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

updated May 1, 2019
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(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

Stock, broth, and bone broth are the savory liquids that are the building blocks for so many recipes, including soups, sauces, and braises. But are these really just three different names for the same thing? Not exactly. Although they are very similar (and even talked about and used interchangeably), there are some differences among them. Here’s what you need to know.

The Difference Between Bone Broth, Stock, and Broth

When it comes down to it, bone broth, stock, and traditional broth share a ton of similarities, but there are three subtleties that set them apart: the ingredients, cook time, and the presence (or lack) of seasoning.

What Is Stock?

Stock is made by simmering a combination of animal bones (which typically contain some scraps of meat), mirepoix (a mixture of onions, carrots, and celery), in water. Stock is cooked for anywhere from two to six hours on the stovetop. This length of cooking means stock doesn’t typically yield a thick or gelatinous texture, nor is it likely to gel quite the same way bone broth does when chilled. Stock is always left unseasoned.

Stock is typically used for sauces, gravies, braises, stew, and soup, another many other recipes.

Make Stock at Home

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

What Is Broth?

Broth is made my simmering meat (which can contain bones, but does not have to), mirepoix (a mixture of onions, carrots, and celery) in water for a relatively short amount of time, usually under two hours. Unlike stock, traditional broth is typically seasoned. It finishes as a thin, flavorful liquid that does not gel when chilled, and is used in all the same ways you’d use stock, including soups, sauces, and braises.

The easiest homemade broth: Poaching chicken breast with a mixture of aromatics and salt will leave you with a light and flavorful chicken broth — not to mention tender chicken ideal for salads or soups.

(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

What Is Bone Broth?

Bone broth is most similar to stock. It is made by simmering animal bones (typically chicken bones, beef bones, or a combination of the two), which can have bits of meat still attached or not, and vegetables (typically mirepoix) in water for anywhere from 12 to 48 hours on the stovetop. It has the lengthiest cook time of the three, which results is thicker consistency due to the collagen-rich gelatin that is pulled from the bones. Additionally, bone broth is always unseasoned, although some recipes (including ours) opt for a splash of apple cider vinegar, which helps extract nutrients from the bones.

Bone broth can be used for any type of cooking, just like you’d use stock or traditional broth, although it’s also wonderful for sipping warm.