Golden Make-Ahead Turkey Broth

Chef GinaPosted by

Homemade nutritious flavorful gelatinous broth beats the pants off of any store-bought stock in a box. You get to control the quality of ingredients, and if you are roasting a turkey anyway, you are essentially getting the broth for free! You can use some of this broth right away for a savory gravy to complement your turkey, and then portion and freeze the rest for soups, stews, gravies, whatever you like.

Here’s how…

If you have made a centerpiece showbird, you can still salvage all of the bones – provided nobody has chewed on them and they have not sat out too long – using the method below to get a good broth.

The following method is for breaking down and processing a whole turkey.

Starting with a whole fresh turkey, the spatchcock method works great. Do this by using good kitchen sheers or a sharp chef’s knife to remove the spine.

Stock pot One: I like to go ahead and start my first stock batch simmering with the spine and neck, while I work on the rest of the bird.

Stock pot Two: After roasting the dark meat, legs and thighs, those bones get removed for a second batch of broth. Add turkey wing tips. You could also add roasted bones from your white meat, raw or roasted. Even after bones have already been cooked, there is still a lot of flavor and nutrition that can be pulled from them. Why waste it?

About giblets: giblets can go right into one of the stock pots with the bones an veggies, or they can be simmered on their own with some of the same veggies, depending on how much you like offal flavors. They could even be roasted with your turkey. Be sure to pull them out when they reach 160°, tent and allow residual heat to bring them up to a safe 165°. Chop them up and add to gravy.

After your broth is simmered and strained, this is what you get. Well, this plus at least another cup or two from one batch.

And also this… from my other batch…

After broth is cooled and fat is removed, it can be portioned and placed in freezer bags for later use. Freezing the bags flat makes them fit easily in the freezer and easy to use too. You can break off the amount you need when you are ready for it.

Placing a paper towel between each bag keeps them from sticking together while they freeze.

But wait!! There’s more!!

From the roasted turkey, broth with pan drippings, chilled. So much flavor.

Golden Make-ahead Turkey Broth

This recipe is based on a 20 pound turkey. So, of course, if you are using a smaller bird, you can reduce your veggies too. Broth method is very forgiving. 


  • turkey bones (I used both raw and roasted, see notes)
  • 1-2 medium onions, halved or rough chopped
  • 6-7 cloves of garlic, peeled and left whole (I smash them too)
  • 4 stalks celery, rough chopped
  • 2 whole carrots, medium to large, rough chopped
  • 4 bay leaves
  • optional: dried thyme, about 1/2 to 1 teaspoon


  1. If you have two large stock pots, add half of each ingredient to each large stock pot. Fill each pot with water, covering all ingredients by a couple of inches. Alternatively, you can cook half at a time.
  2. Bring pot(s) to a boil. Reduce to simmer. Cover and simmer for at least 1 hour, or up to 2 1/2 hours. After about 2 to 2 1/2 hours, you have extracted just about all the flavor you are going to get.
  3. Allow to cool just enough to handle safely. Through a fine-mesh strainer, strain out the liquid into a large heat-safe bowl.
  4. Place broth back into a cleaned stock pot and simmer with the lid off until it is reduced enough to concentrate the flavor. Again, this is very forgiving, but for a 20 pound turkey, if you have used all the bones, aim for about 10-12 cups broth. If you have used only the spine, neck and wing tips, aim for about 6-8 cups.
    If, after straining, you already have less liquid than this, that is fine; your broth will have great flavor. No need to reduce.
  5. Allow the broth to cool (see notes below), cover and and refrigerate. Leave it in the fridge until thoroughly chilled. Overnight works great. As the broth cool, the fat because it will separate itself. You then need only to use a spoon to remove the chilled fat from the top and discard it.

Your broth is ready for a plethora or recipes. Use immediately, or refrigerate, or freeze.

Note: If you do not wish to bother with the roasted bones, you can use just the spine, neck, wing tips, and giblets if desired, plus half of all the other ingredients to make one large pot of broth. You will end up with a good 6 cups or so of flavorful broth.

How to safely cool broth:

Leaving broth out for hours can cause foodborne illness. For safety, cool quickly and refrigerate.

  • Pour broth into shallow pans for more rapid cooling.
  • Prepare an ice bath in your sink or a large container. Put broth in a kettle and place the kettle in the ice bath. Stir for quicker cooling. Of course, never place a hot glass bowl into cold water.
  • Ice cubes. If you reduce your broth even more than indicated in the recipe, you can add ice cubes right into the broth to help it cool.

Saving veggie scraps!

Optional, but recommended to flavorful gravy later: In a separate bowl, reserve turkey scraps form the bone, pieces of garlic, onion, and celery. You may also wish to keep some of the carrot. A little carrot adds color, nutrition and a slight sweetness. Too much carrot will make you broth very orange and taste like carrot puree. Discard bones and bay leaves. They have done their job


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