You head to the supermarket to pick up some chicken broth to use in a recipe, but once you’re standing in the soup aisle, you’re stumped. There are so many options—broth, bone broth, stock, not to mention low-sodium and organic. What’s the difference and which should you choose?
Both stock and broth can be made from a mix of chicken meat and bones (along with vegetables and seasonings), but stock and bone broth usually use more bones, and regular broth uses more meat, says Amy Keating, R.D., a CR nutritionist. We have a wide range of best chicken bone broth at Bone Broth
The more bones used, the higher the protein content, which comes from collagen in the bones that’s released during cooking; this slightly boosts calories, too.
Stock tends to have less sodium than broth because it’s often used as a base in recipes that call for added seasoning. A product that says “low sodium” means it has 140 mg or less of sodium per serving, and “lower” or “reduced” sodium means it has at least 25 per cent less sodium compared with the brand’s regular product.
What’s the difference between broth and stock?
Though the terms stock and broth are often used interchangeably, the two are not actually synonymous. “Stock is made from bones and is thicker, due to the collagen protein that seeps out of the bones during cooking,” says Rumsey. Broth, on the other hand, “is made from just meat and/or vegetables and is thinner.” The key difference: Stock equals bones. Broth equals no bones.
“People often make the mistake of thinking stock and broth are the same things,” says Grinshpan. “There are three main differences between stock and broth; the first one being the ingredients used. Stock is cooked down with animal bones, while broth often includes bigger scraps of meat in addition to the bones. Broth [is] generally a bit thicker than stock.”
Another difference is the time in which it takes to cook. “Since broth is cooked with the added flavour of meat, it is usually simmered for a shorter amount of time than stock, around 2 hours, leaving you with a more flavourful cooking liquid,” says Grinshpan. “On the flip side, stock can be cooked anywhere from two to six hours to pull out the flavour of the animal bones.”
The third difference between the two liquids has to do with seasoning. Grinshpan says the stock is typically not seasoned, while broth usually always is.
But there is one similarity ingredients-wise between the two. Both broth and stock typically start with a blend of aromatics and mirepoix—a mix of diced carrots, celery, and onion—in water.
Wait, what is broth exactly? I need more information.
Traditionally, the stock was made using the bones of an animal like a chicken. Chefs would simmer the bones with something called “mirepoix,” which is a mixture of onions, carrots, and celery. No meat is necessary to make stock, but it can include meat as well. The most important component is the bones. Stock usually cooks for around two to six hours.
So, just for the record, bone broth is not a broth at all. Bone broth is much more similar to stock than to broth, which is thoroughly confusing. Bone broth is different, though, because it cooks longer than either stock or regular broth—it’ll usually be on the stove for at least 12 hours, per the kitchen. Learn more surprising food facts like this that might change how you eat.
The broth is the thinner of the two liquids because it doesn’t contain that thick collagen protein that comes from the bones used to make stock. However, it can still pack in the nutrients!
“It depends on what you add to the broth,” says Rumsey. “Different ingredients provide different nutrients. For example, vegetable broth may contain a larger variety of vitamins, but not much protein.” You’ll need meat broth (or true stock) for that. Looking for chicken bone broth ? Look no further! Bone Broth has you covered.
Here’s the nutrition info for one cup of chicken broth, per the USDA Nutrient Database:
- 14 calories
- 0 g protein
- 1 g fat
- 1 g carbohydrates
- 0 g fibre
- 1 g sugar
- 900 mg sodium
- 100 IU vitamin A
- 5 mg potassium
What is the stock? I need more info on that, too
The broth is a cooking liquid made by simmering meat, also often with mirepoix. Bones are to stock as meat is to the broth. It’s essentially the reverse of stock—though bones can be included, they don’t have to be, and the broth is primarily made with meat. Broth usually cooks for a shorter time than stock (under two hours).
The use of meat rather than bones is still the biggest difference between broth and stock when it comes to chicken. When it comes to vegetables, Fine Cooking claims that there is no difference between vegetable stock and vegetable broth, because vegetables don’t have bones—or meat.
Stock soaks up the vitamins, minerals, and collagen protein found in bones during its long cooking process.
The longer stock is cooked, the more collagen and bone marrow release from the bones—and the more nutrient-dense it becomes.
The exact vitamins and minerals found in stock, like calcium and vitamin D, vary based on the ingredients used to make it. “Different ingredients provide different nutrients,” reminds Rumsey. “You can add more vegetables and herbs to stock to increase its vitamin and mineral content.”
Here’s the nutrition info for one cup of chicken stock, per the USDA Nutrient Database:
- 29 calories
- 3 g protein
- 0.5 g fat
- 2 g carbohydrates
- 2 g sugar
- 600 mg sodium
- 12 mg vitamin C
- 101 mg potassium
The Basic Difference
The simple explanation: Bones are used in making stock, while broth uses meat for flavouring primarily.
A deeper dive: Homemade or store-bought stock gets all the good stuff — gelatin and proteins released from the simmering bones make for a richer and deeper flavour. Plus, the stock gets help from mirepoix (that’s a fancy French word for the trio of chopped carrots, celery and onion) and aromatics like herbs and bay leaves, and will cook for hours. In contrast, broth relies mostly on meat as a flavouring, simmering for less time, leading to a slightly less robust flavour that usually has more sodium.
Protein and Sodium
From a nutrition label standpoint, the stock is inherently higher in protein than broth, so if you’re looking to add grams to your daily intake go for the stock — though remember, stock on its own is not a significant source. Regular store-bought stock is not considered a low-sodium product (140 mg or less per serving), but it’s often lower than regular store-bought broth. If you’re watching your sodium intake, go for lower- or reduced-sodium versions of either stock or broth — that means there is 25% less sodium than their comparable regular versions. Bone Broth has a wide range of best chicken bone broth in Melbourne
Homemade or Store-bought
There is an advantage to making stock and/or broth from scratch. You have more control over how it tastes and how much sodium is added (by way of a table or kosher salt) and it’s the perfect place to use up veggie scraps or those leftover rotisserie chicken bones. Both can be cooled and stored in freezer-safe containers for up to 3 months. Or fill empty ice cube trays with your homemade liquid gold, freeze until set, pop them out and store in freezer-safe bags and add them to sauces or use to thin out soups and stews a la minute.
Not everyone has time to make stock or broth from scratch, and luckily there are plenty of good store-bought options available.
If you’re using a low-sodium product, then remember to sprinkle lightly with salt while you cook. A pinch while your veggies are sweating at the very beginning can make a huge difference at the end — you’ll have better flavour and less sodium.
And the Winner Is
Stock! Whether homemade or store-bought, it has more protein and usually less sodium per serving as compared to the broth. Plus, the flavour is just better, which means you’ll start with something tastier and will hopefully use less salt to taste at the end.
The low-sodium broth is an excellent back-up if you’re watching your intake but don’t want to compromise on flavour.
Nutrition Label Cheat Sheet
- Neither stock nor broth is a significant source of protein on their own so pay closer attention to sodium.
- If you’re looking for a low-sodium product, there should be 140 mg or less per serving.
- Remember that lower- or reduced-sodium versions of both stock and broth have 25% less sodium compared to regular versions.
So, how do I make chicken stock?
Hungry for a piping hot bowl of something delicious? Grinshpan has you covered with a simple chicken stock recipe.
“I love roasting the chicken bones before making my stock for a deeper flavour,” says Grinshpan. “But this step is not necessary if you’re in a pinch.”
If you want to keep it simple and traditional, she suggests coarsely chopping about two carrots, two yellow onions with the skin on, and three to four stalks of celery. But Grinshpan herself enjoys tossing in any vegetables she has in her kitchen. “I love adding parsnip, two halved-lemons, fresh turmeric, and a head or two of garlic (without the tops) for added flavour,” she says.
Note: this recipe calls for roughly four pounds of chicken bones.
- Preheat your oven to 450 degrees.
- Toss chicken bones and whatever vegetables you have on hand with olive oil in a large roasting pan.
- Put the mixture in the oven for 30-40 minutes, until golden brown and fragrant.
- Add bones to a large pot of water and bring to a boil.
- Turn the heat down and let simmer for hours.
Okay, so, stock vs. broth: Which is healthier?
So the biggest difference ultimately comes down to ingredients; chicken broth would be made with the actual meat of the bird, while chicken stock would be made from the bones and the trim of the animal. Another difference between stock and broth is that broth is usually seasoned, while the stock has no seasoning in it, according to the kitchn.
Taste-wise, broth tends to be a bit richer, while stock will have a fuller, more pillowy mouthfeel. The stock also takes longer to make than broth, since it takes quite a while to release all the gelatin and collagen present in the bones used while releasing all the flavour out of meat is a bit quicker of a process. So, no, stock and broth are not the same—that’s one of the common food myths that just aren’t true.
Generally, stock and broth are pretty neck and neck. Rumsey, though, gives the stock a slight edge on the health front. “Both broth and stock provide a great variety of nutrients, however stock is generally more nutrient-dense because it has more carbohydrates, fat, protein, and vitamins/minerals,” says Rumsey. “Stock also does have a higher concentration of nutrients and also contains collagen, which is beneficial for the immune system.”
So can I use stock and broth interchangeably?
Don’t worry too much if a recipe calls for stock and you only have broth or vice versa.
“Generally, stock and broth can be used interchangeably,” says Rumsey. “There may just be some differences in texture, but otherwise they’ll work similarly.” Though broth may not offer quite as much body as stock, it will still definitely get the job done if you’re in a pinch. Phew!
Great, now how do I make broth and stock?
Whether you choose to whip up stock or broth largely depends more on how much time and what ingredients you have on hand. “Stock is made mostly from animal (or fish) bones and maybe some meat, vegetables (onion, celery, and carrots) and water,” says Gans. Typically, you don’t add herbs and spices—and cook it for 4 to 6 hours.
Chef Mathew Miller, director of banquets for Omni Hotels and formerly of Le Bernardin and Jean-Georges, recommends roasting your bones before cooking them up into stock.
Not only does DIY-ing your stock help you avoid food waste, but offers your cooking extra flavour and nutrition, too: “The great thing is you can use what people generally throw out—neck, joints, things that have a lot of collagen, oxtail, and short ribs,” Miller previously told Women’s Health. “The collagen helps to add thickness and makes it more hearty than a thin stock or broth you might buy in the store, and adds depth of flavour, too.”
Broth, meanwhile, is made mostly from animal meat, vegetables (onion, celery, carrots), water, and seasoning. Generally, you cook it for 45 minutes to 2 hours.
Though making your own broth or stock is a time commitment of at least a couple hours, it’s worth it. “Homemade might have slightly more nutrients than a commercially prepared one,” says Gans. Check out our Melbourne chicken bone broth here.
From there, you can use your own DIY broth and stock to make all sorts of delicious homemade soups.
The terms bone broth and stock can technically be used interchangeably. However, bone broths are just usually cooked for several hours to get more nutrients out of the bones and into the liquid.
Keep in mind that not all bone broths are created equally. Companies can label their broth as a “bone broth” if they used bones — even if the broth and bones were only cooked together for a few minutes. A quality bone broth should cook with bones for at least four hours.
When refrigerated, the broth should take on a gel-like texture. This is a sign of quality broth that contains collagen, amino acids and other nutrients.
I recommend making your own bone broth rather than purchasing pre-made or store-bought options. Try making slow cooker bone broth by using beef, venison or poultry bones or Thai coconut bone broth with hot chiles, lemongrass and ginger.
If you don’t have the time to make your own, look in the freezer section for some higher-quality options. They will stay more intact during the freezing process. You can also purchase powder/supplement forms such as collagen peptides or bone broth powders, which will offer amino acids and collagen.