Stock (food)

Stock, sometimes called bone broth, is a savory cooking liquid that forms the basis of many dishes particularly soups, stews, and sauces. Making stock involves simmering animal bones, meat, seafood, or vegetables in water or wine, often for an extended period. Mirepoix or other aromatics may be added for more flavor.

Making stock in a pot on a stove top


Traditionally, stock is made by simmering various ingredients in water. A newer approach is to use a pressure cooker. The ingredients may include some or all of the following:

Bones: Beef and chicken bones are most commonly used; fish is also common. The flavor of the stock comes from the bone marrow, cartilage and other connective tissue. Connective tissue contains collagen, which is converted into gelatin that thickens the liquid. Stock made from bones needs to be simmered for long periods; pressure cooking methods shorten the time necessary to extract the flavor from the bones.

Meat: Cooked meat still attached to bones is also used as an ingredient, especially with chicken stock. Meat cuts with a large amount of connective tissue, such as shoulder cuts, are also used.

Mirepoix: Mirepoix is a combination of onions, carrots, celery, and sometimes other vegetables added to flavor the stock. Sometimes, the less desirable parts of the vegetables that may not otherwise be eaten (such as carrot skins and celery cores and leaves) are used, as the solids are removed from stock.

Herbs and spices: The herbs and spices used depend on availability and local traditions. In classical cuisine, the use of a bouquet garni (or bag of herbs) consisting of parsley, bay leaves, a sprig of thyme, and possibly other herbs, is common. This is often placed in a sachet to make it easier to remove once the stock is cooked.


Pouring fish stock on a stuffed fish

Basic stocks are usually named for the primary meat type. A distinction is usually made between fond blanc, or white stock, made by using raw bones and mirepoix, and fond brun, or brown stock, which gets its color by roasting the bones and mirepoix before boiling; the bones may also be coated in tomato paste before roasting. Chicken is most commonly used for fond blanc, while beef or veal are most commonly used in fond brun.

Other regional varieties include:

  • Dashi is a fish stock in Japanese cooking made by briefly cooking fish flakes called katsuobushi with kelp in nearly boiling water.
  • Myeolchi yuksu is a stock in Korean cooking made by briefly cooking dried anchovies with kelp in nearly boiling water.
  • Glace de viande is stock, usually made from veal, that is highly concentrated by reduction.
  • Ham stock, common in Cajun cooking, is made from ham hocks.
  • Master stock is a Chinese stock used primarily for poaching meats, flavored with soy sauce, sugar, ginger, garlic, and other aromatics.
  • Prawn stock is made from boiling prawn shells. It is used in Southeast Asian dishes such as laksa.
  • Remouillage is a second stock made from the same set of bones.
  • Bran stock is bran boiled in water. It can be used to thicken meat soups, used as a stock for vegetable soups or made into soup itself with onions, vegetables and molasses[1][2]

Stock versus broth

Many cooks and food writers use the terms broth and stock interchangeably.[3][4][5] In 1974, James Beard wrote that stock, broth, and bouillon "are all the same thing".[6]

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.[7] Another distinction that is sometimes made is that stock is cooked longer than broth and therefore has a more intense flavor.[8] 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.[9][10]

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.[11]

Health claims

By early 2010s, "bone broth" had become a popular health food trend, due to the resurgence in popularity of dietary fat over sugar, and interest in "functional foods" to which "culinary medicinals" such as turmeric and ginger could be added. Bone broth bars, bone broth home delivery services, bone broth carts, and bone broth freezer packs grew in popularity in the United States.[12] The fad was heightened by the 2014 book Nourishing Broth, in which authors Sally Fallon Morell and Kaayla T. Daniel claim that the broth's nutrient density has a variety of health effects.[13][14]

There is no scientific evidence to support many of the claims made for bone broth. [14][15]


  1. American motherhood. Crist, Scott, & Parshall. 1905.
  2. The Illustrated Queen Almanac and Lady's Calendar. Strand, London: The Queen Office. 1877.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. Randhawa, Jessica (November 26, 2018). "Bone Broth Basics". The Forked Spoon. Retrieved November 29, 2019.
  9. Christensen, Emma. "What's the Difference Between Stock and Broth? — Word of Mouth". The Kitchn. Retrieved November 30, 2016.
  10. 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.
  11. Spaull, Susan; Lucinda Bruce-Gardyne (2003). Leith's Techniques Bible. London: Bloomsbury. p. 661. ISBN 0-7475-6046-3.
  12. Denn, Rebekah (August 21, 2017). "Magic or mythic? Bone broth is at the center of a brewing cultural divide". The Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved August 31, 2017.
  13. Heid, Markham (January 6, 2016). "Science Can't Explain Why Everyone is Drinking Bone Broth". Time.
  14. Blaszyk, Amy (February 10, 2015). "Taking Stock Of Bone Broth: Sorry, No Cure-All Here". NPR.
  15. "What's the scoop on bone soup?". Harvard Health Publishing. Harvard Medical School. September 2015.


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