Stock vs Broth: What’s the difference?

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When it comes to cooking, stock is an important ingredient – or maybe it’s broth? The two are easily confused! This post will help break down these important kitchen staples and answer the age-old question; Stock vs broth: what’s the difference?

Stock vs broth: what’s the difference?

While both stock and broth are made from boiling water and meat or vegetable products, which part of the animal that is used differs.

Stock uses the bones of an animal and simmers them in water to extract all their flavors. Broth uses meat from an animal and simmers this in water.

Both stock and broth can use parts from poultry, fish, beef, or vegetables. You can make homemade stock and broth yourself (here’s an easy tutorial on how to do that!), or you can buy different variations of each product from any local grocery store.

The Difference Between Stock and Broth 

Ingredients

Stock is more basic than broth. Stock is created by simmering animal bones, usually chicken, beef, or fish.

Broth usually uses meaty parts of an animal, but you can also find vegetable broth that does not. Both broth and stock will also have a mirepoix in it. This is a French term for the combination of onions, carrots, and celery.

Finally, one major difference between stock and broth is that stock will have added herbs and spices to it including rosemary and bay leaves. Broth usually does not. Vegetable broth will just have vegetables and herbs in it.

Taste

If all goes well, both broth and stock will taste flavorful. Because you can also add water to thin out a recipe, you want to start with as thick a stock or broth as possible, to really enhance the flavors.

Stock will taste meatier and broth will taste a bit herbier.

If you can, purchase store-bought broth or stock that is low-sodium. This will make either ingredient taste less salty while allowing you to control the ultimate salt content in your dish.

Texture

Both stock and broth are liquids. However, stock will be slightly thicker and give a bit of a full mouth feel. There’s more substance in it, thanks to the breakdown of animal bones.  

When cooled, broth will still be a liquid while stock will actually start to gel. This is from the collagen from the animal bones. Once heated, both return to their natural liquid state.

Uses

There are so many uses for stocks and broths. Once you start learning more about these important ingredients, you’ll start realizing how many recipes call for either one!

While you can interchange the two if necessary, the more you know their best uses, especially as a blossoming home cook, the better your food will taste.

Best uses of stock

Every pantry should be stocked with stock! Better yet, the next time you cook a chicken, make your own homemade chicken stock.

Simply place your chicken bones and chicken carcasses in a pot of water. Bring to a boil then let simmer for six to eight hours.

Add in your mirepoix, drain, and store in a freezer-safe container for your next recipe.

You can use stock for gravies, stews, sauces, and soups.  

Best uses of broth

While you can easily buy broth at a grocery store, it is really easy to make homemade broth. If you have leftover pieces of chicken or turkey, simply place them in a pot of water and add your mirepoix.

Bring to a boil then let simmer for six hours. Then, freeze until needed for your next culinary creation.

Broth is a versatile cooking liquid. If you are looking to marinate a dish, add a bit of flavor to mashed potatoes, or make a pasta sauce, you can use a broth.

You can use broth as a base for soup, and while it won’t be as thick as a broth, it will still do the trick quite nicely.

Tips to Remember the Difference of Stock and Broth

Understand the difference between beef broth and stock, chicken stock and broth? If you’re still confused, it’s time to make things simple.

Stock uses bones. A lot of the other ingredients are the same, but the biggest difference is in the bones.

Related Questions

Can I substitute broth for stock? or Vice versa?

Yes, in a pinch you can substitute broth for stock, or vice versa. In fact, stock and broth are often used interchangeably. If you do substitute either liquid, be sure to check the ingredients list first. Broth will often have added herbs in it. If your recipe calls for the same herbs, you might want to scale back so as to not overwhelm your dish. A stock can sometimes be a bit thicker, so you might have to add more water to your dish. The best thing is to continually taste as you prepare your meal and adjust your seasonings as you see fit.

Which is more concentrated: broth or stock?

To make stock, the bones of an animal are used, which carry collagen and marrow in them. These will naturally make any liquid a bit thicker. However, if you are using store bought stock, it all depends on the manufacturer and their ratio of ingredients. It’s best to add a bit of broth at a time and adjust with either more water to thin your dish or add a bit of flour or cornstarch to thicken your dish, as needed.

What is healthier: stock or broth?

Both stock and broth will offer relatively the same nutrients. Stock depends on the bones of an animal, so there will be slightly more calories and a few different micro-nutrients. However, because both are flavored liquids, they really won’t make much of a difference in a recipe. The biggest thing to look for is how much sodium is included, as this can vary greatly. If you are worried about your sodium intake, purchase low-salt stock or broth. This way you then get to control how much salt goes into your meal.

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