Homemade Seafood Stock is 100x Better Than Store Bought!
It’s true: making seafood stock at home is easy (promise — you can use whatever leftover seafood bones or shellfish shells you have on hand!) and much more flavorful than anything you can buy in a packaged container.
If you’re going to spend on the money on lobster, shrimp, or crab, or even enjoy whole fish, you might as well reap the benefits of fresh, homemade seafood stock when you’re done.
Once made, you can store seafood stock in a freezer for up to 6 months until needed. Read on for storage tips, but trust us when we say you can’t beat the flavor on homemade stock!
Ingredients For Seafood Stock
Here’s the thing about homemade seafood stock: you can switch it up based on the fish or shellfish you have on hand.
In general, these are the ingredients we grab:
- Leftover shellfish shells (lobster shells, shrimp shells, or crab shells) and/or any fish bones / remnants (see note below)
- 2 leeks – Rinsed very well (leeks retain a lot of dirt), then sliced in half lengthwise and cut into roughly 2-3″ chunks
- A large onion – Cut in half or in quarters
- A whole head of garlic – No need to peel the individual garlic cloves, simply slice in half, then throw both pieces into a large pot.
- Whole black peppercorns
- Fresh herbs, such as parsley, dill, thyme, or chives
- Water, to cover!
If you have a few stalks celery or some carrots lying around, definitely throw those in as well. Making homemade stocks and broths is very forgiving, and often benefits from additional vegetables or herbs. Think of this recipe as a starting point to work off of, but it’s endlessly adaptable.
Note: We realize that it’s atypical to have lobster shells or shrimp shells lying around on the regular. Here’s what you do! Any time you cook shellfish or whole fish, save the shells, bones, or any leftover bits you didn’t eat and store them in an airtight, freezer safe container (such as a Ziploc bag). Store in the freezer until you have enough to make stock.
We’ll make stock when a gallon size Ziploc bag is mostly full of shells.
How To Make Seafood Stock
There’s a basic method to follow when making stock that is simple and adaptable. Take any seafood remnants you’ve got — this could be lobster shells, shrimp shells, crab shells, fish bones, anything! — then place in a large stockpot or dutch oven with herbs, lemon, and any additional aromatics (fresh thyme sprigs, additional chopped veggies, whatever you’ve got).
Cover the seafood stock ingredients with water, give it a quick stir, then bring to a rapid boil. Reduce the heat to a medium heat and simmer for 2-3 hours.
Use a large fine mesh strainer to strain the stock. Discard all seafood shells and flavorings (leeks, onion, peppercorns, garlic, etc.). What you’re left with is a fantastic homemade seafood stock!
Uses For Seafood Stock
Whether you’re making lobster stock, shrimp stock, or using a combination of fish and shellfish to make seafood stock, there are endless ways to use it up!
A few of our favorites:
- Risotto! (You’ll definitely need some white wine for this!!)
- Salmon piccata
- Steaming clams and mussels (definitely check out our spaghetti alle vongole if you love clam pasta!)
- Seafood gumbo
How To Freeze and Reheat Seafood Stock
To freeze stock: allow seafood stock to cool completely, then transfer to freezer safe, airtight containers. We like to store ours in extra large glass jars, then label them with the name and date they were made.
Alternatively, if you want smaller portions of stock accessible on a whim, pour cooled stock into ice cube trays, then freeze. Once solid, pop the stock cubes out and transfer to a large Ziploc bag. Any time you need stock, grab a few of the frozen stock cubes and add them to sauces or any dish you’re cooking! No need to defrost if going straight into a skillet or sauce pan. Simply heat over medium to medium-high heat until melted!
To reheat frozen stock: allow to thaw and defrost overnight in a refrigerator (pro tip: place on a rimmed tray or in a shallow dish to allow any condensation or run off to collect in an easy-to-clean container).
Another option is to allow frozen stock to defrost just enough to pour out of the container. You can place frozen stock in a sauce pan and heat over medium to medium-high heat until melted.
Stock will expand as it freezes. Do NOT fill mason jar all the way to the top before freezing, or the container could break as the stock freezes and expands.
If you make our Homemade Seafood Stock recipe, please let us know by leaving a review and rating below.
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For recipes featuring shellfish, check out the following:
- Grilled lobster tails and clams
- Cajun shrimp and grits
- Pan seared sea scallops
- Sous vide lobster tails
- Everything salad with roasted shrimp and halloumi
- Large pot with tall deep sides
- Shellfish shells and/or fish bones see note below for quantities
- 2 large leeks sliced into halves or thirds, so they easily fit into your sauce pan
- 1 large onion unpeeled, sliced in half
- 1 head garlic unpeeled, sliced in half
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 Tbsp whole peppercorns
- ½ cup fresh herbs such as parsley, chives, and/or dill, on the stem
- Place all ingredients in a large sauce or soup pan with tall, deep sides. We use a 5 quart dutch oven, but any large sauce pan will work.
- Cover all ingredients with water, then bring to a rapid boil. Reduce heat to a simmer, then cook 2-3 hours.
- Drain seafood stock into a large bowl or another large pot, then discard the aromatics. Allow to cool completely before storing (see tips below).
- Use any combination of shellfish shells and/or fish bones / fish remnants when making homemade seafood stock. A good rule of thumb: Fill a gallon size Ziploc bag until mostly full of shells, then make stock. The shells can be stored in a freezer until needed, meaning you can add to it any time you have shells on hand!
- To freeze: allow seafood stock to cool completely, then transfer to freezer safe, airtight containers. We like to store ours in extra large glass jars, then label them with the name and date they were made.
- To freeze smaller, individual portions: pour cooled stock into ice cube trays, then freeze. Once solid, pop the stock cubes out and transfer to a large Ziploc bag. No need to defrost if going straight into a skillet or sauce pan. Simply heat a few cubes over medium to medium-high heat until melted.
- To reheat frozen stock: allow to thaw and defrost overnight in a refrigerator (pro tip: place on a rimmed tray or in a shallow dish to allow any condensation or run off to collect in an easy-to-clean container). Another option is to allow frozen stock to defrost just enough to pour out of the container. You can place frozen stock in a sauce pan and heat over medium to medium-high heat until melted.
- Stock will expand as it freezes. Do NOT fill mason jar all the way to the top before freezing, or the container could break as the stock freezes and expands.