What’s the difference between beef consommé and beef broth? Beef broth and beef consommé are delicious liquids that are used to enhance the flavor profiles of sauces, soups, casseroles, gravies, and more. Learn what beef broth and beef consommé are, how to tell them apart, and when to use them in your cooking.
Beef Consommé vs. Beef Broth
Broth, stock, and consommé are used in so many different dishes in the culinary world.
While both liquids are excellent tools for every cook, it can be confusing to understand the difference between them. Both have distinct differences in appearance, taste, texture, and preparation.
So, what are they exactly? And when should you use each one? Read the full guide for the details.
What is Beef Consommé?
Originating as an ancient French term, beef consommé means complete or perfect. Usually, consommé is served as a first course in upscale restaurants. However, this particular dish dates back to medieval Europe and was usually enjoyed by the wealthy who could afford the ingredients.
Today, consommé is more commonly used as a highly concentrated liquid used in cooking. You might also find consommé served in upscale restaurants as an appetizer or soup; however, it is more accessible for preparing soups, sauces, gravies, aspics, and even braising.
While similar to beef broth, beef consommé is a much darker liquid with a velvety texture and rich flavor. Because of the gelatin content, consommé has more body than traditional broth or stock. It’s not thick like a jelly but more of a gravy-like consistency.
Beef consommé is made by simmering and purifying regular beef broth. The end result is an aromatic liquid with a highly-concentrated flavor and velvety finish.
Making beef consommé requires a very intricate and detailed cooking process. To do this, you add egg whites and meat to the beef broth or stock and simmer the ingredients for several hours.
After simmering, the liquid will thicken. At that point, the liquid is strained to remove the impurities. The result is a highly-concentrated amber-colored broth that can be used to enhance so many recipes.
Of course, there aren’t many homecooks that prepare beef consommé on a regular basis. While I always encourage you to take on new challenges, you can find beef consommé at your grocery store in the canned soup aisle. It only costs a few dollars.
What is beef consommé used for?
Consommé is often served as an appetizer with a garnish of julienned vegetables. It is considered a very luxurious dish, so you will likely find this only in upscale restaurants serving multi-course meals.
Can I drink beef consommé?
Yes, you drink beef consommé without a spoon. Often this is served with thinly sliced mushrooms and other vegetables.
What can I substitute for beef consommé?
Out of all of the options for substitutions, mushroom consommé is (by far) the best option. It has the same umami flavor, texture, and color as beef consommé. You can also find this in your grocery store.
Here are best beef consommé substitutes:
- Beef stock can be used as a suitable replacement for consommé. In fact, it’s one of the more readily available alternatives.
- Condensed beef broth is a fairly decent substitute for consommé. Because it’s lighter, the broth should be cooked down until the flavor and color intensifies and closely resembles consommé. This is best executed with homemade beef broth.
Because consommé is so rich in flavor and texture, using broth is a much trickier solution than using beef stock or mushroom consommé.
How to Make Beef Consommé
Making homemade consommé may seem intimidating for those learning how to cook. This endeavor is best reserved for those with a fair amount of experience as it requires a lot of patience and practice to achieve the perfect consistency.
The ingredients used in consommé are:
- Crushed peppercorns
- Egg whites
- Premium ground beef
- Cold beef broth or stock (homemade is best)
Making beef consommé is an incredibly intricate process that requires a lot of experience in the kitchen and proper tools.
While we won’t go into the entire process, here are the basic steps for preparing beef consommé:
- First, make a very flavorful broth. Allow it to cool completely and remove the fat from the top of the liquid. Keep the liquid cold or cool.
- Combine the ground meat, egg whites, herbs, and spices into a large pot. Add the cold broth and stir well to combine. You can also pulse these ingredients (without the liquid) in a food processor so all are incorporated.
- When the liquid is added to the pot, bring it to a boil, stirring constantly. When the solids form a raft on top, reduce the heat to a simmer. Do not disturb the raft.
- Continue to simmer without stirring for 1-2 hours with no lid.
- Once the cooking time is done, strain the liquid from the pot using a fine mesh strainer.
- Carefully skim the fat from the top of the consommé and serve!
Along with previous knowledge, I referenced the Spruce Eats for additional information.
What is Beef Broth?
Beef broth is a flavorful liquid used in many recipes, including stews, soups, sauces, and casseroles. It is much lighter than a stock or consommé.
Unlike consommé, beef broth is much easier to prepare, and is much more familiar to home cooks. The preparation process is very simple with a flexible ingredient list.
Often, broth is confused with stock. You will also hear people call beef broth “bone broth”. Both words are used interchangeably; however, there are distinct differences with ingredients.
With most recipes, you can use beef broth in place of beef stock, like in a beef stew or casserole, without noticing much difference.
Stock vs. Broth
Stock and broth are types of cooking liquids made from water, meat, and vegetables. They are combined and simmered for at least one hour to yield a flavorful cooking liquid you can use to prepare so many recipes with.
While the preparation is pretty much identical in broth and stock, the ingredients are slightly different.
The key difference between stock and broth is the inclusion of animal bones. Stock is made from animal bones, like bone marrow bones, while broth is made from meat and vegetables.
Stock is usually a thicker, darker liquid while broth tends to be a lighter and thinner liquid. Both are easily interchangeable in most recipes, especially using the store bought versions.
Beef broth is more versatile as it has a less pronounced flavor, while the beef stock is better for enhancing your recipes and giving them a more interesting flavor profile.
How to Make Beef Broth
Unlike beef consommé, making beef broth is a very simple process that you can do in one large stock pot. Simply combine the ingredients and simmer with water until the desired flavor and color is reached.
Keep in mind that all of these ingredients are flexible. There are no hard and fast measurements for this process, so know what flavors you want to achieve before beginning.
The ingredients used in beef broth:
- Kosher salt and peppercorns
- Leftover beef cuts, cooked or uncooked meat (in this case, beef)
- Vegetables such as onion and shallots (even the skins), celery, carrots, garlic, and leeks. These can be leftover pieces, chopped or added whole.
- Herbs and spices like fresh sprigs of thyme, sage, or rosemary. Use caution to avoid overpowering the broth.
While we won’t go into the entire process, here are the basic steps for preparing beef broth at home:
- Simply add meat, vegetables, herbs, and seasonings to a pot with at least 1-2 gallons of water (or enough to submerge the ingredients completely).
- Bring the water to a boil and simmer on low heat for about 2 hours.
- Remove any large ingredients from the water with tongs.
- Then strain the liquid through a fine sieve or cheesecloth, keeping only the liquid.
- Store the liquid in jars in the fridge for up to 5 days. Alternatively, place them in the freezer for up to 6 months. Make sure to leave plenty of room for the liquid to expand if freezing.
Can beef consommé be used instead of beef broth?
Yes, you can substitute beef broth with beef consommé. Keep in mind that consommé is much more flavorful than broth or stock.
If you are concerned about the flavor being too rich for your dish, simply use less consommé or dilute the consommé with a little water.
What’s the Difference Between Beef Consommé and Beef Broth?
As mentioned, the process of making beef broth and consommé is slightly different. Consommé will require more steps, and making it is a more delicate process with extra ingredients including egg whites.
Consommé and broth are both amber or brown. However, consommé is a deeper, darker color. Consommé is usually more transparent than broth, which can be slightly cloudy.
However, the look of each liquid will vary depending on the specific ingredients you use in the preparation. It may also depend on how you make the broth or consommé. For example, if you roast the bones before simmering, the broth will likely become darker.
Beef consommé has a thicker consistency than beef broth due to being reduced in the additional preparation steps used to produce the consommé from the broth.
Consommé has a more intense beef flavor than broth, which has a milder flavor.
Consommé is typically used as an appetizer on its own or with additional fresh herbs or in other recipes as you would use a stock.
Broth is used in recipes such as soups, stews, gravy, curry, and more.
What are the Similarities Between Beef Consommé and Beef Broth?
The main ingredients in these two liquids are the same. Both are also made by simmering these ingredients in water over a long period. They can also be used for similar purposes.
Which is better, beef broth or beef consommé?
Beef consommé is richer and will give any dish a boost in flavor and color. However, in some recipes, you may prefer the broth’s more delicate, subtle flavor. consommé also takes longer to prepare, so you may opt for a broth if you’re tight on time.
What do you use consommé for?
consommé can be used as a light, warming appetizer or consumed as a tea. As the bones release nutrients, it is packed with collagen, which can help improve skin, joints, and heart health.
Is consommé the same as bouillon?
Bouillon is a version of condensed broth that has been dehydrated to use with water to make an instant broth at home. You can find bouillon cubes at the grocery store near the dried soups. The name ‘Bouillon’ also comes from French, and it simply means ‘broth’.
It is likely that someone is referring to a beef broth when they talk about bouillon.