Stock vs. Broth: What’s the Difference?
Even though the two generally sit right next to each other in the grocery aisle, there's a difference between stock and broth.
In a pinch, these two foods seem interchangeable. If a recipe calls for stock, you can usually use broth. If a recipe calls for broth, you can usually use stock. Not to mention, there’s really no difference between stock and broth when it comes to how they look, and they taste similar too.
But what, exactly, is the difference between stock vs. broth? Just like there’s a difference between jam and jelly, scallions and green onions, and soup, stew, and chili, there’s a difference here too. Before you use the terms interchangeably, learn the real reason broth and stock are not the same.
What is stock?
Traditionally, stock was made using the bones of an animal like a chicken. Chefs would simmer the bones with something called “mirepoix,” which is a mixture of onions, carrots, and celery. No meat is necessary to make stock, but it can include meat as well. The most important component is the bones. Stock usually cooks between six and eight hours.
So, just for the record, bone broth is not a broth at all. Bone broth is much more similar to stock than to broth, which is thoroughly confusing. Bone broth is different, though, because it cooks longer than either stock or regular broth—it’ll usually be on the stove for at least 12 hours. Before you get cooking, make sure you also know the difference between baking soda and baking powder.
What is broth?
Broth is a cooking liquid made by simmering meat, also often with mirepoix. Bones are to stock as meat is to broth. It’s essentially the reverse of stock—though bones can be included, they don’t have to be, and broth is primarily made with meat. Broth usually cooks for a shorter time than stock.
The use of meat rather than bones is still the biggest difference between broth and stock when it comes to chicken. When it comes to vegetables, Fine Cooking claims that there is no difference between vegetable stock and vegetable broth, because vegetables don’t have bones—or meat.
What’s the difference between stock and broth?
So the biggest difference ultimately comes down to ingredients: Chicken broth would be made with the actual meat of the bird, while chicken stock would be made from the bones and the trim of the animal. Another difference between stock and broth is that broth is usually seasoned, while stock has no seasoning in it.
Tastewise, broth tends to be a bit more rich, while stock will have a fuller, more pillowy mouthfeel. Stock also takes longer to make than broth, since it takes quite a while to release all the gelatin and collagen present in the bones used, while releasing all the flavor out of meat is a quicker process. So no, when it comes to stock vs. broth, they are not the same.
Can I substitute broth for stock?
Yes, you can substitute broth for stock in many cases. Healthline recommends opting for the broth if you’re cooking something where the flavor of the broth matters, like a soup. Stock would be better for something like stew, where there are plenty of other flavors that make up for the liquid.
Now that you know the disparities of stock vs. broth, find out the difference between sorbet vs. sherbet.
- Healthline: “What Are the Differences Between Stock and Broth?”
- Fine Cooking: “Vegetable stock? Really?”