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The Difference Between Stocks And Broths

Written by the YesChef staff

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Kwame Onwuachi
Teaches his Jamaican Cuisine
In the kitchens of common cooks and professional chefs alike, stocks and broths are invaluable to the success of so many recipes. Stocks and broths serve as a base – or add flavor to – an abundance of dishes from soups and stews to gravies and sauces. They are versatile to cook with, healthy to eat, and a fundamental culinary tool for anyone who is serious about cooking. For Kwame Onwuachi, the James Beard Award-winning chef, stocks and broths are “a foundation” and a “building block” for much of his cooking, he says in his recent YesChef lesson. A stock or broth is also essential to have on hand during the depths of winter. On cold nights during the holiday season, there is nothing quite as satisfying for the soul as the taste and feeling you get from enjoying a flavorful bowl of chicken soup with fresh vegetables. To make this happen, it is important to constantly have a pot of chicken stock (or vegetable stock) or bone broth on hand and at the ready. There is a reason why students in culinary school and beginning cooks across the world are taught the basic principles of making stock and broth.
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Kwame Onwuachi
Teaches his Jamaican Cuisine

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Similarities Between Stock and Broth

The terms “stock” and “broth” are often used interchangeably, even by professional chefs. This makes sense, because stocks and broths are in fact similar in several ways. Both stocks and broths are healthy, nutrient-rich liquids generally featuring aromatic vegetables, herbs, and spices. Both can be made from animal parts and both can be vegetarian. But stocks and broths are also very different.

What is Stock?

Stock is a liquid that is created when you simmer (not boil) animal bones and vegetables with water, spices, and herbs. It is used as a base for stews, soups and grains and to add flavor to sauces for all sorts of meat and fresh vegetable entrees. The “beautiful thing” about a stock, Kwame says, is that it “fortifies all of your flavors” and is an essential way to build flavors as you cook.

What is Broth?

Broth is a thin, flavored liquid or type of soup that is created from the cooking of meat, vegetables, fish, and / or grains. It is derived from the flavors and juices of those ingredients after they boil or simmer in water.

Stocks vs. Broths: How Are They Different?

In a stock, the main ingredients are typically leftover animal bones that were used during a previous cooking session. These bones and / or vegetables are then cooked for a long time in order to release all the ingredients’ flavors as well as their collagen, a healthy protein naturally found in the flesh, bones, and connective tissue of animals. Compared to a broth, stocks are typically thicker and must be cooked for a longer period of time to bring out their ingredients’ flavors.

While the key ingredient in stock is animal bone, the main ingredient in broth is animal meat. Broth is sometimes made by boiling chicken breast – or shellfish or vegetables – in water. The result is a liquid you can drink by itself as opposed to a liquid like stock, which is meant to add flavor or be used as a base for other dishes. Breaking down the difference between a stock and broth, Kwame calls stock the “base level” liquid for a broth. A broth is created, he says, when you introduce meat to – and continue to season – the stock.

Store vs. Homemade Stock

As is the case for most foods, homemade recipes are typically better. If done right, homemade stock recipes are tastier – and significantly cheaper – than going to the grocery store. Making stock recipes at home is also a no-brainer (and free of charge!) if you are someone who cooks commonly with chicken. Rather than toss the carcass into the garbage can, you can keep the carcass in the freezer and later heat them in a stock pot (immersed in water) together with fresh aromatic vegetables until voila – you have amazing homemade chicken stock. If you decide to buy your stock, which you should be able to find easily on the shelves of your local supermarket, consider seeking out a low-sodium option since grocery store stock can be high in sodium.

Ways to Make Stock

Stock is made on a stovetop, in a slow cooker, or with the use of a pressure cooker. The most common and traditional method, which is also the most rigorous, is to make stock on a stovetop. Meat-based stocks, which are cooked in an uncovered stock pot, should take as long as eight hours to make. Water must regularly be added to keep the bones submerged and to replace the water that has evaporated. This thorough method requires that the liquid simmer and that the cook constantly rid the stock surface of impurities such as fat. Another lengthy method for cooking stock but one that is less proactive than using a stovetop is to use a slow cooker. If doing it this way, begin by placing your aromatic vegetables and herbs into the slow cooker, put your animal bones on top of those, and then submerge the veggies and bones under warm water. You will then want to cook it on a low temperature for about 24 hours. To make your stock recipes using a pressure cooker, submerge your bones, fresh vegetables, and spices in water and have the liquid simmer. After you simmer the stock, lock the pressure cooker’s lid and cook the stock on high heat for about 40 minutes. Release the cooker’s pressure, strain the liquid, and store your stock in a refrigerator (if you plan on using it within a few days) or in the freezer for up to several months.

What Foods Commonly Use Stock?

Stock is used as a base for dishes as diverse as soups, risottos, and pasta sauces. Chicken stock can be used to cook pasta, braised ribs or greens, and so much more. And it can be used to enhance the taste of your casserole, salad, pot pie, rice or couscous, dip, tacos, and a wide variety of chicken recipes.

What Foods Commonly Use Broth?

Like stock, broth is extremely versatile. Broth can be eaten by itself. Or, you can put pasta noodles or rice or matzo balls in it to enjoy a delicious, good-for-the-soul bowl of soup. Broth is a base for ramen, the Japanese noodle soup featuring thin wheat noodles, and for pho, the traditional Vietnamese soup dish featuring rice noodles, meat, and herbs. In Southern France, broth is necessary if you want to make bouillabaisse, which is a creamy and flavorful stew filled with fish and spices.

Types of Stock & How To Make Stock

In his YesChef lesson, Kwame makes three types of stocks simultaneously: chicken stock, vegetable stock, and shrimp stock. Here are some of the steps to making your own versions of these types of common stock.

Chicken stock: One great way of creating homemade chicken stock is to use a leftover chicken carcass that you have stored away in your freezer. It’s a great way of avoiding waste in your cooking, although it requires advanced preparation. Another alternative is to use the carcass of a chicken whose meat you are presently cooking. Before making chicken stock, be sure to clean all of the chicken parts you are using really well.

When making his chicken stock, Kwame roasts a whole chicken and the bones of chickens’ backs on extremely high heat until they’re golden brown. In a pot, he covers the complete chicken and the chicken back bones with large fresh vegetable chunks including carrots and celery along with herbs like peppercorn, thyme, and bay leaves. To boost the richness of the stock – and boost collagen levels – Kwame tosses chicken feet into the pot, submerging all of it in water. “There’s something about making chicken stock,” he says, “that always makes me very, very happy.”

Vegetable Stock: In addition to being an excellent vegetarian staple that can be a base for vegetarian soups and rice dishes, vegetable stock is also a smart and eco-friendly way to use your leftover vegetable scraps. When making his vegetable stock, Kwame chops and dices a variety of fresh vegetables – carrots, onions, garlic cloves, celery, leeks – and puts the vegetables in the pot before adding herbs like thyme, peppercorns, and parsley.

Fish / Seafood Stock: The leftover bones, carcasses, and heads of fish can be awesome ingredients to put in your stock. For his shrimp stock, Kwame uses shrimp along with tomato paste and shrimp shells, plus celery and sliced carrots. After his stock cooks, (shrimp stock should simmer, not boil, Kwame makes clear) Kwame strains it twice and lets it cool in a Mason jar. Kwame tells us that when making fish, anything you discard – except for the guts – can be used in your stock. Fish heads are great, Kwame says, as are bones. Shrimp shells contain loads of unlocked flavor, he adds. “People throw them out,” Kwame says sadly of shrimp shells. “It’s such a waste.”

Beef Stock: Beef stock is a great base if you want to make a stock with a rich, complex flavor. Tasty foods that you can make with the aid of beef stock include gravies, soups, braised short ribs, and beef pho. Common ingredients that can contribute to an excellent beef stock include beef joints, beef knuckles, and feet as well as onions and carrots.

How to Store Stock

When your stock is ready, strain it through a colander or sieve. Kwame strains his stock twice using a colander, which pushes flavors through that are “locked in the vegetables,” he says, and lets it cool in a Mason jar. Cooling your stock at room temperature before freezing or refrigerating it is important to stop bacteria from forming. Be sure to skim the fat off the top of your stock – if it’s a meat stock, that is.

If you are going to have the stock for a while, store it in the freezer. It can be kept in Ziplock bags, ice cube trays, yogurt containers, or in glass jars; just don’t fill it too close to the top because the jar could break.

Stock Health Benefits

Simmering bones in water for a while to make a protein-rich bone broth is extremely healthy. That’s because when a stock cooks, it soaks up the vitamins, minerals, and collagen protein that’s found naturally in animal bones. And collagen, when it’s boiled, is broken down into gelatin, a protein believed to possess many health benefits. Gelatin is thought to be good for your skin, digestion, joints, bone density, immunity, and sleep. The longer your stock cooks, the more collagen will be released from the bones – and the more nutrient-rich the stock will be.

The nutritional value of a given stock is also based on what ingredients you add to it. The more herbs and vegetables you add to your stock, the more minerals and vitamins the liquid will accumulate. Health-wise, the best sort of animal bones to put in a stock are feet and knuckles. For an even more powerful nutritional punch, add a variety of vegetables, grains, and herbs to your stock, too.

Broth Health Benefits

Chicken broth, a base for chicken soup, is the ultimate cold and flu cure-all. It’s light, warm, and doesn’t have a lot of calories. For these reasons, broth is excellent nutritionally and therapeutically for people who are sick and don’t have a great appetite.

Why is broth so good for you? For one thing, it contains many essential fatty acids and proteins which are beneficial for your skin, muscles, and more. Chicken broth, in particular, is heavy in many vitamins, antioxidants, and minerals like iron and selenium, which is known to help lower cholesterol levels.

Professional Stock Tips and Tricks

  1. Invest in broad market-based funds – oops, wrong type of stock tips. Sorry! Making flavorful stock (for your food dish) commonly begins with a mixture of aromatic vegetables known as mirepoix. These vegetables often include celery, carrots, and onions. They do not wind up in the final dish but are used to add flavor to the stock.
  2. For animal parts, use various tendons and bones and cut them. Their gelatin will intensify the stock’s flavor. The best part of an animal carcass with which to make stock is gelatin, or connective tissue, like chicken feet and wings. These animal parts make a stock thicker and more gelatinous. Also yielding a thick stock are fishbones and fish heads.
  3. If the flavor of roasted bones is too strong, but you want to achieve the dark color that the bone-roasting method creates, you can use burnt onions and tomatoes instead.
  4. A crafty professional tip from Kwame: Store your stock in an ice cube tray in your freezer, and you’ll have “perfect portions to make sauces on the fly.”

Stocks and Broths: The Perfect Cold Weather Foods

The winter months, with their short cold days and their long, dark, bone-chilling nights, are the best and most important time of year to make stock or broth. They keep you warm – satisfying both the body and the soul – and are perfect for repurposing the discarded parts (like turkey carcasses and vegetable scraps) from your major holiday dinners. Chicken stock or vegetable stock, as well as bone broth, are terrific for making a nutritious and satisfying soup or to improve the flavor of a bigger warm dish while you watch a football game on TV or watch the snow fall outside your window.

In addition to the soul-boosting benefits of making a big, flavorful pot of homemade chicken stock or vegetable broth to warm you up on the chilliest of nights, it’s also a great way to save money, eat healthfully, and reduce food waste. Your turkey carcass from Thanksgiving or Christmas can be stored in the freezer and made into a delicious homemade stock. Your leftover New Year’s Eve pot roast or all of your unused vegetable rinds can be frozen all winter, brought out to thaw, and then cooked into soup as needed.

Stocks: Chicken, Vegetable & Shrimp





Kwame Onwuachi

Kwame Onwuachi started peeling shrimp and stirring roux at 5 years old in his mother’s catering kitchen in the Bronx. The James Beard Award-winning chef has received many accolades since then, including FOOD & WINE’S Best New Chef, Esquire Magazine’s 2019 Chef of the Year, 30 Under 30 honoree by both Forbes and Zagat, and has appeared on Bravo’s Top Chef as both a contestant and judge. In his class, Onwuachi embraces the richness of Afro-Caribbean culture and cuisine, and teaches students how to cook his favorite Jamaican recipes.

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