Even though many use chicken stock and broth interchangeably, there is a difference in how they’re made and what they’re used for. Chicken broth is usually lighter and thinner than stock. While chicken broth is made by simmering the meat in water, chicken stock is made by boiling the bones or cartilage of the chicken.
If you spend any amount of time in the kitchen, you’re going to come across a recipe that calls for chicken broth or chicken stock. Let’s take a closer look at the difference between them and when you should use chicken stock vs. broth in your recipe.
Chicken Stock vs. Broth: What's the Difference?
There are few things more comforting than homemade soup or stew on a rainy day or when you’re feeling under the weather. If you’ve ever made homemade soup or a similar dish, you’ve likely come across a recipe that calls for chicken stock or chicken broth. When browsing for the ingredients in the grocery store, you may have noticed broth and stock look very similar, even in their packaging. So what is the difference between chicken broth and chicken stock?
Some use the terms broth and stock interchangeably, but they’re actually quite different. Even when they’re used for similar dishes such as a stew, they have a different texture, consistency, and flavor, leading to different results in your recipe.
Chicken broth is lighter and thinner than stock. Since it’s usually seasoned ahead of time, it’s delicious even if you eat it plain. Chicken broth is made by simmering meat, vegetables, and seasoning in water. Chicken stock, on the other hand, is thicker and has a gelatinous texture. It’s made in a similar way, but you simmer the bones of the chicken instead of the meat.
Broth and stock can be used for some of the same dishes, but pay attention to the seasonings and consistency of your dish if you swap out stock for broth or vice versa.
What Is Chicken Broth?
Chicken broth is a liquid made by simmering the meat of a chicken in water. Typically, when making homemade chicken broth, you would add seasonings and vegetables such as carrots or celery to the water as well. These are called aromatics because they add flavor and a delicious aroma to the broth.
When making chicken broth, you start with raw chicken or chicken pieces and allow the meat to cook in the liquid. The broth can simmer for up to 5 hours, however, the chicken only takes about an hour to cook. Once the chicken is fully cooked, you would remove it to prevent the meat from drying out.
Chicken broth, once strained, is relatively thin and full of flavor. Even though you might use it as the base for a soup or stew, you can also drink or sip broth without adding anything. Homemade chicken broth is great to make ahead of time. It stays fresh in the fridge for 5 days or you can freeze it for several months.
What Is Chicken Broth for?
When you’re feeling under the weather, many would recommend you curl up with a bowl of chicken noodle soup. Although chicken noodle soup isn’t the cure for all ailments, there is some evidence that the nutrients in chicken broth make it a perfect food for when you’re not feeling well.
Chicken broth can be homemade or purchased at the grocery store. It’s typically used as a base for soups or stews but you can also add flavor to rice, quinoa, or pasta by cooking them in chicken broth instead of water. Chicken broth is also delicious on its own and can be prepared for sipping on colder days or when you’re fighting off an illness.
What Is Chicken Stock?
Chicken stock is made by simmering the chicken bones or cartilage in water for an extended period of time. Most of the time, chicken stock doesn’t contain added seasoning so it can be used with various recipes. However, if you’re making chicken stock at home, you can choose to use aromatics or seasoning if want a more flavorful stock. Chicken stock has a thicker texture than broth and is great as a base for sauces, soups, or stews.
The thick, gelatinous texture of chicken stock comes from the collagen-rich chicken bones. When boiled or simmered in water, the collagen is released. Collagen is a type of protein found in the bones and skin of animals. Gelatin, which is used to make jello, comes from boiling collagen, hence the jello-like feel of chicken stock.
While broth is usually used in soups, stews, or casseroles, stock is more commonly used in sauces or gravy. Generally, chicken stock is higher in calories as well as other nutrients such as protein and minerals from the chicken bones.
What Is Chicken Stock for?
Chicken stock, while often less flavorful than chicken broth, is great as a base for soups and stews. If you make your stock at home, you can choose to add seasoning or vegetables to give it more flavor.
Since chicken stock is thicker and has more fat than chicken broth, it’s often used to make thicker soups, sauces, or gravy. It can also work when sauteing or steaming vegetables to add extra nutrients and flavor.
Is Bone Broth a Broth or Stock?
Considering stock is made by simmering animal bones, you might wonder how bone broth fits into the equation. Despite the misleading name, bone broth is actually a type of stock made from simmering animal bones. Bone broth, or stock, has become popular in recent years due to numerous health benefits including its anti-inflammatory properties.
Can You Substitute Chicken Stock for Chicken Broth?
In most cases, chicken stock can be substituted for chicken broth and vice versa. They are often used interchangeably even though they’re made from different parts of the chicken. Since chicken broth and stock have different consistencies and ingredients, pay attention to the amount of liquid and sodium in the dish you're making if you need to substitute.
When purchasing chicken broth at the store, you can typically find ones with or without added sodium. Also, if you're substituting broth in a recipe that calls for stock, keep in mind you may need to add less salt than the recipe calls for.
Most of the time, you can substitute broth for equal parts stock, but the taste and texture of your recipe might change slightly depending on which one you substitute. Broth makes more sense to use when it’s the main part of a meal instead of just a base.
Is Chicken Stock Healthier than Broth?
Chicken broth can be substituted for chicken stock if you're in a pinch. However, when given a choice, you might wonder which is healthier. Generally, chicken stock is healthier than chicken broth because it has higher amounts of protein. It also includes other nutrients such as thiamine, folate, and selenium.
Stock also contains glycine, an amino acid that improved sleep quality in one study. Glutamine, another amino acid found in stock, may also benefit your gut health.
Another factor to consider when choosing between chicken stock vs. broth is the amount of sodium. We need about 500 mg of sodium for our nerves and muscles to function properly. However, too much sodium can cause health issues such as poor kidney function. Chicken stock is usually lower in sodium than chicken broth. If you purchase broth, try to find a lower-sodium version. Alternatively, you can make the broth at home to control how much sodium goes in it.
Chicken Broth Recipes
- Freezer Cooking Dump and Go Chicken
- Just Like Grandma’s Chicken Noodle Soup
- Chicken Enchiladas with Tomatillo Sauce
- Chicken Pot Pie
- Chicken and Dumplings
Chicken Stock Recipes
Chicken broth and chicken stock are both pantry stables that are great to keep on hand for a variety of dishes. From soups to stews or casseroles, broth, and stock are excellent bases for endless recipes. Although chicken broth is lighter and thinner, stock has many nutrients and can be an excellent base for thicker sauces or gravy. They certainly both have their place in the kitchen and are necessary to make delicious home-cooked meals.