Broth, also known as bouillon (French pronunciation: [bu.jɔ̃]),[1][2] is a savory liquid made of water in which meat, fish or vegetables have been simmered for a short period of time.[3] It can be eaten alone, but it is most commonly used to prepare other dishes, such as soups,[4] gravies, and sauces.

Broth prepared from meat and vegetables
Beef broth being cooked

Commercially prepared liquid broths are available, typically chicken, beef, fish, and vegetable varieties. Dehydrated broth in the form of bouillon cubes were commercialized beginning in the early 20th century.

Broths have been used as a nutrition source for the sick in Great Britain since at least the early 1700s, such as for dysentery patients.[5]

Stock versus broth

Many cooks and food writers use the terms broth and stock interchangeably.[1][6][7] In 1974, James Beard wrote that stock, broth, and bouillon "are all the same thing".[8]

While many draw a distinction between stock and broth, the details of the distinction often differ. One possibility is that stocks are made primarily from animal bones, as opposed to meat, and therefore contain more gelatin, giving them a thicker texture.[9] Another distinction that is sometimes made is that stock is cooked longer than broth and therefore has a more intense flavor.[10] A third possible distinction is that stock is left unseasoned for use in other recipes, while broth is salted and otherwise seasoned and can be eaten alone.[11][2]

Scotch broth is a soup which includes solid pieces of meat and vegetables. Its name reflects an older usage of the term "broth" that did not distinguish between the complete soup and its liquid component.[12]

See also

  • Canja de galinha
  • Rosół
  • Bouillon, a Haitian soup
  • Court-bouillon, from the French court or "short broth"


  1. Wright, Clifford A. (2011). The Best Soups in the World. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. ISBN 978-0544177796. I use the terms 'broth' and 'stock' interchangeably, as do many people, although technically there is a very small difference—not important to the home cook....Some English-speaking writers make a distinction between broth and bouillon, but bouillon is simply the French word for broth.
  2. Davidson, Alan (2014). The Oxford Companion to Food (3rd ed.). Oxford University Press. p. 112. ISBN 9780191040726. broth: a term which usually means the liquid in which meat has been cooked or a simple soup based thereon. It is a close equivalent to the French bouillon and the Italian brodo....It could be said that broth occupies an intermediate position between stock and soup. A broth...can be eaten as is, whereas a stock...would normally be consumed only as an ingredient in something more complex.
  3. Rombauer, Irma S.; Marion Rombauer Becker; Ethan Becker (1997). Joy of Cooking. New York: Scribner. pp. 42. ISBN 0-684-81870-1.
  4. Wayne Gisslen (2015). Essentials of Professional Cooking. Wiley. p. 192. ISBN 9781118998700.
  5. Royal Society (Great Britain); Jones, H.; Lowthorp, J.; Eames, J.; Martyn, J. (1716). The Philosophical Transactions and Collections, to the End of the Year 1700: In 2 pts. The Philosophical Transactions and Collections, to the End of the Year 1700. M. Mathews. p. 115. Retrieved April 24, 2022.
  6. López-Alt, J. Kenji. "How To Make Great Vegan Soups". Serious Eats. Retrieved November 29, 2016. I don't really want to get into the muddy details of nomenclature between broth and stock...I use the words pretty much interchangeably, though I lean towards 'stock' if I mean something pretty rich that I'm gonna cook with and 'broth' if I mean something my noodles or peas are already floating in.
  7. Landis, Denise (November 19, 2012). "'What's the difference between stock and broth, and which do I use for dressing and gravy?'". The New York Times. Retrieved July 19, 2018. Stock and broth are more or less the same thing, a mixture of any combination of meats (including poultry or seafood), bones, vegetables or herbs simmered in a large quantity of water, then strained.
  8. Beard, James (2015). "A stock is a broth is a bouillon". The Armchair James Beard. Open Road Media. ISBN 9781504004558. The other morning my old friend Helen McCully called me at an early hour and said, 'Now that you're revising your fish book, for heaven's sake, define the difference between a stock, a broth and a bouillon. No book does.' The reason no book does is that they are all the same thing. A stock, which is also a broth or a bouillon, is basically some meat, game, poultry, or fish simmered in water with bones, seasonings, and vegetables.
  9. Souder, Amy (March 27, 2019). "What's the Difference Between Stock and Broth?". Chowhound. Retrieved January 21, 2020. [S]tock is predominantly [made with] bones and some trim," says Greg Fatigati, associate dean for curriculum and instruction for culinary arts at the Culinary Institute of America.
  10. Randhawa, Jessica (November 26, 2018). "Bone Broth Basics". The Forked Spoon. Retrieved November 29, 2019.
  11. Christensen, Emma. "What's the Difference Between Stock and Broth? — Word of Mouth". The Kitchn. Retrieved November 30, 2016.
  12. Spaull, Susan; Lucinda Bruce-Gardyne (2003). Leith's Techniques Bible. London: Bloomsbury. p. 661. ISBN 0-7475-6046-3.
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