Why Does My Chicken Stock Taste Like Water?

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Dear Home-Ec 101,

I made chicken stock, but I can’t figure out why the broth tasted like water.

Do you have any advice?


Why does my chicken stock taste like water?

Did you follow the instructions here on Home-Ec101 or from somewhere else?

In general, the answer is pretty straightforward. You probably used —wait for it—too much water.

You should use no more than 6 – 8 cups of water for every pound to a pound and a half of chicken bones in your pot.

However, all is not lost with your watery chicken stock. You can fix it through a process called reduction.

Return the bland chicken stock to a pot with a heavy bottom. This time, instead of a traditional stockpot, you may want to use a pot that is wider than it is tall. This will increase the surface area of the liquid, encouraging evaporation.

Adjust the heat so the stock comes to and remains at a simmer rather than a boil. Leave the pot uncovered and simmer until the quantity of water is reduced by half or so. This technique is known as reducing.

By the way, you were making a sauce. When it was reduced, it would be called a reduction.

Did you cook the chicken stock long enough?

The other potential reason for a watery stock is that the stock was not cooked long enough. Making stock isn’t a complicated process, but it is time-intensive.

It takes time for the water to leach all the flavors from the bones, vegetables, and aromatics.

Homemade chicken stock is not store-bought stock.

Finally, the homemade stock will have a different flavor if you’re used to canned or store-bought stock.

Most people will agree that it has a richer flavor and better mouthfeel than the canned versions. However, there is a big difference between homemade and commercially prepared stocks. Commercially prepared stocks—almost all contain lots of sodium.

Salt is a flavor enhancer that stimulates our sense of taste. Since homemade stock is made in anticipation of being used as an ingredient, it has very little sodium and may be perceived as less flavorful than a commercial preparation. Homemade stock is unlikely to have no sodium as if there were wings or bits of skin that had seasoning from a cooked chicken that may have salt. Most store-bought chicken is injected with a sodium solution before sale, so there won’t be nearly as much as commercial stock, but it won’t be sodium-free, either.

If you use homemade stock in a recipe calling for commercial, it may be necessary to add salt to achieve the desired taste. If a recipe calls for homemade stock and commercial is used in its place, it’s usually safe to omit any additional salt and taste close to the end.

We’ve got more articles about stock:

Good luck.

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4 thoughts on “Why Does My Chicken Stock Taste Like Water?”

  1. I use my crockpot to make stock. I toss in the leftover chicken/turkey bones after dinner along with veggies and some seasonings and throw it on until the next morning. The house smells wonderful when we wake up and I feel like it was no work at all.

  2. There’s something different about the quality of food. I used to put a whole chicken in a pot, or a roast, cook it for 5 hours and it was wonderful. The stock was flavorful. Not anymore. Roasts are flavorless and often not tender like they used to be. I’m convinced it’s due to the low quality of feed the animals are fed.

    • While I agree that there has been an overall decline.
      If you have had COVID, it truly can change your sense of taste/smell for a very long time afterward. It is something I’m also struggling with. I have my family double-check the taste of foods as nothing is quite right to me yet and I had COVID back in October ’21. It is very frustrating. I know there are many people with much worse complications, and my heart goes out to them.


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