This easy and delicious caldo de pollo recipe makes the perfect Spanish broth. This flavorful chicken bone broth can be enjoyed plain, used as a base for Spanish chicken soup, or used as homemade chicken stock in any recipe. Caldo de pollo is simple to make from scratch, and well worth the effort.
Here in Spain, supermarkets sell caldo de pollo by the liter, as it’s an important ingredient in so many Spanish recipes. You can also find stock cubes, but it’s worth spending extra on the liquid broths.
But even better than that? Making Spanish broth at home! Luckily, it’s simple to do, and the results are healthy and delicious.
I started making my own caldo de pollo after learning about stocks and broths in culinary school. Once I saw how much of a difference homemade Spanish broth makes to Spanish recipes like chicken chilindrón and rabo de toro (beef broth in this case) I was hooked. The effort of making caldo at home is minimal — there’s really no excuse not to try it!
This caldo de pollo recipe is the classic Spanish broth, but there are countless ways to mix it up. You really can’t go wrong. I’ll share my favorite enhancements and substitutions below.
Key Ingredients: Chicken, carrots, onion, potato, celery, leeks, parsley, pumpkin, bay leaf, peppercorns, and salt.
Ingredient Notes & Substitutions
- Chicken: I use free-range, corn-fed Spanish chickens when possible. The better the chicken, the better the broth! But use what you can, if you are simply making caldo de pollo for chicken stock, then you can use chicken carcasses and scraps. But if you plan to make chicken soup (or to use the chicken meat for something else after cooking) then you can use a whole chicken. When I use a whole chicken I ask the butcher to cut it up into pieces. This way it releases more flavor. You can also use 6-8 chicken thighs for a delicious Spanish broth.
- Vegetables: I’ve made this caldo de pollo recipe using the most traditional vegetables you’ll find in Spanish broth. Carrots, potatoes, and onions are a must. I also love adding leeks (very common in Spain) and celery. Pumpkin or squash gives some additional sweetness that is lovely in the finished broth. You can substitute the veggies you like best — radishes, turnips, shallots, spring onion… whatever you prefer. I’ve made this recipe using whole veggies, but you can also save scraps over the course of a few days and add these to make your broth even more budget-friendly!
- Spices: The traditional Spanish caldo de pollo recipe doesn’t go crazy on herbs and spices. It simply uses bay leaf, parsley, salt, and pepper. But I usually add a few more ingredients — specifically ñora pepper (you can sub any sweet dried pepper variety), a couple of cayenne pods (I love spicy soups too), and a few threads of saffron.
Caldo de Pollo: Step by Step
Making Spanish caldo de pollo is super simple. Like I said, there’s no excuse not to make it from scratch!
Steps 1-4: Put your chicken in a large pot and cover with about 10 cups of water (until fully covered by a few inches). Add your veggies and bring to a boil. Skim away the foam that rises, and lower to a simmer. Simmer for 1.5 hours.
Steps 5-7: By this point all of the flavor of the veggies and chicken bones should be in the broth. Turn off the heat, leave for about 15 minutes more (optional) to cool slightly. Then strain using a fine mesh strainer. You can now use this broth for other recipes, or add some salt and enjoy as is. Here in Spain, we drink our broth in a mug just like a cup of tea. Yum!
Recipe Tips & FAQs
Making Spanish broth is simple, but for the best results there are a few tips and tricks.
Chicken broth will last 3-4 days when stored properly in the fridge. It should be in an airtight container and stored within two hours of cooking.
Chicken broth can be frozen for up to six months with no loss in quality. And it’s safe to eat even after that. I always freeze my Spanish broth in two cup containers, which are perfect for most recipes calling for homemade stock.
In Spain we love adding things to caldo de pollo to make a chicken soup. You can add back the chicken meat, some garbanzo beans, small noodles, chopped jamón Serrano, and even hard-boiled egg. Some people also add rice to make chicken and rice soup.
Fat is flavor, but if you’d like to make a low-fat chicken stock, simply spoon off the hardened layer of fat that will rise to the top after a couple of hours in the fridge.
Many people think that it’s the longer the better for chicken broth. But that is not true. One of the things I learned in culinary school was that too much time can ruin a stock. 1.5 hours is a good amount of time for a chicken broth. This will be the point where the veggies and chicken bones have given the majority of their flavor to the broth, without adding any bitter flavors.
You can enjoy Spanish caldo de pollo so many different ways.
- On its own, as a taza de caldo (mug of broth). This is a really typical thing to order in cafés and pastry shops in the winter in Spain. There is nothing more comforting than a piping hot mug of Spanish broth!
- In another recipe. Spanish broth is used to enhance the flavors of other dishes, like this chicken and chorizo stew.
- As chicken soup! A hearty Spanish chicken soup might have chicken meat, garbanzo beans, ham, hard-boiled egg, and even rice or noodles in it. Add a few of these toppings for a filling meal. It would be perfect served with a Spanish salad!
More Spanish Soup Recipes
- White Bean and Chorizo Soup: A classic combination of delicious Spanish chorizo and white beans.
- Lentil Soup: One of the most popular soups in Spain, these Spanish lentils are a must make on a cold winter day!
- Pea and Mint Soup: A delicious soup for spring, this fresh combination is topped with crispy Spanish jamón.
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Caldo de Pollo Recipe
- 1 whole chicken Cut into smaller pieces. You can also use chicken thighs (6-8) or two chicken carcasses (a perfect way to get even more out of a Sunday roast).
- 4 carrots peeled and cut into large pieces
- 1 leek cleaned and roughly chopped (you can use the whole leek in the stock, even the tough green part)
- 1 large onion cut in half
- 1 large potato quartered
- 3 sticks of celery cleaned and cut into pieces
- 1 piece pumpkin Use a small piece of pumpkin or butternut squash (about the size of two large carrots)
- 1 bay leaf
- 1/2 tbsp whole black peppercorns
- 1 sprig parsley
- 1 tbsp salt add this little by little at the very end, to taste
- Place your chicken into a large pot, skin on. If using a whole chicken I recommend cutting it into pieces so it releases more flavor.
- Cover with water (about 10 cups/2.5 liters).
- Add all of the vegetables and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.
- Skim away any scum with a slotted spoon and lower to a simmer. Simmer, uncovered, for 1.5 hours skimming any more foam that forms.
- Turn off the heat and let the broth cool for about 15 minutes and then strain using a fine-mesh strainer.
- Adjust for salt if you are enjoying as is — or freeze without salt to use in other recipes calling for chicken stock. You can also add optional toppings (see below) for Spanish chicken soup.
- For extra flavor and color, add dried ñora pepper (or a similar dried sweet pepper), cayenne pods (for a kick of spice!), or a few threads of saffron to this broth.
- If you’d like to make low-fat chicken stock, simply spoon off the hardened layer of fat that will rise to the top after a couple of hours in the fridge.
- Many people think that it’s the longer the better for chicken broth. But that is not true. Too much time can ruin a stock. 1.5 hours is a good amount of time for a chicken broth. This will be the point where the veggies and chicken bones have given the majority of their flavor to the broth, without adding any bitter flavors.
What do you think? Will you give my easy caldo de pollo recipe a try?