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What’s the Difference Between Broth and Stock?

Three bowls of different soups.
beats1/Shutterstock

The foundation of many soups is either a stock or broth, but what’s the difference? Let’s take a look at what separates the two, and when you should use one or the other.

Stocks and broths are thin, savory liquids made from vegetables, aromatics, and meat or bones, and a multitude of recipes calls for them.

However, while the cooking method for both is comparable, there are distinct differences.

What’s a Broth?

To make a broth, simmer your choice of animal meat, mirepoix (a combination of onion, carrots, and celery), and aromatics in water for a few hours. Aromatics are combinations of herbs, spices, and vegetables that release sweet-smelling aromas and intense flavors into a dish.

Although traditionally, a broth is a meat-based liquid, vegetable broth is very common today.

Broth is sometimes seasoned and turns to a thin, savory fluid that won’t gel when chilled. You can use it as a base for soup, gravies, risotto, and so much more.

What Makes a Stock a Stock?

To make a stock, you simmer animal bones of your choice, vegetables, and aromatics, but for much longer than a broth. Stock is known to have a much more neutral flavor than broth.

When you simmer bones for many hours, it releases the collagen and bone marrow, which provides a thicker consistency than broth.

You usually cook stock for 12 or more hours and never season it. You know you’ve created a fantastic stock when it begins to gel. It’s often used for stews, soups, sauces, and gravies.

White versus Brown Stock

When you make stock, it’s essential to understand the two main categories: white or brown.

For a white stock, you typically boil or blanch the bones, and then rinse them off before you simmer. Because white stocks are (obviously) much lighter in color, they generally also have a much lighter flavor profile.

When you make a brown stock, you roast the bones before you simmer them. The roasted bones offer deeper flavors and make the stock a darker color.

Emilee Unterkoefler Emilee Unterkoefler
Emilee Unterkoefler is a freelance food writer, hiking enthusiast, and mama with over ten years of experience working in the food industry. Read Full Bio »

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