Chicken Stock from Chicken Feet

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Heather says:

The point of this series is to show off our successes and failures. Please don’t be intimidated by pictures of pretty food here and on other blogs. If you go back through the archives you will see it has taken me over two years to become competent. We have just shy of 2000 followers*, with that many people I know there must be a good mix of skill levels, so don’t be shy. The recipe and story are after the link widget. Oh, and don’t worry, today I’m also sharing a boneheaded mistake.

*May 2009

I won’t lie, chicken feet are scary. They look somewhere between lizards and alien hands. I’ve passed by them all my life in the meat department, lying forlornly in little styrofoam trays. Last week I organized an adventure with my friends Bran and Heidi. We explored a new-to-us Asian market on the other side of town. I’d been trying to think of something exciting for this site and when I spotted theses awful looking things, I knew it was time for me to step out of my comfort zone and invite all of our Home Eccers to do the same. (Just not necessarily with chicken feet, unless that’s what you want, because it was tasty.) This is a recipe for when you’ll be home all day, but won’t require much attention once it gets going.

Homemade Chicken Stock from Chicken Feet

Gelled Stock
The Final Product

  • 1 – 1.5 lbs chicken feet
  • 2 carrots scrubbed and cut in half
  • 2 ribs of celery scrubbed and cut in half
  • 1 onion quartered (keep the papery layers, too)
  • 3 cloves of garlic cut in half
  • 8 – 10 peppercorns*
  • thyme (a handful of fresh or a generous TBSP dried)
Tools needed:

  • a stock pot
  • another pot to heat water
  • colander
  • mesh sieve
  • cheesecloth
  • slotted spoon
It's only hard the first time.
It’s only hard the first time.

First heat two quarts of water to a boil in a pot. Give the feet a good rinse and place them in the stock pot. When your water is boiling, pour it over the feet, turn your burner to high and boil the feet for 5 minutes. There is going to be a lot of foam, this is normal.

I was out of onions and used shallots.
I was out of onions and used shallots.

While your chicken feet are boiling get your vegetables ready. When your timer dings, pour the chicken feet into a colander and rinse with cold water until they are cool enough to handle. Then get a sharp knife and if you have kitchen shears, grab those, too. Cut the tips off of the toes. I will warn you, if you are using shears, they may will go flying. Yes, I was trying not to squeal “eew! eew! eew!” with each flying bit.  The chicken feet usually have a rough patch in the center of the foot. Use a sharp knife to cut that off. Don’t look too closely and don’t think too hard about how badly you may need a pedicure.

Post pedicure
Post pedicure

Place the pampered feet in your stock pot and cover with cold water, you want the water level to be at least two inches over the feet. Add your vegetables and spices to the pot. Place on the stove and turn the burner to medium high.  As soon as the stock reaches a boil turn the heat down to a very gentle simmer.  Use your slotted spoon to skim off some of the foam. You won’t get all of it and that’s OK. Cover your pot, but leave the lid cracked open so there’s about 1/2 an inch of room for steam to escape. Now leave it alone for the next two hours, except for the occasional skim.  Remove the lid and let the liquid simmer for another hour.  Now for the fun part.


We're almost done.
We’re almost done.

Remove all the large pieces (vegetables and chicken) from the stock and discard. With your sieve / cheesecloth, carefully strain the broth.


A wide mouth funnel can be helpful.
A wide mouth funnel can be helpful.

It’s important to use a very fine sieve or several layers of cheesecloth as this helps get rid of most of the fat. There really isn’t a whole lot. Have you ever seen a chicken with fat feet? Exactly. Pour your stock into a bowl that has a lid or several jars. They need to cool some before being placed in the refrigerator. I placed my jars in a large pan of cool (not cold) water for 10 minutes before placing them in the fridge.
When the stock has completely cooled in the refrigerator it will gel. This is a very good thing and the signature of an excellent stock. This is a stock you cannot get off a grocery store shelf. I ran the numbers, 1 quart of organic stock was 3.99 at my grocery store, the feet were 2.63, once you add in electricity and vegetables the cost was similar, but I ended up with 1.5 quarts. When making soup, I dilute the stock with an equal amount of water. This homemade stock freezes beautifully, just make sure you use the right kind of  jars or pour it into a muffin tin or ice cube tray. Once frozen, store in a freezer bag.

Any questions?

Not bothered one bit.
Not bothered one bit.

*Now Heather admits where she screwed up: I was out of black peppercorns. I omitted the pepper while preparing the stock, intending on running to the store and getting pepper for the final soup. Life got in the way and I said to heck with it and used a mixed blend of peppercorns in my soup. At the time I didn’t realize that the mixed peppercorns contained allspice. I hate allspice. I loathe allspice with an unholy feeling of contempt. Thankfully, no one else in my family was bothered by its evil presence.

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32 thoughts on “Chicken Stock from Chicken Feet”

  1. I cannot find them in my area, but when I was young, chicken feet were standard in my family for making great stock. The taste taste and body of stock- phenominally rich chicken flavor, excellent body.

    Gotta go find a butcher who can get feet……

  2. I applaud your bravery and I envy your ability to find chicken feet. If I could get them, I just might try them in my stock. Maybe.

    I mean, intellectually, I know that they’re very good for you. And I have plucked, gutted and butchered chickens. But, ya know, they’re, well….feet. 😛

  3. Ummm.. I want to leave a message, like those above me, and say I don’t know where to get chicken feet.. but, ummmm


    I can’t de-bone chicken. I pay for a kid to do it, or a bribe them. Could you teach M how to cut up chicken feet? LOL

    You are so brave. Did it help that I “eww’d” this before you did, in the post? *giggle*

  4. I am so glad that yall returned to this format for your website. I used to visit every other day but after that old renovation, I couldn’t stand the site. How relieved I was today to return to an old favorite and be greeted by a greet website layout!

    Good work

  5. growing up, chicken feet was pretty standard fare whenever the family went out for dim sum, dinner or some other party occasion. I never really saw the attraction in them (hardly anything to eat on them) but boy, could mom ever suck them clean. I’ve never used them in a chicken stock though. will have to give it a try.

  6. Oh, I get it. I know it pushed my personal boundaries pretty far.

    Oh, I wrote this post with a bad headache and I’m going back through and cleaning up some parts that really need rewording. I should know better than to write when my head is pounding, but I really didn’t want to be late.

    Thanks so much to everyone who has participated so far.
    To the rest of our readers, be sure to stop by and thank them for participating, too. It’s kind of scary putting yourself out there, especially if it’s for something that didn’t turn out as you hoped.

  7. Wow I don’t think I could have cooked with chicken’s feet. I could barely look at the pics. But I am very sensititve right now to just about everything. I made cookies. I can’t bake not one cupcake can I make right….and I want to!!! So I made cookies….I am going to update my blog later today it’s just been a crazy week.

  8. They sell chicken feet at our local farmers market but you
    have to get there before the very “high end” gourmet
    chef from the local gourmet rest does…..

  9. I have way too many issues with poultry AND feet (anyone’s feet) to handle having these in my house. So I shall wait for the next installment to be brave.

    I did go grocery shopping today and am being brave this week on ONE day. I am attempting a southern PULLED PORK BARBECUE recipe (minus a backyard pit). No one out here in Phoenix knows what real Barbecue is and I have a hankering. There will also be a side of honest-to-goodness hush puppies.


  10. Oh, I forgot to mention that I am also learning how to make Italian Ice treats for my kiddos (it is already trip digits in Arizona, y’all!)

    not that this is, neccesarily, fearless….but it will save me a lot of money as we have somehow gotten in the habit of picking them up on the way home from the gym (I know, I know).

    So I am going to make the syrup from scratch…..and dust off the contraption that shaves ice and put it to the test. I don’t have a blog so I thought I would share the idea. Slurpees and Snow cones are expensive and this way you can control how much sugar and what ingredients go into the yummy goodness (and they will probably, hopefully, taste better too!)

  11. Heather, it took me well over a year after I was done having kids to get over all of my pregnancy aversions. Pregnancy is a valid excuse. 🙂

    The Fearless Fridays series isn’t about using strange ingredients, that just happened to be what I had for yesterday. The meme is about pushing your own boundaries and experimenting in the kitchen. Making your own ANYTHING is participating in the spirit of the exercise.
    Good luck with the pulled pork. If you are in need of a vinegar mop bucket sauce Andre Pope has a great recipe at his blog
    I’ve had his bbq two years in a row and can’t wait for another chance.

  12. The gelling is a good thing? Because we refer to it, with contempt and disgust at my house, as “chicken jello.” The phrase speaks for itself–GROSS! It’s why I never make stock with a chicken carcass anymore, because it does that and I feel like I’m just eating, I don’t know, liquefied chicken bones or something. *shiver*

    I don’t think I could bring myself to mess with the feet. Necks and backs are enough of a pain. (So much of a pain, in fact, that the two or three times I’ve made stock, I’ve determined it’s SO not worth my time or effort…) But good for you!

  13. Yes ma’am it is a good thing. It’s also more nutritious. Oddly you aren’t far off when calling it chicken Jell-O, it is gelatin. When your stock does this, you’ve done well and are outperforming store bought stock nutritionally and with far less sodium. At least we don’t eat it cold, by the spoonful. :shudder:

  14. Amy – the gelatin in the homemade broth means it’s MUCH higher in protein than store-bought, which doesn’t gel at all.

    It also has in it only what YOU put in it. Read the label of canned broth, then look up info online about the ingredients that you can’t buy at the store. I know that even the “natural” or “organic” ones have stuff in them that causes me issues. MSG is a big no-no for me, but even some things that say “no added MSG” on the label can have something in them that contains free glutamates, which act the same way, and cause me the same problems. So, even something as seemingly innocent as canned broth can end up causing me pain.

    Besides, the homemade stock just tastes SO much better! I have lived on it occasionally when I couldn’t eat because of tooth problems or some such thing.

  15. Hi Heather,

    I stumbled upon your website while searching for the protein content of chicken feet. I am Asian and my family loves braised chicken feet with dried chillies!

    A point of interest and if you can bear it, there will be less fat to sieve if you do not clip those nails off.

    Thanks again for your great idea!

    • The blanching (the quick boil) step rids the stock of impurities that would otherwise have to be skimmed off while the stock simmered. To the best of my knowledge this trick is used by the Chinese (someone can correct me if I have the wrong culture here) while the French remove the impurities by skimming frequently while cooking and allow the stock to cool over night. When using feet, I like the blanching method. The toes are easier to clip after blanching, too.

  16. I use a lot of bones for soups. Beef, chicken, pork and turkey bones. Once you get over the "squimish" aspect of chicken feet, necks and backs, you will realize the best broth one can get. It doesn't exist in a can; only home made. The next time you eat in a Chinese restaurant, think about what they use for soups and stock. Canned chicken broth? No way. They couldn't afford to use it. They have lots of leftover chicken parts that goes into the stock pot so they always have a plentiful supply for soups and cooking liquids.

  17. I knew that chicken feet made the best broth but did not have a recipe like yours. I got carried away and threw a whole chicken in the mix ( one that needed to be used so I thought why not) and then realized I probably messed it all up it it wouldnt come out like in the picture. But to my complete surprise, it was still "gel-ly" in the end. Thank you. Just like my mother in law said, I always threw the feet in without cutting the toenails off and I didnt cook for as long. But this stuff was excellent.

  18. The meat vendor at yesterday’s farmers’ market sold me chicken necks and chicken feet when I asked for parts for stock. I’m glad I found your post, Heather! I have two pots going on the stove…I with chicken necks and one with chicken feet. There’s hardly any scum on the chicken feet pot, it looks like the winner so far! Thank you for making this simple.

  19. That is Hilarious! How in the world did you find mixed peppercorns WITH allspice? Really? I had no idea there was such a creature! Hahaha! That is so funny….I have mixed up something before that was truly tragic. I will have to ask my husband because right now I just can’t remember. It wasn’t funny at the time, trust me.

    • I found a site that says allspice is also known as Jamaican Pepper because it is used so often in their cooking. Maybe that is why it was included in the pepper-corn mix? Its bulkpeppercorns site. That is crazy! LOL!

      • @deneicer1 I guess so. I wish I could remember the brand. I threw it out after that fun little turn of events so I wouldn’t grab the grinder by mistake again. I remember using the peppercorn mix for another recipe, a steak rub, but I think there were so many other flavors that it didn’t bother me.

        However I could really taste it in the soup since there weren’t as many competing, strong flavors.

  20. I found a local butcher…ohmygarsh…it is literally 1/4 mile from my house and I didn’t even know it was there! I am going to check to see if the butcher carrier chicken feet…ewww! LOL!

  21. OH!!!
    i am enjoying this recipe just as many others are, vicariously!!!!
    i am awaiting dear hubby, the discoverer of cheap meal supplies; we are living abroad and are on a fixed budget, so when unexpected expenses arrived, so did chicken feet!!! we love them!!!!
    we entertained a guest from central america for a month and one day when she came come and asked what was in the pot, i just said with a bit of trepidation-she is a picky person!!!-“your lunch”… she literally squealed in delight! she said she can’t remember the last time she ate chicken feet as the country she now resides in does not sell them locally. i told her to ask the l cal butcher, she may be surprised.
    anyway, thanks!! i love the eeewww factor, too. i found myself doing a lot of that! then yum, yum, yum!!
    we clip before we blanch. hubby and i imagine it’s more hygienic (spelled correctly?)

  22. @czeckcoqui I’m glad you enjoyed it. re: the blanching, it seems to soften the*gag* feet a little. Since you’re not reusing the blanching water, as long as everything gets washed, all should be fine.

    Thank you for sharing your story. 🙂


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