Here are all my tips about How to Make Turkey Stock, plus Turkey Soup Ideas. And I think turning the turkey carcass into turkey stock is one of the best things about Thanksgiving! Check Thanksgiving Recipes for more ideas for leftover turkey!

Thanksgiving is almost here and by tomorrow I’ll have a house full of guests, so I’m sharing this early so you’ll have it when a big turkey carcass is staring you in the face! One of my favorite things about Thanksgiving is making the house smell good with a big roasting pan of turkey bones and veggies simmering on the stove. And turkey soup is a Thanksgiving tradition in many families, and personally I believe you can’t really make good turkey soup without turkey stock.

I’ve been making turkey stock for years, but I’m not a stock purist; I think a little Penzeys Turkey Soup Base is a good thing, both for gravy and turkey stock. But even if you didn’t remember to order that in time or you don’t want to use it, read on; there are more tricks to making turkey stock taste good.

Start with as many turkey scraps as you can possibly save from the turkey, including things like skin and bones that you might otherwise throw away. Don’t add turkey “giblets” which often come packed inside the turkey. Along with the turkey scraps and bones, be sure to include a generous amount of onion, celery, and carrots. This is a good place to use things like the celery ends or leaves that get cut off. I leave the vegetables in fairly big pieces so they’re easier to scoop out at the end.

Put the turkey scraps and bones, carrots, celery, and onion into a soup pot, add some thyme and sage and a bit of Penzeys Turkey Soup Base and cover with water. If you have a big roasting pan that you cooked your turkey in, simmer the stock right in the pan, which will let all those browned bits of turkey and skin get cooked off and they’ll add flavor to your stock. This is a familiar sight on my stove the day after Thanksgiving. If you don’t have Penzeys Turkey Soup Base, another brand I’ve used is Better Than Bouillon, which is sold in many grocery stores. (I’ve also heard that Trader Joe’s Turkey Soup Base is good, but I haven’t tried it.)

Let the stock simmer and reduce all day, until the flavor is as concentrated as you’d like it. Then strain and put it into containers for the freezer and you can enjoy turkey soup all winter long!


One of my favorite Thanksgiving traditions is saving the turkey carcass and turning it into delicious turkey stock!


  • turkey carcass (including skin, bones, and any scraps of turkey that didn’t get turned into sandwiches)
  • carrots
  • celery
  • onion
  • dried thyme
  • dried sage
  • water
  • turkey soup base (optional, but I usually use some to add extra flavor)


  1. Save the entire turkey carcass, including any bits of skin or things like wing tips that are cut off before cooking the turkey. Leave a bit of meat on the bones when you’re stripping the carcass.
  2. Put turkey carcass into a big stock pot with water to cover, leaving a bit of room to add vegetables.
  3. Add a generous amount of cut-up carrots, celery, and onions to the stock pot.
  4. Add dried thyme (about 1/2 tsp. per quart of water) and dried sage (about 1/4 tsp. per quart of water.) You can also use a blend of spices called Poultry Seasoning if you prefer.
  5. Adding a small amount of turkey soup base can really increase the flavor of the stock. I prefer Penzeys Turkey Soup Base, but I’ve also used Better Than Bouillon brand. If you don’t have either of these, you could add a tiny bit of soy sauce or some Kitchen Bouquet to give the turkey stock a bit more flavor and color.
  6. Let the stock simmer all day on the stove, adding more water as needed. I usually start with a small amount of turkey soup base, thyme, and sage, and then after a few hours I taste to see if I want to add more of those ingredients.
  7. When you’re ready to stop cooking the stock, use a fine-mesh skimmer to remove the vegetables, or strain the stock through a fine strainer into a different pot.
  8. Taste for flavor and simmer to reduce until the flavor is as concentrated as you want it. (If you’re not going to use it right away and you have limited freezer space, you can boil it down to a very small amount and add water when you use it.)
  9. If the stock seems fatty, use a fat separator to remove fat, or put the stock in the fridge overnight and the fat will rise to the top where you can scoop it off.
  10. Frozen stock will keep in the freezer for at least six months, and delicious turkey soup will taste good all winter!
All images and text ©Kalyn Denny for Kalyn’s Kitchen.


Making things like turkey stock from food that would have been thrown away has to be the ultimate Weekend Food Prep idea! This recipe has been added to a category called Weekend Food Prep  to help you find recipes you can prep or cook on the weekend and eat during the week!

If you enjoyed this post, I’d be very grateful if you’d help it spread by emailing it to a friend, or sharing it on Pinterest. Thank you! <3

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