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How to Make Vegetable Broth (With Kitchen Scraps!)

Vegetable Broth Made with Kitchen Scraps
How To Make Vegetable Broth with Kitchen Scraps

Making vegetable broth is one of those things that’s really easy to do, but I bet most of us don’t do it. Or, at least, don’t do it often. I use vegetable broth in a lot of my recipes, but I’ll be honest, I often use store-bought broth. But I shouldn’t because making your own vegetable broth is so, so easy. And you know what else? It tastes so much better too.

Unlike meat-based broths, there’s no skimming off fat or any of that ickiness. You don’t need to keep the pot on the stove for hours either. But it does require a little bit of advance planning. It also requires these three things:

Onions + Celery + Carrots

Onions (or a member of the onion family–leeks or shallots work too), celery, and carrots. That’s your starting point, but from there, you can tailor your broth to what you’re going to be using it for.

Add sprigs of thyme and parsley to make a cooking liquid for rice and other grains. If you’re going to be using the broth as a base for an Asian-inspired soup (like this Thai Red Curry Soup), try adding fresh ginger and lemongrass.

Bag of Vegetable Scraps

Now, back to that thing I said about advance planning! You can buy whatever you want for your broth, chop it all up, and put it in your stockpot, but I’m cheap and it kills my soul a little to think about throwing away all those perfectly good veggies.

It’s bad enough I have to throw away the onions, celery, and carrots! So instead of buying what I need, I collect scraps in a freezer bag and when I have a few cups worth, I use them to make broth. Here’s what I used in this particular batch:

Frozen Scraps for Vegetable Broth

But really, you can use so many different things. You do want to stay away from cruciferous veggies–no cabbage, no broccoli, no cauliflower, and for the love of all things holy, no brussels sprouts–because they can leave bitter flavors in your broth.

Make sure everything you use is clean too–you don’t want to make dirt soup! And remember, there’s a difference between things you don’t want to eat vs. things you shouldn’t eat. Clean carrot peel is fine in a broth or stock; a moldy carrot is not.

Vegetable Broth Made with Kitchen Scraps

Oh, and speaking of stock! Have you ever wondered the difference between vegetable broth and stock? Broth is seasoned, while stock is not.

So this recipe can be used for both vegetable broth or stock. To make stock, skip adding salt and pepper at the end.


Basic Vegetable Broth

Vegetable Broth Recipe

Don’t throw away those vegetable scraps! Use them to make your own delicious vegetable broth instead. It’s easy and it’s so much cheaper than buying broth at the grocery store.

  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 45 minutes
  • Total Time: 55 minutes
  • Yield: about 6 cups of broth 1x


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 large onions, chopped
  • 3 ribs celery, chopped
  • 3 carrots, chopped
  • 8 cups water
  • Frozen vegetable scraps (2-3 cups is a good amount)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • A few sprigs of parsley and thyme
  • Salt and pepper to taste (omit these if you’re making stock)


  1. Heat the olive oil in a large Dutch oven or stockpot over medium heat. Add the garlic, onions, celery, and carrots. Cook until softened, about 5 minutes, stirring often.
  2. Add the water, frozen vegetable scraps, bay leaves, parsley, and thyme. Reduce heat to low and simmer, partially covered, for 45 minutes. Pour the broth through a fine mesh strainer into a large heat-proof bowl or pot; discard solids.
  3. Once the broth has cooled, transfer it to airtight plastic containers or freezer bags and store it in the freezer. (I usually freeze it in 2-cup portions so I don’t have to thaw all the broth every time I use it.)


  • Calories: 15

Did you make this recipe?

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This post was originally published on January 8, 2013.

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  • Reply
    Anele @ Success Along the Weigh
    January 8, 2013 at 8:07 am

    Good idea girl! Can you use like that big ol’ heel thingy you hack off on the end of celery?

    • Reply
      January 8, 2013 at 7:15 pm

      Yup! I don’t use anything that’s really dirty, like the root end of onions. But just about anything else will work!

  • Reply
    January 8, 2013 at 11:20 am

    This is a great way to reduce waste and save a little money too!

  • Reply
    Kelly @ A Girl Worth Saving
    January 8, 2013 at 11:28 am

    I love that you reused scraps. We’re so used to putting ours into the compost that I never would have thought to this until you shared 🙂

  • Reply
    mary @ what's cookin with mary
    January 8, 2013 at 11:50 am

    You know… I never thought to save carrot and onion peels, celery leaves etc?! I have a bag in the freezer with chicken bones for stock, but this is an epiphany. I really hate to waste food and am always looking for ways to make better use of all parts of the ingredients I buy. Love this!

    • Reply
      January 8, 2013 at 7:06 pm

      Onion peels are awesome for broth–they give it that nice, deep color!

  • Reply
    Cassie | Bake Your Day
    January 8, 2013 at 11:59 am

    This is exactly how I make stock too. I actually have a bag of frozen scraps that I need to use up now. So good!

  • Reply
    Marta @ What should I eat for breakfast today
    January 8, 2013 at 12:06 pm

    Sounds like a good idea.

  • Reply
    Mary Beth Elderton
    January 8, 2013 at 12:10 pm

    I do this! I keep a bag in the freezer and save all the ends and bits of veggies that don’t look pretty. It’s a perpetual source of free veggie broth. I take out a couple of handfuls when needed and season to the dish I’m making. I’m with you–it hurts my heart a little to throw good food away.

    • Reply
      January 8, 2013 at 7:05 pm

      I’m glad I’m not the only one who feels that way about throwing away food! 🙂

  • Reply
    Kare @ Kitchen Treaty
    January 8, 2013 at 12:37 pm

    I do this too! Down to the Caribbean blue Le Creuset pot, even.

    I throw my veggies and herbs into a gallon-size bag that I keep in the freezer, and when that’s full, it’s time to make broth! I throw a few black peppercorns in, then reduce it twice (so it does end up being a half-day-or-so venture). That way I end up with a concentrate that I freeze in either half-cup or two-cup increments … and add an equal amount of water and usually some salt when it’s time to thaw and use.

    So good and saves a ton of money.

    PS – I never knew that was the difference between broth and stock! Thanks for the tidbit. 🙂

    • Reply
      January 8, 2013 at 6:56 pm

      High fives on the Caribbean blue pot! 😀 I love mine–it was my first Le Creuset piece, in fact!

      I love the idea of making the broth into a concentrate. I don’t have much room in the freezer and that would help immensely…

  • Reply
    Laura K
    January 8, 2013 at 12:40 pm

    I have been doing this for forever! I am glad I am not the only one who has bags of veggie scraps in my freezer. It started when I would make chicken stock. I would just throw all of my veggie scraps in a bag in the freezer and then when I had a chicken carcass I would put it in a pot with the veggie scraps and make broth. When we went vegetarian I just kept it up and added other veggie scraps to it as well. Great use of something you would otherwise throw away. Basically free stock for all!

    • Reply
      January 8, 2013 at 6:54 pm

      It works out so well, doesn’t it? 🙂 And it tastes way better than the store-bought kind!

  • Reply
    Lisa @ A Little Slice of Life
    January 8, 2013 at 12:53 pm

    I make chicken broth all the time but have never even though of making veffie brtoh. What a good and simple idea.

  • Reply
    [email protected]'s Recipes
    January 8, 2013 at 2:00 pm

    I always want to make my own veggie broth! Thanks for sharing this, Kiersten.

  • Reply
    Jad @ New South
    January 8, 2013 at 2:23 pm

    Great tutorial Kierstin. Love the visuals!

  • Reply
    January 8, 2013 at 3:52 pm

    Love this, Kiersten! I need to this more often!!

  • Reply
    Twingle Mommy
    January 8, 2013 at 5:23 pm

    I’ve never thought to freeze veggie scraps but I have made veggie stock on Sunday night aka trash night with wilted veggies and stuff that wasn’t going to make it another day. I like added wilted lettuce for extra flavor and color.

    • Reply
      January 8, 2013 at 6:59 pm

      I’ve never thought of adding lettuce! Thanks for the tip. 🙂

  • Reply
    Amber @ Slim Pickin's Kitchen
    January 8, 2013 at 5:43 pm

    Yep! I totally do that with all of my leftover veggie scraps, but I use it for chicken stock. I honestly had *no idea* what the difference between broth & stock was so that’s really good to know!

  • Reply
    a farmer in the dell
    January 8, 2013 at 5:51 pm

    This is brilliant! I have been wasting SO many scraps (well composting) but still! Thanks for the recipe and tips!

  • Reply
    Courtney Rae Jones
    January 8, 2013 at 6:48 pm

    Awesome idea! 🙂 Love your “how-to”s!

  • Reply
    January 8, 2013 at 9:05 pm

    a friend of mine just posted something similar the other day, and i promptly started my freezer bag! just wondering why you say no to cruciferous veg?

    • Reply
      January 9, 2013 at 7:57 pm

      Cruciferous veggies can make the broth have an unpleasant, bitter flavor. Some people do use them in broths, but I prefer not to chance it!

  • Reply
    January 8, 2013 at 9:43 pm

    What an awesome post!!

  • Reply
    Natalie @ Once Upon a Cutting Board
    January 8, 2013 at 10:12 pm

    I honestly had no idea you could make stock this way .. I’ve never thought to make my own but this totally sounds like something I could do to save money and waste!

  • Reply
    Robin (Masshole Mommy)
    January 9, 2013 at 6:36 am

    Great way to reuse the scraps!!!

  • Reply
    Bernadette @ Now Stir It Up
    January 9, 2013 at 1:02 pm

    Such a great use of scraps! Homemade broth is the best. Reminds me to make some soon. 🙂

  • Reply
    January 9, 2013 at 1:28 pm

    What a great idea! I’m going to start saving my scraps.

  • Reply
    January 9, 2013 at 7:15 pm

    Very nice! I love vegetable broth.

  • Reply
    Leah Ellis
    January 9, 2013 at 7:37 pm

    Does it have to be raw veg. scraps, or can you use sautéed squash & corn for example?

    • Reply
      January 9, 2013 at 7:46 pm

      You can definitely use cooked scraps. With the squash, I’d make sure it wasn’t too soft before you put it in. Roasted vegetables make an amazing broth too!

      • Reply
        Leah Ellis
        January 9, 2013 at 9:21 pm

        Awesome, thanks!

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