Chow line: The difference between broth and stock

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My dad asked me to pick up chicken stock from the store for a meal that he wants to make for dinner. When I got to the store, I bought chicken broth and brought it home. He sent me back to the store because he said stock and broth aren’t the same thing. But aren’t they really?

No, they are not. 

Your dad is correct. There is a difference between broth and stock, and depending on which recipe he was making, the difference between the two could have an impact on the outcome of the meal. This is because, generally speaking, broth is lighter and more flavorful, while stock is thicker.

To understand the difference, it’s important to understand what stocks and broths are. Stocks and broths are liquids used to make sauces, soups, stews, and other recipes.

The main differences between stock and broth are the use of bones or meat, the length of cooking time, and the type of seasonings added, writes Jenny Lobb, an educator in family and consumer sciences for Ohio State University Extension.

“Unless it’s a vegetable stock, stock is made using bones, water, and a mixture of aromatic vegetables including onions, carrots, and celery. It’s simmered for two to six hours and generally has added seasonings,” Lobb wrote in Broth versus Stock, a blog posted at Live Healthy Live Well

The site, which can be found at, is a free information resource that offers science-based consumer information and insights. It’s written by OSU Extension educators and specialists in family and consumer sciences who are concerned with health and wellness. OSU Extension is the outreach arm of The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES).

The boiling of the bones—generally chicken, beef, or pork—allows the bone marrow and collagen to be released from the bones, thus making stock much thicker than broth.

However, “broth, on the other hand,” Lobb writes, “takes less time to make, and contains meat (unless it’s a vegetable broth), vegetables, and seasonings, and is generally simmered on the stove top for no more than two hours.”   

Stock is typically used in sauces, gravies, stews, and as a braising liquid for meat, while broth works well as a base for soups, stir-fry dishes, dumplings, stuffing, and for cooking grains and legumes, she said.

“Although broths and stocks can be purchased in cans and cartons at the grocery store, it is fairly easy to make your own at home,” Lobb said, noting that, “making broths and stocks from scratch can be a cost-saving activity if you save and utilize meat and vegetable scraps that would otherwise be thrown away.”

And with the cold days ahead during the remainder of this winter, soups and stews are a great comfort food to keep you warm on the inside!

Chow Line is a service of The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences and its outreach and research arms, Ohio State University Extension and the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center. Send questions to Chow Line writer Tracy Turner, 364 W. Lane Ave., Suite B120, Columbus, OH 43201, or

Editor: This column was reviewed by Jenny Lobb, educator, family and consumer sciences, OSU Extension.

Tracy Turner
For more information, contact: 

Jenny Lobb
Family and Consumer Sciences 
OSU Extension