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If you’ve never had homemade chicken stock, you’re in for a treat for both your taste buds and your wallet. Chicken stock is so easy to make in the Instant Pot, and it’s made from things you would normally throw away. Homemade stock has way more flavor than the stuff in the box, and you know exactly what went into it.
What Is Stock, Anyway?
Stock is a cooking liquid that is made from simmering the bones of an animal along with aromatic vegetables. Stock is used as a base for many dishes, such as soups, and can often be used in place of water to greatly enhance flavor. Have you tried cooking rice in chicken stock instead of water? Totally delicious.
The French Method
In French cuisine, chicken stock should be as clear as possible. You start with chicken bones, onions, carrots, celery, and a boquet garni (parsley, black peppercorns, and a bay leaf tied up in a little cheesecloth packet). You place all the ingredients in a stock pot, cover with cold water, and bring it up to a boil. As soon as you see boiling, immediately turn the heat to low and simmer for about 3-4 hours, skimming off any impurities that rise to the top, then strain. If you are making a fancy, clear soup, this is the method for you.
The Instant Pot Method
The Instant Pot method is pretty much the opposite of the traditional French method. You basically chuck all the ingredients in the pot, cover with water, and crank that baby up for 45 minutes. No simmering, no skimming, no babysitting. The result is a wonderfully flavorful stock, rich with gelatin. The gelatin is released from the bones as the stock boils, and gives you a luxurious, silky mouthfeel. This is the difference between stock and broth. Broth is made from the meat of an animal, and does not have any gelatin.
Stock made in the Instant Pot generally will not be as clear as stock made with the French method, but this does not matter 99% of the time.
Any time I roast a chicken or buy a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store, I save the carcass (that’s what culinary peeps call the bones and skin that’s leftover after you carve the chicken. Appetizing, I know). If I don’t have time to make stock right away, I put the carcass in a Ziplock freezer bag and freeze it. I also freeze vegetable scraps, so, when the time comes, I can just put all of my frozen scraps in my Instant Pot and be rewarded with delicious, fresh stock.
Also, pro tip, if you ever smoke chickens, use those bones and you get smoked stock. It’s unreal.
Which Vegetables Are Good For Making Stock?
The traditional veggies to put in chicken stock are onions, carrots, and celery in a 2:1:1 ratio (two parts onion, one part carrot, one part celery). In French cooking, this trio is called mirepoix. You’ll see it all over, for good reason. These vegetables are light, and impart enough flavor to add aromatic goodness to almost any dish without overpowering it.
Fennel is also a good choice for stock, as are shallots and leeks. Stay away from any vegetable that has any bitterness to it, such as broccoli, leafy greens, bell peppers, etc. These will give your stock a bitter, off taste.
There are recipes on the internet that add garlic to the stock as well. I personally have never done this, because I prefer to sauté garlic into the final dish that I’m making. I feel like I have more control that way. If do add garlic to your stock, will you let me know how it goes?
Tips and Tricks
- Leave the skin on your onions. Chop off the root end so you don’t have dirt in your stock, but leave the paper on. It adds color.
- Let your Instant Pot do a natural release. There’s so much liquid in the pot, that if you did a manual release too early, you risk boiling stock shooting out of the valve. Don’t do it.
- Don’t overfill your pot. You just want enough water to cover the ingredients, otherwise your stock will be too watery. Also, if you happen to have a huge chicken, like I did in the picture above, don’t fill the pot more than 3/4 full, even if some ingredients stick out of the water.
- Don’t salt your stock, that way you have total control over the salt in the final dish.
- Strain your stock through cheesecloth. This helps get any bits of stuff out of your finished product. This isn’t totally necessary, you can just strain it through a fine mesh sieve, but it is nice.
- Don’t worry about it if there is a little meat still on the bones. It’s fine.
- After you strain your stock, throw some ice cubes in it to start it cooling down. You could also throw the ice in before you strain the stock. When you can handle it, pour the chicken stock into 1 quart deli cups, then label and freeze.
When you make this recipe, will you please tag me on Instagram or Facebook @athometestcook? I can’t wait to see your homemade stock!
Instant Pot Chicken Stock
- Instant Pot
- leftover bones and skin from 1 whole chicken.
- 2 yellow onions root removed, cut in half, skin on.
- 1/2 pound carrots peeled
- 2-3 stalks celery
- 3 large sprigs Italian parsley optional
- 1 teaspoon black peppercorns optional
- 1 bay leaf optional
- enough water to cover 3 or 4 quarts
- Add all ingredients to inner pot of your Instant Pot.
- Close the lid, and set valve to "sealing."
- Cook on high pressure for 45 minutes.
- Let the Instant Pot do a natural release for 45 minutes, or until the pressure indicator drops.
- Add a tray of ice cubes (2 cups) of ice cubes to the stock to cool it down a little.
- Very carefully, using 2 oven mitts, strain into a large mixing bowl through a fine mesh sieve lined with a double layer of cheesecloth. The stock will be very, very hot.
- Pour stock into quart sized deli cups, label, and freeze or refrigerate.