How To Make Stock

Stocks are prepared by cooking meat, poultry or fish bones, vegetables, herbs, and other aromatics in water for a long period of time. The end result is a very flavorful and complex liquid. While the ingredients that go into a stock may vary, the techniques used to make stocks and the ratio of ingredients remain basically the same. It is extremely important not to allow stocks to boil as they cook. This often causes impurities and fat to be dispersed in the liquid. The fat is extremely difficult to remove after the stock is finished. Instead, a stock should be simmered over a medium, even heat and the top should be skimmed frequently to remove anything that floats to the surface.

The most common stock variations are white stocks, brown stocks and vegetable stocks. Let's go into more detail about each one.

Light White Stocks

White stocks are made with bones that are typically quickly blanched before they are combined with the other ingredients. The blanching allows the impurities, which may cause a stock to become cloudy, to be leached out before the bones are used for the stock, which results in a clear liquid. Typically only pale colored vegetables are used in these stocks to avoid imparting any color.

Basic recipe for a white stock

  • 6-8 lb chicken bones (breakdown and use a few whole chicken carcasses for a rich stock)
  • Cold filtered water
  • 3-5 onions
  • 2-3 leeks
  • 3-5 ribs celery
  • 3-5 carrots
  • 10 to 12 stems and leaves of fresh parsley
  • 3 to 4 stems of fresh thyme
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 2 teaspoons whole black peppercorns
  • 5 bay leaves

To start the stock, rinse the bones under cold water and place them into a suitable-sized stockpot. Cover the bones with cold water by about 2 inches. Turn the heat to medium and slowly bring the bones to a simmer, making sure it doesn't come to a boil. In the meantime, chop the vegetables (onions, leeks, celery and carrots) into about ½" to ¾" - inch pieces.

After the stock has simmered for about 30 minutes, skim one more time before adding the veggies. Let the stock gently simmer for another hour or so, skimming the surface as needed. Then add the herbs (parsley leaves and stems, fresh thyme, garlic, peppercorns, and bay leaves) making sure to gently tuck it underneath the surface. Continue to simmer for about 30 minutes.

Once the stock has cooked for at least 1 ½ - 2 hours, you can strain it. First, skim off as much fat as possible from the surface. Then gently remove the solids and discard. Finally, strain the stock through a sieve lined with a piece of cheesecloth. You can either use the stock immediately or cool it over an ice bath. Once cool, it can be stored in the refrigerator for a few days or it can be portioned and frozen for several months.

Rich Brown Stocks

Brown stocks are made similarly to white stocks, but in this case the bones and vegetables are roasted before they are combined with the water and aromatics. Most brown stocks include some type of tomato product and the ideal brown stock is rich in color and flavor. Often, after brown stocks have been strained and the fat that rises to the top removed, they are placed in a clean pot and put back onto the stove to cook down even further. The stock is simmered until it has been reduced to a fraction of its original volume and viscous and syrupy when warm and quite gelatinous when cold. This reduction is called a glace and is extremely concentrated in flavor. Glaces are often used as a sauce as is or sometimes with a few ingredients added to balance it out a bit. Glaces are also often used as the finishing component to many sauces and impart a deep, intense undertone and a lush, silky mouth feel.

Basic recipe for a rich brown stock

  • 6 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 6-8 lb chicken bones (breakdown and use a few whole chicken carcasses for a rich stock)
  • 3 large onions
  • 3 celery ribs
  • 3 large carrots
  • 1 large leek
  • 2 heads of garlic
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • ¾ cup dry white wine
  • Cold filtered water
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 5 to 6 sprigs fresh thyme
  • ½ bunch parsley stems
  • 1½ teaspoons whole black peppercorns

Preheat the oven to 425º degrees Fahrenheit. Lightly coat a roasting pan with 2 tablespoons of the oil and lay the bones in a single layer and place into the oven to caramelize. Meanwhile, wash and roughly chop all of the vegetables into large chunks and pieces. Keep the leeks separate, as they will be added a bit later. Cut the garlic in half horizontally.

To another baking tray add about 1 tablespoon of the oil and the veggies. Add another tablespoon of oil over top and toss to coat. Place into the oven for about 30 minutes. Check the bones after about 40 minutes or so. If they're golden brown, turn them over and place them back into the oven to caramelize on the other side. Toss the vegetables occasionally to ensure they're cooking evenly. Now, add the leeks, toss again and place back into the oven. Next, heat a stockpot to medium and add the rest of the oil (about 2 tablespoons). Transfer the veggies to the pot and add the tomato paste. Cook for about a minute or so, turn off the heat and set aside while you check on the bones. Once the bones are nicely caramelized, add them to the stockpot. Carefully drain the excess fat from the roasting pan. Place the pan onto the stovetop and turn the heat to medium-high. Deglaze with the white wine. Once the wine has reduced, scrape the bottom and pour everything into the stockpot.

To cook the stock, cover the bones and veggies with enough cold water to cover everything by about 2 inches. Slowly bring the stock to a simmer over medium heat. As the stock heats up, skim the surface periodically to remove any fat and impurities. Cook the stock for approximately 4 to 6 hours. About 30 minutes before the stock has finished cooking, add the herbs and continue to simmer.

Once the stock has finished cooking, gently remove the bones and vegetables. Strain the stock through a sieve lined with cheesecloth. You now have a beautiful rich chicken stock, which can be used in soups, stews and many other dishes. If not using immediately, cool the stock over an ice bath and store appropriately.

Hearty Vegetable Stocks

Vegetable stocks are often made from left over end pieces, peelings, and scraps from any combination of vegetables used in the kitchen. This technique, however, often results in an imbalanced stock with one or two flavors predominating. A good vegetable stock should have an even balance of flavor and not be overwhelmed by any one taste. Therefore it is preferable to follow a set recipe rather than relying on only what you have on hand.

Basic recipe for rich vegetable stock

  • 4 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • ½ head celery, chopped
  • 2 large onions, chopped
  • 1 leek, white and green parts chopped
  • 3 - 6 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 small handful of fresh parsley
  • A few sprigs of thyme
  • 2 quart cold water
  • 1/4 cup canned whole tomatoes, drained (optional)

First, gather and prepare all of your ingredients for the preparation of this stock. To start the stock, add all ingredients to a large stockpot. Bring to a boil and lower heat to a simmer. Allow the stock to simmer, uncovered, for 1 to 1 ½ hours.

To finish the stock, allow it to cool for 15 - 20 minutes. Place a fine mesh strainer over a medium bowl. Alternatively, you can use a strainer lined with cheesecloth. Pour the stock into the strainer, allowing the liquid to pour through. If not using immediately, quickly chill or freeze and store until ready to use.


  • Rouxbe Cooking School, Cooking School Lessons, 2005, http://rouxbe.com/cooking-school

About the Author

Daniella Malfitano is a chef, entrepreneur, author of six digital cookbooks (available on and Amazon and iTunes), TV host and creator of the PBS television series "Delicious Discoveries with Daniella Malfitano" and educator for her traveling cooking and wellness company Delicious Discoveries. Daniella is always available for cooking demos, culinary workshops, public speaking engagements as well as culinary consulting, culinary business development, and brand ambassador partnerships with brands that are in alignment with her passion for local, healthy food. Daniella's passion and enthusiasm for food is contagious and it is evident in everything that she does! For more information visit www.daniellamalfitano.com or email info@daniellamalfitano.com.

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