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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.

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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

Ingredients

  • 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)

Instructions

  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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202 Comments

  • Reply
    Joanne
    January 21, 2015 at 11:38 pm

    This is REALLY something I need to start doing. It is more than a little sad how much broth I buy!

  • Reply
    abrune892
    January 21, 2015 at 11:40 pm

    Just make sure you use organic, anything else will be filled with pesticides especially the carrots….

    • Reply
      TinFoilHat
      December 30, 2015 at 3:52 pm

      Does it hurt when your tin foil hat doesn’t fit right?

      • Reply
        Alex Kristian
        May 27, 2016 at 11:07 am

        Does it hurt to lack common sense?

  • Reply
    Jawahar Kandhari
    February 21, 2015 at 2:12 pm

    Very nice….

  • Reply
    MYL
    March 10, 2015 at 6:27 pm

    What are you referring to specifically when you reference Frozen vegetable scraps (2-3 cups is a good amount) what type of frozen vegetable?

    • Reply
      Vicki
      May 16, 2016 at 8:28 am

      Keep a bag in your freezer with vegetable scraps from any time you’re cooking — mushroom stems, onion greens, jalapeno ends, celery ends, whatever. Keep adding to it with other vegetable scraps. When your gallon Ziploc bag is full, you have a bag of scraps to add to your stock/broth.

  • Reply
    Jennifer
    April 16, 2015 at 6:39 pm

    Do you wash the onions if you use the peels then? I’ve never washed an onion before. Thanks!

    • Reply
      jacki
      January 9, 2017 at 1:23 am

      I wash everything. there are bugs everywhere!

  • Reply
    Karyn
    April 28, 2015 at 1:26 pm

    Thank you for this! I love being able to use my scraps and have home made stock/broth ๐Ÿ™‚

    One question – I don’t have a fine enough strainer (yet), so I’ve been using cheese cloth, but it take a lot of muscle to squeeze all the broth through and it ends up getting very messy. Do you (or any readers) have a suggestion of how to ‘press’ out the broth?

    If you use the strainer, do you get enough broth by just letting gravity strain it through? I am just trying to waste as little as possible.

    Thanks again.

    • Reply
      Kiersten Frase
      April 30, 2015 at 1:49 pm

      I think a cheese cloth is a great solution! Instead of squeezing it like you’re doing, I’d probably use it to line a colander. With the strainer, I use a wooden spoon to press all the veggie remains against the mesh to extract all the liquid I can get out. You can do the exact same thing with a cheese cloth-lined colander. ๐Ÿ™‚

      • Reply
        Karyn
        April 30, 2015 at 1:54 pm

        Great suggestion – thanks!

    • Reply
      Alyssa
      January 15, 2016 at 10:25 am

      Twist the cheesecloth and the muscle requirement is reduced.

    • Reply
      Summer Spees
      January 17, 2016 at 1:36 pm

      I use a rice washer/strainer and press with the back of a spoon.

      And in regards to the broth though, the actual difference between broth and stock has nothing to do with seasonings. There is no such thing as a vegetable stock because stock uses the bones of say, chicken, whereas broth is the water that the meat and/or vegetables were cooked in. There are very seasoned broths and stocks alike, as well as very plain broths and stocks.

    • Reply
      margaret wray
      August 1, 2016 at 4:23 am

      Hi, I generally use what we call a Chux cloth. Used for cleaning purposes and I have found them quite useful. If possible I try and purchase plain white but its near impossible now to get these.

    • Reply
      Jessica
      February 2, 2017 at 9:26 am

      I bought a nut milk bag from Amazon and love it, I just pour the stock in, let it drain and squeeze to get out the last drop. When I make a full stock pot, I do put it through a regular strainer first to get out the really big pieces, though.

      Question: my veggie stock smells great, (still bubbling so haven’t tasted it), but it’s dark…almost like beef broth. Any ideas why?

      • Reply
        Alissa
        February 2, 2017 at 5:32 pm

        Hey Jessica! That’s such a good idea! I have a couple of nut milk bags stashed away – I’m going to try that next time. ๐Ÿ™‚ As for the color, it does tend to get a bit darker than store-bought broth, and the color really depends on what veggie scraps you use. I usually throw a few kale stems in mine, and it ends up being pretty dark.

      • Reply
        Col.Sanders
        February 12, 2017 at 11:08 am

        most likely because you used onion skins which can be used to darken any soup.

  • Reply
    Sarah
    May 7, 2015 at 1:49 pm

    You said carrots are a must. But my son can’t have carrots. Is there another root veggie that I could use instead of carrots?

    • Reply
      Susie
      May 18, 2015 at 1:58 am

      I would try maybe parsnips, if he can have those.

    • Reply
      Amy
      August 5, 2015 at 10:37 pm

      Sweet potatoes! ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Reply
      Christie
      September 9, 2016 at 1:53 pm

      Green peppers can be substituted for a Carribean mirepoix.

  • Reply
    M
    May 21, 2015 at 11:46 am

    Hi! Thanks for the “recipe”. I’m really looking forward to start doing my own broth! I would just like to know how much time does it keep.
    Thanks!

  • Reply
    janine
    June 3, 2015 at 2:59 pm

    Can I make this in a crock pot? Saute the onion, carrot and celery and then transfer it to a crock pot?

    • Reply
      Dana Raidt
      June 5, 2015 at 11:42 pm

      Hi Janine, We haven’t tested it in a Crock-Pot, but I’d imagine it would work that way!

  • Reply
    Mithun
    June 14, 2015 at 1:41 am

    For how many days can we store the prepared broth in refrigerator? Can I prepared the broth in weekend’s and drink it over week days? Thank you Kiersten

    • Reply
      Dana Raidt
      June 16, 2015 at 10:51 am

      Hi there, the broth should keep in the fridge about 3-4 daysโ€”-although you can freeze it in small portions and keep thawing new ones in the fridge as you need them!

  • Reply
    Emily
    August 16, 2015 at 8:08 pm

    Just made my first ever batch of veggie broth using this recipe! Thank you!!! I’m so excited to use it!

  • Reply
    Bex
    August 20, 2015 at 9:10 am

    I have used this recipe a few times now to make broth ๐Ÿ™‚ I am always in the habit of storing frozen vegetable scraps, an idea which I originally got from a Buzzfeed article, although I didn’t know that cruciferous vegetables were a no until I read your article. I eat it as a soup as-is, although I tend to simmer it for an extra hour-ish to make it flavourful enough on its own. I also find that some of the solids work great in the soup – I tend to fish out the pieces of carrot, celery and onion first and set them aside before smushing it all through a strainer, and then I add them back in. Potato peelings are also surprisingly nice – after a couple of hours’ simmering they’re just like soft potato flakes!

    • Reply
      Bex
      August 20, 2015 at 9:12 am

      Forgot to mention – soy sauce makes the perfect addition! It really rounds out the flavour.

    • Reply
      Kiersten Frase
      August 24, 2015 at 7:12 pm

      A few people have mentioned adding crucifers to their stock – I’ve always heard that it’s a no-no because the sulfur in them creates an off-taste, but maybe I’ll give it a try and report back. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Reply
    Susan
    August 20, 2015 at 12:51 pm

    This is my second time making this. I used it last time to make sweet potato stew. it was wonderful. This time I am making this to freeze and have on hand for future recipes. Thanks so much for this recipe quick and easy. I doubled it this time.

    • Reply
      Kiersten Frase
      August 24, 2015 at 7:10 pm

      I’m glad you’ve put it to good use! ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Reply
    Skyye King
    October 24, 2015 at 6:13 pm

    Thanks so much for the post, Kiersten! It’s exactly the info I was looking for.

  • Reply
    pb
    October 28, 2015 at 11:40 am

    Thank you for sharing the recipe.
    1) Can you give the quantity of each item if you want to make only one cup of broth
    2) Also what can be used if you are allergic to onions (or other member of the onion family) and celery, and carrots as these seem to form the base ingredient?

  • Reply
    Nancy A.
    November 29, 2015 at 1:41 pm

    I have been looking for a good veggie broth to drink warm. Is it okay to do that with this recipe? It helps my stomach a lot when I drink warm broth. I was looking for some to buy, but they all have so much sodium!! Thank you for this recipe, I will try it when I get enough veggies!

  • Reply
    Colette Schauf
    December 8, 2015 at 12:26 pm

    Can carrot tops/greens be used? thank you!

    • Reply
      Kiersten
      December 9, 2015 at 7:49 am

      I haven’t tried it myself, but I don’t see why not! ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Reply
    Ann
    December 12, 2015 at 2:25 pm

    Anyway, the other day I was given a ton of asparagus and brussels sprouts. So I prepped the asparagus, separating the tough ends of the stalk from the spears. I blanched those first, for freezing and to be used later for cream of asparagus soup. Next I did the beautiful spears. The brussels sprouts were a bit past their prime but once I took the time to clean them up, they were fine. These I poached in batches after the asparagus having decided they were way more pungent. So I didn’t want to discard all that “veggie” water. I’m going to reduce it and keep it for later when I will add aromatics to it. Definitely did not want to waste it. I love the flavor of cabbage. So why do something different? Instead of cooking vegs in a meat stock, why not poach some chicken in cabbage stock, or pork (that would be a no-brainer!), or a corned beef? Now, if I can only make room in my already packed-to-the-max fridge….Seriously, I need to have a clean-out-the-fridge party! Lol!

  • Reply
    Toni
    June 25, 2016 at 8:26 pm

    I’ve made veggie stock this way for 50 years – so good, and so good for you. Another tip to share — freeze the broth in ice-cube trays, then store the frozen cubes in a zip-top bag or other container in the freezer. Makes it easy to get just the amount you want/need.

  • Reply
    Rebecca
    September 16, 2016 at 1:42 pm

    what to do with remained vegetables? to through them away or to put in the freezer for later making a cream soup with them?

    • Reply
      Oh My Veggies
      September 19, 2016 at 9:25 am

      I usually discard them, but you can repurpose them if you like.

  • Reply
    Michelle
    October 4, 2016 at 8:47 am

    Hi! I’m very excited to try this. I just want to double check, it’s okay to use the SKINS of onions? What about garlic skin? I didn’t imagine they would have enough flavor to contribute..

    Thanks for sharing so many great recipes!

    • Reply
      Kiersten
      October 4, 2016 at 6:46 pm

      Yes, you can use the skins! ๐Ÿ™‚ Garlic too – although usually when I use garlic in mine, it’s from garlic I’ve minced in my garlic press, so there’s still a bit of “meat” attached to the skin.

  • Reply
    Didi Dodo
    December 27, 2016 at 1:41 pm

    Can I put in tomatos?

    • Reply
      Alissa
      December 28, 2016 at 9:08 pm

      I haven’t tried tomatoes, but I think they might make the broth a bit too acidic, unless you’re planning on using it for a tomato soup recipe.

      • Reply
        petrilli
        February 5, 2017 at 11:18 am

        Don’t use any of the tomato plant itself. Leaves or stems. They’re poisonous.

  • Reply
    Diane
    January 13, 2017 at 4:41 pm

    Can you, can this vegetable stock and if so how do you process it?

  • Reply
    Gayle
    February 9, 2017 at 3:38 pm

    I have made vegetable stock twice now from leftovers which are predominantly carrot, celery and onion tops and bottoms but which have also included scraps from fennel, leeks, potatoes and beets. Each time it has come out very bitter such that I just want to throw it down the drain. Is there some part of the vegetable, i.e. the skin of the onion, which is particularly bitter and should not be included? Right now I feel as if I am just wasting time.

    • Reply
      Alissa
      February 10, 2017 at 9:54 am

      Hi Galye! Sorry it hasn’t been working out for you. I’d try leaving out the celery tops – I’ve hear that these can add some bitterness.

  • Reply
    A.W.D.
    March 5, 2017 at 4:00 pm

    So excited to use my veggie stock for risotto! So much extra flavor, As for the leftover cooked veggies I plan to add them to the compost pile! They will have already broken down a bit and will compost much faster!

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