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Swanson Cooking Stock

By Cook's Illustrated Published March 2009

What is the difference between Swanson's cooking stock and broth?

Technically speaking, homemade broth is made from meat, bones, and vegetables, while stock is made strictly from bones and vegetables. In commercial products, however, the distinction is less clear.

Swanson claims its new chicken stock is best suited for gravies and pan sauces in which the stock is reduced; the broth is intended for soup. Its website says the stock has a “robust, less-seasoned, meaty” flavor while the broth has a “finished, highly seasoned” flavor. Heated and tasted plain, the chicken broth was the most seasoned (it contains 550 mg of sodium per cup versus the stock’s 510 mg per cup), but we also found it to have “bolder” chicken flavor than the stock. However, when we used both broth and stock to make gravy and pan sauce, Swanson’s claims rang true: Tasters found the less-seasoned stock had richer chicken flavor after it was reduced during cooking. If you tend to use a canned product mainly to make pan sauces, gravies, risotto, or other applications in which the liquid is reduced, it makes sense to buy the stock. If you are more likely to use a commercial product to make soup, keep the original broth in your cupboard.

BEST FOR GRAVY Swanson's new cooking stock fares best in recipes that call for reducing the stock.

WELL-SUITED FOR SOUPFor soup-making, stick with broth.