Grocery Guides

Stock vs. Broth: Differences Between Soup Bases

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Instacart

Last Updated: Nov 14, 2022

Picture this: You’re strolling through the grocery store, reusable tote bag in hand, looking for the ingredients to recreate your mom’s famous chicken noodle soup recipe. As your eyes skim the aisles you see a plethora of options — chicken stock, chicken broth, and what’s this, bone broth?

Your mom taught you well and you know both broth and stock make excellent ways to amplify a dish. But what exactly is the difference between stock vs. broth?

While they are often used interchangeably, these soup bases require different ingredients, cooking times, and textures. Keep on reading as we answer some of your burning questions and share our delicious stock and broth recipes.

Table of Contents:

What is stock?

Overhead view of a simmering pot of stock and meat bones in a bowl next to it

Stock is made by simmering animal bones to release proteins and create a rich flavor. You can enhance the taste by incorporating chopped vegetables and fresh herbs. Most stocks are thick with a solid texture (similar to Jell-O) due to the collagen released from the bones.

Best used for: 

  • Au jus
  • Braising liquid
  • Cream sauces
  • Gravies
  • Stews
  • Soups
  • Tomato sauce

What is the difference between white stock and brown stock?

Both white and brown stock can be made with the bones of chicken, beef, pork or veal. However, the main difference is their prepping style. White stock is created by boiling the bones before cooking whereas brown stock is made by roasting the bones and coating them with tomato paste.

You might use white or brown stock for French mother sauces, which are used as a base for making other types of sauces. Brown stocks are typically used for richer, glossy sauces like demi-glace since they tend to be heartier. White stocks are used to create the base for white sauces like velouté, which is made from meat stock, flour and butter.

What is broth?

Simmering pot of broth with chicken meat onions and carrots

Broth is typically made by simmering meat and vegetables in water with herbs. Most broths are meat-based, but vegetable broth is also very common.

Bone broth involves simmering bones, vegetables and herbs for 24 hours. However, bone broth is technically a stock since it involves using bones to create the liquid.

Best used for:

  • Cream sauces
  • Stuffing
  • Soups 
  • Gravies 
  • Risotto
  • Dumplings 
  • Stir fry and sautéed dishes

What is the difference between broth and stock?

As we’ve previously mentioned, the main difference between stock vs. broth is that stock is made of bones, while broth is made from meat or vegetables.

That being said, texture is another main differentiator that many notice with each product. You will notice that when you put stock in the fridge, it tends to keep its solid shape, unlike broth, which stays a liquid. Broth is usually a thinner consistency than stock, which is known for its sticky and thick texture.

Stock cooks much longer than broth (except for the outlier bone broth) with an average cooking time of six to eight hours. Most homemade broths take only a few hours to make.

Side by side comparison chart of the differences between stock vs. broth

When to use broth vs. stock

When it comes to using broth vs. stock, it will all depend on the dish you are making and your personal preference. Broth is best for a dish that is based on the flavor of the liquid and not the texture — think broth-based soups or sauces that need extra liquid or flavor. Stocks are used if you need extra texture and you can rely on other ingredients for flavor.

Can you substitute broth for stock?

Stocks and broths are typically used for the same types of cooking and are often used interchangeably — some folks even substitute broth for stock.

If you are looking to add more body and flavor to your favorite recipes, swap your broth for stock. Try substituting broth for stock for your soups to boost the flavor since the liquid is the main star. For dishes like potato soup or chili, use stock so the other flavors can shine.

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Bouillon, bone broth and consommé explained

Closeup view of chicken bouillon

Aside from stock and broth, there are a few other terms to discuss. Let’s dive right into bouillon, bone broth and consommé.

What is bouillon?

Bouillon is the French term for broth — some folks use this term instead of broth when referring to bouillon cubes. You might even find bouillon in the form of a paste or granules. Bouillon often includes salt, fat, MSG and other seasonings. When it comes to cooking, bouillon cubes come to the rescue since they are dehydrated blocks of broth that liquify when combined with water.

Best used for:

  • Soups
  • Stews
  • Curry
  • Rice dishes
  • Sauces

What is bone broth?

Don’t let its name fool you — bone broth is a stock made from simmering bones. This superfood is different from traditional stocks because it is cooked longer. A key ingredient in bone broth is vinegar, which helps break down the connective tissue of the bones and release nutrients.

You can drink bone broth by itself or add it to one of the following items below.

Best used for:

  • Stuffing
  • Casseroles
  • Stews
  • Pasta
  • Soups

What is consommé?

Consommé is a type of concentrated stock that is refined with meat, egg whites and vegetables. This stock is clarified to remove any impurities with no trace of fat. Some folks refer to consommé as clear soup and it is often consumed at the start of a meal.

How to make chicken broth

Making broth doesn’t require gathering chicken or other animals’ bones. Follow these steps to learn how to make broth.

Ingredients and tools:

  • 1 whole chicken (about 4 pounds)
  • 3 carrots
  • 3 stalks celery
  • 1 large yellow onion
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 3 tbsp. kosher salt
  • 1 tsp. whole coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp. black peppercorns
  • Water
  • Large stockpot
  • Skillet 

Directions:

  1. Start off by adding chicken meat, carrots, onion, celery, garlic, salt and 4 quarts of water to the pot and prepare to boil.
  2. Toast coriander seeds and peppercorns in a small skillet over medium heat.
  3. Add the toasted spices to the pot of chicken broth.
  4. Once your broth is boiling, lower the heat to medium-low and partially cover.
  5. Let the broth simmer for an hour or until the chicken leg easily pulls off the breast.
  6. Remove the chicken from the pot and let it rest on a baking sheet.
  7. Strain the broth through a fine mesh sieve and throw away the solids.
  8. Let the broth cool before refrigerating (up to five days) or freezing (up to three months).

How to make chicken stock

When it comes to making stock, you want to follow a blank canvas recipe you can customize. Check out this easy-to-follow stock recipe.

Ingredients and tools:

  • 3-pound mixture of raw chicken carcasses, wings, leg bones, backs, necks and giblets (not the liver)
  • 2 1/2 quarts cold water or enough to cover bones
  • 1 small onion
  • 1 small celery rib
  • 6 black peppercorns
  • 3-quart saucepan

Directions:

  1. Add your chicken pieces, water, onion, celery and pepper into a 3-quart saucepan and heat over medium heat. Skim off any foam.
  2. Partially cover and simmer over medium-low heat for about two and a half hours or until the giblets are tender and the bones are falling apart.
  3. Use a colander lined with cheesecloth to drain the stock into another large pot. Make sure to press on the ingredients to extract the juices.
  4. Use the stock immediately or cool quickly in an ice bath. 
  5. Store in the refrigerator for up to three days or in the freezer for up to six months.

How to make homemade chicken broth

Recipe by InstacartCourse: Dinner, LunchDifficulty: Easy
Servings

3

servings
Prep time

5

minutes
Cooking time

1

hour 

15

minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 whole chicken (about 4 pounds)

  • 3 carrots, cut into thirds

  • 3 stalks of celery, cut into thirds

  • 1 large yellow onion, halved and peeled

  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled

  • 3 tablespoons kosher salt

  • 1 teaspoon whole coriander seeds

  • 1 teaspoon black peppercorns

Directions

  • Start off by adding your chicken, carrots, onion, celery, garlic, salt and 4 quarts of water to the pot and begin to boil.
  • Toast coriander seeds and peppercorns in a small skillet over medium heat.
  • Add the toasted spices to the pot of chicken broth.
  • Once your broth is boiling, lower the heat to medium-low and partially cover.
  • Let the broth simmer for an hour or until the chicken leg easily pulls off the breast.
  • Remove the chicken from the pot and let it rest on a baking sheet.
  • Strain the broth through a fine mesh sieve and throw away the solids.
  • Let the broth cool before refrigerating (up to 5 days) or freezing (up to 3 months).

Stock vs. broth final thoughts

Now that you know the differences of stock vs. broth, it’s time to put these soup bases to work. Remember you can substitute stock for broth and vice versa depending on personal preference.

If you find yourself in a time crunch and in need of bouillon cubes or ingredients for homemade beef broth, you can place a same-day order with Instacart. Receive your groceries right to your doorstep without the hassle of going to the store.
Instacart has all the ingredients you need to whip up comfort food like a pot of chicken noodle soup or beef stew. Place your online order today!

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