Although store-bought chicken stock and broth are readily found in grocery stores, making your own at home is easier than you might expect, and can be a great way to stock up your fridge and freezer for your next weeknight soup or stew.
But first, the differences (and similarities) between stocks and broths. Technically speaking, a stock is a flavorful liquid, typically made with bones and/or vegetables, that can be used as the base for many dishes. You could use a stock instead of water to cook rice, as the base for a soup, or flavorful poaching liquid for vegetables. Stocks do not typically contain salt in case a recipe asks to reduce it. Salt can be added as a garnish if you’re planning to drink a stock as is.
While a “broth” doesn’t have a agreed-upon definition, it is most likely used to refer to a more flavorful liquid, typically made with actual meat instead of just bones, and will not be cooked further or reduced.
The benefits of stocks and broths have been touted as a cure all for joint aches and pains, and although current research does not support this claim, it is currently an active area of research. Plus, sipping on warm, homemade broth with salt can be one way of supporting the body with electrolytes after fluid loss. It may also be helpful to take in easily digestible vitamins and minerals without taxing a compromised digestive system.
Chicken stock can be made from whole chicken or chicken bones simmered with a variety of veggies added for flavor and nutrients.
Stock can also be made with just vegetables or with fish. While vegetable stock can be swapped in for chicken stock in any of our recipes, fish stock has more specific uses and should not be substituted in place of chicken or vegetable stock. The key to a flavorful vegetable stock is a wide variety of vegetables to give it depth, like this easy Vegetable Peel Stock that uses trimmings from an assortment of root vegetables, leafy greens, herbs, and aliums.
If making homemade stock isn’t an option, it can be more convenient to buy it canned, boxed, or in bouillon cubes. Look for stock products that are low in sodium or sodium-free. If you can’t find low sodium stock in your market, try diluting with water. Take special care when buying bouillon cubes as they are often extremely high in salt.
Leftover stock can even be frozen: once cooled, pour stock into plastic or glass containers or into an ice cube tray and freeze.