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Nutritious, Gelatin-Rich Chicken Feet BrothJump to Recipe
Believe it or not, the key to some of the best broth you’ll ever make is probably something that you’ve never bought before.
Not an expensive spice from a faraway place, rather a humble, over-looked ingredient that many consider waste.
The humble chicken foot is a collagen-packed cut that most people have never bought, let alone sought out. They’re missing out. Chicken feet broth deserved to be a revered kitchen staple.
Why Chicken Feet?
Chicken feet are not meaty, nor are they fatty, so what could they possibly contribute to a dish?
You may be surprised to hear that it’s actually quite a bit. All of those bones, skin, and tendons are made up of something- aren’t they?
Broth from chicken feet is high in collagen- a form of protein that we also have an abundance of in our own body. By adding more collagen to our diet, we’re providing our body with more of these vital building blocks. Increased collagen consumption has been linked to improving skin health, helping with joints, improving our gut, building muscle, and more.
But collagen is far from the only nutrient found in chicken feet broth. This wonderful ingredient also includes high levels of a variety of minerals- calcium, magnesium, potassium, and more. Who doesn’t need a little help in the mineral department these days? (Newsflash- we all do!)
Where to get chicken feet for broth?
My number one source, of course, is the feet from homegrown, home-butchered chickens. Homegrown is the best option to me because they’re (basically) free- and I know exactly how they were raised and processed.
If you don’t have access to homegrown chicken feet, finding a local farmer is another great option. Consider posting a wanted add on Facebook, your local Nextdoor, or even on Craigslist.
Failing to source feet locally, you’ve still got options. I’ve had luck finding those harder-to-find ingredients at smaller grocery stores, butcher shops, and even Asian or ethnic grocery stores. If you’re still out of luck, Walmart may have just what you need. Sounds a little wild, but I’ve been able to buy liver, tongue, tripe, and chicken feet at my nearest Walmart. (Check it out here)
Ordering online is an option too, but honestly, I’d try to source the chicken feet locally if at all possible.
So I just put the chicken feet in the broth?
If you’re buying the chicken feet, they’ve probably already been prepped and are ready to cook. But just in case they aren’t- or if you’re growing your own- there’s 2 simple steps to prep these chicken feet.
Start by cutting the toe nails off the chicken feet. You can use a knife with a sharp, downward chop on a cutting board. Even easier than the knife is using a pair of heavy duty scissors or tin snips. You’re basically cutting off the tip of the toe, making sure to include the whole nail bed.
After the nails are gone, bring a small saucepan of water to a boil.
One by one, drop the feet into the boiling water, letting them scald for a few seconds. Carefully pull out the feet and peel off the scales as they cool. Peeling off this scaly skin is about a million times easier than washing dirt and poo out of all of those little crevices. And no one wants dirt in their broth.
Now that the chicken feet are declawed and skinned, you’re ready to make your broth.
How to make your chicken feet broth
If you’ve made broth before, you already know what to do.
We’re basically going to take all of our chicken feet (plus any other bones or bits that we have laying around), and cook them down slowly at a low temperature. This slow, low cooking will let all of the nutrients bound up in the chicken feet be released and available to you.
My basic broth making method is to fill the stock pot up halfway with bones, feet, and other broth ingredients. Then I add a splash of vinegar and fill the pot nearly to the brim with water. After that, a generous pour of each salt, pepper, rosemary, etc.
Add a lid, bring the pot to a simmer, and then turn it down to a low simmer. After ~36 hours at a low simmer, I strain the broth, and then return it to the stove. I leave the lid off for anywhere from 1 -12 hours as the broth reduces (again at a low simmer). Once it has reduced as far as I’d like it to, it’s complete. You can add more salt or seasonings to adjust the taste as needed.
How to store your chicken feet broth?
If you’re going to can the broth, ladle it hot, directly from the stockpot, into jars and proceed to process them (you can read each step of that process here). Unless I need the broth right away, I prefer canning to freezing since it can be stored on a shelf & doesn’t take up any freezer space.
If you’ll be freezing the broth, let the stockpot of broth cool to room temperature and then ladle the broth into the freezer containers of your choice. (Ziploc bags, jars, soup cubes, etc.) This is a pretty quick way to store broth, but it will eat up a lot of freezer space. You’ll also need to plan ahead when you want to cook with it.
If I’ll be using this broth up in the next week, I just ladle it into jars and let them cool on the counter. Once cooled, I store the jars in the fridge, reheating the broth in a saucepan as needed.
How to use this chicken feet broth
The exact same way that you’d use any other broth.
If you’ve made it right, it’s going to be a rich, delicious, collagen-packed broth that is absolutely perfect for adding a nutritious kick to most anything you cook. Soups, stews, rice, sauteing veggies, savory oatmeal, sipping on cold mornings…
Your imagination is the only limit. Substitute your broth for water (or even milk) in most savory dishes and all you’ll find is that the flavor is vastly improved.
Where to learn more about chicken feet broth- and other delicious broths
If this post has inspired you to deep dive down the broth rabbit hole, I have a few resources to suggest.
First and foremost, the Weston A Price Foundation. They have a great website, an interesting podcast, and scores of books and resources. I suggest them for all things holistic living- including broth and cooking. Check them out here.
“Nourishing Broth” is a Wise Traditions book all about broth and broth benefits, you can find it on Amazon, here.
This article from Sarasota Magazine is a good read.
There’s also a great post about chicken feet broth, here, from Lisa at the Farmhouse on Boone.
Making Chicken Feet Broth
I hope this post will inspire you to try making broth from this forgotten, “odd” bit of the chicken. Broth is a wonderful way to prevent things from going to waste, while also providing some vital nutrition to your family. It’s a long, slow process but the result is SO worth it.
Thanks for reading, and happy homesteading!
Chicken Feet Broth
- Large Stockpot
- Small saucepan, Tongs
- Knife or heavy-duty scissors
- Colander or strainer, Large spoon, Ladle
- 1 + lbs Chicken Feet
- 6 + qts Water
- 1 splash Vinegar
- Salt, Pepper, Rosemary, etc.
- Start by bringing some water to a boil in the small saucepan.
- Meanwhile, cut off the nails of the chicken feet. Use a sharp whack with a knife and cutting board, or use a pair of heavy duty scissors. Be sure to remove the entire nail bed.
- Once the nails are all removed and the water boiling, scald each foot one by one for a few seconds. Use the tongs to remove them from the boiling water.
- Carefully peel the scaly, colored skin off each foot. There will be a white layer of skin under the scales that you'll want to leave intact. At this point, the feet are prepped and ready to be used in broth.
- To make the broth, take the prepped chicken feet and any other bones, skin, onion ends, etc that you've saved and place them into the stock pot.
- Add a splash of vinegar and a generous amount of salt (a tablespoon or so) to the stockpot. Fill with water to about 1" below the rim.
- Bring the stockpot up to nearly a boil, then reduce the heat such that the pan is at a very low simmer (some occasional bubbling, but mostly still at the surface)
- Place the lid on the stockpot and allow it to cook for 12 to 48 hours. Stir occasionally and add additional water as needed.
- After the cooking time is complete and everything appears to be quite soft and broken down, strain the broth. To strain, I ladle out the bones first, then pour the broth through a strainer and into another stock pot.
- Put the broth back on the stove at a more active simmer- it should be steaming and moving somewhat but not boiling, leave the lid off. As the broth cooks, skim the fat and any other floating pieces off the surface. This will result in a much cleaner looking and tasting broth.
- Once the broth has reduced enough for your liking (I generally reduce by 1/3 to 1/2), give it a taste. Add salt, pepper, ec. as needed to achieve the broth flavor you prefer.
- The broth is now finished, and ready to be used or consumed right away. You can also freeze or can the broth for future use.
PS. For more information about slaughtering chickens- the best source of fresh feet for your homemade broth- check out this post. For instructions on the specifics of canning broth, you’ll want to read this post.