Chicken Stock from Rotisserie Chicken Bones

Last year, about the time I started stockpiling turkey carcasses in the freezer to make Bruce’s Turkey and Sausage Gumbo, I had the idea to start freezing rotisserie chicken bones, too. To prepare my first batch of chicken stock, I thawed and then cooked the stored carcasses for about five hours in a pot of plain water, no vegetables, just as we did for the turkey stock in the gumbo. The stock was good, and by good, I mean adequate.

To make it more flavorful, I started simmering aromatic vegetables and herbs with my stash of frozen bones following the ingredients list from my recipe for Aunt Bridget’s Chicken Soup. Much better.

bridget's chicken soup

It’s a little more work, but the results are a flavorful stock. While it doesn’t gel up as much as the stock made from using the ten collagen-laden thigh bones in Aunt Bridget’s recipe, the flavor is rich and delicious. You should know the seasoning used to flavor the rotisserie chicken does carry over into the stock so it isn’t as pure as the more neutral tasting stock you might want for a delicate sauce, but it is perfect for making a hearty soup.


Last week, I was at Costco and bought two freshly made rotisserie chickens to have in the fridge for “weekend food.” When I got home and heard there might be a lot of snow on the way, I decided to go ahead and use the rotisserie chickens to make soup since nothing says Snow Day like the smell and warmth of soup simmering on the stove.

At $4.99 each, Costco’s rotisserie chickens are considered “loss leaders” in the grocery industry; Costco knows they are going to lose money on them, but they also know they are going to draw shoppers into the store. Costco happily assumes that risk. I know I, for one, have never been able to leave Costco with just one food item in my cart.

I once spoke to a Costco butcher who told me each of their rotisserie chickens weighs a minimum of three pounds. Anything smaller is used to make food items such as chicken salad or chicken pot pie. The good news for consumers is that most of their roasted chickens weigh a lot more than three pounds, sometimes up to six pounds! Look for a chicken whose breast meat is touching the top of the packaging, and you’ll know you’ve picked a big one.

To give you an idea of how much meat you can get from a rotisserie chicken, I pulled off 2 pounds, 6 ounces from a chicken that weighed 4 pounds, 5 ounces. These results are consistent with those I described here.

Between the two chickens, I bought that day I had five pounds of meat. That’s a deal for $10, even better when you consider the added benefit of getting stock from the carcasses.

As I carved off the meat, I collected the bones, skin and even the gelled chicken juice from the bottom of the packaging.
DSC_0966 DSC_0991

How to Make Chicken Stock from Bones

2-3 large cooked rotisserie chickens, or 2-3 frozen carcasses
5 quarts water
1 large unpeeled onion (1 pound), quartered
1/3 head celery, with leaves (½ pound)
4 unpeeled carrots (½ pound)
6 cloves unpeeled garlic (½ ounce), smashed
10 whole stems Italian flat-leafed parsley
3 bay leaves
1 teaspoon pepper, no salt
2 tablespoons cider vinegar or lemon juice

Mise en Place:

Remove meat from bones as described in this post. Or, use 2-4 thawed carcasses from the freezer. These carcasses are from rotisserie chickens from Whole Foods. I used the saved stems from parsley instead of the leaves. Also had lots of singlet garlic cloves that I threw in there.


Place carcasses and water in a large soup pot and bring to a boil. The water should cover the bones. Add a little more water if you need to. Remove the scum that boils to the top, if any.

Add the vegetables and other ingredients all at once. There is no need to peel the vegetables, not even the garlic. Just smash it with a food mallet and throw it in the pot. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to a slow simmer. The acid in the vinegar helps to break down the cartilage in the bones and pull out the minerals, such as calcium. Allow to simmer, barely bubbling, for about seven hours. I found that if you simmer stock slowly, instead of boiling, the finished stock will be less cloudy. Cool for 30 minutes before handling.

Pour soup through a colander. Discard contents of the colander. Pour it a second time through a sieve or cheesecloth to remove tiny bones and food particles that remain.
DSC_0299 DSC_0590

Store stock overnight in the refrigerator or outside, if it is cold enough. The next morning, scrape off the layer of hardened, yellowish fat that has risen to the surface and congealed. You should end up with about 4 quarts, or 16 cups, of chicken stock. If you are not going to use the stock within the next couple of days, it is best to freeze it.


But, you might just want to start having a cup of bone broth a day to keep the doctor away.


Or, make a big container of Sick Soup for an ailing friend. Recipe here.


An FYI: A way to carve a chicken or turkey breast:

Carve out the full breast from each side of the sternum, cutting as close to the bone as possible. I often just pull the meat away with my fingers. Slice the breast meat as shown in the photo below. Each breast ways about 11 ounces.

DSC_0968 DSC_0970 DSC_0980

I usually reserve the dark meat for soup and save the white breast meat for salads and sandwiches.

Start saving dem bones in the freezer!


Related Posts:
Kelly’s Duck Stew
Bruce’s Turkey and Sausage Gumbo
Lisa’s Award Winning Buffalo Chicken Chili
Aunt Bridget’s Chicken Soup with Little Meatballs
Rotisserie Chicken Soup, Revisited


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© 2014-2019 Judy Wright. All rights reserved. Photos and text may only be used with written consent.

Award Winning Buffalo Chicken Chili

The last time I spoke to my brother Sam, he told me he and his family had sat around the kitchen table drooling over my blog post, My Favorite Silver Palate Chili, a traditional, spicy, ground beef-based chili. Finally, one of his children said, “Yeah, Dad, but who’s gonna make it?” And there the story ended. I had to agree, the Silver Palate Chili ingredient list was daunting. I promise you, Sam, this chicken chili recipe is much simpler to make.

lisa's chili

This recipe should be called Disappearing Chili because each time I have seen it served to a crowd, it has been completely consumed. In fact, at the end of the 2nd Annual Vanderbilt Liver Transplant Team Chili Cook-Off, not only was the crock pot bowl holding it empty, it also took the top three awards: Best Chili, Spiciest Chili, and Kid’s Choice. Essentially, if you like the flavor of spicy buffalo wings dunked in blue cheese dressing, you’re going to love this chili.

Lisa credits the marvelous Crockpot Gourmet as the inspiration for her version of this recipe.  I’ve taken the liberty of changing it up even further by adding a few more ingredients, including cannellini beans and more broth.

If you would like an additional challenge, at the end of this post, I’ve given instructions on how to make your own ranch seasoning mix rather than using the prepackaged mix that is loaded with MSG.

Yield: Makes 4.5 quarts

Lisa's Chili

⅓ cup olive oil
1 large red onion, chopped
2 or 3 colorful sweet bell peppers, seeded and chopped
the meat from one rotisserie chicken, (about 2 pounds) roughly chopped
8 cups chicken broth
2  14.5-ounce cans diced fire-roasted tomatoes
6 15-ounce cans cannellini beans, drained, not rinsed
2  7-ounce cans diced green chilies, drained
½ cup buffalo wing sauce (more if you like it really hot)
2 packages ranch dressing mix, or 6 tablespoons homemade Ranch mix*
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon celery salt
½ teaspoon salt
2  8-ounce blocks of cream cheese, cut into small squares for quicker melting

Chili Toppings:
Blue cheese crumbles and freshly chopped cilantro. Serve over rice, if desired.

A word about ingredients:

How much meat does a rotisserie chicken yield? I spoke to the butcher at Costco, who said all of their rotisserie chickens weighed 3-5 pounds. Here’s a good tip: How do you know which ones weigh 5 pounds? Look for the ones where the chicken is touching the top of the container. Any chicken weighing less than 3 pounds is used for chicken salad. Any chicken not sold within two hours is pulled from the display case and is used for chicken salad. This fryer weighed 4 pounds 7 ounces. It only costs $5.00.


It yielded 2 pounds 8 ounces of meat.


There was 1 pound 13 ounces of skin and bones leftover. Save this in a bag in the freezer to make Chicken Stock from Rotisserie Bones.


Fire Roasted Tomatoes add bite to soups. The ingredients include tomatoes, onion and garlic powder.


Buffalo Wing Sauce is a hot sauce with “butter” (natural butter flavor) and is intended to go directly over cooked chicken wings.

lisa's chili


1) Prep vegetables: wash, remove seeds and stems from the peppers, and chop into large chunks.

Lisa's Chili

Chunks should be small enough that when placed in a food processor, they’ll not only fit but will also process evenly.

Lisa's Chili Lisa's Chili

2) Prep chicken. If using rotisserie chicken, pull the meat off the bones and chop into bite-sized pieces. Each rotisserie chicken should yield about 2-3 pounds of meat depending on how big the chicken is.
3) Sauté the vegetables for 10 minutes until they are soft and translucent.
4) Add chicken and stir.

Lisa's Chili

5) Add the rest of the ingredients except for the cream cheese and toppings and simmer for about 30 minutes. The hot sauce gives it a lot of its color:

Lisa's Chili

6)  Just before you are ready to serve, cut up the cream cheese into small pieces and add to the chili. Stir the soup as it melts. Add more buffalo sauce if you want more “heat.”
7) Wash and dry cilantro. Snip each leaf off the stem. Serve in a separate bowl alongside a bowl of blue cheese crumbles.

lisa's chili

Homemade Ranch Seasoning Mix:

I thought it would be a fun challenge to try and make my own Ranch Salad Dressing and Seasoning Mix, so I searched the web for a homemade version and found one over at Gimme Some Love. This mix is excellent, and the advantage is there are no preservatives. The mix has a 3-month shelf life in the refrigerator.



Ranch seasoning.

1/3 cup dry buttermilk
2 tablespoons dried parsley
1 1/2 teaspoons dried dill weed
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons onion powder
2 teaspoons dried onion flakes
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon dried chives
1 teaspoon salt


Whisk all ingredients together until blended. If you want a more finely ground seasoning mix, you could pulse the mixture in a food processor until it reaches desired consistency.

Ranch seasoning.
Homemade on the left, packaged on the right.
Ranch seasoning.
*3 tablespoons of this mix = 1 packet of store-bought mix. To test the homemade mix, I mixed 1 teaspoon of my homemade mix with 1/4 cup of plain, unsweetened Kefir, which is similar to liquid yogurt.
Ranch seasoning.
I poured it on my salad, and it was delicious. It’s also good as a low-calorie dip for vegetables.
Ranch seasoning.

Always check the website for the most current version of a recipe or pattern.

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© 2014-2018 Judy Wright. All rights reserved. Photos, videos, and text may only be reproduced with the written consent of Judy Wright.