Stocks and broths are savory liquids people make from simmered bones, meats, or vegetables.

A saucepan containing stock or broth with chunks of carrot, leek, and herbs.Share on Pinterest
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People often use the terms “stock” and “broth” interchangeably. However, the two liquids differ in terms of consistency, flavor, nutrient content, and other factors.

This article explains the differences between stock and broth, the varying ways to use them, and their individual health benefits.

Stocks and broths have some similarities but also some important distinctions.


Stock is thicker than broth. Typically, a person making stock uses animal bones rather than meat and boils the bones or cartilage in water over a period of 3-8 hours, depending on the bones used.

This allows the bone marrow and collagen to release into the water, creating a liquid with a thick, gelatinous consistency.

A person can make stock from various types of bones, including:

  • chicken
  • pork
  • beef
  • veal
  • fish

The French word for stock is “fond,” which translates to “base” or “ground.” The liquid stock forms the foundation of soups and sauces, and its quality can determine the flavor and character of the final dish.

Stocks consist of four main elements:

  • Nourishing element: This provides nutrients, flavor, and color. It usually consists of bones or trimmings from meat or fish.
  • Mirepoix: This mixture of coarsely chopped vegetables adds nutrients, flavor, and color to the stock. Mirepoix usually includes carrots, celery, and onion.
  • Bouquet garni: A person adds this tied bundle of fresh herbs and vegetables to the liquid during cooking, then removes it before serving. A bouquet garni may consist of:
  • Liquid: A person typically just uses water as the liquid. It makes up the largest portion of the stock.


Broth is typically lighter and more flavorsome than stock. A person can make broth by simmering meat and vegetables in water. An individual can choose to make an entirely meat-based broth, an entirely vegetable-based broth, or a combination of the two.

A person can consume broth as a clear soup or use the broth to add flavor to soups or stews.

Stock tends to have a thick, gelatinous consistency that makes it suitable as a base for soups and sauces. Broth tends to have a more watery consistency and a clearer color, making it tastier as a main meal.

People often drink broth when they feel sick with a cold or flu. Drinking warm broth or other warm liquids may act as an effective method for relieving cold symptoms like a runny nose, according to a 2008 study. It may also help clear a stuffy nose.

Broth contains about half the number of calories that stock does. A single cup of chicken broth contains the following nutrients:

Compared with broth, stock contains more fat, carbohydrates, and protein. It also contains more vitamins and minerals. Consuming stock may have various health benefits, including:

  • Improving sleep: Stock and bone broth both contain the amino acid glycine. A 2015 animal study found that oral administration of glycine helped promote sleep in rats.
  • Weight loss: A cup of chicken stock contains more protein than a cup of chicken broth. This extra protein could help people feel fuller for longer, helping to promote weight loss.
  • Promoting gut health: Stock contains the amino acid glutamine, which may help maintain the integrity of the intestinal barrier, according to a 2017 review. The intestinal barrier is a semi-permeable structure that helps contain the contents of the intestine while allowing the absorption of nutrients from food.
  • Joint protection: Stock contains gelatin, which may help increase the amount of collagen in a person’s bones, ligaments, and cartilage, per other 2017 research. This may help protect the joints from wear and tear.

A single cup of chicken stock contains the following nutrients:

  • 86 calories
  • 8.5 grams of carbohydrates
  • 2.9 grams of fat
  • 6 grams of protein
  • 7% RDI of potassium
  • 12% RDI of riboflavin
  • 7% RDI vitamin B6
  • 6% RDI of phosphorous
  • 19% RDI of niacin
  • 6% RDI of thiamine
  • 3% RDI of folate
  • 8% RDI of selenium

Some additional terms that people may use when referring to stocks or broths include:

  • Bone broth: A person can make bone broth by simmering bones, vegetables, and herbs in water for up to 24 hours. Bone broth is technically a stock, due to the use of bones and cartilage.
  • Consommé: An individual makes this rich, clear soup from stock or broth. To make consommé, a person reduces the stock or broth to evaporate some of the water. They then remove any particles or “impurities” that float to the top of the soup.
  • Bouillon: This typically refers to the cubed or powdered form of dehydrated stock or broth. A person can add these to hot water to make stock or broth.

People often use the terms “stock” and “broth” interchangeably, but the two liquids have several differences.

A person typically makes stock from bones and cartilage, giving it thicker and more gelatinous texture than broth. Stock takes longer to cook than broth and tends to have a lighter flavor. People often use stocks as a base of soups and sauces.

An individual usually makes broth from meat or vegetables, and it tends to appear clearer and taste more flavorful than stock. A person can consume broth on its own or as a main meal.

Compared with broth, stock contains more carbohydrates and fat, as well as more vitamins and minerals. It may help with improved sleep, weight loss, joint protection, and gut health.