If you cook at all, a beef or chicken broth substitute is probably already on your shelf. (If not, maybe it’s time to learn about the great ingredients every home cook should keep on hand.) Here, we tell you how to substitute bouillon, beef or chicken base, and other beef and chicken broth alternatives in your favorite recipes.

By Wini Moranville
Updated July 07, 2020
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Beef and chicken broths are essential for many of our best soups and stews; they also contribute flavor and body to all kinds of sauces and gravies. In our experience, homemade broth offers the best overall flavor, and purchased broth comes in a pretty close second; however, sometimes we simply don’t have this key ingredient on hand. It happens. And when it does, you’ll be glad to know that there are some fine chicken and beef broth substitutes you can use. Here are some products to keep on hand for your broth-less days, along with how to use them.

Jacob Fox

Chicken Broth Substitute

If you don’t have canned or homemade chicken broth on hand, bouillon cubes ($1, Target) or bouillon granules ($3, Target) make the easiest chicken broth replacement. In general, here’s the formula:

  • 1 chicken bouillon cube or 1 teaspoon chicken bouillon granules + 1 cup hot water = 1 cup chicken broth substitute

Be sure to check the package directions; some bouillon cubes, such as those found in international grocery markets or health food stores, might require different measurements.

Get our free emergency substitutions chart!

Beef Broth Substitute

Bouillon cubes ($1, Target) or granules also make a simple beef broth substitute, and the same formula applies:

  • 1 beef bouillon cube or 1 teaspoon beef bouillon granules + 1 cup hot water = 1 cup beef broth substitute

Once again, be sure to check the package directions, as some bouillon cubes might require different measurements.

Using Stock or Bone Broth as a Broth Substitute

Yes! You can use beef or chicken stock as a beef or chicken broth alternative. What’s the difference? Stock is made by simmering roasted beef or chicken bones for a long time, a process that extracts the collagen from the bones and gives the stock a slightly gelatinous texture, plus rich beef or chicken flavor. Broths, on the other hand, don’t simmer nearly as long as stocks and have subtler beef or chicken flavors.

Keep in mind, however, that store-bought stocks can be made with less seasoning than broths. Therefore, if you’re using beef stock or chicken stock as a beef or chicken broth substitute, be sure to check the flavors of your dish and add more of what you love, such as salt, pepper, herbs, and spices.

What about bone broth? Chicken and beef bone broths are like a cross between a stock and a broth. Like a stock, bone broth calls on bones (or bony pieces) of beef or chicken and requires a long simmering time. And like a broth, bone broth recipes generally include a good amount of vegetables and seasonings.

Yes, you can use beef or chicken bone broth as a beef or chicken broth substitute.

Other Beef and Chicken Broth Substitutes

If you find your pantry is missing all the above options, there are a few more broth replacements you might have stocked.

  • Chicken Base/Beef Base: This paste-like ingredient, made from the meat, juices, and fat of chicken or beef, comes in a jar and must be refrigerated after opening. When reconstituted in water according to package directions, chicken base ($4, Target) makes a rich, flavorful chicken broth substitute. Look for it in the soup aisle of supermarkets.
  • Low-Sodium Chicken or Beef Broth: Canned broths, bouillon cubes, and bouillon granules are usually saltier than homemade stocks. If you’re concerned about sodium intake, use a reduced-sodium product as a healthier beef or chicken broth alternative.
  • White Wine, Apple Juice, or Water: When you need just a little bit of chicken broth to deglaze a pan for a gravy or pan sauce, broth substitutes are easy: White wine works (and is also a flavor enhancer). You can also try apple juice, provided that the flavor of the juice will complement the other flavors of the dish as well. As a last resort, simply use water; however, before serving, check the seasoning, as you may need to add salt and pepper to make up for the loss of seasoning in the broth.

Whenever possible, we prefer making soup recipes with a homemade broth. But when we just don’t have time for all that advance simmering, and canned broths have disappeared from our pantry, it’s good to know there are terrific beef and chicken broth substitutes out there. Keep bouillon cubes, granules, or beef or chicken base on hand, and you’ll always have a simple work-around.

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