You're bound to have a few cans of broth or stock hiding in the back of your pantry. Broths and stocks are crucial for building flavor in a variety of dishes, from soups and stews to gravies and risottos. While they look pretty similar and can often be used interchangeably, there are not necessarily identical. So, we enlisted the help of Delish Food Editor, Brooke Caison, to guide us through these ingredients and their differences.
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What Is Broth?
Broth is a thin liquid made by boiling and simmering a combination of meat (on the bone), vegetables, and seasonings in a large pot of water. With added salt and other seasonings, it's flavorful on its own, making it a great base for soups like chicken posole and matzo ball soup, or for cooking a mushroom risotto.
The main types of broth are chicken, beef, fish, and vegetable, which is made by simmering just vegetables and seasonings.
What Is Stock?
On the other hand, stock is made by boiling and simmering bones and sometimes vegetables. Bones contain collagen, which gives stock a thick, gelatinous consistency, making it a great thickening agent, according to Caison. Whether you're whipping up a quick pan sauce or gravy, stock is often used to help thicken it.
There's a variety of different types of stock out there, and the bones you use will determine which one you make. For example, we use a turkey carcass in our homemade turkey stock. And if you're familiar with bone broth, well, it's technically stock.
The Differences Between Broth And Stock
The main differences between broth and stock are the ingredients, how they're cooked, and their resulting flavor and consistency. These differences dictate which one you should reach for when you're about to cook a dish.
First, broth is cooked with meat (typically on the bone) for a shorter period of time. Stock is usually made with just bones for a longer period of time. Both often use the addition of vegetables and herbs, but stock doesn't usually contain added salt like broth does. While broth gets its flavor from seasonings and salt, it doesn't have as much depth of flavor as stock. You'll also find stock to have a thicker consistency because of the collagen and gelatin in the bones.
Can Broth And Stock Be Used Interchangeably?
The terms "broth" and "stock" are often used interchangeably in recipes and can often be used in place of one another in a pinch, but there are a few things to keep in mind.
While many soup recipes call for broth because of its salt and seasonings, Caison recommends stock as a base for soups and sauces because you're able to control the flavor better.
"Broth can be used as a shortcut for stock if you know you're not adding a ton of extra salt," she says. So, if you're out of stock and subbing broth, you'll want to tone down the salt to avoid an overly salty dish.
Allison Arnold is the Associate SEO Editor at Delish, where she writes about kitchen gadgets and food and culture. She likes exercising almost as much as eating, and has a thorough Google Maps ranking system for her favorite restaurants and bars. You can find her spewing hot takes on the food world and planning her next trip, all with multiple cans of seltzer open at a time.