25 Tasty Ways to Use Chicken Stock
Chicken stock is one of those ubiquitous bases for soups, sauces, stews, and more. I’ll bet, however, that I can impress you with at least one new use for this versatile ingredient. (See also: 25 Things to Do With Rotisserie Chicken)
Before we get started, though, let me clear something up — chicken stock is different from chicken broth. Both are made from chicken, but stock is made from the bones, which gives it a richer mouthfeel (that’s a legitimate word, I promise). Broth, on the other hand, is made more out of meat. If you have time to make homemade stock, try this great chicken stock recipe. If you’re more pressed for time, you can even make chicken stock in your crock pot. If you’re like most of us and have trouble finding time to prepare food at home, let alone extras like your own chicken stock, just go for canned chicken broth (low-sodium, of course, is healthiest). You can imitate stock by simmering canned broth with carrots, onion, celery, and spices such as dried parsley, a bay leaf, and pepper.
And for all you vegetarians out there, you can substitute vegetable stock for chicken stock in all of these uses. Try this recipe for homemade vegetable stock.
Rice & Grains
Grains are an important part of any diet because they provide the carbohydrates that serve as the body’s main source of energy. Increase the flavor of these tried-and-true carbs by including chicken stock as you cook.
1. White Rice
Add flavor and dimension to plain white rice by substituting chicken stock for water. The general rule for cooking long-grain white rice is two parts liquid (water or stock) to one part rice. Bring the stock to a boil, add ¼ teaspoon salt, 1 tablespoon butter (optional), and 1 cup rice; simmer, covered, for about 15 minutes until all liquid is absorbed.
Risotto is rice with a lot of liquid. More specifically, it is usually Arborio rice (although there are a few more-expensive varieties you can use), into which you stir large quantities of stock to coax out the rice's starch. The resulting mixture is creamy, delicious, and ready to receive any number of ingredients ranging from goat cheese to mushrooms to shrimp. The possibilities are endless!
Couscous is actually a form of wheat pasta (known as semolina) traditionally served as a bed under stews. It originated in North Africa. All couscous I’ve seen sold in the U.S. has been pre-steamed and dried, meaning it takes literally only minutes to prepare. Make this wonderfully textured dish even tastier by substituting stock for water. Boil 1½ cups stock, add 1 cup couscous, cover, and remove from the heat. Wait five minutes, and voila! Substitute stock for water in any one of these 12 recipes for couscous from Real Simple.
Polenta, which is essentially the same as the grits found primarily in the southern states of the U.S., is simply ground cornmeal boiled in water. Substituting chicken stock for water gives this versatile side dish just the nudge it needs to make it irresistible to all. Try this super-easy polenta recipe from Foodnetwork.com, substituting stock for water. Or try this recipe for fried polenta, which calls for stock in the original recipe.
A good sauce is like a striking accessory — it has the potential to make a plain-Jane dish into a to-die-for entrée. Dress up your dishes with one of these basic sauces. The potential variations are endless!
I have actually been making versions of this as a sauce and a soup base for years and have just recently learned the name. I can’t honestly say that I know how to pronounce it, but I can say it is one of the most versatile things in the grand world of food. Making velouté begins with a basic roux (flour and butter), which you then thicken with stock. That’s it. Once done, you can try any number of variations, including adding white wine, pureed tomatoes, or vinegar to suit your taste.
6. Bercy Sauce
A Bercy sauce is one of those variations on velouté I mentioned above, but this one is perfectly suited for fish and other seafood dishes. It’s also lighter tasting than a basic velouté sauce. There are a lot of variations on the Bercy sauce recipe floating around on the interwebs, but my favorite consists of ¼ cup flour, 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, 2 minced shallots, 1 cup of chicken stock, and 1 cup of white wine. Add stock and wine to a saucepan, and reduce by over half (this will take about 40 minutes). In another saucepan, make a roux by mixing your flour and butter on low heat. Stir frequently; add shallots after 20 minutes, and continue stirring. Once your stock and wine is reduced, add the roux. Season to taste, and enjoy!
7. Low-Fat Alfredo
This light version of a classic Alfredo sauce also looks a lot like the velouté described above (See? I told it was versatile!), but includes milk and Parmesan cheese, so it’s creamier than velouté. The light Alfredo is also incredibly easy — simply combine milk, stock, flour, salt, and pepper, and heat over low heat. Add in the cheese, and you’re ready for anything. Anything that entails eating Alfredo sauce, that is.
Marinara, like velouté, can be varied in numerous ways to match your preferences or to make use of what you have on hand. This tomato-based sauce is traditionally made with white wine, but for an alluringly different flavor, substitute chicken stock instead. Simmer up a big batch and pair with spaghetti, gnocchi, eggplant Parmesan, or lasagna.
For those who are not intimately familiar with curry, the term refers to a variety of dishes of Southeast Asian origin that all include some variation of a spice-and-herb mixture. Curries may be either “wet” (consisting of spice incorporated into a sauce) or “dry.” Although I can’t claim to be an expert in curry dishes, I can attest to the fact that I have loved absolutely every sauce-based curry dish I’ve tried. One of my favorites is chicken curry. Rachel Ray, of Food Network fame, has a particularly accessible chicken curry recipe. By now, you know the routine — substitute stock for broth for that kicked-up flavor.
The beauty of stock-based soups is that they taste good without weighing you down or filling out your waistline as much as cream-based soups. Make a batch and freeze half for later!
10. Hot and Sour Soup
Hot and sour soup is a trusted companion to all Chinese main dishes. It’s light, airy, and just the perfect prologue to a filling meal to come. Use chicken stock as the base for yours to up the flavor. This hot and sour soup recipe calls for bamboo shoots, which are generally sold canned in the ethnic food aisle at your local grocer’s, but you could try substituting with asparagus or coconut shoots.
11. Chicken Noodle Soup
One of the only reasons I don’t run off to live in the Caribbean each year when the weather in the Northeast dips inevitably to the cold, damp, and snowy is the knowledge that I will be comforted by such things as roaring fires and chicken noodle soup. Make your own at any time of year and benefit from the warm feeling, low calories, and possible health benefits it brings.
12. Escarole and White Bean Soup
Escarole, a variety of endive that is less bitter than its cousins, serves as a hearty pairing to white beans in this antioxidant- and protein-rich soup. To make this quick and easy soup, sauté two garlic cloves in two tablespoons of olive oil for 15 seconds, add one pound of escarole, and continue cooking for two minutes. Add four cups chicken stock, one can of cannellini beans, and a pinch of Parmesan cheese. Cover and simmer for about five minutes, and enjoy!
13. Butternut Squash Soup
Butternut squash is known as a winter squash, and it is typically available in grocery stores from late fall through the winter. However, it can also be found in many grocery stores already peeled and cut into chunks in the freezer section. Pick up a package yourself this summer and whip up some delicious and filling butternut squash soup using only five simple ingredients (not counting butter and salt).
Now that summer is upon us, most people are reluctant to spend their evenings stooped over a hot stove. Thus, the wonderful invention that is gazpacho — the cold tomato soup that can be made and consumed without the aid of heat altogether! This gazpacho recipe calls for beef broth, but sub in chicken stock for (what I consider to be) better flavor. You can keep it for up to five days in the refrigerator. For a charming party idea, serve up tiny portions of gazpacho in plastic shot glasses, topped with a shrimp on a toothpick.
Minestrone is a tomato-based soup characterized by its inclusion of red kidney beans (and its ubiquitous presence at Olive Gardens the world round, I might add). Make your own at home with Ellie Krieger’s recipe (via FoodNetwork.com), which calls for six cups of chicken broth (substituting with stock, of course).
16. Clam Chowder
I grew up believing there to be only two types of clam chowders: New England style (cream-based chowder) and Manhattan style (tomato-based chowder). However, Wikipedia tells me that I’m wrong, and that there are actually five types of this mollusk-laden dish. Try your hand at making each of the five main varieties, or do like I do, and stick with your favorite — mine happens to be New England clam chowder, although I don’t love the extra calories that come with the cream base. This New England clam chowder recipe, however, manages to maintain the classic flavor while substituting some of the cream for chicken stock, thereby effectively delivering the best of both worlds.
Because they are typically savory, comfort foods often include chicken stock. Even if the traditional recipe doesn’t call for stock, however, you can almost always switch stock in for another ingredient. This has the dual benefit of making a recipe uniquely your own and enhancing the flavor.
17. Chicken Dumplings
Dumplings are one of those good old-fashioned, warm-you-to-the-bone comfort foods. After all, who doesn’t love warm balls of dough? Cook yours in chicken stock for more flavorful dumplings. A favorite of mine is this recipe by Rachel Ray. Pressed for time? Try chicken and dumplings recipe in the slow cooker, substituting half of the water for stock.
18. Bread Pudding
Bread pudding, like casseroles, is a simple and tasty solution to leftovers that you don’t quite know what to do with, but don’t want to throw away. At the end of the week or after a dinner party, throw leftover bread (about four cups, to be exact) and cheese (about a cup) into a bowl with two tablespoons of olive oil, toss in some add-ins of your own choosing (bacon and sautéed onion are always winners in my book), and put in a greased 9x9-inch pan. Pour a mixture of six eggs, one cup milk, and one cup cooled chicken stock over the bread mixture. Add salt and pepper to taste. Bake for one hour at 375 degrees, and dig in!
19. Mashed Potatoes
According to this mashed potatoes recipe, the secret to heavenly mashed potatoes is to use Yukon gold potatoes rather than russets. Although the recipe calls for mashing the potatoes with a mixture of butter and cream, substitute one cup of chicken stock (more or less to achieve desired consistency) to save fat and calories while still achieving perfect potatoes.
Gravy made with drippings effortlessly dresses up any roast and conjures up memories of holiday dinners anytime. Pan-dripping gravy may be made with cornstarch or flour as the thickening agent. To end up with about two cups of gravy, you’ll need about two tablespoons of drippings. Add two tablespoons of cornstarch or flour to the drippings in a pan over medium-high heat, and slowly whisk in about two cups of stock. Once thickened (about five minutes), add salt and pepper to taste, remove from heat, and serve. See Simply Recipes for more detailed directions to both cornstarch- and flour-based gravy.
Stuffing, like bread pudding, is a perfect way to put leftover bread bits to use. This stuffing recipe calls for one loaf of stale French bread, one onion, four celery stalks, and one cup of chicken stock. Sauté the onion and chopped celery in ¾ cup butter over medium-high heat until soft, then season with salt, pepper, and poultry seasoning. Stir in bread cubes and chicken stock, pour into a casserole dish, and bake for 30-40 minutes at 350 degrees.
Chicken and rice casserole is the quintessential American meal for a large family. Try your hand at it with another American icon, Betty Crocker. This casserole recipe calls for pimientos and slivered almonds, but could easily be altered to include the ingredients of your choice, such as bacon, corn, or broccoli. Substitute the one cup of chicken broth for chicken stock for a creamier consistency.
23. Chicken Pot Pie
One of my all-time favorite dishes is chicken pot pie — not only is it convenient if made or purchased ahead of time, but it also includes plenty of protein and veggies. A very easy homemade recipe can be found via Pillsbury. Again, substitute stock for broth, and feel free to sub in fresh veggies for the frozen called for in the recipe. Notice how the sauce is a variation on the classic velouté described earlier.
These uses for chicken stock were simply too wonderful to leave out, but they don't fit into any well-defined category. In other words, they’re in a league of their own!
24. Steamed Vegetables
Everyone knows that doctors and health experts recommend we eat more vegetables every day. Make the change more appetizing by steaming vegetables in — what else — chicken stock! Steam vegetables by placing them in a steaming basket in a larger pot containing about 2 inches of boiling stock. According to Livestrong.com, steaming some vegetables helps them to retain more antioxidants than any other cooking method.
25. Vegetable Stir-Fry
Stir-frying vegetables is just like sauteing, only over very high heat. This Campbell’s Kitchen recipe calls for topping stir-fried vegetables with a thickened sauce composed of one cup chicken broth (though stock will do as well) and one tablespoon each of cornstarch and soy sauce.
Do you have any other ideas for novel and tasty ways to use chicken stock? Share your thoughts in the comments!