How I Make The Best Turkey Stock to Use On Thanksgiving!
Here’s all the secrets to my favorite turkey stock recipe!
Okay… this is one of my favorite things ever! As boring as that may seem. It just makes life much more… FLAVORFUL.
For the last few years, I’ve made turkey stock and it is a GAME CHANGER. No exaggeration here. The depth of flavor that homemade stock brings to your Thanksgiving meal is INCREDIBLE.
I use it mostly for gravy. My mom taught me how to make incredible gravy and now I can make the best gravy ever. It may even be better than hers.
I also use it for stuffing and anywhere else I may need a drizzle of stock or broth throughout the cooking process. If you ever wonder why certain Thanksgiving meals taste so darn good… this is probably the reason.
These days, I can easily find high quality chicken stock. Because of that, I don’t spend the time every other week or so making my own. I do like to make it for chicken soup, but other than that, I just don’t have the time. And I find that I use a lot of stock.
Thanksgiving is the one exception where I highly highly suggest taking the time to make the stock. I do it anywhere from three to four days before and store it in my fridge. I tend to use all of it while making the meal (we like a lot of gravy in this family) but if you have extra, you can use it for soup or even freeze it. Tons of options for you!
I find that it’s easiest to make my stock on the day that I dry brine my turkey. This is because I clean up the turkey and remove the neck and giblets and what not. As you’ll see below, I do buy turkey wings for the stock, but you can use the neck for extra flavor if you wish. Since I do it this way, I usually make the stock on Monday or Tuesday of that week.
Prep is key!
Back in the day, I used to only brown the neck and make stock. That was good, but this is even better. It does require you to buy one more thing (turkey wings!) but I promise that it is worth it.
Also note: I realize that it’s 2020 and well… it’s 2020. If you can’t find turkey wings (I’m still doing grocery delivery and pickup, so options can be slim), you can use chicken wings in a pinch. Same kind of flavor going on!
I’ve adapted a recipe from epicurious over the years and there are a few important things to note that make this turkey stock recipe top-notch.
Roast the wings first. This adds fantastic depth of flavor for a very rich, golden stock, The original recipe calls for chopping up the wings with a meat cleaver, but I don’t even do that. There are a few benefits if you wish to do it, but I find it’s not necessary.
While the wings roast, I brown the vegetables in a stock pot so they get extra caramelly and delicious. We’re talking that deep golden brown sear on the onions, celery and carrots.
I salt both the wings and the vegetables while cooking them. But I don’t salt the stock until it’s done! You’ll have to taste the stock a few times at the end and season it generously.
I find that straining the stock two or three times removes most of the bits. If you want very clear stock, you can strain it through cheesecloth a few times. I simple use a fine mesh strainer and do it twice or three times. My stock does tend to have some flavor bits left in it, but I don’t mind since I’m using it mostly for gravy!
Okay so TRUST ME when I say this is how you make the big meal come together. It takes an extra step but I promise it is SO worth it. You will not regret it. And if you do it early in the week, it’s even easier!
I promise, it’s foolproof!
Best Turkey Stock Recipe
Homemade Turkey Stock Recipe
- 3 pounds turkey (or chicken!) wings
- kosher salt and pepper
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 onions, cut in half
- 2 carrots, cut into pieces
- 2 celery stalks, cut into pieces
- 1 handful fresh parsley
- 2 springs fresh thyme
- 1 handful fresh sage
- Note: if you want to use the neck for the stock too, I brown it with the vegetables. You can also roast it with the wings if you wish!
- Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Place the wings in a baking dish and sprinkle all over with salt and pepper. Brush with 1/2 tablespoon of the olive oil. Roast for 30 minutes, then flip and roast again for 30 to 40 minutes more, until they are golden brown.
- While the wings are roasting, heat the remaining oil in a large stock pot over medium heat. One hot, add in the onions, carrots and celery with a pinch of salt and pepper. Brown the vegetables until they are golden and caramelly on all sides.
- When the wings are done, add them to the stock pot with the vegetables. Add in the parsley and thyme. Fill the pot with water - about 14 to 16 cups. Bring the stock to a boil. Reduce it to a simmer. Simmer uncovered for 30 minutes.
- After 30 minutes, you can add a bit more water if a lot has evaporated. Cover and let the stock simmer for about 2 to 2.5 hours, checking on it and stirring occasionally.
- After 2.5 hours, turn off the heat. I remove the large wings and vegetables that are still in the stock with kitchen tongs for ease. Grab a large bowl (or 2!) and begin to strain the stock through a fine mesh strainer or cheesecloth. Once I finish this, I do it again 1 or 2 more times, just to remove as many bits as a I can. At this point, I taste the stock and season it with salt. You will most like use at least 1 to 2 teaspoons of kosher salt.
- Once the stock sits, you can skim any extra fat off the top. At this point, you can let it cool (I either put it back in a (clean) pot with a lid to cool a bit or cool it down with an ice bath. Once cool enough, place immediately into the fridge!
Did you make this recipe?
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32 Comments on “How I Make The Best Turkey Stock to Use On Thanksgiving!”
Making this ahead of time is such a good tip for successful Thanksgiving dinner prep! I have done this for over 25 years and actually go a step further and use the skimmed fat and stock to make a batch of gravy. I make it on the thicker side to allow for adding drippings from my actual turkey on TG. We also like a lot of gravy and this ensures we have plenty! You can even make it weeks in advance and freeze. So good! Love all of your TG dishes this past week.
This looks amazing! Do you think you could roast turkey legs instead of wings for this? I know you suggested chicken wings, but I would love to get the turkey flavor.
Turkey legs would work just fine, though it would be a bit of a waste of meat! I would recommend using turkey wings/wing tips (if you can find them on their own) as they have more connective tissues that will break down to add some of that good, hearty flavor. It will also help to make your gravy THICC.
How long would this keep in the fridge? Thank you!
I am really looking forward to trying this! I am not a confident gravy maker but you’ve inspired me try. One question, do you replace the water called for in your mom’s gravy recipe with this stock? Maybe a silly question, just wanted to check. Thank you and Happy Thanksgiving!
hi lisa!! yes i do. :) i use all stock for the gravy!
Oh my, this is good! I love the flavor brought by roasting everything. I added a few necks to the baking sheet. Also added bay leaves and a few whole peppercorns as the stock was simmering. I strained it once into a large pitcher and put it in the fridge. When I’m ready to use it, I’ll simply pour it into the pot through a strainer again. The cold fat and remaining solids should stay in the strainer.
It has a lovely, deep turkey flavor. Just what I want for my stuffing and gravy. Thank you!
(Oh, BTW, you left out the sage in the instructions)
Oooo. Just read the comment about using the cold fat in one’s gravy. I’m stealing that one!!!! Happy cook here.
At first when I read this right when you posted it, I thought “it’s 2020, I’m already doing enough by cooking a full spread for just 6 of us” but seeing one last package of turkey wings at the grocery store this morning inspired me to try it. Can’t wait to see how it all turns out!!
oh i’m so excited!! i am only cooking for 6 people this year too. i promise you it is worth it! let me know how it turns out!
Making it now! When do we add the sage? Do we add along with the thyme and parsley?
yes! in with the rest of the herbs!
Sounds delicious. If I do it a week ahead. Do I need to refrigerate or freeze the Turkey stock,until day before Thanksgiving?
i would suggest freezing if you do it a week ahead! if it’s 3 days or less, then you can keep it in the fridge.
Do you have a recipe for the gravy?
My house smells wonderful! I never roasted the vegetables before or the wings. It’s worth the extra step.
do you use 2 ribs of celery or stalk meaning the whole bunch of celery times two?
delicious recipe! used it in my gravy and in my roasted turkey recipe. added some of the fat and the broth obviously to the bottom of the pan to roast the turkey & baste. was delicious! the recipe is very gelatinous before you warm it up which is so cool!!
Can the meat from the wings be “re-used” in a soup or best to discard?
it’s best to discard – you have used up all the flavor for the stock!
This recipe is absolutely delicious. I froze several containers of the leftover stock. The other day I made chicken vegetable soup with noodles. My husband is 79 years old and he said that the chicken soup was the best he had EVER eaten. Our daughter and our son came by and tried some. Both also raved how good it was. I will always make this stock for Thanksgiving making certain I have some leftover in the freezer for soup at a later date. I have been cooking for 55+ years and I will say it again. THIS RECIPE IS AWESOME.
I was making a turkey breast with lemon and capers for Easter. I needed turkey stock but it wasn’t available in my area. When I did a search on line for stores that carried turkey stock, I came upon this recipe. I could have used store bought chicken stock instead, but after reading this recipe, I was encouraged to try it. I had a bone in turkey breast which I deboned. I used the breast bone instead of turkey wings but followed the instructions to the T. The result was amazing and it made the sauce for the turkey breasts super flavorful. I will never buy store bought turkey stock again. Thanks for such great recipe!!
This sounds like it is what I need. Stock for large thanksgiving dinner requires quite a bit for great flavor. There’s just not enough stock from the turkey for everything I need.
Really helpful, Thank you!!
I’ve always made my own turkey stock for Thanksgiving exactly like this recipe. It takes your dressing and gravy to the next level.
Made this today using turkey thighs. I wanted turkey flavor &turkey meat for turkey and homemade noodles for our Friendsgiving Potluck at church. So good!
I also deglazed the roasting pan and added to the stock pot. Got to get all the yummys into it!
I have been a chef For 40 years and when you make your stock two or three days before Thanksgiving and let it cool you want to take the fat Off the top after it cools and use that along with flour to make your roux to thicken your gravy that you make from your stock along with the juices from cooking the turkey. If you can find chicken feet put that in your original stock and it will be a beautiful color. But only two. Enjoy!!
I forgot to add that when you melt your original fat from the stock and it does not seem to be enough you can add either 2 to 4 tablespoons of butter to the start of this roux and it would not affect the flavor at all.
Didn’t have any wings but I used homemade chicken stock instead of water. Smells delicious and we’ll get to use it for gravy tomorrow.
I made this stock for this year’s thanksgiving and it quite honestly was the backdrop for the best gravy and dressing I have ever made.
I used no substitutions and let my pot get dark during the process of browning the vegetables. The only thing I did differently was to let the stock simmer overnight, for a full eight hours. So good.