Have you ever been in the middle of making a warming winter soup or creamy pasta dish and realised that you are out of broth?
Most recipes that use chicken stock make a note that you can substitute broth with chicken stock which makes you wonder; if recipe writers insist that chicken stock and broth are so interchangeable, how do they actually differ?
The truth is that chicken stock and broth have similarities and differences that define their uses as separate ingredients. Let us explain by comparing chicken stock vs broth:
It is the use of bones that separates chicken stock from broth. The bones’ gelatine makes chicken stock thicker and more protein-packed, whereas broth is thinner with other nutrients.
What is Chicken Stock?
Anyone who regularly takes trips to a farmers’ market is likely to have their own self-made chicken stock stocked away in their fridge. Others use chicken stock cubes that can be dissolved in hot water.
No matter how you acquire your chicken stock, there is one key ingredient that all chicken stocks use — bones!
Chicken bones are simmered for hours to draw the protein (or collagen) out of the bones, making the stock thick and healthy.
Various aromatic veggies are added to the stock as it simmers, along with any seasonings you like. So long as the final taste of the stock is savoury and packed full of nutritious goodness, then you can use chicken stock in any recipe that needs a little liquid.
You should think of chicken stock more as an ingredient than the base of a dish. It will provide any dish used with a whole body of flavour, but it lacks the completely rounded taste of a finished soup.
What is Broth?
Many dumpling recipes call for the dumplings to be served alongside a broth, like ramen noodles.
Some people even enjoy having broth as light lunch to see them through a chilly afternoon.
The thinness of a broth means that it does not take long to develop a hearty flavour, with most broths reaching their peak taste within 30 minutes.
Broth is a super simple ingredient or dish made by simmering a choice of meat, aromatic vegetables and some herbs in plenty of water. The simmering allows the flavour of the meat and veggies to be easily extracted into the water.
The type of broth you make depends on the type of meat and vegetables that you have included. For example, chicken broth will be made by simmering chicken meat.
Similarities Between Chicken Stock and Broth
There are reasons that chicken stock and broth are often written in recipes as interchangeable substitutes for one another. For example:
Simmering is such a key part of making both, so they are highly nutrient-rich. The different ingredients they use mean that they have other nutrients, but there is no doubting the healthy characteristics of each.
Though you can have a solely vegetable broth (sometimes confusingly called vegetable stock), chicken stock must be made with chicken bones; otherwise, it is not a stock at all.
Likewise, a broth will include meat unless you purposely make a vegetable broth. That is where it gets most of its nutrients, and it doesn’t have the same full-bodied flavour without it.
Use Of Vegetables
Vegetables are a large contributor to the flavours and aromas of chicken stock and broth.
There is no hard fast rule for the type of vegetables you must use for either one, so long as they are delicious and add plenty of goodness.
Differences Between Chicken Stock and Broth
Despite how easy it is to use chicken stock instead of broth in many recipes and vice versa, the two are not the same. There are some key differences to note that vastly separate chicken stock from broth:
A chicken stock is a labour of love.
The bones need hours to simmer and fully release their flavours before being ready to use. Though you can cook broth for hours if you so wish, you only need around 30 minutes to 1 hour to develop a flavourful broth ready to eat.
When bones are simmered for a long time, they release their natural protein, which then turns into gelatine.
What that gelatine does to the liquid of the stock is thickens it, turning it into a thick, jelly-like substance once the stock is cooled. Due to the lack of bones, broth does not include gelatine, so it keeps its watery consistency.
Broth can be thickened with a little cornstarch slurry, but it is not a necessary part of the broth-making process.
It goes without saying that chicken stock is not suitable for vegetarians. Even other stocks that are not chicken based have to use bones, as it is the gelatine that animal bones release that makes the stock nice and thick.
Broth can be made suitable for vegetarians simply by skipping out on the meat.
Many dishes use broth as a key part of the dish, such as ramen or some dumpling dishes. But chicken stock should not be served as its own.
It is intended to be used as an ingredient to help thicken dishes and add flavour rather than be eaten by itself.
Chicken Stock vs Broth: Which Wins?
If you were restricted to use either chicken stock or broth, which would you vote for? It’s chicken stock vs broth:
Do You Prefer Chicken Stock or Broth?
Chicken Stock and Broth FAQs
Do you have further questions about stock, broth, and what sets them apart? Then check these out:
Stock is richer than broth, so this will dictate when you use it. If you don’t want to overpower your other ingredients then stick to using broth.
If you need a liquid for the base of a soup which you’ll cook other ingredients in and blend, then a stock will work well. If, however, you want the liquid to be served as a soup instantly then broth is better.
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Acacia may be a freelance writer by day, but they are a food fanatic by night. They are always trying out new recipes or finding different ways to elevate classical dishes. But their biggest culinary aim is to educate others on the basics of the kitchen so that they too can enjoy delicious food.