What Is the Difference between Chicken Broth and Chicken Stock?

Megan Shoop

Making chicken broth and chicken stock at home may be a simple, inexpensive way to add flavor and nutrition to savory dishes. There are many differences between chicken broth and chicken stock. Stock often tastes richer and more flavorful because it typically contains flavors derived from vegetables and herbs as well as chicken. Broth is usually slightly thinner than stock and not quite as rich because it is made mainly from chicken meat and bones, without additional ingredients. While both chicken broth and chicken stock must be slowly simmered, stock typically requires longer cooking times than a broth.

A chicken.
A chicken.

One of the biggest differences between chicken broth and chicken stock are the ingredients used to make them. Cooks making chicken stock often save the tops, roots, and skins from vegetables like carrots, onions, celery, and potatoes to flavor the liquid. They also typically use chicken bones with very little flesh left on them. Herbs and spices, such as tarragon and whole cloves of garlic, are often used in stock as well.

Broth is typically made from meat and has a soft texture and mild flavor.
Broth is typically made from meat and has a soft texture and mild flavor.

When making both chicken broth and chicken stock, the cook usually places all of his or her ingredients in a large piece of cheesecloth and sinks it into a pot of well-salted, simmering water. If making stock, this mixture usually simmers for four to six hours, or until the vegetables in the mix are very soft and pale. The stock usually also becomes thicker during simmering because the gelatin from the bones gets pulled into the water. Most chicken stock mixes don’t need to be skimmed as the cook simply stirs solids from the bones into the stock as it simmers. The cheesecloth bundle may be discarded when the stock is finished.

Those that frequently cook whole chickens may use the neck, wing tips, and pieces of skin to flavor a stock, in addition to the bones. Those that enjoy making their own stock may do it as they cook a large meal, simply tossing the required pieces into a cheesecloth bundle as they chop up ingredients. These pieces may also be bundled together in a freezer bag and frozen until the cook wants to use them.

Broth typically contains whole pieces of chicken meat in addition to the bones. Some cooks even slice apart and simmer an entire chicken, slicing it into easy-to-handle pieces before cooking. Chicken broth usually simmers for just about three hours, or until the meat is cooked through. As the broth simmers, the cook typically uses a large spoon to scoop away the fat that rises to the top of the pot.

The chicken pieces used to make broth are not usually thrown away. Instead, the cook may remove the bones and use the meat for soups, stews, casseroles, and savory pies. The broth should typically be allowed to cool to room temperature and refrigerated for up to 12 hours. During refrigeration, more fat will rise to the top of the broth. The cook should scoop away this fat with a spoon to make the broth ready for use.

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