Chicken broth is a healthy, tasty, and essential ingredient to many meals but sometimes you need a chicken broth substitute. Broth is a pantry staple that should always be on hand to improve the flavor profile of your cooking.
It can also be hard to make from scratch so we will take a look at a few alternatives to make life easier while still keeping your cooking healthy and delicious.
What is Chicken Broth
A pure chicken broth takes some time to make. It is prepared by simmering the carcass and skin of a chicken with a bit of the meat. To make it even better and tastier, the addition of vegetables is necessary.
You also need to add seasoning, herbs, and spices. Water is the base. The other ingredients give it flavor. There is no way to make chicken soup or even seafood stews without a quality chicken broth.
Is Chicken Stock the same as Chicken Broth?
Many use chicken broth and chicken stock interchangeably but they are quite different. Chicken broth is made primarily from the carcass, skin, and meat of the chicken but doesn’t really break down the chicken bones. Chicken stock is made mostly from breaking down the bones of the bird. Breaking down the bones releases gelatin and gelatin gives chicken stock more “umami” which means that it has a deeper and fuller flavor.
Chicken broth, on the other hand, is more watery and does not gel when it cools. You generally need to enhance the flavor of chicken broth by adding a range of herbs, extra spices, vegetable scraps, and other ingredients.
Chicken stock forms a gel when it cools and can even be made into a solid, such as bouillon cubes or a powder.
Both are cooked slowly in hot water. Either can be used effectively, depending on your preference and the dish you are preparing. Bone broth or chicken base broth has a similar flavor.
A good homemade chicken broth is not only tasty and full of flavor but also highly nutritious. The problem is that simmering chicken takes a fair amount of effort and quite a bit of time. We look at some popular alternatives to chicken broth when you can’t make broth from scratch.
10 Best Substitutes for Chicken Broth
You may need to find a substitute for chicken broth for many reasons.
Not everyone has the time or patience to make a good chicken broth. Some might prefer an alternative chicken broth substitute. You might be a vegetarian or vegan, in which case, you still want the awesome flavor but without using chicken.
You also may just not have any chicken broth in your pantry and need to find a quick alterntive that works well.
Whatever your reasons are, here are a few chicken broth substitutes.
A bouillon cube mixed in boiling water will work well as a chicken broth substitute. Bouillon cubes are ready-to-use cubes that are made of chicken broth. They are handy to keep in the freezer and will last up to two years.
Chicken bouillon cubes are cost-effective, quick, and simple and also deliver great chicken flavor. To save preparation time, chicken bouillon cubes are a lifesaver.
The easily available bouillon cube is one of the more popular alternatives to a cup of chicken broth.
Ramen seasoning packets
Another substitute for chicken broth is to use the seasoning from ramen noodles. This is a quick and easy solution if you are in a hurry and costs next to nothing. It takes almost no time or effort.
You might not get the full flavor of homemade chicken broth but these seasoning packets are an easy substitute when you need a quick fix. Use them sparingly since they have a lot of salt and the flavors can overpower your dish. Try seasoning to taste starting with a small amount.
Although not ideal, this substitute is quick, cheap and easy if you’re in a hurry.
Chicken Bouillon Granules
Even easier than bouillon cubes and ramen packets are chicken bouillon granules. These are also easier to work with than the cubes since they dissolve faster. They are affordable and are quick to prepare.
About two teaspoons of chicken bouillon granules are about equal to one cup of chicken broth or one bouillon cube. You want hot water to dissolve fastest.
This is a quick and easy alternative to homemade broth. You can even add butter to make it a richer broth.
Water and butter
This might sound like an odd substitute for chicken broth but works remarkably well with many recipes and makes a good substitute. It was made famous by
Chef Auguste Escoffier at the famous Savoy Hotel in London.
The process takes some skill but distilling this blend with salted butter makes a fine chicken broth replacement. It is also great in seafood dishes.
Salted butter is always the best way to go for chicken broth substitutes.
White wine works very well with many meals and when used sparingly makes a good substitute for your own broth. Do not use too much. The alcohol will cook off so there is no need to worry about alcohol left in your dish. Wine is also great for deglazing a pot or pan when cooking other food.
You want to use a dry white wine for most meals. It is great for chicken, seafood, and other recipes. When used correctly, it adds great dimension to many tasty meals.
Another good chicken broth substitute is coconut milk. You can use fresh or store-bought coconut milk from your local grocery store. If you need a quick substitute
for chicken broth this works well. It is especially handy for curry as well as for certain African dishes and seafood meals.
It will add a subtle coconut flavor to the dish, and this does not work with all recipes. In many cases though, it will add a deep rich flavor with a creamy texture to many dishes.
You will end up with a savory liquid or broth that is great for soups and most recipe options. Coconut milk has become extremely popular in recent years as a dairy substitute and apart from the taste and texture is believed to have several health benefits.
You do not always need chicken to make a tasty broth. Vegetables make a delightful broth that is full of flavor. Best of all is that you can use pretty much whatever is on hand. This is a great way to get rid of leftover vegetables that might otherwise be wasted.
The color, texture, and even the flavor will be fairly similar to chicken broth when done correctly. You can always add extra dried herbs or even fresh herbs to give the vegetable stock a richer flavor. Don’t forget the salt.
Another benefit of vegetable stock is that it is high in nutrients. For most meals, it makes a good chicken broth substitute. Vegetable stock can be used in many dishes so it is always handy to have some around. You can always freeze anything leftover.
Ok, we know this sounds a bit simple but if you are out of
chicken broth then water is still a good option. Just water? Yes, it will deglaze the pot or pan and thin out your dish. Warm water is ideal when cooking.
You can always enhance it by adding herbs, spices, and other ingredients. Naturally, you will need to add salt and pepper.
It will not be ideal if you need a thick broth like you need for chicken noodle soup or a more complex recipe.
As described above, a bit of salted butter will not hurt.
Who says it has to be a homemade chicken broth simply because a recipe calls for it? Beef broth often makes a great substitute for chicken stock and will often add an extra dimension to your meal. Perhaps it is all you have on hand, or you have the ingredients necessary to make it. It is no easier to make than chicken broth but often makes a fantastic substitute.
The stronger flavor of beef broth is a bit more powerful than chicken broth so use it a bit more sparingly at first. Once you have experimented with it a few times you will have a better idea of how much to add, according to your taste.
An easy way to make beef broth is in a slow cooker. It is great for soups and a recipe where you want a bold dish.
Chickpea (or other legume) liquid
Yet another great alternative to chicken broth concentrate is to use the liquid from chickpeas (or garbanzo beans) with warm water. These beans make an excellent substitute for chicken broth. What you want to use is the drained liquid from the beans to make the broth.
Use the chickpea liquid with the same amount of warm water to make a decent broth. It is also known as aquafaba, a word vegans might be familiar with. Aquafaba is best made from chickpeas because of its starch content but you can make it out of the liquid of any legume, even from that can of black beans in the back of your pantry.
The great thing about this one broth substitute is that it is versatile and will work well for many recipe options. You can even store any leftovers in a small jar for later use. It makes a universal substitute for many soups and other recipes that need a good broth. Try it in one of your favorite recipes.
Another benefit is that this is also a healthy substitute for chicken broth.
This list is just 10 of the best options but is not definitive. There are several more alternatives. Look at what is available in the fridge and the pantry and this list as inspiration to try other ingredients or combinations of ingredients to add more chicken broth substitutes to this list, let us know if you find any good ones in our comments section.
What is the best substitute for chicken broth?
This will come down to what is available, the dish you are preparing, and your taste. Some meals need a slightly thicker consistency. Most alternatives are relatively neutral while adding taste and flavor to your meal.
Can I use Japanese soup stock?
Japanese soup stock, often called Dashi, makes a great substitute for chicken broth or chicken stock provided it is used correctly. It is rich and somewhat starchy. The best bet is to water it down with the same amount of water as the standard Japanese soup stock.
This stock dates back to the 17th century. It will add umami to your meal and has a slight seafood flavor. It can be purchased in dry or liquid form.
Note that it is rich so do not use too much in your dish. Also, be careful to not add too much salt to your meal. It works well with soups and white wine can be used to dilute the mix. You can even add some coconut milk or include vegetable stock. This will make a more savory liquid.
Can chicken stock be used the same way as chicken broth?
The short answer is yes. While they differ in the way they are prepared and the texture either can be used for most recipe options. Stock tends to be a bit thicker while broth has a higher water content. Provided you do not water your meal down or make it too thick, you can substitute equal amounts of either ingredient for a delicious meal.
Could chicken soup be used in place of chicken broth?
This all depends on the type of soup as well as the recipe or meal you plan to make. Cream of chicken soups is a lot thicker than broth so will generally not be a great replacement. Chicken noodle soup can work if you are out of alternatives. You will probably want to strain out the noodles and vegetables.
That being said, nothing can replace an authentic well-made cup of chicken broth. Fortunately, there are many excellent alternatives as we do not always have the time to make a broth.