Why Broth Doesn't Need Seasoning, But Stock Definitely Does

Whether you're buying prepackaged chicken broth or stock at the supermarket or making it from scratch, it's important to know which liquid base works best for the dish you're making. Even though the cartons may look similar, stock and broth aren't the same.

Stock is made by simmering bones with herbs and vegetables in water for up to eight hours resulting in a thicker, more gelatinous liquid compared to broth. No additional seasoning is mixed in as it cooks and it usually serves as a base for sauces due to its robust texture. 

On the other hand, broth takes less than three hours to make and uses meat, herbs, and vegetables to create a flavorful base. One key factor that differentiates broth from stock is that it's typically seasoned with salt to create a flavorful addition to a multitude of dishes. 

The amount of salt in a dish can make a huge difference, so how do you know when to use each one?

When to use stock or broth

Think of stock as a base, and broth as more of a finishing touch to a recipe. Since stock is unseasoned, it's used as the foundation of sauce or gravy recipes. Salt or other seasonings are added to the recipe rather than into the stock to prevent a dish from being too salty, peppery, or spicy early on. That being said, you should monitor the taste of the dish as it develops to make sure it's not too dull. Stock is also a texturally unique start to recipes, but broth is a time saver if you don't have time to make stock.

Since broth is already seasoned with salt, it can be added at the end of a recipe. It's a thinner liquid that is used to enhance the overall flavor profile of soup or stew, and some people will drink broth on its own because of its taste or health benefits while stock is usually added alongside already flavorful ingredients. Make sure to be mindful of the flavor profile of a dish when adding broth, as it can become too salty very quickly. Even so, both liquid bases can be used to make tasty soups, stews, and sauces.