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Friday, July 2, 2010

How to Make Stock from Chicken Feet

Chicken feet evidently  make The.Best.Stock. I am here to agree 100%. I make chicken stock/broth a lot. But what I made today was exceptional. Here is an explanation of why it is so good for us.

Quick quiz - how many toes does a chicken have? Answer at the end of the post. I will tell you I didn't know until I gave my chicken feet pedicures. 

I know that the first time I did this I was squeamish - I mean these feet look rather disgusting. And there is no denying what they are. They are like little alien hands when they are removed from the poor chicken. (Well the chicken is dead, but you get my point.)

It really isn't as gross as it sounds. You boil the feet first to get rid of any impurities - THEN you make the stock. My kids love to play with the feet - the first time I made this they chased each other around the house with the feet.  We are so far removed from the food we eat that at first it is a bit odd but then when I remember that up until mid last century everyone made stock from chicken feet I know I am in good company.

How to Make Stock from Chicken Feet


  • 2 pounds of chicken feet
  • 2 large carrots, cut in half
  • 1 onion, roughly chopped
  • 2 celery ribs, cut in half 
  • couple cloves of garlic 
  • 1 bay leaf 
  • 2 TBS apple cider vinegar
The amount and type of vegetables is very forgiving - I often use scraps or add leeks and parsley and have occasionally added ginger. If I have time I will roast the vegetables before adding them to the pot. It improves the flavor immensely.


    1. In a large pot boil the feet for 5 minutes. Plunge into ice cold water and then remove the yellow membrane (the ones I buy from the Mexican grocery store already have this peeled off but when I do our own chickens this is a necessary step).
    2. With a sharp knife carefully chop the talons off at the first knuckle and any gross hard spots should be removed now if necessary.
    3. Put the feet back into the stockpot long with your veggies and bay leaf and cover them with clean cool water. Add the vinegar and let sit for an hour. This helps to get all the goodness out of the bones. Bring to a boil and then lower to a simmer. You will be simmering on low for at least 4 hours sometimes even up to 12 depending. You can add more water if it no longer covers the feet. Skim off any scum that rises to the surface. Resist the urge to stir!
    4. Strain through several layers of (moistened) cheesecloth in your colander or a fine mesh sieve.
    You will end up with beautiful gelatinous nutrient dense stock. Sometimes it is so thick it is like jello! 

    I have also begun canning my chicken feet stock - I follow the directions from so that I don't take up precious space in my freezer.

    I also had a chicken carcass cooking in the crockpot - so when I was done I dumped the feet and veggies in the crockpot  and will get double my money out of the feet. I am frugal like that.

    I found my chicken feet in a Mexican Grocery Store and the price was fabulous - I paid $1 a pound and will end up with  about 2 quarts of stock to make Potato Soup or Mediterranean Stew over Couscous  or any recipe that calls for chicken broth. If you are adventurous you can eat the feet like this lady did here.

    OK now I double dog dare you to make some chicken stock from feet!

    When researching how to make stock from chicken feet I followed closely the post at Simply Recipes.
    She does an excellent job in explaining the process.

    The answer is four!

    Linking this to Ann Kroekers Food on Fridays and Food Renegades Fight Back Fridays along with Life as Mom's Frugal Fridays  and a new one - Wholesome Whole Foods @ and Real Food Wednesday @ Kelly the Kitchen Kop - all great memes you will want to check out!


    1. Oh, my goodness! I was not expecting pictures with that post!!! LOL!!!

      Okay, so I think I'll try the fattier ground beef for my burgers. LOL!

      I'll have footless stock, please!

      I don't know what would be worse, having to clip the chicken toe nails or having them in my soup! Eeeek! LOL!

      I thought I was over my being squeamish about meat. Nope! LOL!

      My Gram is squeamish about stuff like me, so I'll have to ask her about chicken feet stock! I'd bet HER Gram (who raised her) probably made it, but I don't think my Gram did. We always talk about food when I call her! I can't wait to bring up this subject!

      1. I feel sorry for you, you miss a lot...

    2. Christy, WOW! I have to agree that those chicken feet do have a certain "freaky" factor..but if they do they job then that's all that matters right?

      LOL chicken toenails- I can't get over that! Too strange!

      I can imagine this would make a really gelatinous!

      Okay I take your challenge! I'll be on the hunt for chicken feet!!

      Thanks so much for linking up to the carnival!

    3. If your chicken feet have the tendon hanging off the wrist, you can pull the tendon and make the fingers wiggle. I had a kick doing that to my kids!

      I found my chicken feet at the Asian grocery store.

    4. Wow, I don't think I'm that brave, but well done for going for it! If it tastes good, well, that is what matters!

    5. Even as a chicken farmer I say EEEEW! LOL
      I think the pics threw me...
      LOL LOL

    6. Very impressive.


      I just don't think I can do it.

    7. Great post, Christy! It's sad how many animal "parts" people are scared to use. They'll glad eat a breast or pick up a leg...but shy away from the feet. Ha! Appreciating and knowing our food and the whole animal is the way to go, in my book. That said, I've never used the feet to make stock...but will be from now on. Why is it that you need to get rid of the tip/nail/claw portion before continueing? Is it to expose the inner portion?

    8. I think cutting of the claw helps the marrow to get out? That is my guess anyhow. I know that one post I read about this said they didn't remove them and the nails dropped off while cooking. We didn't eat the feet after using them to make stock but I know that some people do and if the nail was still there it could come off in your mouth.
      If that part is gross to you, I am sure you could skip that step. ;0)

    9. No, not gross...just curious. Thanks, Christy =)

    10. Thanks for this post. I process my own chicken and I can't bring myself to eat the feet outright. Now I have something to do with them that will really come in handy. This is a great bit of nearly-lost-to-most-of-us country wisdom. Cheers and happy Independence Day!

    11. I'm glad to find your blog! It's right down my alley.

    12. Oh Christy, that's a great tip to use chicken feet, but I don't have enough guts to touch them..

      I'll continue to use vegetables for my stock!

    13. Hi Christy!!

      I am glad you posted this. I have some chicken feet in my freezer I have been waiting to use. Do you have to cut the tips off the feet? Just wondering. I think I read on Nourished Kitchen that she just runs a knife through the feet to get the gelatin factor. Thankfully my farmer already peeled them - phfew!
      I hope to make some stock soon, you have spurred me on!! Thanks again!!

    14. I didn't even know that you could buy chicken feet. This is what I call frugal. Not wasting a thing. Such a creative and unusual post. I'm not sure I could get anyone to eat my chicken soup if they saw me making the stock. Great post.

    15. I think it is great to use every piece that you can

    16. WOW...that is some BEAUTIFUL gelatin broth!

      So, you boil first to clean the feet, then make the actual broth, correct?

      I am guessing leaving the jars out to cool for an hour first step is to let the jars release excess heat into the room. Putting hot jars in the fridge can really heat up the fridge...for hours.

    17. Isn't it just fantastic! Loved this post! :)

    18. And I thought my broth was thick...I bow to you Broth Queen!!! I use to be grossed out my such things, but when I started thinking about what a drumstick or a steak or a slice of bacon really is, any other part of the animal just didn't seem so strange anymore.

    19. Patty - you crack me up!! I have always wanted to be queen of something - queen of the broths works! And you are so right about "parts" it is just a part nothing to be grossed out about!

    20. I know that you wrote this post quite a while ago, but I just stumbled onto your blog and had to ask... why do *want* the broth to be gelatinous, what is the benefit? How do you use it?

      I've just never heard of that before and I can't think of a situation when I would want a gelatinous broth (or gelatinous anything really haha). I make most things from scratch but amazingly have yet to do my own broth so I'm only used to the very much liquid canned stuff or made from bouillon cubes. Just curious! :)

    21. Emmili - the reason you want it to be gelatanous is it means that your stock is full of healthy goodness - amino acids and calcium and magnesium among many other good things. Here is a link to a post that explains it much better than I.

      thanks for stopping by! I hope you start making your stock from scratch (you don't need feet to do it!) it is so incredibly delicious and healthy!

    22. Excellent article!
      Here's another one:

      Keep in mind, gelatin will only jelly or be gelatinous when cool. It can be unnoticeable in a bowl of hot soup.

    23. Jenny - what a great link - lots of great information on gelatin! Thanks.

    24. This is so funny! I actually just made stock from feet for the first time yesterday! Only I just plopped it right in with some of the bones that I had saved and didn't drain anything off. I was sort of bummed though because mine didn't gel up. I think I added too much water...dunno

    25. You can get chicken feet by searching for a chicken processor in your area, postings on Craig's List, or at a local farmer's market., We get them for a little over $1 per pound, already skinned, at our farmer's market. The farmer raises the chickens pastured, too. Yay!

    26. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    27. I made the chicken feet broth today, and it tasted just like the thin broth they use for wonton soup in your every day Chinese buffet. I'm a big fan of homemade stocks, and even bought an upright freeezer for my crowded home just for the assortment of stocks we make, and it is full. This one is probably as good for us as any of those, but lacked the great flavor I love from my homemades. Next time, I will add them in with my standard chicken stock. I can get them here at the Piggly Wiggly Supermarket where they ARE packaged in styrofoam trays and are either fresh or frozen, just like the other meat items. I had to laugh to see that the frozen ones were labeled "Chicken Paws."

    28. I enjoyed your post. We recently harvested chickens, and had about 60 chicken feet to process. I found that 5 minutes was way too long to boil - about 30 seconds worked for us. The 5 minute ones took everything off down to tendons, and the skin layers had cooked. I wonder if it's different by breed of chicken, freshness, etc. I also found cutting off the foot pad before doing the rest of the peeling sped things up.

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