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How to Make Vegetable Broth (With Kitchen Scraps!)

How To Make Vegetable Broth

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 + CarrotsOnions (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


  • 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. 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. One 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.)

This post was originally published on January 8, 2013.

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  • Reply
    July 8, 2013 at 12:29 pm

    Great idea! Just one question: How long can you leave the left over veggies in the freezer? Will they not spoil?
    Thank you

    • Reply
      July 13, 2013 at 4:55 pm

      Since they’re frozen, you can leave them in the freezer for quite a while. You’re discarding them after you make the broth anyway, so you don’t have to worry about the texture being off or anything like that. I’ve kept my scraps in the fridge for about 3 months.

  • Reply
    July 28, 2013 at 11:24 pm

    Why no broccoli or cauliflower?

    (I used the trimmings from green beans!)

    • Reply
      July 31, 2013 at 10:01 pm

      Some people have reported that they use them without having any issues, but any cruciferous veggies have the potential to add bitterness to the broth.

  • Reply
    Nancy Mcbride
    October 1, 2013 at 11:24 am

    I am curious as to why there is no mention of potatoes peelings for veggie stock or broths?
    I have always thought they added a thickness to the stock/broth.

    Looking forward to hearing from you,I am eager to start my stock.

    • Reply
      October 2, 2013 at 9:46 pm

      You can use almost any veggie scraps to make broth–in the picture, I just photographed what I used for this particular batch. I usually don’t have potato peelings to add because I rarely peel my potatoes!

  • Reply
    November 2, 2013 at 9:54 am

    How long can I keep the vege broth in a fridge?

    • Reply
      November 2, 2013 at 8:06 pm

      I wouldn’t keep it in the fridge for more than 2-3 days. If you need it to last longer than that, I’d just freeze it. In general, I prefer freezing my broth to refrigerating it.

  • Reply
    November 15, 2013 at 9:06 am

    Thank you for pointing out that you can keep the scraps in the freezer! What I have been doing up to now is keeping a container with the water left from steaming or simmering veggies, adding to it each time. When I get a few quarts, I use them for the base of bean-or-other soups. Adding the veggie bits will make it so much more tasty (strained BEFORE adding the beans, off course!

  • Reply
    November 17, 2013 at 3:00 pm

    Since selling my little cottage with its garden and compost heap and moving into an apt. that does not recycle compostables, I’ve set aside my veg scraps and made my own stock as a way to compensate. IMO it’s a matter of balance whether or not you add cabbage or other cruciferous veg. Too much upsets the ratio but a few leftover bits does no harm. Corn cobs also make a great addition…so do sweet potato peels…..

    • Reply
      November 17, 2013 at 8:39 pm

      I make stock with corn cobs and herbs during the summer. It makes a great base for corn chowder!

  • Reply
    December 13, 2013 at 5:30 pm

    I save EVERY bit of remnants from veggies that I cup up – EVERYTHING! I just keeping adding the remnants to freezer bags and once I have 2-3 full bags, it is time to make stock! NEVER waste ANYTHING – it will always come to good use.

  • Reply
    amy lynne
    December 26, 2013 at 1:13 am

    Thank you so much for the great ideas. A friend of mine told me this could be done but I didn’t have the instructions so my one attempt wasn’t great.

  • Reply
    January 12, 2014 at 11:31 am

    So excited to try this idea! I’m always looking for ways to waste less.

    I’m a little confused, though, when you said to saute the onions, carrots etc before putting the water and frozen scraps in–did you buy new onions, carrots etc for that part or did you saute the scraps you had from those particular vegetables? Thanks!

    • Reply
      Kiersten Frase
      January 12, 2014 at 8:03 pm

      You need whole carrots and onions to make the broth, not just scraps. I’ve heard some people just boil the scraps, but I think the flavor is better if you sautรฉ the carrots, onions, and celery first.

  • Reply
    Margaret Kelly
    January 14, 2014 at 9:40 am

    Thank you so much for this! Now I have an excellent use for all the vegetable scraps that I would have just thrown away.

    • Reply
      Kiersten Frase
      January 14, 2014 at 8:53 pm

      You’re welcome! This is how I make all of my veggie stock & broth–it’s much cheaper than buying it! ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Reply
    January 26, 2014 at 4:04 pm

    can butternut squash’s peel be used?

    • Reply
      Kiersten Frase
      January 26, 2014 at 7:37 pm

      I’ve never tried it myself, but as long as they’re clean, it should be fine.

  • Reply
    Deb Schwartz
    February 6, 2014 at 10:04 pm

    Why do you throw away the onions, carrots, celery, and any other non-scrap veggies used to make the stock when they can be “recycled” back into the soup you make from the stock?

    • Reply
      Kiersten Frase
      February 9, 2014 at 8:53 pm

      It would be difficult to separate them from the scraps (although putting the scraps in a cheesecloth would help) and I usually make big batches of broth to freeze them rather than making soup with them right away, but you can definitely do that if you like!

  • Reply
    February 7, 2014 at 2:50 pm

    Love this and the mushroom stock too. Now that I’m a mom, I find that I really want to make everything on my own rather than trust what’s packaged and in cans. Thanks!

    • Reply
      Kiersten Frase
      February 9, 2014 at 8:46 pm

      Yes, a lot of store-bought broths and stocks are full of funky ingredients! It’s too easy not to make it at home. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Reply
    February 10, 2014 at 5:20 pm

    Thank you for the recipe. I have a question which may sound strange:
    I prepared the broth a few days ago and because I wasnt going to use it right away, I put it in the freezer.
    Just a moment ago, I saw that the broth in the ice cube thing has changed its colour to purple! Is this something normal? Or did I do something wrong and ruined the broth?
    Btw, I used onions, carrots, leeks, parsley stems, celery, black pepper and some coriander seeds

    • Reply
      Kiersten Frase
      February 11, 2014 at 7:36 pm

      I’m not sure what happened! Sometimes exposure to air in the freezer will make foods darken a little bit, so if the broth wasn’t tightly covered, that could be why it changed color.

    • Reply
      April 7, 2014 at 7:05 pm

      It could be the onion. Sometimes that happens. Here’s an article I found.

    • Reply
      November 16, 2014 at 2:15 pm

      Did you first strain the broth and then froze the liquid or did you freeze it with the vegetable chunks still in it? If you did not strain it first I can see the color changes happening, otherwise the only color change should be a slight separation of clear water from the yellow stock this is normal.

  • Reply
    May 2, 2014 at 9:42 am

    I usually have spring mix salad greens and spinach that are about to go bad. I usually juice these but can I use them in my broth? Also, could kale stems be used as well?


    • Reply
      Kiersten Frase
      May 2, 2014 at 2:02 pm

      I haven’t tried using greens in broth myself, so I’m not sure how it would work out. Since kale is cruciferous, the stems may impart a bitter flavor, so I’d leave them out.

  • Reply
    May 4, 2014 at 4:48 am

    Have you ever use Peppercorn in this recipe?

    • Reply
      Kiersten Frase
      May 6, 2014 at 8:59 pm

      Yes, you can definitely throw in some peppercorns!

  • Reply
    June 16, 2014 at 1:56 pm

    I purchased some bags of frozen stir fry veg but it is not good in a stir fry as it goes very limp and soggy, I guess because it was frozen. instead of wasting these, can I use these to make the stock?

    • Reply
      Kiersten Frase
      June 19, 2014 at 4:23 pm

      I’ve never done that before, but I don’t see why it wouldn’t work. I’d be sure to add some onions and garlic too if they’re not already in the mix.

  • Reply
    Ellen T.
    June 30, 2014 at 3:41 pm

    I just finished making this and it smells SO good. Its a very hot day outside (91 in the shade at 11am), but I wanted to clean out my freezer so I’ve got the BIG pot out on the side burner of my barbecue, so no heating up my house! I’m about to strain the broth into jars for the freezer, put the limp veggie remnants on my compost pile, and then start a fresh freezer bag for veggie ends to be ready to start it all again!

    • Reply
      Kiersten Frase
      July 6, 2014 at 7:12 pm

      I love the way the kitchen smells after making a pot of vegetable stock! ๐Ÿ™‚ I hope you enjoy it!

  • Reply
    July 16, 2014 at 11:20 pm

    Have you ever added the green leaves from the top of carrots to stock? I make chicken stock by simmering bones for 24 hours, and would like to add in the carrot tops.

    • Reply
      Kiersten Frase
      July 21, 2014 at 4:03 pm

      I’ve never done it myself, but I can’t see why it wouldn’t work…

  • Reply
    July 26, 2014 at 10:03 am

    Thank you for the great tips on getting use out of veggie scraps. I happened to read the mushroom stock and veg stock recipes consecutively. I noticed the cooking times and approach are a little different and am wondering why. The mushroom stock recipe says simmer 45 mins partially covered then 30 more mins uncovered while the veg stock recipe does not include the final 30 mins. I know the additional time will thicken the stock, but why do it for the mushroom stock and not the veggie stock?

    • Reply
      Kiersten Frase
      July 28, 2014 at 3:53 pm

      You can simmer the vegetable stock longer if you like. ๐Ÿ™‚ I simmer the mushroom stock for an extra 30 minutes to concentrate the flavor; I don’t think it’s as necessary for vegetable broth.

  • Reply
    November 1, 2014 at 8:07 am

    It is raining and chilly out today, I have been saving vegie scraps and will be trying this out today, stay tuned. I plan on using the broth in a lentil soup.

  • Reply
    January 13, 2015 at 6:59 pm

    Has anyone canned this recipe? I’d love to and not take up more freezer space, but haven’t been able to find a simple canning recipe from ball or kerr, so wondering if anyone has any experience with canning veggie broth and the specs for the pressure canner.

    Thanks in advance. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Reply
    June Burns
    January 18, 2015 at 11:30 am

    Awesome tutorial! I will have to try this sometime, to make my own soup ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Reply
    January 18, 2015 at 9:27 pm

    i use my pulp from my juicer to any vegges i have left over , no waste !

    • Reply
      August 11, 2016 at 12:10 pm

      brilliant idea! such a shame to waste that veggie fiber

  • Reply
    Jennifer @ Delicious Everyday
    January 19, 2015 at 9:07 pm

    I LOVE THIS! I hate the idea of throwing out leftovers so this is perfect! Thanks for sharing ๐Ÿ™‚

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