Chicken Broth

Updated February 23, 2016
This image courtesy of Joseph DeLeo

This is the way I make chicken broth—with a whole chicken cut into pieces. These pieces are plucked out and recycled into any number of chicken dishes. I end up with richly flavored chicken for whatever dish I’ve chosen to make, enough wonderful broth to use in that same dish, and a bonus of broth for the fridge or freezer for future use. .

If this broth is destined for a soup, add a small pinch of saffron threads for a gorgeous golden color.

Use the whole chicken if you’d like to end up with a chicken to use in another dish. If you’re making broth to stockpile in the freezer, use the chicken backs, necks, and/or wings.

How To Cut A Chicken Into 10 Pieces:

The simplest way to cut a chicken into 10 pieces is to buy a chicken already “cut in 1/8ths” from the supermarket. Cut off the wing tips if necessary and trim any overhanging skin and excess fat. Lay the breasts skin side up on the cutting board and cut them in half crosswise, with one firm stroke.

If you’re starting from scratch with a whole chicken, first make sure you have a sturdy, sharp knife and a pair of kitchen shears: Cut along the backbone on both sides to remove it. Lay the chicken flat skin side down on the cutting board and cut in half right through the middle of the breastbone. Cut off the legs, then cut them in half at the knee joint. Cut off the wings where they meet the breast. The easiest way to cut the leg in half and separate the wing from the breast is to cut through the meet down to the bone. Take a peek to find the joint and cut through the middle of the joint—it’s easier than trying to cut through bones. Cut off the wing tips, cut the breast in half as described above, and trim any overhanging skin and excess fat.

You can also cut a duck into serving pieces in the same way. Go slowly, the joints in a duck aren’t as easy to cut through as those of a chicken.

Makes3 to 3½ quarts



Total Timeunder 4 hours

Make Ahead RecipeYes

One Pot MealYes

Dietary Considerationegg-free, gluten-free, lactose-free, peanut free, soy free, tree nut free

Taste and Texturegarlicky, meaty, rich

Type of Dishsoup, stock


  • One 5-pound chicken, cut into 10 pieces (See Note), or 5 pounds chicken backs, wings, necks, and gizzards (without the liver)
  • 2 large Spanish onions (about 2 pounds), left whole and unpeeled
  • 1 large red bell pepper, cored, seeded, and cut into quarters
  • 1 large head of garlic
  • 1 large bunch fresh cilantro
  • 2 teaspoons black peppercorns
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 ham hock (optional)
  • Fine sea or kosher salt


Place the chicken, onions, and red pepper in a large stockpot. (Mine is 16 quarts.) Rinse the garlic head in cold water and then peel off the papery skin. Break up the garlic into individual cloves. Rinse and cut the roots off the cilantro. Cut a piece of cheesecloth the size of a kitchen towel. Put the garlic cloves, peppercorns, bay leaves, and cilantro on the cheesecloth, bring the ends together to make a little pouch, and tie the whole thing up loosely with kitchen twine. Give the pouch a few good whacks with a kitchen mallet and add it to the pot.

Add enough cold water to cover the chicken by at least 2 to 3 inches. Drop in the ham hock if using. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, skimming foam off the top as it forms. When the water comes to a boil, adjust the heat so the broth cooks at a steady but not rolling boil. Cook for 30 minutes.

Check to make sure the breasts are cooked through and then remove them from the pot. Cook 15 minutes more, remove the legs and thighs, and set aside to make another chicken dish. If you’re using backs, necks, wings, etc., you don’t have to remove anything. Leave them in to further flavor the broth.

Cook for 1 hour. Set a strainer over a large bowl and line the strainer with a couple of layers of cheesecloth. Carefully strain the broth through the cheesecloth. (Ladling it is the easiest and safest way.) Add salt to taste.



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