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Bone Broth vs. Stock: Are They Really Different?

Eliza Sullivan
mbg SEO Editor By Eliza Sullivan
mbg SEO Editor
Eliza Sullivan is an SEO editor at mindbodygreen. She writes about food, recipes, and nutrition—among other things. She studied journalism at Boston University.
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Here's the thing: We may know bone broth is chock-full of benefits, but we have to wonder, is it really different from a homemade stock?

According to Ali Miller, R.D., L.D., CDE, "At this point, it is just syntax," she told mindbodygreen. That being said, there are some things to know about the, admittedly nuanced, difference between the two terms.

The truth about bone broth and stock.

If you've ever made your own bone broth or stock, you probably know how much the two terms overlap. "Bone broth and stock are the same, as they extract the gelatin and collagen from bones so they are more gelatinous and viscous," explains Miller.

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When bone broth first started buzzing on the wellness scene, it may have been billed as something new. But the truth is it's just a proper homemade stock. One type of stock it's definitely not the same as? The sort you make by dissolving a cube from the supermarket. In order to get the benefits of a bone broth/stock, you need to cook the mixture, bones included, for quite a while—so maybe that's why the item was rebranded bone broth, to avoid confusion with the shortcut stocks we all know.

The benefits of bone broth are largely due to its collagen content. Two of the individual amino acids that make up collagen, glycine and glutamine, are what give it that extra kick to improve gut health, as they play a role in supporting the lining of the digestive tract. Bone broth also may lend benefits to hair, skin, and nail health, as collagen has independently been linked to those benefits.

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Stock vs. broth: a different story.

A particularly confusing bit? The item that's often most different from bone broth and stock is commonly called just broth. "This is different from broth," she says, "which is not as thick and is made with fewer bones and less meat."

Many (non-bone) broth recipes will also lean more heavily on aromatics and a mirepoix for flavor, whereas a bone broth, and a good stock, will have more animal products. According to Miller, this usually includes "the full carcass plus feet for chicken stock (aka chicken bone broth) or knuckles and marrow bones for beef stock (aka beef bone broth).

4 tips for making your own bone broth.

Given these nuanced distinctions, one thing is clear: The best way to get the most benefits may just be to make your own bone broth. Here are a few tips for making it at home:

  • Head to the butcher: High-quality bones that have been roasted are the best starting point. You also want to ensure that you're not just using marrow bones—the result will be fatty and, frankly, unappealing.
  • Roast some veggies with the bones: Additions like onions and carrots are an easy way to add more flavor to your broth, and roasting them before will only bring out more of their natural flavors.
  • Turn to your Instant Pot, if you have one: This recipe will show you how to make an easy chicken bone broth using the popular appliance, and some people use slow cookers too.
  • Leftovers are your friend: While this recipe may be specifically talking about the days after your Thanksgiving feast, it's worth mentioning that any time you cook bone-in meat is an opportunity to make a batch of bone broth.

The idea of drinking plain broth not super appealing? Check out these ideas for adding bone broth to your meals—and read up on why stressful times are the best times to add bone broth to your diet.

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