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Chicken broth vs stock Info??

Can anyone please tell me the difference between chicken broth, chicken boullion, & chicken stock? This has had me puzzled for years & no clear answer.

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  1. Which are you talking about, home made stuff, or store bought? If store, canned, boxed, or cubes?

    Or can you give examples that use or refer to each of these?

    1. Chicken broth, I believe, is like a clarified version of stock. Basically, it's clear, while stock isn't. In my opinion, stock has more flavor. From my experience, boullion is just broth in powdered form.

      Also, stock is used as an ingredient, broth can be consumed as-is.


      1. Also, stock usually isn't salted, hence its use as an ingredient. Broth is usually salted.

        1. Here's what Alton Brown writes in "I'm Just Here for the Food" (p. 214 of 2nd ed):

          "A stock is a liquid in which collagen from animal bones and connective tissue has been dissolved and converted into a protein matrix called gelatin. Broth and stock are not the same thing. A broth is essentially any liquid that's had food cooked in it, be it meat or vegetables. Bones are not required for a broth, but they are for a stock. Thus, there is no such thing as vegetable stock."

          I think bouillon (not to be confused with bouillon cubes) is stock that has been strained.

          Edit: I looked in McGee's "On Food and Cooking" as a more authoritative source than Alton Brown, and his terminology is not consistent with Brown's -- e.g. McGee writes about vegetable stock. So I look forward to other responses to this thread!

          1. I am a great fan of McGee's and have a great deal of respect for Alton Brown (as a food scientist, not as a comedian). IMO, Alton Brown's definition is both accurate and simple to understand. If it isn't derived from an animal source protein that produces a gelatinous liquid, it isn't stock.
            Allow me to add - the stuff that comes from cubes shouldn't even be labeled bouillon. It's little more than flavored salt.

            1. How about this distinction:

              chicken stock is what you make when you throw the left over bones and skin from a roasted chicken in a pot with some vegetable scraps, and simmer that for a while. The result is a light colored, cloudy liquid that sets like weak jello in the fridge.

              chicken broth is what you buy in a can or box. It will be clearer, and saltier than your homemade stock

              chicken bouillon is made by dissolving some sort of bouillon cube or base (better than bouillon) in hot water.

              tries to make the case that stock has body (gelatin) but not a lot of flavor, since it is made with bones. Broth has little body but more flavor, since it is made with more meat.

              Another distinction is that you start with stock. If you clarify it and maybe cook some meat in it, you get broth. If you clarify it more, season it with a splash of sherry, and serve it in a fancy bowl at the start of multi course meal, it is bouillon (French for broth).

              3 Replies
              1. re: paulj

                Those definitions do not hold true to me.
                Stock is made with bones and has dissolved collagen but should not be cloudy if made correctly.
                Broth is liquid that has had protein and may be some bones but simmered less time than a stock
                Bouillon is a strong or enriched stock that has been clarified and is served as a soup.

                1. re: chefj

                  'cloudy' shouldn't be part of the definition of stock, but a home cook should not feel inferior if their stock is cloudy. It takes extra effort to ensure it is clear.

                  What I described is essentially the state of my pantry. I have a quart of stock in the fridge, made from backs and bones of a chicken I dismembered a few days ago. It has a nice cap of fat on top, and good body. I have a couple of cans of Swanson's broth, and I have several versions of instant bouillon or chicken base.

                  1. re: paulj

                    I thought the poster was asking for definitions of these terms so your post seemed misinformative.
                    There was no attempt to try to make anyone feel inferior,sorry if that's how you felt.
                    With very basic ( not complicated ) technique a cloudy stock is easily avoided though.

              2. Well, there you are, jeansboat . All that should be about as clear as muddy bouillon ;>)
                To paraphrase an old idiom, ... bouillon is in the eye of the beholder ....

                1. I think this topic may have came up a few times before. According to some people, they are but the same thing. To others, they are two distinctive different products. Broth is more clear than stock, and have a more meaty favor.

                    1. re: John Francis

                      "Bouillon is the same thing as broth, in French" -- that's not what that wikipedia page currently says.. it says bouillon is a broth (i.e. not the same as broth because not every broth is bouillon). Of course, it's not worth arguing about because the wikipedia page can change at any time (maybe I'll go edit myself now, lol.)

                      1. re: drongo

                        When I ask Google translate:
                        broth => bouillon
                        bouillon => broth, stock, bouillon, bubble

                        looks like 'bouillon' has a narrower meaning in English than in French, as is fitting for a word most associated (in English) with classical French cooking. That's why I, as an English speaker, gave 'bouillon' two definitions - a broth served in a fine dining setting, and instant product meant to imitate that broth.