In this simple tutorial, you’ll learn how to peel and use chicken feet for bone broth. Chicken feet make a thick, gelatinous broth that can be added to soups, stews and even gravies. If you’re looking for a way to add more bone broth to your family’s diet, this is a wonderful way to do it!
Why Use Chicken Feet in Bone Broth?
Using chicken feet in home cooking isn’t common in this day and age. In fact, whenever I tell people I use chicken feet to make a nutritious bone broth, I usually get some flack for it.
I often hear the line “don’t you know where those things have been?!”
It may not be normal in this day and age, but did you know that traditionally, women used chicken feet in the kitchen’s soup pot? My grandpa tells stories of how his mother prepared chicken feet for her family. And in some cultures, chicken feet are still considered to be a delicacy. Roasted chicken foot in a sweet sauce, anyone?? 😉
When it comes to making a gelatin-filled soup stock, chicken feet are one of the best things available. Contrary to their appearance, they actually contain meat, fat and lots of little tendons that dissolve when boiled.
Bone broth made with chicken feet is high in natural collagen. And that’s something you and I can use more of in our everyday diet!
Don’t know about collagen? Read this article HERE by Katie of Wellness Mama.
Where to Get Chicken Feet for Bone Broth
There are 3 different ways you can get your hands on chicken feet today. Let me briefly touch on each option.
- Grocery Store-did you know that chicken feet are often sold at larger grocery stores? I know it sounds strange, but we’re seeing more traditional foods making a come back these days. And better yet? The feet will already be peeled and are ready to use!
- Friends & Neighbors-if you have friends or neighbors who keep and butcher chickens, ask about getting the feet from them! When butchering, feet are always removed anyway, so it can’t hurt to ask. If you do, you must be prepared to wash poop off the feet and peel them as well.
- Butcher Your Own Birds-if you keep chickens, this part is easy. When you go to butcher meat birds or your old laying hens, cut off the feet and stack them (toes down, exposed joint up) in a small pail of cold water. Leave the tops out of water. And when you’re through, you’ll have to clean the feet and peel them too.
If you fall into category 2 or 3, don’t worry! I’ll walk you through how to clean, peel and use chicken feet for bone broth.
How to Clean Chicken Feet for Broth
If you purchase your chicken feet at a grocery store, they’ll come peeled. You’ll know by the light pink color and by the soft claw ends.
But if you get bird feet from a friend, family member or if you butcher yourself, here’s how to clean chicken feet for bone broth.
- In the ideal world, your chicken would have spent the past 24 hours in clean straw or on fresh grass. This cuts back on the amount of manure that will be stuck to their feet.
- Slaughter the bird and once it has bled out, remove feathers in the usual manner.
- Remove feet at the joint just below the leg feathers.
- Set leg upright in a small pail of water, feet first. Try to keep the waterline below the top of the leg where the open joint is exposed. The water is going to get dirty and I like to make sure that skin is the only thing under water.
- When you’re through butchering, take your chicken feet into the kitchen.
- Remove feet one by one and spray with the kitchen nozzle or run under cold water.
- Use a small scrub brush to remove dirt from pads of feet and especially, from between toes.
- Once the chicken feet are clean, you have a few options.
- You can bag and freeze chicken feet with the skin on.
- Blanch, peel and freeze feet in a bag.
- Blanch, peel and pop feet into a stockpot, cover with water and simmer.
Truth be told, I’m usually too tired after butchering day to do much with my chicken feet! So I usually opt for the first option. Later on, I’ll pull a bag of unpeeled feet from the freezer, thaw them and then proceed to blanch, peel and use for making bone broth.
Totally up to you!
How to Peel and Use Chicken Feet
There are 2 different ways you can prepare chicken feet for making bone broth. The first method is the one I would recommend. It uses less water and the flavor is mild and far more desirable (in my opinion). But I’ll also show you a method that doesn’t require peeling your chicken feet and still gives an ok flavor.
Feel free to try both methods and see which one suits you best!
How to Peel Chicken Feet
Peeling chicken feet isn’t as difficult as it sound. All you have to do is blanch the feet in boiling water for 30-60 seconds, remove the feet, cool, and the skins will peel off like paper. Here are step by step directions on how to peel chicken feet.
- If using frozen feet with skin on, take time to thaw before carrying on.
- Fill a large pot with water and slip a colander insert into place.
- Cover pot with lid and set on stove to boil.
- Fill a sink or large bowl with cold water.
- When your pot boils on the stove, slip chicken feet into the water.
- Set the timer for 30 seconds.
- Fish out a leg and try peeling back skin from top.
- If the papery skin peels back easily, the chicken feet are done. But if the skin won’t let loose, give the feet another 15 seconds.
- Note: if you pull on the skin and flesh comes with it, your chicken feet are overdone and should be cooled immediately.
- When your chicken feet are ready, plunge feet into a sink filled with cold water.
- Cool feet and starting at the top of the leg, start peeling off skin.
- You should be able to easily remove skin from legs, the top and bottom of foot and often toenails will slip off, leaving soft, light pink flesh behind.
- If you find the tips of the chicken’s toes hard to clean, you can snip them off with a pair of pruning shears or scissors.
- Regardless of whether your chicken had white, yellow or black feet, the peeled leg will be a soft white with hues of pink.
How to Make Bone Broth from Chicken Feet
Once you have peeled chicken feet on your hands, it’s time to make bone broth! And here’s how it works.
- Place 8-10 peeled chicken feet in a stock pot.
- Add water, until the pot is filled by 2/3.
- Put stock pot on stove and bring to a boil.
- When a boil has been reached, reduce the heat to a simmer.
- Simmer for 12-18 hours or until tendons disintegrate and feet fall apart.
- Note: you can also toss feet into a crockpot and let it simmer on high for 12-18 hours or until the toes fall apart.
- Because chicken feet have so many little bones in them, you MUST strain the broth before feeding it to anyone!
- Let the broth cool until you can handle it without getting scalded.
- Line a bowl with a colander, or a cotton cloth will also do.
- Pour the chicken foot broth into the bowl and lift up the colander/cloth.
- Throw out the leg and toe bones.
- You can then use your broth in soups, freeze or pressure can it.
How to Prepare Chicken Feet without Peeling
If you don’t have time (or the desire) to peel chicken feet, there is another method you can try. When you use this technique, the flavor will be a bit stronger. But you can disguise it by flavoring up your soups and stews. Let me walk you through a technique that allows you to skip peeling chicken feet!
- Add water to a stockpot, enough to cover the chicken feet you plan to use.
- Bring water to a boil on the stove top.
- Add chicken feet and let them blanch for 3-4 minutes.
- Lift chicken feet out and set aside.
- Pour the hot, skin-flavored water down the kitchen sink.
- Rinse the pot and refill with fresh water
- Bring to a boil and add the same feet.
- Repeat the boiling process, pouring off water a total of 3x.
- The 4th time you refill the pot with water, you’re doing it for real!
- Add feet and simmer for 12-18 hours, until the tendons have disintegrated and toe bones have fallen apart.
I don’t know which method is faster, but if you don’t like the idea of peeling chicken feet, this is an excellent way to get a mild flavored broth without the extra work.
FAQ on Making Bone Broth from Chicken Feet
When it comes to making bone broth from chicken feet, people always have question! And here are answers to some of the commonly asked questions.
Where Can I Find Chicken Feet for Sale?
As I previously mentioned, chicken feet can often be found at larger grocery stores. Check in the frozen or refrigerated meat isle. And if you have a section where international foods are sold, you can probably find chicken feet there.
What Does Chicken Feet Broth Taste Like?
Chicken foot broth has a very mild taste. Particularly so, if you peel the feet first. If you’re accustomed to making broth from chicken or beef bones, you’re in for a surprise! Chicken feet broth has next to no flavor. And for this reason, you may want to pair it with broth made from chicken bones. Just so you have some taste in your homemade soups.
What are the Benefit of Chicken Feet Broth?
Chicken feet are often praised for their extraordinary levels of collagen, supporting the gut, skin and also, joint health. And chicken feet also offer the human body folate (vitamin B9) and amino acids. After all folks, it’s bone broth!
How Long Can I Refrigerate Chicken Feet Broth?
Once it’s made, chicken feet broth can be refrigerated for 7-10 days. I know many online resources say you shouldn’t go past day 4, but when it’s enclosed in a jar with a tight fitting lid, I’ve never had a problem with bone broth spoiling in 7-10 day’s time!
How Can I Preserve Chicken Feet Broth?
There are several different ways you can preserve chicken foot broth! And if you’re familiar with making other types of bone broth, you probably know what they are.
You can dehydrated bone broth and create a powder with it. Or you can freeze chicken feet broth in zip loc bags. It is possible to pressure chicken feet broth, just like you would any other type of bone broth.
How Can I Use Chicken Feet Broth?
There are many different ways you can use chicken feet broth. Soup is the common choice, of course! Because chicken foot broth has such mild flavor, I do recommend mixing it with chicken bone broth, for a more robust flavor.
Here are a few more ideas on how to use chicken feet broth!
- When cooking rice, add chicken feet broth to the water for a more nutritious meal.
- Add several spoonfuls of chicken feet broth to homemade gravies and sauces.
- Poach morning eggs in a mix of chicken bone broth and chicken feet broth.
- Heat chicken feet broth, stir in salt and herbs, then sip for a hot and satisfying drink.