Chicken Stock vs Broth: What's the Difference Between the Two?
Find out here, as well as the best ways to use both chicken stock and chicken broth, and whether stock is a good substitute for broth.
If you enjoy making homemade soup, you may wonder: Chicken stock vs broth—what's the difference? After all, the soup aisle at your local grocery store is probably filled with many brands of chicken broth and chicken stock. So how do you know which one to choose (or make) for your recipe? Here, we break it all down for you.
Is Chicken Stock the Same As Chicken Broth?
Technically, no. Chicken broth and chicken stock are different in terms of the actual ingredients, their thickness, and their intended purpose. Chicken stock is typically quite thick and gelatinous and is made with animal bones (like chicken, beef, even fish) and left unseasoned (that means no salt). Broth, on the flipside, is generally thinner in texture and made with animal meat (and sometimes the bones as well) and always seasoned.
When you have time, make a big batch of homemade stock and broth—nothing beats the flavors, aromas, and stick-to-your-ribness of homemade broth or stock. Once you get the hang of the homemade stuff, you might never go back to the store-bought kind. If you want to know how to make chicken broth, check out our favorite chicken broth recipe. It uses chicken wings, which work well since they’re mostly skin and bones. (Many recipes call for 4 cups of stock, so it can be convenient to invest in quart containers for efficient cooking; there are plenty of good store-bought broth options out there as well.)
What Is Chicken Stock?
Stock is a thick liquid made from a combination of animal bones (which are often roasted first to create more rich flavor); mirepoix (a classic combo of onions, carrots, and celery); and aromatics (like peppercorns, parsley stems, and bay leaves) simmered in water for about 4 to 6 hours. After it is fully cooked on the stovetop and then strained, it should have a viscous, gelatin-like quality that comes from the collagen from the bones and joints. If you chill stock, it should gel.
Stock is typically unseasoned and makes for a good base for gravy, rich sauces, and soups. It’s also useful when you want to de-glaze a pan for a quick sauce.
What Is Chicken Broth?
Broth includes animal meat, and potentially some animal bones, mirepoix, and aromatics simmered in water. Unlike stock, which is cooked for a medium length of time, broth is only cooked for a short amount of time (roughly 45 minutes to 2 hours). It is then strained and seasoned (another big distinction between the two). If you chill broth, it should not gel the way stock does. Broth is light and thin and full of flavor, so it tastes good on its own or as a base for all kinds of soup. We also like to use it as a substitute for water when we’re making rice or stew.
While homemade broth is always going to be our favorite, boxed or canned broth is a great, economical shortcut we love to use when we’re in a rush. Instantly upgrade store-bought broth with one of these simple tricks.
Can You Use Stock as a Chicken Broth Substitute?
Yes—if you’re in a hurry at the market and can’t remember whether the recipe called for stock or broth, they will both do the trick whether you're making soup, stock, gravy, or a flavorful pot of rice or grains.