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Turkey Stock

Ahhhhh, the day after.  I hope you had a lovely holiday.  Ours was everything I hoped it would be — lots of happy people in the house and no major disasters in the kitchen.  The best thing I did this year was have everyone sign up for three tasks on the pre-Thanksgiving schedule.  It was actually very fun working in the kitchen with the kids and my husband.  I did have to let the girls listen to their music however, so now I have the first two verses  of “Super Bass” down pat, but apparently I do not have moves like Jagger.  It’s so important for kids to learn basic cooking skills when they’re young.  It will serve them well later.  Maybe they won’t turn out like my darling husband who when asked to peel four carrots, responded “what do you mean by that?”

Our big feast, however, has made me not want to cook another thing until Sunday, at the earliest.  No one is even permitted to utter the words “What’s for…?”  I’m off duty until further notice.  So I’m still in my pajamas (it doesn’t matter what time you’re reading this, I’ll still be in my pajamas), about to start my holiday shopping online while 2 large stockpots of turkey broth simmer away.  Ok,  I lied.  I’m not cooking another thing, except turkey stock.

By now you know I am obsessed with homemade stocks.  True, all that straining and stock pot-washing is a bit of a pain, but the reward is so worth it.  You literally cannot buy stock that equals homemade, although I hear that one of my local markets, Bristol Farms, sells a homemade stock and it is about $7/pint or something absurd.  On a day like today, when I am hanging around the house, it is no work at all to stick some turkey carcasses and a bunch of bones in a big pot with water and some vegetables.  What I love about making stock from a leftover Thanksgiving turkey is that there is almost nothing to do — very little skimming before the liquid comes to a boil and hardly any fat that rises to the surface the next day.  You can basically use it right away and mine is well seasoned since I dry rubbed my turkeys with salt.

I will make a nice pot of chunky butternut squash and fennel soup with wild rice tomorrow.  Oh, you’d like the recipe?  If you promise to give it a try, I’ll post it on Tuesday.  But the broth also comes in handy when we reheat leftovers tonight.  I don’t use a microwave, so my preferred method of reheating food is in a covered saucepan with a little stock or water.  I’ll freeze the rest and pull it out for turkey and vegetable soup or if one of the kids comes home from school with a scratchy throat.  In which case I’ll heat it up and hand out mugs of broth like medicine.  For now, today is my day to rest and restore my energy for the month ahead, because moms like me have no time to come down with a scratchy throat.

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Turkey Stock
Serves: makes about 4 quarts, depending on the size of your stockpot
  • 1 leftover turkey carcass + any leftover bones or wings
  • 2 onions, peeled and quartered
  • 3 carrots, halved
  • 3 stalks of celery, halved
  • 1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 5-7 quarts of water (this depends on the size of your pot)
  1. Remove any meat still left on the turkey and discard anything you stuffed in the cavity. Place the turkey carcass and bones in a large stockpot with COLD water. I just fill the pot to about 2 inches below the rim. You can break the carcass up to fit the pot, if necessary.
  2. Put the heat on high and bring to a boil. Immediately lower the heat to the gentlest simmer and skim any foam that surfaces.
  3. Add the vegetables and apple cider vinegar and continue to simmer, partially covered for about 2-5 hours (or as long as you have.)
  4. Strain the stock (use a fine mesh sieve to make it very clear) into a large bowl or individual containers and cool before refrigerating. Keeps in the refrigerator 3-4 days or frozen up to 3 months.


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  1. From your photos, it looks like you leave the skin on the pieces – it doesn’t make it too greasy? Thanks!

    • the skin adds good flavor, so I leave it. but yes it adds fat which is why I chill the stock so that the fat hardens on top and I can remove it easily. Most of the time, I am just working with remains of the roasted turkey carcass and no meat, except maybe the wings, so there isn’t much fat to deal with.

  2. HI! I want to do this in my slow cooker. Low for 8 hours?

    • Sure! If it’s convenient, start it at high until it boils, which will usually take about 4 hours and then change it to LOW for the next 4 hours.

  3. this is great find!!!!40 plus years,i’ve been making turkey soup,this broth is rich and hearty!!!!!love it its a keeeper!!!

    • It’s never too late! Thanks, Cathy!

  4. Hi Pamela,
    I am in the middle of making turkey stock. Two quick questions:
    Simmer: I have a range that has a simmer low to high option. When placed on the lowest setting there are no bubble to be seen in the pot, just a very slight movement in the liquid. Is this correct or should I increase to high simmer?
    If I started with 7 quarts of water and simmer for 5 hours with the top partially covered (1/2 way) how much stock should it yield?

    • Hi Kelly! A gentle simmer should have tiny bubbles barely breaking the surface. If there’s nothing happening, increase the heat enough that you see a few bubbles. I’m guessing that you’ll get 5-6 quarts of stock. I just fed my kids and their friends turkey vegetable soup for lunch today!

  5. My turkey was 21.5lbs and now I have A LOT of stock. Can I substitute turkey stock in place of the chicken stock in any of your soup recipes? Thanks!

    • Lucky you! Turkey is a little gamier than chicken, in my opinion, but it can be substituted most of the time. The soup I posted today I actually like best with turkey stock: https://pamelasalzman.com/rustic-butternut-squash-soup-with-fennel-and-wild-rice/
      Also, try the lentil and brown rice soup, as well as the mushroom and barley soup with kale. You can also just saute some vegetables and and do a turkey and vegetable soup with or without a whole grain.

  6. Now that I have some delicious turkey stock, do you have any good soup ideas?

  7. May I just move in with you?? 😀

    • Ha! Sure, do you do dishes?

  8. Thank you so much for your recipes and schedule. My sister and I, using your recipes and schedule, cooked for 33 people and everything was perfect!

    • Wow! That’s impressive. You could probably run a small country!

  9. Hi Pamela,

    Thank you so much for your generous posts about Thanksgiving!! I was greatly helped. Since my daughter generally spends this holiday with her father, sadly, I’ve not been much of a Thanksgiving cook over the years. This year however, I had other friends and family that could join me and I got to cook for 8!! The decorating, the smells, the little arguments about the menu with my partner and her mother; all a total delight and so much fun! Perhaps at first little nerve racking but only until I realized that Thanksgiving is a classic, everyone loves to help and there really is nothing to worry about in the end. I truly have so much to be grateful for.

    Your videos in particular were incredibly helpful and after watching some of them a few times through it was actually like you were here to help. So thank you for that and welcome to my kitchen at Hope Lane!

    Just for a short introduction as I haven’t written you before, I’m a trained chef (from 30 years ago!!), and briefly worked for Ina Garten back in the days of Barefoot Contessa. I then had a baby and chose to stay at home to raise her until I opened my own gourmet take out shop on Cape Cod. She’s off to college now, the business is sold and I’m semi-retired out here on the Cape seeking next steps while turning 50! In the mean time I’m an avid ‘foodie’ and I’ve been enjoying your site.

    Thanksgiving was a major success too!! The dry brine salt rub on the turkey was brilliant while cooking it with a lemon inside just divine.

    Many thanks for your inspiration and while the stock simmers, I’ll begin looking forward to learning more from you in the future.


    • Sally, thank you for your generous comments today. I loved reading about your story. Nothing makes me happier than to inspire people to cook and have fun doing it. Please stay in touch and enjoy!

  10. Hi Pamela
    Ok, I did not have celery, so I put in extra carrots. And I only had one yellow onion and one purple onion. So we’ll see how this works out! Thanks, Pamela. The Turkey and gravy and brussel sprouts were divine!!! Linleigh

    • I love hearing that you had success in the kitchen! Let me know how it goes with the stock. I am curious about the purple onion if it changes the color of the stock. Next time, save your veggie scraps from prepping for Thanksgiving and use those, too.

  11. happy day after! this post made me laugh out loud! so glad you had a beautiful thanksgiving. quick question: i made too much cranberry sauce. can it be frozen? thanks!

    • the sauce lasts for quite a while in the refrigerator. I guess it’s too late to tell you to give some to your guests. I’ve never frozen it, but I would freeze a half cup today and see what happens. I’m guessing it may be a little more watery, but you can drain it. Let me know what happens!

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I come from a large Italian-American family with 28 first cousins (on one side of the family!) where sit-down holiday dinners for 85 people are the norm (how, you might ask – organization! But more on that later …).

Some of my fondest memories are of simple family gatherings, both large and small, with long tables of bowls and platters piled high, the laughter of my cousins echoing and the comfort of tradition warming my soul.

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