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


Follow my photos of vegetables growing, backyard chickens hanging out, and dinner preparations on Instagram at JudysChickens.

Never miss a post: sign up to become a follower of the Blog.

© 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 recent blog post, My Favorite Silver Palate Chili, a beef-based chili with many beautiful layers of flavor. After much discussion, one of his children asked, “Yeah, Dad, but who’s gonna make it?” And there the discussion ended. I have to agree, the Silver Palate chili ingredient list is daunting. I promise you, Sam, this chicken chili recipe is a cinch to make, especially if you use store-bought rotisserie chicken for the meat.
lisa's chili

This recipe should be called Now You See It, Now You Don’t Chili because each time I have seen it served, the crockpot bowl has been completely emptied by the end of the night. At the 2nd Annual Vanderbilt Liver Transplant Team Chili Cook-Off this year, this chili, submitted by transplant team member Lisa, took home the top three awards: Best Chili, Spiciest Chili, and Kid’s Choice. I’ve modified Lisa’s version by adding a few more ingredients.

If you want an additional challenge, I’ve provided instructions on how to make your own Ranch Seasoning Mix rather than using the MSG-laden prepackaged mix.

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
2 pounds cooked chicken meat
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
freshly chopped cilantro.

How much meat does a rotisserie chicken yield?

I spoke to Costco’s butcher, who said all of their rotisserie chickens weigh between three and five pounds. Here is a great tip he shared with me: those that weigh the most are the ones where the top of the chicken is smushed up against the container’s lid. The butcher told me any chicken not sold within two hours or that weighs less than 3 pounds is used to make the pre-made dishes like the chicken salad.

This chicken weighed 4 pounds 7 ounces and cost $5.00. It yielded a whopping 2 pounds 8 ounces of boneless meat.

There was 1 pound 13 ounces of skin and bones leftover. I placed it all in a bag in the freezer for a future pot of Chicken Stock from Rotisserie Bones.

Some of the other ingredients:

Fire Roasted Tomatoes add bite to soups. The ingredients include tomatoes, onion, and garlic powder. I like to pulse them in a food processor before using them.

Buffalo Wing Sauce is a hot sauce with added butter (or natural butter flavor). Folks use it as a condiment and pour it over cooked chicken wings.
lisa's chili


Wash and core peppers and peel the onions. I often cut them into chunks and pulse them together in a food processor.
Lisa's Chili Lisa's Chili

Prep chicken. If using rotisserie chicken, pull the meat off the bones and chop into bite-sized pieces.

Sauté the vegetables for 10 minutes until they are soft and translucent. Add diced chicken and stir.
Lisa's Chili

Add the rest of the ingredients except for the cream cheese and toppings and simmer for about 30 minutes. The hot sauce gives it an orangey color.
Lisa's Chili

Before you are ready to serve, cut the cream cheese into small chunks and add to the chili. Stir the soup as it melts. Add more buffalo sauce if you want more heat.

Wash, dry, and snip the cilantro leaves. 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 ingredients together until blended. If you want a more finely ground seasoning mix, pulse the mixture in a food processor a few times.

Ranch seasoning.
Homemade on the left, packaged on the right.
Ranch seasoning.
*3 tablespoons of mix = 1 packet of store-bought mix. To test the mix’s flavor, I stirred in ¼ cup of plain Kefir, which is similar to liquid yogurt.
Ranch seasoning.
It was delicious as a salad dressing.
Ranch seasoning.

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

If you enjoyed this post, become a subscriber! Be sure to confirm the subscription on the follow-up letter sent to your email address.

Follow Judy’s Chickens on Instagram and Pinterest @JudysChickens.

© 2014-2020 Judy Wright. All rights reserved. Photos, videos, and text may only be reproduced with the written consent of Judy Wright.