For your stews, soups, and general cooking needs, should you shop for stock or broth? Below, we break down this age-old question.

What Is Stock? 
If you ask a restaurant chef what the most important ingredient in their kitchen is, they may likely say stock. A stock is a flavorful liquid prepared by simmering meaty bones from beef, poultry, or seafood in water with aromatics for about 4 to 6 hours. This will allow their flavor, aroma, gelatin, and collagen to extract. You can either prepare a brown stock by roasting the bones and vegetables before adding them to the water, or you can make a white stock by just simmering your bones in the hot water. Stocks are typically left unseasoned so that you can use them in a wide variety of dishes. Stocks are the base of many dishes, so much so that restaurants often dedicate one chef to making these bases. They’re used to deglaze a pan after searing meat, which is the start of a pan sauce. They’re also often used as a base for stews, as the gelatin content gives them more body than broth.

What Is Broth? 
Broth is made by simmering meat, poultry, or seafood (not necessarily their bones) with vegetables for about 1 to 2 hours, then seasoning with salt. Seasoning the broth is key to enhance the flavor. Broth can contain bones, but usually does not, so it tends to be a thinner liquid. Broths are generally used as the base of soups.

Which Should I Buy?
If you’re looking for a more flavorful base, we’d recommend buying broth. If you’re wary of the salt content, select a low-sodium broth. Overall, we prefer to use store-bought broths and homemade stocks. Stock is best prepared by a long simmer to extract enough gelatin from the animal bones to give it its thicker consistency. Most supermarket stocks don’t reach this viscosity, so it’s better to make this liquid base at home!