So you’ve roasted your turkey, let it rest, and carved it up for the Thanksgiving feast, but what about all those scraps? Turns out, what’s left on the cutting board is the stuff of gold. Making stock from turkey bones can set you up for months of hearty soups and stews; it’s simple to make, but results in a flavor fuller than store-bought boxed versions (not to mention is more cost effective and less wasteful). If you cook your turkey on a bed of aromatics instead of a rack (which you should, because they soak up all the drippings and flavor as the bird cooks), add those too, along with any juices left after making gravy. Throwing caution to the wind, some cooks toss whole veggies into their stock, but certain bits—top ends of carrots, onion skins— can make the stock dirty and bitter.

As the stock simmers, the bones release natural gelatin, which gives the stock body and causes it to solidify when it cools; this is what distinguishes stock from broth, which is made with just the meat. The bones also give off fat, the vegetables particulates; these produce foam that rises to the surface. So keep your eyes on the pot, as you’ll want to occasionally skim it off. It takes hours of simmering for the bones to release flavor, but hey, it’s Thanksgiving weekend. Once it’s done, you’ll want to strain the stock into containers sitting in an ice bath to cool it quickly; the sudden change in temperature prevents bacteria from growing (dividing it into smaller containers helps with this too). Refrigerate it overnight to give any fat a chance to rise to the top, then skim once more in the morning. After that, freeze the stock in ice cube trays for easy access or portion into zip-top bags and freeze flat to save precious icebox space. It’ll last about three months frozen—perfect timing for all those winter soups and stews you have in mind.

Turkey Stock heading-plus-icon

  • 1 leftover roasted turkey
  • 3 celery ribs
  • 1 large onion
  • 2 carrots
  • 6 thyme sprigs
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 12 peppercorns
Breaking down turkey carcass for stock

step 1

Break down the turky

Remove legs and thighs, cutting meat from the bones. Repeat with wings, then breast.

Prepping vegetables for turkey stock

step 2

Prep vegetables

Cut celery ribs into thirds. Remove and discard root end of onion, then halve and cut each half into quarters. Remove and discard top ends from carrots; cut carrots into thirds.

Skimming turkey stock

step 3

Boil and skim

To a stockpot, add turkey bones, vegetables, thyme, bay leaves, and peppercorns. Add enough water to cover. Bring water to a gentle boil, periodically skimming off foam that rises to the surface.

Turkey stock simmering on the stove

step 4

Simmer away

Once stock boils, turn heat to low and simmer for 4 to 6 hours or overnight.

Straining turkey stock

step 5

Strain and divide

Prepare an ice bath. Remove stockpot from heat and strain liquid into small containers, discarding solids. Move containers to ice bath to chill.

Cooling turkey stock in an ice bath

step 6

Cool and store

While the stock cools, skim off any fat that rises to the surface. Store in freezer for up to 3 months. Use in any recipes that call for turkey stock.


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