Stock and broth are two recipe essentials that many of us rely on each week to help enhance the flavor of our dishes. But while we might treat these two ingredients the same way, they are two distinct things that have various uses in your cooking.
While you've probably seen the two terms used interchangeably, broth and stock are actually two different things. We tend to see stock called for in hearty recipes like stews, casseroles, and richer soups while stock is often reserved for lighter soups, risotto, or to add flavor to rice or pasta. So what is the difference between stock and broth? When should you use them? We break it down here.
Stock is made by simmering meaty bones, meat, and vegetables in water. To prepare stock at home, you'll need to cook it for several hours, occasionally skimming off the foam that rises to the top of the liquid. There are two main types of stock, white stock and brown stock. For white stock, the bones are blanched before simmering. Brown stocks see the bones roasted before hitting the water, giving it a richer flavor and deeper color.
Unlike stock, broth is made from a combination of meat and vegetables or vegetables alone. Broth is also often seasoned with various herbs and spices, and only takes 1 to 2 hours to make on the stovetop. Broth is typically used in soups, sauces, gravies, but can be used in stews, casseroles, and as a braising liquid in lieu of stock.
Besides what's used to make them, the main difference between broth and stock is that stock is slightly thinner than broth. There are two reasons for this. The first is that broth is cooked for a shorter amount of time. The second is that when stock is cooked, some of the gelatin in the bone will release into the liquid, giving it a thicker, richer texture. That said, you can use either stock or broth in any given recipe.
You can substitute stock for broth in any recipe. As we mentioned earlier, the main difference between the two is that stock has a thicker texture while broth is thinner. If you really want, you can dilute the stock with water. Simply add a little water at a time until the stock reaches your desired consistency.
For those watching their calorie intake, broth has fewer calories than stock. Vegetarians and vegans will want to use broth rather than stock in their recipes. However, while stock boasts more calories and fat than broth, it also has more nutrients, including protein and various essential vitamins and minerals. To boost the nutrient content in your broth, add spices, herbs, and a rainbow of vegetables to it, and curb the salt called for in your recipe.
Bouillon, consommé, and bone broth are another three similar terms that can confuse. We're here to clear it up! Bouillon is another name for broth that entered the English language courtesy of France and its grand cooking tradition. It's a light, clear liquid made by cooking meat, vegetables, and seasonings in water. Bone broth is basically stock, however, it's cooked a little longer than traditional stocks, usually overnight up to 48 hours. Consommé is a clear soup that can be based on either stock or broth. To make consommé, the liquid base is clarified with egg whites. This removes solids and fat from the soup.