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Broth versus Stock

Most soups and stews are made from a base of stock or broth.  Have you ever wondered what the difference is between these two items?  The main differences are:

  • the use of bones or meat
  • length of cooking time
  • the type of seasonings added

Stock is made using bones (unless it’s a vegetable stock), water, and a mixture of aromatic vegetables including onions, carrots and celery. The mixture is simmered on the stove top for at least 2 to 6 hours. Generally, there are no seasonings added to stock. This makes stock a lower sodium option for recipes, and a great base for recipes that already have significant flavor. The use of bones in stock makes it a thicker, more gelatinous consistency. 

Broth, on the other hand, takes less time to make, and contains meat (unless it’s a vegetable broth), vegetables and seasonings. Broth is generally simmered on the stove top for no more than two hours, as cooking meat in liquid for longer periods of time toughens the meat.   

Given these definitions, bone broth – which has become increasingly popular in the last few years – is a bit of a misnomer. Bone broth is technically a stock because it is made using bones, as well as vegetables and herbs. It is simmered on the stove top for 12 to 24 hours.

Determining whether to use stock or broth in a recipe may depend on what you are making.  Typically, stock is used in sauces, gravies, stews and as a braising liquid for meats.  Broth works well as a base for soups, stir-fry dishes, dumplings, stuffing, and for cooking grains and legumes.

Although broths and stocks can be purchased in cans and cartons at the grocery store, it is fairly easy to make your own at home. Making broths and stocks from scratch can be a cost saving activity if you save and utilize meat and vegetable scraps that would otherwise be thrown away. Stock can be made on the stove top, in a slow cooker, or even in an electric pressure cooker! The Kitchn provides instructions for making chicken stock using each of these methods.

Sources:

Foster, K. (2018). What’s the Difference Between Bone Broth, Stock and Broth? The Kitchn. https://www.thekitchn.com/the-difference-between-bone-broth-stock-and-broth-254174

Jones, T. (2017). What are the differences between stock and broth? Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/stock-vs-broth

Rattray, D. (2019). What’s the Difference Between Stock and Broth? The Spruce Eats. https://www.thespruceeats.com/difference-between-stock-and-broth-3057787

Written by: Joyce Riley, MS, RD, LD. Former Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, OSU Extension, Union County.

Reviewed by: Jenny Lobb, MPH, RD, LD. Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, OSU Extension, Franklin County.

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