After-Thanksgiving Turkey Stock

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I'm a Certified Health Coach, longtime blogger, and host of Elizabeth Eats on YouTube. In addition to writing recipes (I love to eat!), I'm a strong believer that life is too short to settle for anything less than living your best life.


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Homemade turkey stock is easy, nutritious, hydrating, and the perfect way to save money by making your own stock at home if you’ve roasted turkey for Thanksgiving.

Every year since I can remember my mom’s had a big stockpot on the stove right after the holiday meal. You get the most out of your Thanksgiving turkey (or turkey or chicken any other day of the year) when you use the leftover bones & skin (the entire carcass) to make homemade stock.

This leftover turkey stock is so good that I was featured on Good Morning America for it! Click play on the video below to learn how to quickly turn your leftover turkey into a glorious stock:

YouTube video

Just like homemade chicken stock and homemade veggie stock, making homemade stock utilizes your food to the fullest (no waste here!) and gives you a super delicious and nutritious base for your soups and sauces.

You can do it in a Crockpot (aka slow cooker) or big stockpot on your stove.

I prefer the Crockpot so I can quickly put it together and leave it overnight, but do what works for you.

Making your own stock gives you the satisfaction of making your soup absolutely from scratch with tons of nutrients that haven’t been compromised. Your stock will be full of collagen and calcium from the bones (who knew?!) and other nutrients from both the turkey and veggies – so eat up and feel good about it.

Turkey Stock in Bowl

Homemade bone broths like chicken and turkey stock are super flexible and almost impossible to mess up. Just throw all of the ingredients in a big pot and let it simmer.

Homemade Turkey Stock Ingredients

  • 1 cooked turkey (or chicken) carcass, including all bones and skin leftover (discard giblets bag)
  • 1 large white or yellow onion, quartered
  • 4-5 celery stalks
  • 2-3 large carrots, washed but not peeled, greens trimmed away
  • optional: a few garlic cloves
  • optional herbs: 4-5 thyme springs + 2 rosemary springs + 6 thyme sprigs leftover from Thanksgiving cooking (or a handful of any fresh herbs you have, or 2 teaspoons dried thyme)
  • optional: a bay leaf
  • sea salt
  • whole black peppercorns
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar (you can leave this out, but it helps pull the collagen protein from the bones so I recommend it)
  • Enough filtered water to fill the pot
Carrot, Celery, Onion, Herbs

Homemade Turkey Stock Tips

  • When you grocery shop for the feast, be sure to have an extra white or yellow onion, 3-5 celery stalks, 2-3 carrots and a few garlic cloves (or a small head of garlic) for your stock.
  • Save any onion, celery and carrot scraps as you prepare your meal to add to your stock. If you use green onions or shallots, add those scraps, too.
  • Reserve a few bay leaves and handfuls of fresh herbs to add to the pot. Thyme, rosemary, and parsley (use the stems!) are really nice in turkey stock. Dill is also great if you have any on hand. Use 1-2 handfuls of fresh herbs total, or 1-3 teaspoons total dried herbs if you don’t have fresh.
  • Use whole black peppercorns if you can as they yield a wonderful flavor and the little bits won’t go through the strainer. Pick some up in the bulk herb section for a really inexpensive price if you need to.
  • Have some apple cider vinegar on hand—it’s not traditional but the acid will help get even more collagen and minerals from the bones. Don’t skip it! Distilled white vinegar also works but has a strong flavor, so I use apple cider vinegar and can’t even taste it.
  • If you cook stuffing inside the bird, be sure to remove it all before making broth as the starch from the bread will make your stock gummy. You can rinse out the inside with water if needed to remove all stuffing.
  • You can also use 3-4 turkey or chicken legs in place of the carcass if you haven’t cooked a full bird.
  • You might have to cut your turkey carcass in half to fit it into the pot, just get as many bones in the pot as possible.
  • I prefer to make this in a slow-cooker overnight to allow for a long simmer. If you don’t have a slow-cooker, you can for sure do it in a large pot on the stove; let it simmer at least 5-6 hours if that’s the case. In a 6-quart pot, this recipe will yield about 4 quarts of stock. The yield will vary depending on the size of your pot.
strained vegetables from making stock

CrockPot, Instant Pot, or Stove Top Methods

You can make homemade turkey stock any of the three methods.

I recommend the CrockPot (aka slow cooker) for ease and efficiency.

The Instant Pot will require more work the night of, and after a big meal no one wants to keep cooking. The stove top works if you don’t have a slow cooker, just be mindful of leaving the stove on. I find it easiest to throw all of the ingredients in the slow cooker and let it simmer for overnight into the next evening.


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Turkey Stock

Mom’s Homemade Turkey Stock [A Thanksgiving MUST]

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star No reviews
  • Author: Elizabeth Rider
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 4-24 hours
  • Total Time: 4-24 hours
  • Yield: About 4 quarts (varies) 1x
  • Category: Soup
  • Method: Simmer
  • Cuisine: American


Use what’s left of your Thanksgiving turkey to make a delicious and nutritious homemade stock. Sip on it out of a mug, or use it as the base of a soup.


  • 1 cooked turkey (or chicken) carcass, including all bones and skin leftover
  • 1 large white or yellow onion, quartered
  • 45 celery stalks
  • 23 large carrots, washed but not peeled, greens trimmed away
  • 45 cloves garlic, smashed open
  • optional: 1 dried or 2 fresh bay leaves
  • herbs: 5-6 thyme sprigs + a handful of fresh parsley from leftover from Thanksgiving cooking (or a small handful of any fresh herbs you have such as rosemary or sage, or 2 teaspoons dried thyme)
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
  • Enough water to fill the pot


CrockPot Method:

  • Add all of the ingredients to the slow cooker. If your turkey has a lot of butter or oil on it you can give it a quick rinse, but I almost never have to do that. Put the bones and any non-greasy skin in the CrockPot. You may have to break apart the whole carcass if it’s too big. It’s ok to leave the skin on the onion and garlic, just rinse away any visible dirt on the veggies.
  • Fill the CrockPot with enough water to cover the carcass and veggies, stopping 2 inches below the top of CrockPot. Put the lid on; do not latch the lock if your CrockPot has one, that is only for transporting the slow cooker.
  • Turn on high heat until it comes to a simmer—probably about 2 hours. It will take a while to simmer as the slow-cooker heats at a slower pace than your stovetop. Turn it to low, then let it all simmer on low for 4-24 hours. You can also start it on low if you want if you’re leaving it for more than 8 hours.
  • Strain through a strainer. Discard all solids and enjoy your stock.
  • Use within 5 days for a soup or sip in a mug. Freezes well up to 4 months.

All slow-cookers are different. You may want to leave it on high if it’s not gently simmering on low. I leave mine on low overnight after setting it on high for about 2-3 hours, and it simmers all night. (The house smells fantastic in the morning!)

Stove Top Method:

  • A slow cooker is more energy efficient and safer to leave on for extended periods of time so I recommend it. If you don’t have one, no problem! You can use the stove top.
  • Add all of the ingredients to a 6-to-8-quart pot (the biggest one you have with a lid). Follow the instructions above to add the ingredients and water to the pot, leaving a 2-inch gap from the top so it doesn’t simmer over. 
  • Put the lid on and turn it to high heat until it comes to a rolling simmer—probably about 30-90 minutes. Once at a rolling simmer, turn it to low, then let it all simmer on low for 4-24 hours. 
  • Strain through a strainer. Discard all solids and enjoy your stock.
  • Use within 5 days for a soup or sip in a mug. Freezes well up to 4 months.

Instant Pot Method:

  • I recommend a CrockPot if you have one because turkey carcasses are usually too big for an Instant Pot. However, you can cut it in half and freeze the other half for stock another time.
  • Place all of the ingredients in your instant pot and fill with enough water to just cover everything, being sure not to fill the pressure cooker more than about ⅔ full (a pressure cooker can’t come up to pressure if it’s too full). That means you may have to reduce the ingredients.
  • Set to pressure cook on high for 40 minutes. 
  • It will take about 20 minutes to come up to pressure, and do a natural release for 30 minutes. All in, it will take about 90-100 minutes to make turkey stock in a pressure cooker.

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  1. Kris Kilton says:

    If you add juice of a lemon or 2, it will draw out the marrow and make it an even healthier and heartier stock!

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