HOW TO MAKE ROAST TURKEY STOCK, SLOW-COOKER and STOVE-TOP – If Roasting Is Labor Then Making Stock is the Glorious After Birth

Turkey Stock, Salted for Sipping When SickHow to Make Roast Turkey Stock first. Resources, notes, and my personal comments after.



turkey carcass, including visible fat, skin
any juices collected from the serving platter
2-3 quarts of water
2-3 carrots, washed, peeled, and cut into 1-inch pieces
2-3 celery stalks, washed and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 large onion, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
5-6 cloves of garlic, peeled and smashed


large stock pot or slow cooker
stainless steel tongs
2 large bowls, one that fits within the other
containers to store and chill stock


Make Stock: Regular Stove-top Method

Place turkey carcass along with fat and skin in a large stock pot; save the accumulated juices to add later. If the carcass doesn’t fit, break the carcass down into smaller parts. Cover with water until the carcass is submerged and covered by 1″ of water.

Bring pot to a boil over medium heat. Turn down heat to low and simmer for 3 hours. After 3 hours, add the chopped carrots, celery, onion, and garlic. Simmer for an additional 1 hour.

Skip ahead to Cool Stock, Chill, and Remove Fat (for Both Stove-top and Slow-Cooker methods) below.

Make Stock: Slow-Cooker Method

Place turkey carcass along with fat and skin in the slow cooker; save the accumulated juices to add later. If the carcass doesn’t fit, break the carcass down into smaller parts. Cover with water until the carcass is submerged and covered by 1″ of water.

Turn on slow cooker, and set for 4 hours on High or 8 hours on Low. When there are two hours left on the slow cooker, add the chopped carrots, celery, onion, and garlic.

Cool Stock, Chill, and Remove Fat (for Both Stove-top and Slow-Cooker Methods)

With a pair of tongs, remove large parts of bones and vegetables from the pot. You can throw the bones away, but I always let it cool off on a plate then pick off every single shred of meat and edible cartilage from the bones. I am not kidding. I may never do anything with those microscopic fibers of flesh, I may never eat it, but dammit if I don’t get my $3.99/pound’s worth from that turkey. The vegetables will be to the point just before becoming baby food, so you can toss them, but why?! I let them cool off, sprinkle some salt, and eat them as my reward for being so economical. However, at this point, the vegetables have very little, if any, nutritional value left in them.

Carefully pour the stock through a strainer into another large pot or bowl. Place the bowl of hot stock in another bowl that is filled with ice water to quick-cool the stock. When the ice has melted, drain some of the water, and add more ice. Do this a few times until the stock is cool enough to touch.

Ladle the cooled stock to storage containers, and refrigerate overnight to allow fat to rise to the top and solidify. After fat has solidified, remove, discard (or use it to make something, but what, I have no idea).

If you actually own a liquid fat separating device of some sort, go ahead and use it to remove the liquid turkey fat from the stock before you refrigerate.

I own a fat separator. HOWEVER, I find great joy in waiting patiently for the fat in turkey (or any animal for that matter) stock to rise to the top, cool overnight in the refrigerator, and congeal into a thick layer that seals off the top of the container, then lifting the disc of solid fat off the surface of the stock in a single smooth motion with a large spoon.

Store stock in refrigerator, or freeze and keep for up to 3 months. It might safely last longer, but it won’t actually. Turkey stock that has been simmered with additional garlic, ginger, a few herbs, and salt, is a little bit of a lot of awesome on a winter night.


  • The ingredients and directions here are for making Roasted Turkey Stock, assuming you are using the leftover bones from a whole roast turkey. You can also make this stock using turkey wings, backs, and a few other bony meat parts. You can, obviously, do all of this with chicken, as well. Roast the wings and bones in a 400°F oven for 40 minutes, or until the parts are golden brown. Use these roasted parts and proceed with the recipe.
  • Bone Broth: You can make bone broth by simmering the stock for about two to three times longer than for basic stock. If you’re making Bone Broth for your health, add a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar to the water when you start, which will help break down the bones and leach out more good stuff. I use this brand of apple cider vinegar.
  • Some people add herbs like thyme, spices like peppercorns, and salt, but I prefer to make a very basic stock and season it with salt and herbs/spices at the time that I use it, since stock crosses cuisines and I never know if the flavor of a Bay leaf in the stock now will be weird in a Korean soup later.
  • Stock Pot: I use a very large stock pot by Demeyere. I t has a heavy bottom and easy-to-hold handles. Any large pot that fits the ingredients will do.
  • Slow Cooker: I have a 6-quart programmable slow cooker by the brand Crock-Pot. If you are going to use a slow-cooker, I highly recommend getting/using a slow-cooker that has a timer or auto-shut-off so you can truly “set it, and forget it,” which is kind of the point of a slow-cooker, imho.
  • DO NOT PUT HOT STOCK IN THE REFRIGERATOR to cool down. The stock will make it too warm in the refrigerator, compromising the safety of the foods in there.
  • Storage containers: I keep a decent supply of these plastic quart (32 ounces) containers for any- and everything. The containers are technically “disposable,” but they can be used a few times with hand-washing between uses. The best thing, though, is freezer-safe glass. Always make sure the stock is cool before pouring into any type of storage container.


As much as I love all the planning weeks in advance, prepping the night before, cooking on the day, strategically positioning ourselves around our parents’ enormous, ancient dining room table that they’ve had so long that it’s petrified wood now, and finally enjoying the fruits and vegetables of our labor, I find myself in a strange mental space as we eat our Thanksgiving dinner. I’m nodding and smiling and laughing through the dinner conversation, truly thankful for being there with my family, but deep down inside, all I can do is think about the clean-up.

I know. The clean-up.

Most people dread the cleanup of a huge holiday dinner that required 4 days in the kitchen, 56 pots, pans, and casseroles to cook, another 78 platters, plates, bowls, forks, and glasses to serve, and 9 little sippy cups thrown in for the three nieces an nephews who can’t seem to keep their cups straight so they have to be washed every time to prevent cross-cousin contamination.

I, however, totally look forward to the aftermath.


I Don’t Do Dishes

It’s not the physical activity of cleaning to which I look forward. I actually don’t like rifling through my parents’ cupboards trying to match plastic containers to lids. I don’t like scooping what was an hour ago a gorgeous hot cloud of mashed potatoes but is now a room temperature, mealy, messy, solid mass, or portioning out whatever is leftover of the green bean casserole, which is usually not very much because my family loves green bean casserole.

Most of all, I hate doing post Holiday party dishes. When I am at home in my own house, I find doing dishes extremely, yes strangely, relaxing, but in the Thanksgiving situation, I don’t like it because I’d rather do something else other than scraping the NASA-strength re-entry residue from the side of the glass casserole dish where canned cream of mushroom soup has molecularly welded itself to Pyrex.

Taking the Carcass for the Team

Every year, I always manage to negotiate my way out of doing the dishes because I claim that I will be the one to take on the one truly dreaded final task – dealing with the turkey carcass. As long as we call it a “carcass,” no one else wants to do it. “Oh no no no, I couldn’t let you deal with it,” I say to my sisters with their beautifully manicured nails. I, the dutiful oldest daughter, will “deal with the turkey,” I sigh, as if it were a big deal and that I will take on the big fat burden, taking one for the Delicious Family Team, making a tremendous sacrifice.

Little do they know that the domestic *sigh* on the outside is really an evil *buahahaha!* on the inside.

Before sitting down at the head of the now-abandoned table cleared of all silverware, dishes, and plates, save for one enormous serving platter that is my target, I stretch my arms and upperback, roll my head forward and backward like a caged animal ready to break free. With hands washed, sanitized, sleeves rolled up if I haven’t changed into a wifebeater tank top already, hair pulled back into a nappy knot, I ease into the chair then lean back and crack my knuckles in slow, calculated preparation. Then with the fury of a tigress, I attack the carcass with my bare hands, cracking open the rib cage, snapping joints out of their sockets, tearing through every knot of cartilage, pulling every last shred, every tiny tendril of muscle from the bones. My body is hunched over the edge of the table, my head down, my fast and nimble fingers clawing through the carcass, and I can’t be sure, but every once in a while, I think I hear myself cackle like some wild, possessed hyena.

Carefully, accurately, evenly I ration the leftover meat into zip-top bags for each of the three Delicious daughters’ households into exactly equal portions, which makes perfect sense because even though two of them should be heavier because those households includes husbands and babies, Sarah’s bag is intended for a household of one.

Which means it needs just as much as the others.

Because she is forced to eat at home alone a lot.

Because she’s a blogger.

I hate my life sometimes.

They actually never say that. I am just greedy and since I do the rationing, I make the bags equal.

By the time I push back from the table, done, all that remains on the polished-just-for-Holidays silver platter is a horrifying pile of bones, a gruesome mess of shredded skin, and random bits and gristly body parts that are not suitable for describing out blog. From my elbows to my wrists, my forearms are glistening in what appears to be a pair of fine, transparent turkey grease opera gloves. There are tiny fibers of meat caught under my nails and basting residue shoved into my cuticles like a manicurist’s softening cream. My lips are glossy from stolen bites of choice morsels, and there are small spots of shine on my forehead where, ostensibly, I have used the back of my hand to push back bangs that fell into my eyes. I have never looked at myself in a mirror during or after “the operation,’ but I don’t think I want to.

It’s a dirty, disgusting, messy, filthy, absolutely deliciously satisfying job.

But somebody has to do it.


The most glorious moment, though, comes when I double fist the platter now heavy with untouchable bits into the kitchen, tilt it up and gently slide all the contents into the largest pot I can get from my mother when I scream “A pot! A pot! I need a #$%^&*@! pot for the turkey carcass! Someone get a damn pot — this thing weighs 30 pounds!” which makes no sense since the turkey was 20 pounds when it went into the oven.

I never have to do dishes because I make roast turkey stock with the aftermath.

We do this every year.

But this year, it was different. Something changed. There was a blip in the matrix.

I can’t remember the exact phrasing, but it didn’t matter because the actual words that came shooting out of my mother’s mouth were colored by the tone. She had impaled the carrion through the body cavity with a pair of closed tongs and was holding it, dripping dropping leaking unidentifiable bits of flesh and fat into the kitchen trash can with a look of utter disgust, disdain, and something like the same kind of fear that might befall a toxic waste clean up crewman that lost the draw for the last hazmat suit.

“Are you sure you want this? Why? What on earth could you possibly make that is edible out of this revolting specimen of foul fowl carrion?!”

I was dumbfounded. I would have let my jaw drop to the floor except that I just spent a fortune on dental work.

All these years we’ve done the same little after dinner dance and they didn’t even know why? My, my heart started to beat faster and I could feel my inner crouching tiger’s tail lashing back and forth with … a little bit of anger? Bitterness? I was on the defensive.


At any moment, a tendon, a glistening ligament could snap and the fragile frame of bones would slip off my mother’s tongs and go crashing down into the deep, dark unknown of a Glad trash bag. The single moment for which I waited all year, planned for three weeks, prepped for three days, roasted for three hours would be…I didn’t take my eyes off my Mom, but somehow a robot took over the scene. An extra large plastic zipper-top bag made its way from the slippery pile on the counter, around the precious remains of the bird, and I absconded with what would be my project for the next few days back at my house.


Everything about Roast Turkey Stock – from the multi-day process of making it to the actual stock itself – brings me an indescribable joy that I’m going to describe anyway. I love the improvisational nature of making stock because every carcass is a different size, has differing amounts of “stuff” left on the bones. But it always feels good to know that no matter what I put into the pot, even when I feel like “getting creative” (like I did with ginger one year), the stock will come out, for the most part, pretty good (see previous: “ginger”).

I love the smell of the house as the stock simmers, leaching flavor out of the bones and blobules of fat, color from the skin, and how warm it gets, physically, from the heat of the stovetop flame. I love the almost literally therapeutic feeling of the steam on my face as I peer through it to fish out parts of the turkey skeleton that haven’t surrendered to the gentle seduction of heat and water.

I love the careful, clocked returns to the kitchen over the course of hours to check water levels, skim for “untouchables, and occasionally rescuing a vegetable, maybe a bright carrot, maybe a sweet onion, just before it disintegrates and dissolves into the the browning deep of stock in progress. These I let cool for just a moment while still in the ladle, sprinkle with salt, then suck them straight out of the spoon, risking some degree of burn down my esophagus.

I love pouring the hot stock into storage containers, then, after the stock has cooled, gelled, and presented a gorgeous, thick layer of hardened fat on its surface, cracking through said layer with a large serving fork and in the true meaning of “forklift,” taking the single solid disc out.

I love the end product; turkey stock is warm, comforting, and simmered with the browned, sometimes slightly charred bits of skin, promises a dark, deeply fragrant base for future soups, stews, and chilis. During the cold season, as soon as I feel a tingle in my sinuses or a tickle in my throat, I heat up a cup of stock, salt it, and sip it like tea.

However, let’s not kid ourselves about the real reason why I like “making stock.” It’s not so much “making stock” as it is “not throwing away and wasting a perfectly good turkey carcass.” It’s about money. Value. I love truly getting my money’s worth. Making stock from the bones means I am not only sucking every last drop of flavor, every last nutritive molecule of marrowy mineral, every last cent out of the I-don’t-want-to-admit-how-much-we-spent, from the turkey, but I won’t have to spend any additional money on store bought chicken broth.

Now that brings me joy.

Well, that and the whole congealed fat thing. Don’t ask me what I do with that turkey fat. You don’t want to know.
Turkey Stock Chill Overnight

Turkey Stock and Congealed Fat, Up close

Turkey Stock Fat Layer on Top

Turkey Stock - Fat Removed

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{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Craig December 6, 2009 at 11:51 pm

I love it, and you would loved my family’s thanksgiving dinner, my sister made a second turkey that we didn’t use at all so I had to carve it up afterward for distribution.


2 Andrew December 7, 2009 at 12:13 am

How do you get that much fat out of your turkey, so that you can form a legitimate disk? I want to say some kind of voodoo magic, but maybe my turkeys have poor body image and starve themselves. Also, do you ever bother clarifying your stock, but I guess if you did that you would title it “Making Consomme is the After Birth”
I am trying to figure out whether it is worth it, we never do it in the restaurant. I mean if I get it right, it is fantastic and I will drink a quart over a day.


3 Sarah J. Gim December 7, 2009 at 2:00 am

Craig: I kind of wish there were turkeys that have no useless breast nor wings just big fat juicy dark meaty legs. I would get that every week and eat, then make stock.

Andrew: Clearly we have different taste in birds. You like the long, lean Hollywood actress-type. I like birds that “got back.”

Also, I think using containers that are taller rather than wider concentrates the fat into a smaller, though thicker disc.


4 SJ December 7, 2009 at 7:00 am

I hear you on those post-holiday dishes. I negotiated hours of working as a sous chef on Thanksgiving just so I could dodge half an hour of cleanup (having lots of grown cousins over who aren’t trusted enough to enter the kitchen helps).


5 Jill December 7, 2009 at 10:55 am

You are so me! Making stock is equal to 100 hours of therapy. There is something so cozy and yet sexy about simmering a carcass for hours on end! I have to tell you, the stock is even better if you don’t peel the onions or garlic. Just cut a whole bulb of garlic in half and quarter the onions, peel and all.


6 CoconutRecipes December 7, 2009 at 11:05 am

This is a wonderful blog post and instructional on making turkey stock! Well-written and very funny. Of course if you want to make the BEST stock from turkeys, there is no comparison to stock made from turkeys who are NOT fed huge concentrations of soybeans and have more of the traditional saturated fat in them that nature intended…


7 Sarah J. Gim December 7, 2009 at 12:07 pm

SJ: What is it about the cleanup, too, that just when you think you’ve gotten the last platter washed, rinsed, and dried, someone comes gliding into th kitchen with yet another plate/bowl/glass/fork/something?!

Jill: Hm…I wonder what it is about the skin? I read that all over, but somehow, I am slightly disturbed by onions skins, as they seem like they could harbor lots of dirt. I know dirt can’t hurt, but..

Coconut Recipes: True! But then I don’t get the joy of hacking through the fat on the stock! It gives me such joy!

Or maybe I should just make beef stock…


8 Theresa December 7, 2009 at 1:05 pm

Love this! I do this every time we have a turkey (and roast chicken also), nothing goes to waste!
Great pictures also, thanks!


9 doranb December 7, 2009 at 1:08 pm

… thank you for reminding us …


10 Cooper December 7, 2009 at 1:10 pm

…I, however, am inspired to cook tonight.


11 MyLastBite December 7, 2009 at 1:15 pm

Sarah, keep up the great posts. Thanks for keeping us entertained and HUNGRY. : )


12 TAO December 7, 2009 at 1:20 pm

roll with the punches Sarah.


13 yuttiness December 7, 2009 at 1:24 pm

I love the narrative here. It’s like reading an athlete’s account of running the 100 meter dash. Sounds like fun. Too bad I hate touching “the carcass”.


14 CoconutRecipes December 7, 2009 at 1:25 pm

You would still have the fat to hack through, just different kind of fat. One more saturated with less Omega 6s. But other than Tropical Traditions, there aren’t too many places to buy turkeys not raised on soy unless you can find a local farmer who is really concerned about health and feed. Our stock from our turkeys fed Cocofeed is incredible….


15 MyLastBite December 7, 2009 at 1:28 pm

Maybe he should set up his own REAL BLOG, revolutionize the internet with an awesome user-generated FOOD PHOTO site, manage several complex Ad Revenue streams, plus cook a great meal… while looking hot.


16 Craig December 7, 2009 at 1:48 pm

Though it is just words, words can cut through a person like a Shun knife through Toro so I think one should think twice before clicking “submit.”


17 Andrew December 7, 2009 at 2:25 pm

I got my turkey for $0.37 a lb too, maybe the factory birds on your coast are fatter than the ones on the east coast.


18 rita December 8, 2010 at 5:41 pm

You have missed the real way to make turkey stock and made
much too much work for your self.
Put the turkey carcas,including legs and extra skin etc., back
in the oven on the rack. Put your oven on low heat. If you can as low
as 200 degrees. Leave it to cook all night. I put a little water in
the pan beneath to steam it a little.
In the morning you will see a very dark brown carcas but
no burn. Cool it for a bit. the bones etc will sanp
and putting them in a large soup pot is really easy.
I add the celery and the carrots that are left overs
and one whole onion I will discard later,
after simmering on very low for an hour or even longer.
I strain the broth and throw out all the skin,legs,
wings and carcas pieces. I blend the vegtables
and see how thick the broth (now lots of gelatin)
and add a little more water and salt.
I pour into zip lock bags and use later for soup
or my favorite, gravey. During the months to
come I buy a whole turkey breast and roast it
in the oven and serve with one veg. mashed
potatoes and the best tasting turkey gravy
Try it and you will like it.


19 YutterButter November 30, 2012 at 10:22 am

I want to do the forklift


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