Homemade Chicken Stock. Easy, frugal, and utterly delicious! 
Chicken, Main Dishes, Recipes, Soups

Homemade Chicken Stock

Homemade Chicken Stock. Easy, frugal, and utterly delicious!

Homemade Chicken Stock. Easy, frugal, and utterly delicious! 

There’s something magical about making homemade chicken stock. Or broth. Turns out they are actually different things. For better or for worse, I use broth and stock interchangeably. At the end of the day, it probably doesn’t matter. It might just look like some liquid in a jar, but guys…? It’s much, much, more than that. You’re making SOMETHING out of (practically) nothing. Or nothing edible anymore, anyways.

Homemade Chicken Stock. Easy, frugal, and utterly delicious! 

In my opinion, homemade chicken stock is one of the easiest things you can make. All it takes is chicken bones and/or a carcass, vegetables and/or vegetable scraps, water, and a crock pot. And time! Let this simmer for as long as you can. Everything used for this homemade chicken stock is something I would otherwise be throwing away so this recipe is also crazy frugal. That’s all well and good, but the deliciousness of this homemade stock is something that cannot be understated. It’s wayyy better than anything you could buy at the store. It’s absolutely delicious. Whether you use it as the base for soup, for adding flavor to rice, in sauces, or even just sipping by itself (yup!), this homemade chicken stock is the BEST.

Homemade Chicken Stock. Easy, frugal, and utterly delicious! 

Please start saving your veggie scraps (I just save mine in a gallon size ziptop bag in the freezer) so you can try this recipe asap! Then, when your bag is full, just roast a chicken or buy a rotisserie chicken so you can make your own homemade chicken stock. It’s one of my freezer essentials and I use it alllll the time. Enjoy!!

one year ago: Simple Sheet Pan Chicken Fajitas
two years ago: Apple Cranberry Relish Salad
three years ago: Chewy Ginger Cookies
four years ago: Sweet Potato Chorizo Chile Mac
five years ago: Chicken Tinga Tacos
six years ago: Crock Pot Cran-Apple Sauce
seven years ago: Chicken and Wild Rice Soup

Easy Homemade Chicken Stock

  • Servings: 12-13 cups stock
  • Print


  • bones and carcass from 1 roasted chicken (homemade or store-bought rotisserie)
    • note: for food safety reasons, carve the chicken before serving… do not use bones that have been on a plate in your stock
  • 1 gallon-sized bag full of vegetable scraps, saved over time in the freezer… basically the stuff you would otherwise throw away such as:
    • carrot ends and peels
    • onion ends and skins
    • garlic skin
    • celery ends and leaves
    • bell pepper pieces
    • stems or ends of herbs, green onions, or mushrooms
    • apple cores
    • citrus rinds
    • don’t include: lettuces/greens, cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, brussels sprouts) or anything dirty or moldy… but veggies past their prime are totally fine!
  • water
  • splash of vinegar
  • freshly ground pepper and salt
  • dried herbs as desired: parsley, thyme, basil, oregano, bay leaves, etc.


Place chicken bones and carcass at the bottom of a large crockpot. Cover with veggie scraps. Add a splash of vinegar, a generous amount of freshly ground pepper and salt, and some dried herbs if desired. Fill crockpot nearly to the top with water, then cover and cook on low for at least 8 hours, preferably 12 or more.

At the end of the cooking time, unplug and remove lid. Allow to cool briefly, then skim off any film or foam. Use a fine mesh strainer set over a bowl or liquid measuring cup to strain out solids to discard. You can strain again with cheesecloth for clearer stock, if desired.

At this point, you have two options:

  1. Divide into desired portion-sized containers – I like using half pint and pint mason jars – allow to cool completely, then refrigerate or freeze. If freezing stock, be sure to leave head space so the jars don’t break. With this method, each jar will have a layer of thickened chicken fat on top that you can use or discard when you use the stock. The jars may also have some residue or grittiness at the bottom of them, as well.
  2. Cover and refrigerate bowl(s) of stock overnight. Scrape the thickened chicken fat off the stock and discard/save as desired, then divide into desired portion-sized containers and freeze. This method eliminates most of the excess fat and residue or grittiness, as most of it rises or falls and can be discarded before freezing.


Stock can be frozen indefinitely, but should be used within a week if refrigerated.

There are lots of ideas online for alternate freezing methods based on your cooking needs, freezer space, etc. such as: in plastic ziptop bags, ice cube trays, or muffin tins (maybe even try the silicone ones!).

To defrost half pint or pint sized glass jars of stock, it is easiest to defrost in the refrigerator for 8-12 hours before use. If you need it sooner, submerge in a bowl of cold water (hot can make frozen containers crack!) until you can defrost it enough to transfer to your pot to melt all the way. Or remove lid and microwave jar on 50% power until you can pour it out.

This stock is not concentrated per se, but I do find it to be more flavorful than store-bought broth or stock. So I often will use a little less in recipes and make up the difference with water. Experiment to find what works for you!

Other, Recipes, Sides

SRC: Tunisian Chickpea Salad

This easy Tunisian-inspired chickpea salad is wonderfully flavorful. In fall and winter, your spices and dried herbs will amaze you… and in the summer, this salad comes alive with fresh herbs. Great year-round dish!

Tunisian Chickpea Salad... an easy, delicious side dish! #secretrecipeclub #src via thepajamachef.com

For years I thought I didn’t like chickpeas, aka garbanzo beans. My dad [who admittedly isn’t the biggest fan of vegetables] would top his salad bar salads at Pizza Hut with lots of those cream-colored, round beans while I looked on with a disgusted look on my face. They looked odd, beans weren’t something I ever ate, they had a weird name, and why would you put beans on a salad anyways?!? Sometime along the way I discovered hummus, and with it… learned that chickpeas were the star of that great show so I gave the chickpeas a good ‘ole second [or fiftieth] chance. And now I can’t get enough of them.

Chickpea burgers, chickpea salad, roasted chickpeas… I love it all. So when I saw this Tunisian Chickpea Salad on simply.food, a vegetarian food blog run by the lovely Nayna, I pretty much immediately knew I was making it for the Secret Recipe Club this month. Nanya has so many great recipes on her blog though, so it was a tough decision between this chickpea salad and Pumpkin Rice, Sweet Rice, or Spicy Stuffed Tunisian Bread. Nayna’s mission with her blog is to create simple, home-cooked recipes that are sensational and mouth-watering. She even has a couple of cookbooks available, so she must be doing something right!

Tunisian Chickpea Salad... an easy, delicious side dish! #secretrecipeclub #src via thepajamachef.com

Ben and I absolutely loved this light and refreshing chickpea salad. I made it on a Saturday afternoon and we enjoyed bowls of it during football watching… a little appetizer-precursor to our homemade corndog mini muffins. 🙂 Not exactly two foods that go side-by-side, but two delicious dishes nonetheless. This salad was incredibly flavorful–full of aromatic herbs like coriander and mint along with some staples like garlic powder [I think fresh would be too potent], crushed red pepper, green peppers, and sun-dried tomatoes. I used dried herbs because it’s November, but in the summer this would be a great way to use all the herbs I grow in the backyard! I do have to say though, part of the reason I was SO into making this salad was because this year I actually dried all my leftover herbs from my garden instead of letting them die with the first hard frost. So now I have a huge mason jar filled with dried mint. I forsee a lot of tea… and now this salad[!!!] in my future! I am so excited.

Tunisian Chickpea Salad... an easy, delicious side dish! #secretrecipeclub #src via thepajamachef.com

This awesome chickpea salad gets more enticing the longer it sits, but it doesn’t make a huge batch so I don’t think it’ll last very long anywhere! Next time I make it, you better believe I’ll make a double batch. Nayna recommends serving it with pita bread which I will DEFINITELY try too! Enjoy! Thanks, Nayna for a great recipe!

one year ago: Parmesan Butternut Squash Au Gratin
two years ago: Pumpkin Cloverleaf Rolls
three years ago: Pork, Apple, and Ginger Stir Fry
four years ago: Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Energy Bars
five years ago: Lime-Soy Chicken

Tunisian Chickpea Salad

  • Servings: 4
  • Print

from simply.food


  • 1 – 15 ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 3 tablespoons sun-dried tomatoes, finely diced
  • 3 tablespoons green pepper, finely diced
  • 1 shallot, finely chopped – optional
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried mint
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder


In a medium bowl, stir together chickpeas, tomatoes, green pepper, and shallot. Pour vinegar, olive oil, and lemon juice on top, then stir again. Sprinkle with coriander, crushed red pepper, mint, and garlic and gently stir. Taste and add salt or pepper if desired. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to let flavors meld, then serve chilled.

Please check out all the other great recipes made for the SRC this month at the link below! Happy Monday! 🙂

Main Dishes, Recipes, Salads, Sauces

Greek Dressing

Who says simple is boring? This quick and easy greek dressing takes just a few minutes and a few ingredients but is so good that you’ll never want to buy bottled dressing again!

Greek Dressing | thepajamachef.com #simple #healthy #salad


Greek salad has been my LIFE recently. I’ve eaten a huge bowl for lunch everyday the past couple weeks, and think that’s going to happen again soon. [But I need more tomatoes!] My philosophy is… a big salad for lunch means dinner can be whatever I want. Even mac & cheese from Panera. That stuff is so good and I’d never ordered it myself until last Wednesday, much to Ben’s relief [on Panera dates before I’d always steal like half his bowl]. Because salad for lunch = indulgence for dinner. Or something like that. Right?!?

Greek Dressing | thepajamachef.com #simple #healthy #salad

Anyways, salad. And this dressing. I just can’t get enough! It’s creamy and tangy and so so fresh. I know my Greek salad isn’t exactly authentic and this dressing isn’t either, but it’s close enough. It’s full of flavor–all garlicky and lemony and herby! Just perfect. Some salad dressings are a little too oily without enough vinegar and acid to balance things out, but this half and half combo is just how I like it. I adapted a grandma recipe [not my grandma, but Laurie’s] so that’s why it must be so good! 🙂

Greek Dressing | thepajamachef.com #simple #healthy #salad

I use this dressing to top off a simple Greek salad of romaine, tomatoes, cucumber, chickpeas, red onion, and feta. Heavy on the chickpeas and feta for me, please! If you like, you can add olives or chicken or whatever else sounds good. Apparantly the dressing is also a killer chicken marinade. Filing that bit ‘o info away for next time! BTW this dressing keeps for about a week in the fridge, so feel free to make a double batch. You’ll need it!

three years ago: Cinnamon Bacon Carbonara
four years ago: Lime Yogurt Cake with Raspberry Sauce

Greek Dressing

  • Servings: 8 ounces
  • Print

adapted from Simply Scratch

  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup oregano, loosely packed [or 1 teaspoon dried oregano]
  • 1 large clove garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • generous amount of freshly ground black pepper
  • to serve with a simple salad: torn romaine, tomatoes, cucumber, chickpeas, red onion, feta


Place all ingredients in a food processor or blender and pulse until smooth. I love my immersion blender for this! Taste and season with additional salt or pepper if necessary.

You can also finely chop the oregano and mince the garlic and shake all ingredients together.

Store in a jar, refrigerated, for up to a week.

Linked up with Weekend Potluck.

Appetizers, Recipes

Mystery Dish: Watermelon Salsa

A sweet watermelon salsa that has just a bit of kick to it… this may be my new favorite summer snack! Watermelon Salsa | thepajamachef.com Hey hey! This was my month to host Mystery Dish and it was so fun! I got to invite a guest to participate with us and chose to ask my lil sis, Kathleen at Two Happy Bellies! So glad she could bake up a yummy treat this month. 🙂 These ingredients I chose included:

  • coffee [grounds or brewed] – an unexpected summer ingredient
  • sour cream – for something creamy
  • farro – because I have a bag in the pantry I’ve been trying to use up…clearly that didn’t happen
  • almonds – for a crunch
  • cherries – they’re in season
  • watermelon – my favorite summer fruit…even more than berries [I know!!!]
  • cantaloupe – if you get a good one, they’re like candy
  • jicama – crunch crunch
  • cucumber – they’re super cheap at the farmer’s market and I love them
  • tomatoes – never buy these when it’s not summertime…just not woth it
  • infused or flavored olive oil – see farro
  • fresh herbs [any kind] – because fresh herbs rock
  • cornmeal – I have no idea, but thought it could be good for a crust or something
  • hot peppers [any kind] – spice, spice, spice it up! 

I hope my other Mystery Dish gals had fun with the ingredients I chose for them to play with…and now they know a little bit about why I chose the ingredients I did. I asked them to choose three for their dish. I used five–watermelon, cucumber, infused/flavored olive oil, fresh herbs, and hot peppers, and I meant to use a sixth–jicama, but forgot. Oh rats.Watermelon Salsa | thepajamachef.com This salsa is like the stuff of my dreams. Though I love your basic smooth tomato-based salsas, sometimes a chunky fruit-based salsa just hits the spot. This salsa combines some of my favorite summertime fruits and veggies [watermelon, peaches, and cucumber] with some spicy jalapeno and chili powder for the tiniest kick to make things interesting. 🙂 If spicy salsa isn’t your thing, leave out the jalapeno or use some bell pepper instead. Watermelon Salsa | thepajamachef.com Now, I know that some of you may  be a bit hesitant to make a spicy watermelon salsa, or even to use watermelon in salsa to begin with. I have to admit, that not too long ago I was right there with you! I love eating watermelon in the summer [really, all year round but they are only GOOD in the summer] and rarely use it in recipes because I just love it plain. But I wanted to stretch myself and try a spiced up watermelon dish because I’ve seen tons of recipes doing just that. And I’m really glad I did. Yay for Mystery Dish! The salsa isn’t really too spicy, so don’t worry… the watermelon and cucumber cool everything down and the peaches provide a bite of sweetness. It’s pretty much a perfect combo. Watermelon Salsa | thepajamachef.com I served this salsa with regular tortilla chips as well as the pictured multigrain tortilla chips [my fave!], but I think some cinnamon sugar tortilla or pita chips could be really good too! One last thing: be sure to make this salsa right before serving it. The watermelon definitely makes it pretty liquidy the longer it sits so eat up! 🙂
one year ago: Blueberry Buckle
two years ago: Mango Coconut Granola 
three years ago: Lavender-Lime Scones
four years ago: Creamy Baked Spaghetti

Watermelon Salsa

  • Servings: 6
  • Print
Watermelon Salsa | thepajamachef.com

  • 1 1/2 cups watermelon, chopped into small cubes and drained in a mesh colander for 10 minutes
  • 1 small peach, chopped into small cubes [about 2/3 cup]
  • 1/3 cup cucumber, chopped into small cubes
  • 1/2 of a jalapeno, seeded and diced – optional
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon coconut white balsamic vinegar [regular white balsamic vinegar is fine too]
  • 1 teaspoon blood orange infused extra virgin olive oil [some orange juice/zest mixed with a bit of evoo is fine too]
  • pinch of chili powder
  • garlic salt, to taste
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • tortilla chips, for serving

Directions: In a small bowl fold together watermelon, peach, cucumber, jalapeno, and cilantro. In a measuring cup, use a fork to whisk together vinegar, olive oil, chili powder, garlic salt, and pepper. Pour mixture over watermelon, then stir to coat. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Serve immediately with tortilla chips. Would also be great over fish, chicken, or pork, with tacos, or even with a spoon!

July Mystery Dish via thepajamachef.com

  1. Watermelon Salsa – The Pajama Chef
  2. Farro Salad – Chez CateyLou
  3. Cherry Almond Coffee Cake – Two Happy Bellies
  4. Watermelon Fruit Salad with Mint Lime Dressing – Yummy Healthy Easy
  5. Toasted Almond Caramel Mocha Gelato – Culinary Couture Blog
  6. Cherry Galettes with Almond Sour Cream Crust – The Well Floured Kitchen
  7. Cherry Watermelon Granita – Joyful Healthy Eats
  8. Cherry Almond Mocha Smoothie – Baking a Moment
  9. Pepperoni Pasta Salad – I Want Crazy
  10. Almond Cherry Bars – I Dig Pinterest
  11. Cucumber Salsa – Weary Chef
  12. Cherry Almond Popsicles – Blahnik Baker


Linked up with: Weekend Potluck.

Sweet 'n Spicy Apple BBQ Chicken & Slaw | thepajamachef.com
Chicken, Main Dishes, Recipes, Sauces

Sweet ‘n Spicy Apple BBQ Chicken & Slaw

Ben and I are big barbecue fans. Seriously, major barbecue fans. It’s one meaty dish we can both agree on. Ben loves a good brisket or pulled pork while  I’m more partial to chicken but occasionally can be swayed to a more “hearty” meats. In our four years’ of married life, we’ve enjoyed barbecue in many, many ways… at restaurants, homemade, semi-homemade, and store-bought. Homemade has always been the best, because seriously. Indiana. Not exactly a state renowned for its barbecue. BUT wait. I just realized that my homemade might not be quite as good as what’s available locally anymore. Even though this homemade Sweet ‘n Spicy Apple BBQ Chicken & Slaw is pretty darn fabulous.

Sweet 'n Spicy Apple BBQ Chicken & Slaw | thepajamachef.com

Why, you ask? Because Ben and I are moving down south! To Nashville, Tennessee. On Friday! As in, later this week. Ahhhhhh. [Cue frantic packing… because who is ready to go any sooner than they have to be? Not me. Ha!] Now, I know that the politics of barbecue, or barbeque, or BBQ, or whatever you call it run deep, and vary by region, cooking method, etc. And I realize that true barbecue connoisseurs might not consider this “real” barbecue because it’s made in just an hour or so, in the oven. To them I say “bah.” Or rather, Ben says “bah.” I just say it’s good. It’s sweet, spicy, and utterly addicting. If I do say so myself, adding an apple to the chicken as it cooks was an utterly genius move.

Sweet 'n Spicy Apple BBQ Chicken & Slaw | thepajamachef.com

Speaking of moves, we’re moving because I accepted a position earlier this month at a university library in Nashville. It’s been a crazy few weeks of packing, finding a new apartment, trying to sublet our current apartment, saying goodbye to friends and family and our favorite local Bloomington spots, and a myriad of other details… some fun and others not so fun. But we are so excited for this new adventure. There’s no one I’d rather share it with than this guy!


Ben is simply the best. 🙂 As is this barbecue. If you make it, don’t forget the slaw. It’s the perfect tangy, crisp accompaniment to the sweet ‘n spicy chicken. Kinda like I am to Ben. Or he is to me? I’m not quite sure that comparison is valid, but my mind is muddled from all this packing. So there you have it. Our big move, aka the reason I haven’t been blogging much lately. I have a few posts scheduled over the next couple weeks so I shouldn’t disappear for long, and then once we are settled and have the kitchen ready to go, things should be back to normal here. 🙂 If you have any Nashville recommendations, be sure to send ’em my way. Have a great week! Enjoy!

Sweet 'n Spicy Apple BBQ Chicken & Slaw | thepajamachef.com

one year ago… 1970s Style Tacos
two years ago… Honey-Lime Fruit Salad
three years ago… Sweet and Spicy Blueberry Pork

Sweet 'n Spicy Apple BBQ Chicken & Slaw

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Print


for the chicken

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 small apple, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2 pounds chicken thighs
  • 6 ounces BBQ sauce of choice [I used a local Spicy Apple BBQ Sauce, but for something similar you could use this recipe]
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • extra sauce for serving

for the slaw

  • 2 cups red cabbage, chopped/shredded
  • 2 cups green cabbage, chopped/shredded
  • 1 small apple, diced
  • 1 stalk celery, diced
  • 2 stems basil, leaves torn [~ 1/4 cup]
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • a couple dashes Sriracha
  • freshly ground black pepper


Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Heat olive oil over medium heat in an oven-proof Dutch oven or pot with tightly fitted lid. Add onion and apple and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Then add garlic and cook for another minute. Add chicken and BBQ sauce and toss to coat. Season with pepper. Remove from heat, cover, and place in oven for 90 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the slaw. Toss together cabbages, apple, celery, and basil. In a small bowl, whisk together mayonnaise, vinegar, lemon juice, maple syrup, and Sriracha. Pour dressing over cabbage mixture [you may not need it all] and season with pepper to taste. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

When chicken is done cooking, shred with two forks carefully in the pot, or remove to a cutting board to shred. Return chicken to pot and then serve with slaw and extra BBQ sauce as desired.

Note: For more tender chicken, reduce heat to 200 degrees after it has fully cooked and leave chicken in oven, covered, for another hour. The chicken is still delicious after 90 minutes but it does shred a little easier later on.