Stories from Food and Nutrition

What’s the Difference Between Stock, Broth, and Bone Broth Anyway?

Kells McPhillips

Kells McPhillipsDecember 10, 2018

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If you’ve ever paused in the grocery store, recipe in hand, to puzzle over the differences between stock, broth, and bone broth, you already know distinguishing between the three is damn near impossible. One option will help produce a cozy pot of soup, another will dress up a basic chicken breast, and the third has collagen-derived super-powers. But, like, which one is which?

Well, wonder no more, ye soup-curious: I’m here to report that we’ve finally nailed down the idiosyncrasies of each pantry staple. In an Instagram story from last week, meal-prep queen Amanda Meixner (who goes by @meowmeix on IG) shared a chart that boils down (get it?) the merits of each brew. So ready your Instant Pots, everyone—this is pertinent sweater-weather information.

Finally: How to make (and use) broths, stocks, and bone broth.

how to make bone broth
Graphics: Well+Good Creative


“Typically, broth is made mainly from meat like chicken or beef, and should take anywhere from 45 minutes to two hours to cook,” says Sonya Angelone, RDN. “It is thin and light in flavor.” Although broth used to only refer to meat-based liquids (there’s a fun fact to roll out during dinner conversation), you can now buy vegetable broth, too.

Use it for: Anything you want to have a thinner consistency. Think: gravies, soups, casseroles, stir fries, and cooked grains or legumes.

Hot tip: Use broth when you want the flavor of the liquid to really shine through in the dish.


Slightly thicker than broth, stock is usually made by simmering a combination of bones, meat, vegetables and herbs for three to four hours, says Angelone.

Use it for: Anything from the above list for broth-based dishes that you’d like to have a slightly thicker consistency.

Hot tip: Use stock when you don’t want the liquid component to outshine other flavorful ingredients in the dish. Think of this base as you dish’s background dancer.

Bone broth

Bone broth is basically stock, and is defined by it’s thickness or viscosity due to the collagen that seeps out during the long cooking process,” Angelone explains. Unlike stock, however, the bones are boiled for anywhere between eight and 24 hours to allow the larger bones and cartilage to break down into collagen. “These are removed to make the final broth. The bones are prepared by first roasting in the oven, possibly with some vegetables…The vegetables are strained out, leaving a liquid that gets thick as it cools due to the collagen,” she adds.

Use it for: Enjoy this one all on its own or in your morning latte.

Now that you’re in-the-know about how to soup works, here are 10 vegan alternatives to chicken noodle. And a 5-ingredient asparagus option

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