for bird stocks by comparison to pork and beef stocks. Brown chicken, turkey or duck stocks are the most commonly used for the home cook, and the best method involves roasting the bones, meat scraps and mirepoix at 400 degrees for about 45 minutes before simmering them in the pot. The process above is simply bland and amateurish.

    February 9, 2014 at 9:17 am |
    • puftwaffe

      Also, stocks should always be started with cold water and should never be heated to reach boiling, merely a low simmer.

      February 9, 2014 at 3:44 pm |
      • culiary teach


        February 10, 2014 at 6:47 am |
        • puftwaffe

          No, not nonsense, actual science. Adding hot water releases soluble protein from the meat which quickly coagulates into small particles, clouding the stock. Starting with cold water and slowly heating it causes these proteins to coagulate into much larger "clumps" which can be more easily removed. Boiling also churns these protein particles, as well as fat, back into the stock where it becomes emulsified, whereas slowly simmering allows them to collect on top and be easily removed.

          February 10, 2014 at 1:24 pm |
    • halcyon

      This is just a "short and simple" version.

      February 12, 2014 at 8:11 pm |
      • puftwaffe

        At the very least, "short and simple" does not preclude the use mirepoix. But really, the resultant product of this particular method would be so underwhelming that there's not much point in putting forth the effort instead of just buying canned broth or stock and saving the effort altogether. The only homemade stocks that will "change your cooking life" are those that are made correctly, even if they take slightly more time and effort.

        February 13, 2014 at 7:53 am |
  7. jesustheyardman

    Dear vegetarians, if God had not intended us to eat animals, He would not have made them out of meat.

    February 9, 2014 at 1:31 am |
    • ohfer stupid

      Telling jokes that old and tired is like färting. It just makes people hold their noses and pity you.

      I'm not a vegetraian. I love big thick slabs of bloodly muscle...but every time I see someone tell this joke like it is the first time anyone has ever said it (that and the People Eating Tasty Animals line) it makes me feel all stabby. Please, for the sake of those around me get a better repertoire.

      February 9, 2014 at 8:13 am |
      • Haven

        Wow. His stale joke is less offensive than your pretentious tirade. At least he didn't mean any harm. Get over yourself.

        February 9, 2014 at 9:58 am |
        • actually

          I thought the reply was hilarious, especially the first line, and more HONEST than "pretentious." I see someone choosing to take offense to a reply like this and I know who REALLY needs to get over himself/herself.

          February 9, 2014 at 1:19 pm |
        • chulogordito


          February 9, 2014 at 1:24 pm |
        • wow

          You used this hackneyed line yourself at some point and now you are feeling a bit of rearchafe because someone pointed out that it isn't funny or clever. Admit it. lol

          February 9, 2014 at 1:25 pm |
        • hypocrite much

          I am another person who laughed at the reply. It made the joke funny. More offensive than the reply is your sanctimonious "tirade".

          February 9, 2014 at 5:12 pm |
      • john

        First time I've heard it.

        February 9, 2014 at 11:35 am |
        • So you're saying

          you live under a rock?

          February 9, 2014 at 1:20 pm |
      • lame james

        agreed his joke was lame, but so is using overplayed memes like "stabby" or "feels"

        February 9, 2014 at 12:59 pm |
        • Whatever it takes

          If it helps you feel superior, keep truckin'.

          February 9, 2014 at 1:22 pm |
      • emma brown

        Oh, nasty. Looks like someone has touched a nerve there. See next comment.

        February 9, 2014 at 6:29 pm |
    • scootfl78

      And if God didn't intend for abortions, he wouldn't have given us the ability to do just that. If God didn't intend the world to be a messed up piece of garbage full of misery and deceit, he wouldn't have brought us the Spanish Inquisition, slavery, the holocaust, or any other tragedy brought by far-right conservatives (if you want to see such despicable behavior today, just go to Washington D.C. and find a Republican politician). If God wanted us to just eat animals, you'd think he (and I'm not capitalizing the "h" because its not deserved seeing as how We're the ones taking care of ourselves), you'd think he would get rid of all vegetables don't you jesustheyardman?

      February 9, 2014 at 10:54 am |
    • Billy

      humans are made out of meat

      February 9, 2014 at 12:33 pm |
    • sheesh

      harrr harr harr. *snore* Did you hear the one about the chicken crossing the road? the fireman with red suspenders?

      February 9, 2014 at 2:03 pm |
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