mason jars of instant pot chicken stock on the counter

Your honor, I confess to buying an Instant Pot on Black Friday 2019, only to let it sit in my pantry untouched for 2 whole years fearing the lid might somehow detach itself during the cooking process and shoot like a rocket through the roof of my house, taking my hand with it.

I also confess to unboxing it only after thinking my stove top/oven was broken (spoiler alert: it wasn’t), finally reading the manual, and realizing an electric pressure cooker couldn’t be simpler to use. I plead guilty and accept a lifetime sentence of making easy Instant Pot Chicken Stock to use in all my homemade soups and stews.

Ok, I think I’m getting off easy here — and so will you after making this simple yet satisfying recipe that yields the most delicious chicken stock with incredible depth of flavor and color. Did I mention it is SO EASY? And inexpensive? And you’ll feel like a kitchen goddess afterwards?

overhead view of jars of homemade chicken stock

Take Advantage of Whole Chickens

In case you haven’t noticed, the price of chicken is astronomical right now. A 1.25lb package of chicken breasts was selling for $8.50 at the grocery store the other day while a 4lb whole chicken was $2.99/lb. That said, making homemade Instant Pot chicken stock from a whole chicken is not only easy but incredibly economical.

Not only do you get 2 chicken breasts (which I slice in half to make 4 cutlets), 2 tenderloins, 2 wings, 2 thighs, AND 2 drumsticks from a whole chicken, but you can then turn around and use the leftover bones plus a few herbs and veggies to make over 3 quarts of chicken stock in the Instant Pot.

If this doesn’t excite you to no end well…fine…but still — it’s hard to deny the money saving benefits that buying a whole chicken and processing it yourself brings to the table. It is so rewarding!

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What’s the Difference Between Chicken Stock and Chicken Broth?

Before we go on, let me fill you in real quick on the difference between chicken stock and chicken broth. Chicken stock is made with the bones of the chicken plus vegetables, herbs, and seasonings then cooked (pressure cooked in the Instant Pot in this case) for a longer period of time.

Chicken broth is made with chicken meat, vegetables, herbs and seasonings then simmered for a shorter cooking time. Basically chicken stock is a thicker, richer tasting version of chicken broth. Technically they can be used interchangeably, but give homemade chicken stock a taste and I promise you’ll choose it over broth every time!

I’ll also add that bone broth is made by adding additional chicken bones (feet have a ton of collagen!) plus a splash of apple cider vinegar, then cooked for a longer period of time.

Ingredients Needed

  • Chicken carcass: this is the body of the chicken with all the skin and most of the meat removed. You’ll also want to save the wings and bones from the thighs and legs if you can.
  • Fresh vegetables: Carrots, celery stalks, onion, leek, and mushrooms season and color the stock with gorgeous flavor and color.
  • Herbs: I like using fresh herbs in my IP chicken stock including fresh thyme, fresh chives, and fresh parsley stems. A little bit of fresh rosemary would be delightful as well.
  • Seasonings: An entire head of garlic, whole peppercorns, and salt season the stock.

How to Give Your Instant Pot Chicken Stock MAX Flavor and Color

After adding the chicken bones, vegetables, herbs and seasonings into the Instant Pot then filling it with water, there are two ways to make sure the resulting stock comes out with MAX flavor, and a gorgeous golden color.

  1. Use a double cycle. I like to pressure cook the chicken stock on high pressure for one hour then on low pressure for an additional hour. I find this double pressure cooking cycle really makes a difference in the flavor and color of the final stock.
  2. Use a roasted chicken. Usually I use a raw bird to make chicken stock, but using the bones from a roasted chicken will give your Instant Pot chicken stock even more flavor. This is a great way to maximize a store-bought rotisserie chicken, for example.

jars of instant pot chicken stock on a table

How to Make Chicken Stock in the Instant Pot

Step 1: Add the chicken to the Instant Pot. Start by adding the carcass of a 3-4lb chicken to the bottom of a 6 quart Instant Pot — again, it can be raw or roasted.

What you see here is the body of the chicken after removing the breasts/tenderloins, thighs, and legs. I remove the bones from the thighs then add them into the pot, plus both of the chicken wings with the skin left on for flavor.

chicken bones in an instant pot

Step 2: Add the vegetables. Think of the ingredients you’d use to make chicken soup — that’s what you use to flavor chicken stock. We’ve got carrots, celery, a yellow onion, and a whole head of garlic — no need to peel the latter two. If I have them on hand, I’ll also add a handful of mushrooms and/or a leek. This is a great recipe to add vegetable scraps to.

fresh vegetables for homemade chicken stock

Step 3: Add herbs and seasonings. Next add fresh herbs including parsley stems, thyme, and/or chives. You can also add a small sprig of fresh rosemary if you’ve got it. Whole black peppercorns and salt are next. I use just 1 teaspoon of salt for this entire recipe, though if you’re watching your sodium you can leave it out entirely.

ingredients for chicken stock in an instant pot

Step 4: Fill the Instant Pot with water. Fill the Instant Pot to just below the max fill line with water. It’s ok if not all the vegetables are covered by liquid.

an instant pot filled with water and vegetables

Step 5: Pressure cook. Secure the lid on top, set the valve to “sealing”, then program the Instant Pot to cook on HIGH pressure for 1 hour. The IP will take 20-30 minutes to come to pressure and actually start cooking.

After 1 hour, program the pressure cooker to cook on LOW pressure for 1 hour, ensuring the “keep warm” button is turned off.

instant pot set to pressure cook for 1 hour

Step 6: Natural release for 30 minutes. At this point there is a gazillion pounds (that’s a technical term, I’m sure) of pressure built up in the Instant Pot, so let it sit for 30 minutes to naturally release some of that pressure. After 30 minutes, cover your hand with a thick towel and carefully flip the sealing valve to “venting” to release the remaining pressure.

After all the pressure has been released, remove the lid and — voila! — homemade chicken stock! I’m telling you, it’s one of the most rewarding feelings in the world.

ingredients for chicken stock in an instant pot

Step 7: Strain the chicken stock. Let the chicken stock cool for a bit then strain through a fine mesh strainer or chinois into a large bowl with a lip. You can then transfer the strained stock into storage containers and place in the refrigerator. Once the stock has fully chilled, skim any hardened fat off the top. I usually keep a bit because it adds flavor to the stock.

How to Store Chicken Stock

Store the chicken stock in jars or airtight containers in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Or, transfer the chilled chicken stock to freezer-safe containers (NOT glass mason jars with lids – ask me how I know) and freeze. Use within 6 months for the best flavor, but the stock can be frozen for up to 12 months.

jars of instant pot chicken stock on a counter

5 Ways to Use Instant Pot Chicken Stock

Use homemade Instant Pot Chicken Stock in all your homemade soups and stews, and trust me — you WILL notice and taste a difference. Here are my favorite ways to use it:

Easy Instant Pot Chicken Stock

Description

Easy Instant Pot Chicken Stock couldn't be simpler - toss everything into the Instant Pot then press on! Use in all your homemade soups and stews.

Ingredients

makes 14 cups

  • 1 chicken carcass from a 3-4lb chicken, raw or roasted (see notes)
  • 2 medium-sized carrots, chopped into large pieces OR 1 cup baby carrots
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped into large pieces OR 3-4 smaller celery stalks + tender leaves from the heart
  • 1 yellow onion, unpeeled, sliced in half through the root
  • 1 head garlic, unpeeled, sliced in half lengthwise
  • 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • fresh herbs (any or all): 2 sprigs thyme, 6 chives, small handful parsley stems
  • Optional additional vegetables:
    • 1 medium-sized leek, white and light green parts only, cut into large pieces
    • 4oz mushrooms, washed and quartered OR handful of mushroom stems

Directions

  1. Place the chicken carcass + any extra bones (see notes) into the inner pot of a 6 quart Instant Pot then add remaining ingredients and fill with water to just below the max fill line. Secure lid on top then switch valve to “sealing” position.
  2. Set Instant Pot to HIGH pressure then cook for 1 hour. Press the “keep warm” button if illuminated to turn it off. Instant Pot will take 20-30 minutes to come to pressure and start cooking.
  3. When the timer is done, cook for another hour on LOW pressure (do not manually release pressure first). Again, be sure the “keep warm” button is not illuminated, indicating that it is turned off.
  4. After the second pressure cooking round is done, let the Instant Pot release naturally - meaning, do not switch the valve to “venting” - for 30 minutes. Carefully, with your hand covered with a thick dish towel, switch the valve to "venting" to release remaining pressure.
  5. Remove lid then let broth and Instant Pot insert cool slightly before pouring chicken stock through a chinois or fine mesh sieve into a large bowl, preferably with a lip to make transferring into jars or containers easier.
  6. Once chicken stock has cooled slightly, pour into storage containers then refrigerate until chilled. Skim any hardened fat off the top if desired. Use stock within 5 days or transfer to freezer-safe containers and freeze for up to 12 months (use within 6 months for the best flavor.)

Notes

  • You can use a raw or roasted chicken carcass to make Instant Pot Chicken Stock. For example, after I’ve removed the wings, thighs, breasts, and drumsticks from a whole, raw chicken, I’ll use the remaining chicken carcass to make the chicken stock. Or, if I’ve roasted a whole chicken, I’ll use the chicken carcass leftover after serving, plus the leg and wing bones, and extra juices and skin after all the meat’s been removed.
  • I have used a smoked chicken carcass before and don’t love the flavor of the final stock.

This recipe is courtesy of Iowa Girl Eats, http://iowagirleats.com.

photo collage of instant pot chicken stock

Photos by Ashley McLaughlin