Cooking Class: Homemade Turkey Stock with a Secret Ingredient

by Dorothy Reinhold on November 24, 2012

Print This Post Print This Post Turkey Stock with a Secret Ingredient. Recipe here:

If you have a turkey carcass in your refrigerator today – and who doesn’t? – you’re going to want to extract all the goodness you can from it.

And that’s a lot.

It’s pretty easy to make turkey stock, which you can then use as the base for a wonderful soup, or in any recipe in which you would use chicken stock.

  1.  Remove carcass from the refrig and get out your largest stock pot and another smaller bowl for turkey meat scraps.
  2. Using your clean hands, pick the meat off the bones and place the meat scraps in the smaller bowl. Place any bones, cartilage, skin, fat, tendons, etc. in the stock pot. You are going to pick this carcass as clean as possible. Nit pick it! This might take 20 or so minutes, but it is therapeutic and internally rewarding when you are done. Trust me.
  3. Place meat scraps in a container and refrigerate them for later us (either in a turkey salad like this or in the soup you will be making).
  4. Follow the stock recipe below.
  5. Pat yourself on the back for using the whole bird, respecting your food, and being a good steward of the planet.
  6. Stay tuned and later we’ll make soup and other things with this stock.

Homemade Turkey Stock graphic. Recipe here:

Recipe: Homemade Turkey Stock

Summary: An easy turkey stock (with a secret ingredient) lets you use every part of your Thanksgiving turkey. Soon it will be soup!


  • 1 turkey carcass, picked clean of meat
  • 1 large onion, skinned and halved
  • 3 fat garlic cloves, skinned and either left whole or halved
  • 3 carrots, leaves removed, washed and cut into large chunks
  • 2-3 celery ribs, halved crosswise, with leaves (or trim the leafy ends off several stalks and use the leafy ends)
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 20 whole peppercorns
  • 8 whole cloves (this is the secret ingredient)
  • Few sprigs fresh dill, or 1-2 teaspoons, dried (or use the stems off the fresh dill and save the feathery leaves for other uses)
  • Handful of fresh parsley stems, or 1 tablespoon dried parsley flakes
  • Optional: 1 teaspoon dried tarragon and 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • Juices and fat drippings from the turkey (anything not used to make gravy the day before)
  • Water to cover (about 16 or so cups)


  1. Add turkey carcass and all vegetables, herbs and aromatics to your largest pot. Add water to cover the bones. My pot took 16 cups of water. Put the lid on, leaving it slightly ajar, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a low simmer and simmer for 3-6 hours, adding more water during the process if the bones emerge too much from the liquid.
  2. The longer it cooks, the richer it will become, but if you boil it too long, the stock will simply evaporate, so don’t take it that far!
  3. Remove from heat and pour through a fine strainer, discarding the bones and mushy vegetables, which have given their all for your stock.
  4. Pour into containers and refrigerate or freeze for later use. One it is chilled in the refrigerator, the fat will congeal in a layer on top and can be removed and discarded if you like.
  5. The stock will probably gel at refrigerator temperatures, which means it has a significant amount of gelatinous protein in it. This is good. Once reheated, it will return to a liquid state.
  6. Makes 6-10 cups, depending on how far you evaporate and condense it.


This stock is not salted at all. You can use it for soup or to cook rice or other grains, and add salt at the time as you wish.


I keep a zipper-top freezer bag in my freezer into which I put tired celery ribs, the leafy tops when I trim celery for crudités, wilted carrots, that quarter onion I didn’t use, etc. They remain frozen until I make chicken or turkey stock, and I simply toss in the frozen contents of that bag of vegetable ends! Voila! You can do the same trick with chicken skin, fat, bones, etc. from either raw chicken that you are trimming and using to cook dinner, or from a cooked rotisserie chicken. Keep all those lovely bones and trimmings and the next time you need stock, you’ll have the basics on hand to start with.

Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 3-6 hours
Number of servings (yield): 12
Culinary tradition: USA (General)
My rating 5 stars:  ★★★★★ 

{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

Kim January 2, 2021 at 6:08 am

When you go to use this stock to make soup do you add water?


Dorothy Reinhold January 2, 2021 at 8:21 am

Usually, you would just use the stock. If you don’t have enough, you can certainly supplement with water, but the stock is a richer, more flavorful way to make soup.


Kim January 2, 2021 at 5:46 pm

Thanks very much. I haven’t made the soup yet but while I was making the stock with all those ingredients the kitchen smelled very aromatic. Pretty sure this will be the best soup I have made.
Thanks again.


Dorothy Reinhold January 4, 2021 at 4:40 pm

Yahoo! Soup makes the house smell amazing!


Lynne November 28, 2012 at 4:39 am

Your stock looks perfect! I’ve often heard of adding whole cloves to as part of a stock prep, but you have reminded me to do this more often. Thanks for your recipe!


christy November 26, 2012 at 9:39 am

dorothy…i usually don’t use garlic in my stock…but this year i did and what a wonderful difference it made! next batch i will throw in some of the yummies you suggest (clove, dill) we have 3 turkeys on thanksgiving, so i freeze the carcae (faux latin alert) to add to the other collected bits for stock. like you, i collect goodies all the time for good stock!


kirsten@FarmFreshFeasts November 25, 2012 at 4:46 am

Great minds think alike–I keep Soup Packs in my freezer as well! I have never used dill in my turkey stock. I thought that was your secret ingredient! It’s a great idea that I will have to try. Thank you!


sippitysup November 24, 2012 at 6:30 pm

Cloves. It’s no longer secret. GREG


Dorothy November 24, 2012 at 11:45 pm

Dang, did I let the secret out?


Holly November 24, 2012 at 6:24 pm

Your combination of ingredients look great. I threw my turkey carcass straight into the crock pot with some added ingredients after we finished eating on Thanksgiving and the stock turned out really nicely.


Dana at FoodieGoesHealthy November 24, 2012 at 10:21 am

Hi Dorothy, great stock making tips. I love your labelled photo– the whole recipe is there. My secret ingredient for stock is parsley root. Enjoy the fun of using the leftovers.


Dorothy November 24, 2012 at 11:25 am

Parsley root! Never tried that…now I have to!


Cathy@ShePaused4Thought November 24, 2012 at 9:45 am

What a brilliant idea! I always freeze bones, but never thought of freezing veggie bits that would normally get thrown out! I just made stock yesterday or I would have made your recipe. I love that you put dill in the stock.


Cookin' Canuck November 24, 2012 at 9:07 am

This is the way I do my stock, too and it’s great to have on hand for soups, etc. I always add a little bit of soy sauce into my stock for a bit of salt and extra flavor.


Dorothy November 24, 2012 at 9:47 am

Cookin’ Canuck,
Soy sauce! Interesting! I will try!


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