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Make-Ahead Turkey Stock

November 19, 2019

By Kath Dedon


You can get a head start on your Thanksgiving feast if you make this Make-Ahead Turkey Stock and stick it in your freezer. I use a lot of stock to make Turkey Gravy and my Cornbread Dressing. It’s great to have it ready to go!

I chose a Food and Wine recipe because it makes about 3 quarts. But I took a tip from America’s Test Kitchen and used chicken stock instead of water. I figured it would have to make the stock more flavorful. I used Swanson’s Chicken Stock because it’s made with real food ingredients (Chicken Stock, Contains Less Than 2% Of: Salt, Carrots, Cabbage, Celery, Onions, and Parsley).

Make-Ahead Turkey Stock is admittedly an afternoon project, but it’s mostly hands-off and is very easy. There’s still time to get some turkey parts and make turkey stock for the big day.


Finished Make-Ahead Turkey Stock, ready to freeze

Turkey stock


Make-Ahead Turkey Stock

(Adapted from recipes from Food and Wine and America’s Test Kitchen)


(print the recipe)


Makes about 3 quarts


7 pounds turkey parts, such as wings, thighs, and drumsticks (I used meaty turkey backs)

4 quarts chicken stock (or water)

1 large onion, thickly sliced

1 large carrot, thickly sliced

1 large celery rib, thickly sliced

2 garlic cloves, smashed

Freshly ground pepper

(1 tablespoon salt, if you use water instead of stock)


  1. Preheat the oven to 400°.
  2. Put the turkey parts in a large roasting pan and roast for 1½ hours. Put the turkey in a large stock pot.

Turkey backs

7 lbs, turkey backs.jpg

Finished roasting

Roasted turkey backs


3. Put the roasting pan over two burners. Put 4 cups of the stock in the pan and heat it up, scraping the browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Pour all of the liquid with the bits into the pot with the turkey.


Browned bits left in the pan.jpg


Four cups of the chicken stock added to the roasting pan

chicken stock added


4. Add the rest of the chicken stock to the pot, along with the onion, carrot, celery rib, garlic, and pepper.


Ready to simmer.jpg


5. Bring the pot to a boil. Then reduce the heat so it is simmering. Simmer for 2½ hours, partially covered with a lid.


Lid askew.jpg


6. Strain the stock. Refrigerate overnight.

The next day:

  1. Carefully scrape the congealed fat from the surface of the stock. Reserve for making gravy. The stock and turkey fat will keep for 3 days in the refrigerator. For longer storage, freeze the stock and the fat separately. They can be frozen for a month.

Tip: Measure the amount of stock you will need for the gravy and put it in one labelled container or freezer bag. Measure the amount of stock you will need for dressing and put it in another labelled container or freezer bag. You can freeze any extra stock in a third container. You’ll now be able to defrost what you need when you need it.


Finished turkey stockCopy.jpg


3 Comments leave one →
  1. November 27, 2019 5:42 am

    Very wise to make the turkey broth ahead, Kath. I do much the same, although usually a simpler stock that I make while the turkey is roasting. This one, I’d bet, has much more depth of flavor. And made ahead means there’s one less thing to do during on that hectic Thanksgiving Day.

  2. November 27, 2019 5:47 am

    I do like to keep it simple, Frank. I delegate a lot of the menu to family members who are coming to our house. And I make the broth and gravy ahead of time. A very happy Thanksgiving to you!


  1. Make-Ahead Turkey Gravy | In the kitchen with Kath

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