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- What Is Vegetable Stock?
- What's the Difference Between Stock and Broth?
- Why Make Homemade Vegetable Stock and Not Buy From the Grocery Store?
- Is Vegetable Stock Healthy?
- 20 Possible Vegetable Stock Ingredients
- 7 Vegetables to Avoid Adding to Vegetable Stock
- How Long Should Vegetable Stock Cook For?
- How to Store Vegetable Stock
- Easy Homemade Vegetable Stock Recipe
What Is Vegetable Stock?
Vegetable stock is the liquid produced by simmering aromatic vegetables in water. Often made with a base of onions, celery, and carrots, vegetable stock can also incorporate leftover vegetable bits and pieces. Or try making an Asian vegetable stock with shiitake mushrooms, miso, and kombu. Use your stock as a base for vegetable soups and risotto or substitute it for chicken or beef broth to make all kinds of recipes vegan friendly.
What's the Difference Between Stock and Broth?
Most cooks consider stock a bone-based liquid, while broth is meat based. That is, long-simmered chicken bones make stock, whereas the liquid left behind after poaching a chicken breast is broth. But since vegetables don’t have bones, what is vegetable stock? According to some dictionaries, broth and stock are the exact same thing—the liquid created by simmering vegetables, meat, or fish.
You’ll often hear people refer to stock as something that’s fuller-flavored and often used as a base for something else, whereas homemade broth is typically lighter in flavor and eaten on its own. However, the words can be used interchangeably.
Why Make Homemade Vegetable Stock and Not Buy From the Grocery Store?
Store-bought vegetable stock often contains a lot of salt and artificial flavorings and can taste bland compared to flavorful homemade vegetable stock. If you make your own vegetable stock, you’ll know exactly what’s going into it. Plus, you can freeze vegetable scraps until you have enough to make a tasty stock, using up food that would otherwise go to waste.
Is Vegetable Stock Healthy?
In addition to its soothing, warming qualities, vegetable stock contains more vitamins and minerals than meat-based stock, and the homemade kind contains less sodium than store-bought vegetable stock. Although the nutritional profile of vegetable stock will vary based on the exact vegetables you put in it, some of the most popular vegetable stock ingredients are also incredibly nourishing. Onions, for example, not only add a ton of flavor to a vegetable broth recipe, but they’re a good source of vitamin C and antioxidants. Sun-dried mushrooms add umami to stock, and are one of the few edible sources of vitamin D.
20 Possible Vegetable Stock Ingredients
You can use pretty much any vegetable to make stock, but most recipes recommend including these classic three, also called mirepoix:
- Celery stalks
- Carrots, including the ends (but not the leafy green part—use those to make pesto)
- Onions, including the ends and skins
If you have them on hand, the following vegetables and aromatics can add extra flavor to stock:
- Alliums, including skin-on garlic cloves, leek greens and roots, scallion greens and roots, and skin-on shallots
- Tomatoes, including their cores, or tomato paste
- Fennel bulbs, including their cores
- Squash skins
- Asparagus trimmings
- Mushrooms, including the stems, fresh or dried
- Corn cobs
- Small amounts of fresh herbs (and their stems) including fresh thyme, parsley, basil, and bay leaves
- Parmesan rinds
- Nutritional yeast
- Seaweed, such as dried kombu, nori, or wakame
- Whole black peppercorns
- Skin-on ginger
- Soy sauce, gluten-free tamari, liquid aminos, coconut aminos, or MSG
7 Vegetables to Avoid Adding to Vegetable Stock
You can put anything you like in veggie stock, but keep in mind that certain strong-flavored or starchy vegetables can overwhelm the flavor of your stock, or turn it cloudy. Some vegetables that don’t do well in stock are:
- Leafy green parts of carrots and celery
- Brassicas, including cabbage, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, turnips, rutabagas, collard greens, kohlrabi, and kale
- Potatoes and sweet potatoes
- Squash flesh, including winter squash and zucchini
- Green beans
How Long Should Vegetable Stock Cook For?
Unlike stock made from animal bones, vegetable stock doesn’t really benefit from prolonged cooking on the stovetop or in a slow cooker. Start tasting your stock after 30 minutes of gentle simmering. Depending on how deeply flavored you’d like your stock to be, it should be ready in one to two hours.
How to Store Vegetable Stock
Once your vegetable stock is to your liking, strain it through a fine mesh sieve, discarding the solids. Cool to room temperature on the counter, then refrigerate for up to five days. For longer-term storage, freeze stock in plastic yogurt containers, jars, freezer bags, or ice cube trays. If freezing in jars, be sure to leave enough head space above the stock—at least an inch—so that when it solidifies and expands in the freezer, the jars won’t break. Frozen vegetable stock can keep for up to three months.
Easy Homemade Vegetable Stock RecipeEMAIL RECIPE
- 2 onions, skin-on
- 1 carrot
- 2 stalks celery
- Vegetable scraps (optional)
- 1 head garlic, skin-on
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 8 sun-dried shiitake mushrooms
- 2–4 pieces kombu
- 6 sprigs fresh parsley, thyme, or other fresh herbs
- 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
- 1 bay leaf
- Kosher salt or soy sauce, to taste (optional)
- Preheat oven to 300°F. Prepare vegetables: Thinly slice onions, carrots, celery, and any vegetable scraps that are not already in small pieces. (Use a mandoline if you have one.) Halve garlic head.
- On a large rimmed baking sheet, toss vegetables, mushrooms, kombu, and herbs with olive oil. Bake, stirring halfway through, until vegetables are caramelized, about 1 hour.
- Transfer vegetables to a large stockpot and add 4 quarts cold water. Bring the large pot to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and continue to simmer uncovered until broth is flavorful and reduced by half, about 1 hour.
- Strain stock through a colander, fine mesh sieve, or cheesecloth, removing solids. Season stock to taste with salt or soy sauce, if needed.
Learn more about stocks and sauces in Chef Thomas Keller’s MasterClass.