Types of Stocks and Broths

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Learn about your choices on the different types of stocks and broths to complement your recipe. Making them homemade may not always be an option, therefore grocery store products can help add instant flavor to any dish!

Types of Stocks and Broths

Stocks and broths can enhance the savory and rich taste of soups, stews, sauces, and endless other dishes. There are various convenient store-bought options you can choose from. To start, the main difference between stock and broth is the use of bones, meat, or other parts of the carcass. Stocks tend to be richer in body because they simmer with bones. A broth is more refined and clear in appearance, typically reserved to serve as part of the finished dish like a soup. 

What flavor options do you have? Poultry, beef, vegetables, and seafood are common bases to use to make stocks and broth. The best way to choose which type to use is by paring the flavor profile with the main ingredient in the recipe. Making beef stew? Then beef stock is a great choice.

If you’re short on time, store-bought options that are ready to use, or need to be diluted offer a quick solution. Homemade will always yield the most intense and best quality flavor because you can control the process and what you add-in, but it’s nice to have a handful of premade options.

Bouillon Cubes or Granules

Bouillon Cubes vs. Granules
Bouillon Cubes (L) vs. Granules (R)

Just a small amount of these concentrated, dried seasoning mixes can be diluted in water to make a flavored liquid. They often contain salt, sweetener, fat, dehydrated meat, herbs, and other seasonings. You can find them in chicken, beef, fish, seafood, lobster, and shrimp flavor bases. An advantage is they can be stored at room temperature for a few years, taking up very little space in your pantry, and easy to use at any time. 

Chicken, Beef, Vegetable Base

A jarred stock base

These jarred stock bases are thick and scoopable. They need to be dissolved in hot water before using, similar to bouillon cubes and granules. It contains the main ingredients like chicken, ham, turkey, beef, seafood, lobster, or vegetable, plus salt, sugar, and other flavors to enhance the taste. They need to be refrigerated after opening. 

Single Strength Stocks and Broths:

These ready to use liquids should be added directly to the recipe, with no need for diluting. They come in unsalted, low sodium, salted, or reduced-fat options for more customization. They typically come in shelf-stable Tetra Pak boxes that have layers of lining for protection.

The liquids are processed so that they can be kept at room temperature until opening. These can also be sold in cans that have been retorted and heat processed. All can be stored in the pantry for extended periods of time, making for a very convenient option. Once you open it, refrigerate and us within 14 days!


Chicken Stock (L) vs. Chicken Broth (R)
Chicken Stock (L) vs. Chicken Broth (R)

Made with chicken bones and meat, with additional ingredients to enhance the flavor like dehydrated chicken and fat, yeast extract, and other natural flavorings. I use stock when I want a richer taste and not concerned with a more opaque appearance, like stews and poultry gravies. Chicken broth can be used for chicken noodle soup when you want a more clear liquid or flavoring rice


Beef Stock (L) vs. Beef Broth (R)
Beef Stock (L) vs. Beef Broth (R)

Beef, bones, fat, beef extracts, sweeteners, and seasoning to intensify the flavor.  Stocks are great for thick stews like bourguignon or simmering pot roast. Beef stock works well for gravies and sauces like stroganoff and Swedish meatballs


Turkey Stock
Turkey Stock

Simmered with turkey, vegetables, sweeteners, spices, and herbs to make a flavorful liquid. It is great to use to make a flavorful gravy when you don’t have enough drippings, for thanksgiving or leftover pot pie. Chicken stock/broth is a good substitution if you can’t find this variety. It’s often available during the holidays. 


Vegetable Stock (L) vs. Vegetable Broth (R)
Vegetable Stock (L) vs. Vegetable Broth (R)

One of the most versatile cooking liquids, or used to make vegetarian dishes. Made with a classic mirepoix of onions, carrots, and celery, sweetener, thickening agents like potato flour and other natural flavorings. Stock is wonderful in a hearty tomato soup or butternut squash. The broth is much lighter in color and less intense in flavor, which would be great for simple soups like lentil or flavoring green beans

Fish and seafood

Simmered with a mixture of fish bones, fish concentrate, fish sauce, vegetables, seasonings, and spices. This stock is great for using to steam mussels, make a seafood cioppino, or creamy clam chowder.

Bone Broth

Chicken Bone Broth
Chicken Bone Broth

Typically made from simmered chicken or beef bones, it’s technically a stock. It’s become popular to drink it hot for its various nutrients like collagen and amino acids. It may have benefits for immune, gut, joint, hair, and nail health.

Jessica Gavin

I'm a culinary school graduate, cookbook author, and a mom who loves croissants! My passion is creating recipes and sharing the science behind cooking to help you gain confidence in the kitchen.

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