What do you do with a Turkey Carcass?

The first year I hosted Thanksgiving, a guest asked me for the turkey carcass to go. I was more than happy to hand it over, in a trash bag, rather than let it rot in my garbage can until the next week’s trash pick-up (side note: I have since learned the fine art of freezing discarded meat until trash day). She told me she likes to make a stock with the carcass. Flash forward to this year, when I find a recipe for turkey stock and turkey noodle soup in “Everyday Food” and realize that the same guest isn’t coming to Thanksgiving this year. So, after the turkey is carved up, I load it in a trash bag and toss it in the freezer for a rainy day.

Yesterday was just such a day. I made a huge batch of turkey stock, and then the soup. It’s delicious. Even the kids ate it for dinner without anything else, and with little complaint. There was another gallon of stock left over, which I promptly froze. And, even though the turkey had been carved pretty well, when I cut it up I found a whole lot of meat still on the bones. So, next time you serve a turkey, save the carcass for a rainy day.

Easy Turkey Stock

Great for: Soups, Pilafs, Risotto

Prep: 20 minutes

Cook: 2 hours


5 pounds leftover turkey bones (with some meat still attached), broken into large sections if necessary

1 pound yellow onions, skins on, halved or quartered depending on size

1/2 pound carrots, cut into 4-inch lengths

1/2 pound celery stalks, cut into 4-inch lengths

1/2 teaspoon whole black peppercorns

8 sprigs parsley


In a 3-gallon stockpot, combine all ingredients and fill with enough cold water to cover everything by 3 inches when submerged (about 6 quarts). Or, use two smaller pots.

Bring to a rapid simmer over high (do not boil); reduce heat until bubbles barely break the surface. Simmer until flavorful, about 2 hours, skimming stock with a ladle every 30 minutes. Keep the stock at a bare simmer; a hard boil would evaporate too much liquid and make the stock cloudy. Any fat that remains after skimming can be easily removed once the stock is chilled.

Strain stock through a fine-mesh sieve. Discard vegetables. Remove meat from bones and save for another use; discard bones. Let stock cool completely before refrigerating. (To store, refrigerate, up to 1 week, or freeze, up to 6 months.)

Turkey Noodle Soup

Great for: Family dinner, the gift of food, lunch with friends

Prep: 5 minutes

Cook: 15-20 minutes


2T unsalted butter

2 celery stalks, diced medium

3 carrots, cut into 1/4-inch-thick rounds

1 medium white onion, diced medium

1C white mushrooms, quartered

Coarse salt and ground pepper

8C Turkey Stock

2C wide egg noodles

1 sprig rosemary, about 2 inches long

3/4 pound shredded cooked turkey


In a 6-quart saucepan, melt butter over medium-high. Add celery, carrots, onion, and 1/2 teaspoon salt and cook until onion softens, about 3 minutes.

Add stock and bring to a rapid simmer. Add noodles, rosemary,  mushrooms, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and simmer until noodles are tender, 10 to 12 minutes. Add turkey and heat through.


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