The chicken broth substitute you'll use can make or break the dish you're preparing. It can alter its taste, richness, and even nutrient level. That's why it's important to make sure you choose the right substitute for chicken broth for the specific dish you're preparing.
To make the job easier for you, I have listed down substitutes I have tried and tested in my years of cooking and baking. With this list, you're sure to find the answer to "What can I substitute for chicken broth?"
Chicken Broth Substitutes To Use
Whether you need to ensure your dish has the needed chicken flavor without using broth or looking for a vegetarian or vegan alternative, here are 15 of the best chicken broth substitutes:
1. Chicken Broth Concentrate
Undoubtedly, the best chicken broth substitute is chicken broth concentrate, as it's dehydrated chicken broth. It's in paste form and packaged in a small packet.
To use, dissolve the paste in hot water by following the packet instructions. Then, use the same amount of the paste mixture as your chicken broth.
Best for just about anything.
2. Chicken Stock
With a more gelatinous, slightly thicker consistency, it isn't surprising to hear fellow cooks, especially newbies, ask the question, "Can I substitute chicken stock for chicken broth?"
Yes, you can; in fact, homemade or store-bought chicken stock is more nutritious than chicken broth because of its higher level of protein and lower sodium content.
Also, even though the chicken stock is thicker and has a richer flavor, you won't need to adjust the amount you need for your dish.
Best for soups.
3. Chicken Base
Another convenient option is chicken base because one cup of chicken broth equals one cup of this substitute. It is almost similar to chicken broth concentrate; the only difference is that it's usually placed in a jar.
To use, you will also need to add the chicken base to hot water by following the package instructions before using it.
Best for casseroles, stews, and gravies.
4. Chicken Bouillon Cubes or Granules
Let me tell you a little secret: I use chicken bouillon cubes more often than chicken broth mainly because I prefer homemade chicken broth. We all know that making one requires a lot of time, which I don't always have, and the refrigerated broth is only good for three to four days.
While you can keep your commercially prepared or homemade batch of chicken broth in the freezer for six months, thawing can take away some of your precious cooking time. You don't want that, especially if you're preparing a quick dinner or have hungry kids waiting!
When using the cube or granules as a substitute chicken broth, you need to dissolve it in hot water first. I recommend adding one cube or one tablespoon of granules for every cup of hot water. Then, just use the same amount of the solution you made as when you're using chicken broth.
With that said, chicken bouillon cubes (and granules) are the dehydrated form of chicken stock, but the main difference is that they're more seasoned. They have more salt than commercially available and homemade chicken broth.
Thus, you would need to adjust the amount of salt your recipe calls for to ensure you don't end up with a salty or overly seasoned dish.
Pro Tip: I found that adding the cup of diluted chicken bouillon cubes or granules toward the end of the cooking time allows it to dissolve completely without affecting the dish's rich flavor.
Best for just about anything.
You no longer need to run to the local grocery store or scour through your pantry because plain water is also an easy substitute for chicken broth. Even better, water isn't just the best vegan and vegetarian chicken broth substitute but also the cheapest!
Remember that chicken broth is just water flavored with chicken, vegetables, and other ingredients. Most recipes that need chicken broth require aromatics, dried or fresh herbs, and extra seasonings. Hence, you're basically making your own broth while they simmer and boil.
Since water has no flavor, you would need to add more seasonings than what your recipe requires to achieve the flavor profile you're after.
Best for stews, soups, sauces, and deglazing.
6. Herb Water
If your recipe only needs a few aromatics and other strong-flavored seasonings but requires herbs, herb water is a better substitute than plain water. It is also a good vegan and vegetarian chicken broth substitute.
To make herb water, half-fill your small pot with water and add a tablespoon of each of the following dried herbs: basil, bay leaf, thyme, oregano, tarragon, sage, and rosemary. Cover your pot, turn your stove on at a low fire setting, and allow the water to simmer to bring out the herbs' earthy flavor.
If the herbiness won't significantly affect your food's balance of flavor, then go ahead and follow a 1:1 or 2:1 (herb water:chicken broth) ratio when using it as a chicken broth substitute. Otherwise, add half of what you need and adjust as and when needed.
Best for salad dressings, sauces, baked dishes, and bread.
7. Water With Salted Butter
What if you need a gluten-free substitute for chicken broth, but using water just won't work because you are short of time? You can add a pantry staple to the mix: salted butter. It will give your dish the same richness and saltiness as your store-bought or homemade broth.
Of course, it won't give your dish the meatiness you expect from a chicken broth concentrate. For this reason, you should avoid using this great substitute in recipes whose main ingredient is chicken broth.
To use in your recipe, melt one tablespoon of salted butter in a cup of hot water. This mixture is equivalent to one cup of chicken broth.
Pro Advice: I want to remind everyone that salted butter has a high saturated fat content. Thus, it isn't the best substitute for those with certain health conditions that require you to limit or completely avoid dairy and fatty ingredients.
Best for pasta, stir-fries, flavored rice, rotisserie chicken, baked chicken dishes, sauces, and gravy.
8. Dry White Wine
White wine is probably one ingredient you won't consider when seeking an answer to "What is a substitute for chicken broth?" Not only does it has a different flavor profile than chicken broth. Too much dry white wine can also completely change the dish's taste and acidity.
However, white wine, especially chardonnay or sauvignon blanc, is also a great substitute for some recipes requiring chicken broth. Depending on the specific white wine product you pick, it can also be a good chicken broth vegetarian substitute.
With its flavor, you must follow a 1:2 (dry white wine:chicken broth) ratio when using white wine as a chicken broth replacement.
Pro Advice: If you are working toward sobriety or can't consume alcohol (or are serving food to one with the same status), skip dry white wine and use the other substitutes on this list instead.
Best for deglazing your pan, thinning out sauces, and recipes requiring up to ½ cup of broth.
Some recipes only require chicken broth to add a little umami. So, what is a substitute for chicken broth in this situation? Dashi!
It is an Asian ingredient that some cooks aren't familiar with, but it should be your top choice when you just can't find the right chicken broth replacement to give your dish a flavor kick with just a little amount.
Pro Tip: Whether you have the liquid or dry form, it's best to add a little water to your dashi before using it. Also, just add a little, give it a taste, and add as and when needed until you achieve the right taste or flavor you want.
Best for seafood dishes and sauces.
10. Beef Broth
Did you know that many cultures use beef broth or beef stock in their recipes, even if the main ingredient is chicken meat? A great example is Vietnamese pho or chicken noodle soup.
The main reason is the bone broth's natural umami and beefy flavor that gives the dish more complex and deeper flavors. However, it can overpower the other ingredients in the dish, so you must be careful when using it as a substitute.
I recommend that you use half the amount of what you actually need when using chicken broth. For instance, if your recipe requires a cup of chicken broth, only use half a cup of beef broth.
Best for just about anything.
11. Vegetable Broth
Whether homemade or store-bought vegetable broth, this chicken broth substitute is made by boiling water containing a mix of vegetables and leftover bones. At times, a little bit of chicken meat is also added.
That's why it will give your dishes the much-needed flavor that a chicken broth can bring. You also won't need to adjust the measurements: a cup of chicken broth equals a cup of vegetable broth.
Best for soups and sauces.
12. Vegetable Stock
If you have just started cooking vegetarian or vegan dishes, you're probably wondering what to substitute for chicken broth besides just plain water and herb water. Vegetable stock is a flavorful and nutritious option.
It is also ideal for those who need to reduce their nutrition calories and sodium. People with food allergies or sensitivities will also benefit greatly from food prepared with vegetable stock instead of chicken, vegetable, and beef broth because of the shorter amount of time required to boil it.
That said, you won't expect your dish to be as umami as when using dashi and beef broth as substitutes. It's why I recommend that you double the amount of vegetable stock you add to your recipe.
Best for soups and sauces.
13. Bean or Chickpea Liquid
As a cook and baker, I always limit my kitchen waste or find ways to use leftover ingredients. I usually save the bean or chickpea liquid in a small jar and keep it in the fridge when I make tacos and burritos or salads for later use.
The best time to use it is, of course, when I run out of chicken broth. And I can confidently say that this vegan, vegetarian substitute for chicken broth won't disappoint you when it comes to richness of flavor.
However, since it's a starchy liquid, you must dilute it with water before using it. Simply place equal parts of the bean or chickpea liquid in a container and mix. To use this watered-down liquid as a substitute chicken broth, follow a 1:1 ratio.
Best for just about anything.
14. Ramen Seasoning
Ramen isn't just a college student's go-to quick meal. Some of us, including me, have a few ramen packs in our pantry that comes in handy when we're in a rush but need to eat something warm that will keep us satisfied and stuffed for a few hours.
If you don't have any of the substitutes listed above and don't want to use just water, the ramen seasoning is one of your most convenient options. It's salty and concentrated, so you're assured you'll have a good-tasting meal.
The best way to use ramen seasoning is to dissolve it in one cup of hot water. Give it a little taste to check if it's too salty. Add more water if needed. Then, add it gradually to your dish, ensuring you don't end up with overly-seasoned food.
Best for soups, stews, and sauces.
15. Coconut Milk
An uncommon option when it comes to what to substitute for chicken broth, coconut milk can work well when preparing some dishes from certain cultures, such as curry. It's a perfect choice if you are okay with the extra creaminess it adds to the food you're preparing.
Remember that it has a bit of sweetness, so make sure you don't add too much of it. Also, ensure it goes well with the other ingredients; otherwise, you'll end up with a weird-tasting dish!
Pro Tip: When I use coconut milk as a substitute for chicken broth, I heat it first. I place half a cup of coconut milk in a small pot and allow it to simmer for 10 minutes at low heat. Once it's heated, I strain the solids out that can otherwise affect my dish's texture.
Best for Asian and African dishes and desserts.
FAQs About Chicken Broth
1. Can you substitute chicken broth for chicken stock?
Since the answer to "Can you substitute chicken stock for chicken broth?" is a yes, it isn't surprising for some of you to wonder if it works the other way around. So, yes, you can use chicken broth as a chicken stock substitute.
As I mentioned, chicken stock is thicker and more flavorful than chicken broth. Thus, you need to make a few adjustments in your recipe to ensure you mimic the richness and thickness of the soup, stew, or sauce you're cooking. You might need to add chicken bouillon cubes and/or reduce the amount of water.
2. Can you substitute chicken broth for beef broth?
Yes, you can. While chicken broth has a milder flavor than beef broth, it adds much-needed meatiness to your dish. You must also keep in mind that your stew or soup will look lighter than when you use beef broth.
A List You Can Rely on for Your Chicken Broth Substitute Needs
Gone are the days when you would stare at your pantry blankly and stress out, thinking, "What can I substitute for chicken broth?" This handy list has almost everything you need for a great substitute for your good ole chicken broth. From the most flavorful to the most nutritious ones, you're sure to find the substitute that will work best for what you're preparing.
Homemade Chicken Broth Recipe
- Large cooking pot
- Large food colander
- Large bowl
- Food tongs
- Food container with a lid
- Glass jar with a lid
- 2.5 lb combination of chicken wings, legs, back bones, and necks
- 2 pieces medium onions, sliced in quarters
- 2 ribs celery with leaves in chunks
- 2 pieces carrots in chunk
- 10 pieces whole peppercorns
- 2 pieces bay leaves
- ½ teaspoon dried thyme
- ½ teaspoon crushed dried rosemary
- 2 quarts cold water
- Place all the ingredients in your large cooking pot.
- Cover and allow to boil.
- Once boiling, reduce the heat and let it simmer for three to four hours, making sure you skim the foam created.
- Remove from the heat.
- Remove the chicken using your tongs and place it on a plate.
- Set the broth aside to allow it to cool.
- Debone the chicken and keep the meat in a food container, seal it, and store it for future use.
- Once the broth is cool, place a colander over a large bowl or another pot.
- Slowly pour the broth over the colander, straining the solid ingredients.
- Transfer the broth to your glass jar, seal tightly, and refrigerate for 8 hours.
- Open your glass jar and gently skim the fat from the broth’s surface.
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