Broth vs. Stock: What's the Difference?

Is it stock or is it broth? And does it really matter?
Is it stock or is it broth? And does it really matter? / hofack2/iStock / Getty Images Plus

If you’ve been using the words stock and broth pretty much interchangeably when you're cooking, you're technically wrong. But you're not alone.

Both of the flavorful liquids are made from water simmered with meat and vegetables for flavor. The main difference, according to both the Food Network and The Kitchn, is that stock is typically simmered with chicken or beef bones, because the gelatin within makes for a thicker, more flavorful liquid. By that definition, "vegetable stock" is a misnomer, though the phrase is not uncommon. That's because most people use stock and broth interchangeably—including many chefs. Still, you can absolutely substitute one for the other with little consequence.

If you're a stickler for accuracy, however, you should also consider whether the liquid has added flavorings. While stock is generally left unflavored to serve as a neutral base, broth is usually made with herbs and spices, including salt and pepper.

By the way, if making your own broth or stock is too much work for your liking, use Julia Child's shortcut: Simmer the contents of a store-bought can for 15 to 20 minutes, along with a handful of minced carrots, onions, and celery. Throw in some dry white wine or dry white French vermouth and call it a day.

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