“Broth” vs. “Stock”: What The Difference Boils Down To

dark green text "broth vs stock" on light green background

If you’ve ever followed a tasty soup recipe, you probably reached a step where it asked to use a certain broth or a stock. Even if you are a soup specialist, you may have wondered if it is OK to use broth when a recipe calls for stock or vice versa.

In this article, we will break down the technical differences between stock and broth. At the same time, we will explore the overlap between these two similar foods that is especially common in casual usage and home cooking.

Quick summary

Stock and broth are mixtures with similar ingredients that are often used as bases for other foods. Both stock and broth typically include boiled or simmered meat mixed with vegetables. The difference between the two is that stocks typically contain bones while broths don’t, and stocks often have longer cook times and fewer seasonings than broths.

What’s the difference between stock and broth?

Stock is a mixture of boiled or simmered ingredients that typically include animal bones, meats, vegetables, and possibly a small amount of salt. Stocks are often used as a base for foods such as soups, stews, sauces, and gravies. Raw bones and meat may be used.

Broth is a boiled or simmered mixture that typically includes water, meats, vegetables, and seasonings. Like stocks, broths are often used as bases for other foods such as soups, side dishes, or pastas.

Do you know the stories behind the names and shapes of pasta?

Broth and stock are similar foods that are often used in ingredients in many of the same dishes. Technically, however, there are typically three main differences between them. Firstly, stocks are much more likely to contain bones than broths. As a result, stocks often have a richer flavor than broths due to the collagen and gelatin released from simmered bones. This difference in flavor is often what determines if a stock or broth is to be used. Secondly, stocks usually have longer cook times than broths. Lastly, broths often include flavorful seasonings whereas stocks either don’t contain any seasonings or only have a small amount of salt.

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These differences between stock and broth are more likely to matter in restaurants and professional kitchens. In casual use, the terms stock and broth often overlap and may be used to describe the same foods. In most recipes, the two ingredients can often be used interchangeably unless a person is seeking the richer flavor provided by the simmered bones often found in stocks. When it comes to using store-bought stocks and broths, the difference is especially unlikely to be noticed. Cheap, store-bought stocks and broths often have many of the same (unhealthy) ingredients, which may include artificial meats, artificial flavorings, and large amounts of salt. So, your homemade soups, stews, and gumbos are likely to come out pretty much the same regardless of if you use a stock or a broth to make them.

chicken stock vs. broth

Chicken stock is a food mixture that typically includes chicken bones, meat, vegetables, herbs, and spices. Chicken broth is a very similar mixture that typically includes chicken meat, vegetables, herbs, and spices.

Typically, the main difference between chicken broth and chicken stock is the presence of bones. Chicken stock’s main ingredient is chicken bones, which often have small bits of meat stuck to them. On the other hand, the main ingredient of chicken broth typically is chicken meat minus the bones. The richer flavor that results from collagen in chicken bones is often the main reason why someone would choose to use chicken stock over chicken broth in a recipe.

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