Homemade Fish Stock


As I mentioned on my menu plan for this week, I was able to spend the last week on vacation with my family.  We had a great time together in the Florida panhandle.  I was totally spoiled, as my aunt and my mom prepared most of our meals, and even did my laundry for me before we left! It was a wonderful vacation!

While we were in Florida, my dad spent most of his days deep sea fishing.  This is how he always spends his vacations to Florida, which to me does not seem like a vacation at all!  But I’m really not complaining, because he catches the most delicious and freshest fish that I’ve ever eaten. We always have at least one fish fry while we’re in Florida, and it is my favorite meal of the week – it’s SO good!


My dad cleans his own fish when he gets back from his fishing trips, which means that he has leftover fish heads that usually get discarded. Not this year! I told him that I wanted him to save them for me so that I could make stock out of them.  He didn’t believe me! He was going to go ahead and through them away, but I told him I was serious – I really did want the fish heads!

So he saved them for me. Even though I know he still didn’t believe that I would ever do anything with them!  Well, I am proud to say that I did make use of them and I now have 9 quarts of delicious fish stock to show for it!  I have several recipes and ideas that I want to try out using this stock. Like homemade gumbo – mmm…I can’t wait!

If you don’t have a dad who loves to go deep sea fishing and who is willing to save his fish heads for you, don’t despair!  Any place that sells fresh fish should be able to get some for you if you just ask them.  My fish were snapper, but any non-oily fish will work equally as well.  Just check to make sure that they come from a safe source.  I would stick with wild-caught fish only.


And if you’re thinking fish heads are gross, they kind of are actually! But really it’s not as bad as you might think!  And the delicious seafood soups, stews, and gumbos that you will get to enjoy as a result make it way worth it!

Homemade Fish Stock


  • 3 whole carcasses with heads of non-oily fish (ex. snapper)
  • 2 TBSP butter
  • 1 onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1 carrot, coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine (or white cooking wine)
  • 1/4 cup vinegar
  • 3 quarts of cold filtered water
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp dried parsley
  • 1 tsp dried thyme


Melt butter in the bottom of a large stockpot.  Add coarsely chopped vegetables and sauté until they start getting soft.

Add white wine and bring to a boil.  Add fish carcasses.  Cover with the cold water and vinegar and bring to a boil.  Skim off any foam and scum that rises to the top.  Add herbs and reduce heat to a slow, steady simmer.

Simmer, covered, for 4-8 hours.

When finished simmering, strain the broth into a large bowl.  Discard the fish carcasses and vegetables.  Allow broth to cool in the refrigerator.  Once it is cool, remove the fat that has congealed on top and divide between smaller containers to freeze.

Just like my homemade chicken broth, I froze this in 2 cup amounts to have on hand for soups, stews, etc.  Also like the chicken broth, you will have to add salt to taste to your stock when using it in recipes.  I use, love, and recommend Redmond’s Real Salt, which should be available at your local grocery store.



I tripled all of the ingredients and ended up with around 9 quarts of fish stock! I think this will last me for quite a while!


My dad picking up his catch from the day!

So would you try this at home?  Or do you think fish heads cross the line into the “Eeeww, gross!” category?

This post is a part of Traditional Tuesday, Fat Tuesday, Monday Mania, Fight Back Friday, Real Food Wednesday, Pennywise Platter, and Simple Lives Thursday.


  1. Emily says:

    I definitely plan on trying this sometime. I just need to find a source for the fish heads. I wonder if the fish counter at the supermarket would carry them?
    Emily recently posted..Camping

  2. Ann says:

    Yes, I would definitely make this, but I don’t have access to fresh fish parts. We are closer to the coast than a lot of folks, but still too far for anything like that to be fresh. What do you suggest for families living further away?

  3. Ann says:

    And is frozen okay, such as from fish that we buy that was previously frozen?

    • Mindy says:

      Ann, sometimes a local grocer that sells fresh fish will be able to get them for you if you ask. We don’t live near the coast at all, but we do have a fresh fish store in town that can get whole fish for me. If you don’t have anything like that, try an Asian market. Also it is perfectly fine if it has been frozen. We froze our fish heads while we were in FL and then unthawed them when we got home. If you absolutely can’t find the heads, you can try making it with some meaty fish bones, but I have never done this so I am not certain how it would turn out. Hope this helps!

  4. I have fish stock on my menu plan next week! Looks great!

  5. This is the one stock I still have not made! I’ll have to work up the courage for this one…I’m sure it’s very healthy! I just made chicken stock with chicken feet a couple weeks ago and I thought that was disgusting (although I’ll be making it again, as a friend who was butchering chickens gave me about 120 feet for free, and they’re just waiting for me in the freezer!).

    Thanks for sharing this–I’ll have to bookmark it. :)
    Joy @ Artful Homemaking recently posted..Apron Giveaway!

    • Mindy says:

      Hey Joy! I’ve never tried the chicken feet thing for my chicken stock. I haven’t really ever had access to them, but I’ve never really gone much out of my way to try to get them either! I know they’re great for stock, but yeah, I think they would be disgusting too! ;-) That’s great that you got so many for free, and you may have even given me the encouragement to try it out!

  6. JIll says:

    This was really instructive! I hope you come and share it at FAT TUESDAY!


  7. I saw your post on Fat Tuesday. I was just talking about Fish Bone Broth today and then I saw your post :) Can’t wait to make some soon. Thanks for sharing!
    Emily @ Recipes to Nourish recently posted..Apple Crisp w/ Soaked Oats Topping

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