What’s the Difference Between Stock and Bone Broth?

Ever wonder if you can use stock and bone broth interchangeably? Here's what we discovered.

Top view of chicken soup - broth on wooden tableShutterstock / Marian Weyo

It seems like basic stock or broth has always been the go-to way to add hearty flavor to things like soup, risotto and mashed potatoes. (Have you seen this fresh-looking garden risotto? Love it!) But recently bone broth has become the on-trend ingredient. In addition to being rich and meaty, the people who love the stuff say that it’s packed with nutrients that boost immunity and joint health, among other good things.

To better understand whether we should stock up on chicken stock or whip up homemade bone broth, let’s take a closer look:

What is broth?

Broth is generally vegetables and meat that have simmered for only two hours or so–less time than a stock or bone broth. The goal of broth is to achieve a flavorful yet light liquid that can be used as a base for soups, add extra flavor when cooking whole grains and act as a substitute in recipes where butter is called for. Unlike stock and bone broth, regular broth doesn’t congeal when chilled.

What is stock?

Stock is water simmered with a combination of vegetables, herbs and spices and chicken or beef bones (Learn how to make beef stock). The bones are sometimes roasted and sometimes will have meat still attached. When making stock, the ingredients are usually cooked for about three to four hours and then strained to keep only the liquid. The purpose of the long, slow cook is to extract all the tasty flavors and thickening agents such as collagen and gelatin. The gelatin is what’s most noticeable it has been chilled, refrigerated or frozen. It gives stock a Jell-O-type consistency!

Test Kitchen tip: Freeze your stock for up to 6 months. (Follow our nine steps for smart freezer storage.)Thaw it out whenever you want to add extra flavor to a soup, risotto or other savory dish.

What is bone broth?

Bone broth is basically stock with an added bonus! It’s simmered for a much longer period of time–our recipes call for 8 to 24 hours–and some cooks recommend up to 48 hours. The goal is to release all the nutritious things like glucosamine, amino acids, electrolytes and more. It’s strained, stored and can be used in recipes that call for stock and/or bone broth. You might also heat up and drink the bone broth to help keep pesky colds at bay.

Can they be used interchangeably?

Yep! In a pinch, you can substitute most stocks for broths and vice versa. You can also use bone broth when your recipe calls for stock. So easy!

Put Your Homemade Stock to Work
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Cheryl S. Grant
Cheryl S. Grant has reported & written for Reader's Digest, Cosmo, Glamour, Latina, Yoga Journal, MSN, USA Today, Family Circle, Brides, HGTV, Examiner, Details, Beach Body, Spa Weekly, You Beauty, Scoop Post, FitBit, Spice Island, and Health Daily. She investigates trends and targets profiles subjects using a combination of deep background research (database, periodicals, preliminary interviews, social media), write and edit compelling stories in a variety of beats including beauty, health, travel, nutrition, diet, law, medicine, advocacy, entertainment, the military and various social issues.