What’s the Difference Between Stock and Broth?

TipsChicken Stock

Ever wonder if there is a difference between stock and broth? Or if you can use one for the other in a recipe? Here are the answers!

Photography Credit: Alison Bickel and Emma Christensen

To keep it simple: Stock is made with bones. Broth is made with meat.

This said, ultimately, stock and broth serve the same purpose in your kitchen. You can use either of them to make soups, stews, and sauces, where they’ll add body, flavor, and volume to the final dish.

How to Make Chicken Stock in the Slow Cooker

How to Make Chicken Stock in the Slow Cooker


Chicken stock (or stock made from any animal) is usually richer and thicker than broth because gelatin is released from the cartilage, tendons, skin, and bone during the cooking process. It is deeply flavored and contributes a velvety mouth feel to soups and stews.

When homemade stock cools, you will have a layer of fat on top. You can skim it off and discard it. The stock will also be thick and jiggle like Jell-O or cold gravy because of gelatin in the stock. This is a good thing. When stock is heated it will thin out again, but still have body to it.

How To Quickly Cook Chicken on the Stovetop

How to Poach Chicken


Broth is typically thinner and not as rich as stock, but still flavorful. Broth is the leftover liquid from poaching chicken, fish, or other meats.

It has the consistency of water because it hasn’t been with made bones, and therefore has not pulled any of the additional minerals, proteins, and gelatin from them.

However, it can still be packed with flavor especially if you season the poaching liquid with herbs and spices. When broth cools, it will keep the same viscosity it has when warm.

What About Bone Broth?

Further confusion results from a product you’ve probably seen—and maybe consumed—called bone broth. This product is really nothing more than stock, because only stock is made with bones. But bone broth has a better ring to it when it comes to marketing!


Traditionally, richly flavored homemade stocks are best used for making soups and stews, sauces, and braises. Lighter bodied broths are best used for light soups, cooking grains, or poaching vegetables.

Confusion arises because commercial brands often use the terms “stock” and “broth” interchangeably. The contents are also typically fairly thin and lack the texture, flavor, and thick viscosity of homemade stock.

Even with the differences between broth and stock (and between store-bought and homemade), you can use either stock or broth in your soups or any other recipe.

Want to make some stock? Here you go!

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Summer Miller

Summer Miller is an Associate Editor for Simply Recipes based in Nebraska. Her work has appeared in Bon Appetit, Eating Well, Grit, SAVEUR, and Every Day with Rachael Ray, among others. Her first book is New Prairie Kitchen (Agate Publishing, 2015).

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  1. Jelena

    I heard from my Mum that one of her aunts used to add chicken legs into vegetable soups, to make them richer and thicker. A stock without bothering… However, chicken legs are nearly impossible to find, they sell out instantly…

    • Summer Miller

      Hi, Jelena! Chicken legs are pretty easy to come by in my neck of the woods. They are part of my stock recipes, but chicken feet are difficult to find! They do make a great addition to stock if you can get them. Sometimes I can buy them from local farms or in Asian grocery stores. Good luck!

      • Jelena

        I’m sorry, I meant chicken feet… My Mum occasionally gets them at the farmer’s market, but only if she’s lucky…

        • Summer

          Yes, I can imagine she’d have to get there pretty early! Your Mum must be a great cook! I bet her stock is delicious with or without feet!

          • Jelena

            Thanks, Summer, she is! It’s a sort of family thing!

  2. Donna

    Your soup is only as good as the stock you make it with. :)

Slow Cooker Chicken BrothWhat’s the Difference Between Stock and Broth?