How to Cook Stewing Hens (It’s Easy!)

How to Cook Stewing Hens | How to Cook Stewing Chickens | Cooking Stewing Hen | Stewing Hen Recipe

When I first discovered stewing hens I felt very intimidated. I am always a little nervous when cooking something for the first time, but I’d also read that stewing hens are not at all tasty when cooked incorrectly.

Now that I’ve been buying stewing hens for more than a year, however, I’ve developed a good system. I even enjoy these chickens so much that I prefer to get most of my soup meat from stewing hens.

What are stewing hens?

You may be wondering what stewing hens are. Stewing hens are laying hens that are no longer productive egg producers. Stewing hens can be an excellent part of your real food supply because they can often be purchased more inexpensively than other pastured chickens, as they are not as sought after as broilers and roasters.

Like beef roasts, stewing hens need to be cooked at a low heat for several hours before they will become tender. When cooked correctly, however, stewing hens yield delicious meat and rich, flavorful chicken stock.

How to cook stewing hens

Here is my method for cooking stewing hens:

Add two frozen stewing hens to a large stock pot. Fill the pot up with enough filtered water to cover the stewing hens.

Turn your burner on high and allow the water to come to a boil. (This usually takes a while.)

Skim off the scum that forms on the top of the water.

When you’ve removed all of the scum, turn the heat down so that the pot is at a low simmer. Put the lid on.

How long you cook the hens depends on how tough they are. This can vary from source to source. When cooked enough, the meat should be tender and the bodies of the hens should be starting to fall apart.

I like to either cook the hens overnight, about 10 hours, or from morning to late afternoon, about seven or eight hours. You’ll have to experiment to see what works best for your hens.

Cooking a few hours too long isn’t bad, but it can make it a bit trickier to remove all of the bones from the meat because the chicken will be completely falling apart.

When you’ve determined that your hens are done, use tongs to remove the chickens from the pot.

Allow the meat to cool, then pick the meat off the bones. I like to then dice the meat and freeze it to use for soup.

You will now use the bones and the liquid in the pot to make chicken stock. Return the bones to the pot and return the pot to a low simmer.

Cook for as long as you desire, up to a total of 24 hours including the time you spent cooking the meat. Strain out the bones and store your finished broth in the fridge or freezer.

Other Posts You Might Enjoy

If you enjoyed this tutorial on cooking stewing hens, you might also enjoy some of my other green kitchen tips posts, like: how to freeze food in glass jars, how to switch to glass food storage containers, and how to cut an onion without crying. You can see even more kitchen tips and tricks here.

Do you cook with stewing hens? What are your favorite cooking methods?


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15 Responses to How to Cook Stewing Hens (It’s Easy!)

  1. glutenfreelikeme says:
    I just bought a stewing hen for the first time today. I'm excited yet nervous but looking forward to giving it a try. Thanks for sharing this! I will add a link to this on my page.
  2. Susmitha says:
    Awesome..i love to try this and taste the stew.But, where can i buy stwing hens. Can i get in grocery stores. I live in indianapolis,IN. Can i get in Kroger or Walmart?
    • I am not sure. I have never seen stewing hens in a grocery store before--but I suppose it's possible that yours might carry them. I think your best bet is to buy them through a local farmer. Farmers that sell eggs often have stewing hens for sale.
    • Barbara Anderson says:
      Carmel Farmers Market at The Blue Yonder Organic Farm booth. Ask for Sara, she owns the farm and is awesome! I bought two for Thanksgiving. . . chicken and dumplings!
  3. Malissa says:
    Would this technique also work for year and a half old roosters? I have a mean one ready for the pot! :)
  4. Mary A. says:
    You can also cook a stewing hen in a crockpot.....on low for 8hrs or on high for maybe 5 or 6hrs. Something like that. Add some onion and garlic, too. Only probably can't get 2 hens in one crockpot. :)
  5. iris says:
    Hi, Meghan! Do you leave all the organs in the stewing hen when you cook it? Or were your stewing hens already devoid of them? I saw an ad for stewing hens for $2 each, so I'm debating on whether I should get them. Thanks! -Iris
    • Judy says:
      Once I discovered stewing chickens I haven’t used anything else for chicken stock. I make my stock with carrots, onions, celery, parsnip, parsley, thyme, garlic, bay leaf, leftover chicken scraps/bones (that I collect & freeze) & a stewing chicken or two. It depends on the size. For additional flavor I roast my chicken backs & bones before adding it to the pot. I cook this for many hours. Remove the chicken which is tender but not falling apart. Strain the stock thru a cheese cloth & chill. It’s great when it’s cold outside, we’ve had a lot of that this year. I just put the covered pot on the porch. The next day I remove the solid fat, which is on top. I freeze most of the stock, in smaller portions, for use later. The chicken gets cut up & used for a pot of chicken soup.
      • Sema nathan says:
        I have been making chicken soup with a stewing chicken for 40 years. My granddaughters love my soup. Some of my kids moved to Austin and they want to learn how to make my soup. Told my daughter to find a stewing chicken. She lives in the 79733 area.
  6. How To Cook A Stewing | pesto - lets cook spaghetti says:
    […] How to Cook Stewing Hens | Whole Natural Life – When I first discovered stewing hens I felt very intimidated. I am always a little nervous when cooking something for the first time, but I’d also read that stewing … […]
  7. How To Cook Old Stewing Hens | all pasta recipes says:
    […] How to Cook Stewing Hens | Whole Natural Life – When I first discovered stewing hens I felt very intimidated. I am always a little nervous when cooking something for the first time, but I’d also read that stewing … […]
  8. Michael Smith says:
    My grandmother used to make Chicken and Dressing using a stewed chicken. I have been doing it just like her for many years. I cook the chicken about 6 hours then when adequately cooled, I cut the meat into small pieces and mix it into my dressing mixture. I use a modified version of the Southern Living Cornbread Dressing recipe. The dressing needs a little more chicken broth than called-for in the recipe to accommodate the chicken. I promise you this is the most delicious chicken and dressing you'll ever eat, and you don't have to carve a bird at the dinner table.
  9. Bryan says:
    My trick for cooking old hens: tie them on a loose cheesecloth bag--make it with a few layers of washed cheesecloth, and use twine to homd it together. You can simmer as long as you like and pull out the whole chicken to cool and devone. Let it drip in a xolandwr over a bowl to catch juices while cooling.

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