What’s the Difference Between Chicken Stock and Chicken Broth?

We must confess: After an informal survey at the office and beyond, we discovered some of us (we're not naming names) — who love to cook — weren't 100-percent clear on the difference between chicken stock and broth. We knew one version was somewhat heartier, but which one and how, was befuddling (to some of us). A Google image search for broth continues to provide stock images. Chicken stock, that is. Professional chefs and experienced cooks like us spout the broth and stock terms interchangeably. For instance, we use both words in our Roasted Chicken Broth with Scallops and Chives recipe.

But there is a difference. And as it turns out, we were kinda right. (Score!) However, let's start with how these two cooking liquids are similar. Both stock and broth refer to the liquid you get after you simmer meat and vegetable scraps in water for hours and then strain all the bits out. You use both of them as a base for soups, stews, gravies, and sauces. You can also substitute stock or broth for water to add more flavor to your rice, risotto, orzo, or really, any grain or pasta. They're a great way to reduce food waste at home because they use up your carrot tops, and all the vegetable ends and outer onion layers that typically go in the trash. Or compost bin, if you're cool like that.

Chicken stock is what you get when you simmer the carcass of the chicken, or at least include the skin and bones. It's really all about the bones. The long simmering process extracts the gelatin from the bones and forms a layer of fat on top of the strained liquid when it cools. You keep that. The gelatinous layer blends in again when you heat it and adds an earthy, umami flavor. This is the one we consider heartier. It's also the liquid that doesn't have (much) salt or any spices added to it, to keep the stock neutral enough for a variety of uses.

Chicken broth is the liquid you find yourself with after you cook the meat of the bird and scraps of vegetables in water, and then add salt and spices. Broth might be lighter, but it has enough flavor to be sipped and enjoyed on its own. Also, you can make many versions of vegetarian broth. If you don't have the time or willingness to make it yourself, you can buy ready-made broth in cans and cartons at the grocery store. We suggest opting for a low sodium variety so you can add the amount of salt you desire at home.

So there you have it. Some people freeze their stocks and broths in wide-mouthed mason jars and leave a little room at the top for expansion. Other people freeze it in muffin trays or ice-cube trays, and then bag up the cubes for freezer storage. However you make your stock or broth, we can guarantee your meals will taste so much the better for it than if you just use water or the store-bought stuff. Try these recipes that call for your homemade stock or broth.

1. Easy Asparagus Soup

Chowhound

With seven ingredients, plus salt, pepper, and butter (which we hope you always have on hand!) this truly is an easy, creamy, dreamy springtime soup. The other ingredients are pretty easy to find too, with the exception of crème fraiche, possibly. And then of course, you need to have your homemade stock or broth to take this soup to the next level. Get our easy asparagus soup recipe.

2. Turkey Bolognese

Chowhound

You need 10 tablespoons of chicken stock or broth for this slow-simmering Italian classic that gets a healthier twist by substituting ground turkey for ground pork and veal. Get our turkey bolognese recipe.

3. Quick Chicken Pho

Chowhound

If you already have your chicken stock or broth in the freezer, all you gotta do is heat it up, pull some chicken off a rotisserie bird, soften the rice vermicelli, and prep the garnishes. Then enjoy all those lovely flavors of ginger, basil, jalapeno, cilantro, Sriracha, and lime. Get our quick chicken pho recipe.

4. Pesto, Chicken, and White Bean Soup

Chowhound

A soup that combines Italian pasta favorites plus the lovely cannelini bean is the soup for us. Basil pesto, sausage, zucchini, and chicken breasts swim in your homemade chicken broth or stock before they get carried away to your eager mouth. Get our pesto, chicken, and white bean soup recipe.

5. Bacon Jam

Chowhound

There are plenty of recipes that cry for your homemade chicken broth or stock that don't have poultry starring as the main ingredient. Take this bacon jam. Really, take it on. Because bacon. Get our bacon jam recipe.

6. Basic Chicken Stock

Chowhound

OK, we're giving you all these mouth-watering recipes without the recipe to make the stock that lays the groundwork. Well, here it is. Feel free to adjust this recipe to your own needs and tastes. Get our basic chicken stock recipe.

Header image: itsallabouttheyummy.com

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