Beef Broth vs Stock: What’s the Difference?

Beef Broth vs Stock: What’s the Difference?

Broth, stock, bone broth — what is the difference, anyway?

If it’s any consolation, the internet is just as confused as you are. Chicken broth vs chicken stock, beef stock vs beef broth; it seems as though the two terms are used interchangeably.

There are a few differences between stock and broth, including cooking time, herbs, and the bones used. But don’t worry, we’re about to break it down for you.

But first, one common misconception needs to be made known:

Plain “Broth” Is Not Bone Broth

Broth from the grocery store is not bone broth. At least, not by the same definition you have come to understand through the content written on this site. By now, you know homemade bone broth contains amino acids and other incredible nutrients that help to support gut health and the immune system.

That is not what you will find labeled as “broth” on store shelves.

Bone broth is simmered over a long period of time, helping to draw out the nutrients. The goal is to extract the gelatin from the bones. Gelatin is what gives bone broth its Jell-O like texture when cooled. You know you succeeded when your cooled bone broth  transforms into jiggly Jell-O in the fridge.

Bone Broth, Broth, and Stock All Contain These Four Things

Bone broth, stock, and broth all contain very similar ingredients (which explains all the confusion). In fact, if you looked at recipes for each and only focused on the ingredients, it would be very difficult to note any differences.

Bone broth, broth, and stock all contain these ingredients:

  • Bones: This can be from any animal. Chicken, pork, and beef broth or stock are all common.
  • Water: A cooking liquid to simmer the bones.
  • Vegetables: To add flavor to the dish.
  • Seasoning: Sea salt and other seasonings bring out the flavor in the broth or stock.

The differences between stock and broth do not come from the ingredients themselves, but how the ingredients are prepared.

What Is Plain Broth?

Broth is made from meaty bones simmered in water with vegetables and seasoning. It creates a base for soups and stews, and usually stays in liquid form when cooled – it doesn’t gel.

There are two notable differences that set broth apart from stock. First, broth typically has meat scraps mixed in with the bones. There is actual meat left on the bones (like an entire chicken carcass) to add flavor to the dish.

Secondly, broth is simmered for a short time compared to stock. It only takes two hours to simmer a good broth. Once the time is up, the meat and vegetables are strained out, leaving the flavorful liquid left.

What Is Stock?

Stock is most similar to the bone broth you have come to know. It’s made from bones simmered in water with seasoning and vegetables. Unlike broth, there is little to no meat left on the bones (marrow bones are the most commonly used, which contain no meat). The bones are often roasted in the oven before being simmered in water.

Stock also takes longer to make. A good stock will simmer for 4–6 hours. If you’re lucky, you’ll get the same gelatinous texture you expect from bone broth.

What About Vegetable Broth?

You can use the term vegetable broth for vegetable stock, and vice versa. Since there are no bones involved, there is really no difference between the two.

How Is Bone Broth Different, and What Makes a Good Bone Broth?

The biggest difference between bone broth and stock or broth is the time it takes to make. Real bone broth simmers for over 24 hours on the stovetop in order to extract the collagen within the bones.

Similar to stock, bone broth usually uses bones that were roasted in the oven before simmering. Finally, bone broth usually has one extra ingredient: acid. Bone broth uses apple cider vinegar or another ingredient to draw out the minerals from the bones.

Can You Swap Broth For Stock? Yes and No

If you are reading this post to simply find out if you can use broth for stock, the answer is yes. You can use the two interchangeably in recipes.

However, if you want to know if the store-bought broth and stock are as wholesome as the bone broth you read about online, the answer is no.

Quality bone broth starts with the ingredients. The best bone broths are those made with organic vegetables and grass-fed beef (for beef broth) or organic chickens (for chicken broth). These animals were raised on a natural diet in humane conditions.

Real bone broth will also have a long simmering time. A good beef bone broth or chicken bone broth should be simmered for at least 10 hours (if not more). Companies like Kettle & Fire list their simmering times on the packaging for this very reason.

Finally, a quality broth will be made with a variety of ingredients, including various bones, tendons, and connective tissue.

The differences between broth and stock are very subtle, but neither is bone broth. If you are looking for a nutrient-dense base to add to soups and stews, always purchase a quality bone broth like Kettle & Fire or make your own at home.

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