The right substitute for cream of chicken soup isn't always rich in, well, chicken flavor because it isn't the only purpose of the soup. It should also give your dish the creaminess it needs and bind and thicken your sauces, gravies, and dishes. After all, you can't add any ingredient made of chicken if you have a family member or guest on a vegetarian or vegan diet.
Whatever your reason is for asking, "What can I substitute for cream of chicken soup?", I have the answers for you. My list comprises chicken- or meat-flavored, gluten free, vegan, and vegetarian-friendly substitutes that will allow you to serve your favorite family recipes and chicken dishes without the chicken soup.
3 Best Cream of Chicken Soup Substitutes
Your family recipes will be as flavorful and creamy as you remember them, even without the cream of chicken soup. That's all thanks to the following substitutes I have tried and tested:
1. Condensed Chicken Broth
This ingredient is basically chicken soup boiled down to remove a high amount of water to create a thick chicken stock.
It has the savory flavor our palettes are too familiar with when eating a chicken casserole, chicken pot pie, and chicken soup. Condensed chicken broth also has a jelly-like consistency, which closely resembles that of cream of chicken soup's.
These characteristics make it the ideal substitute for condensed cream of chicken soup not just for chicken-based dishes but also for gravies, creamy soups, and sauces. Plus, you won't need to compute for the amount to use in your recipes.
One can or cup of cream of chicken soup is one can or cup of condensed chicken broth.
Best for just about anything.
2. Broth + Cornstarch or Flour
If you don't have condensed chicken broth, then go ahead and replace your cream of chicken with chicken broth. Use the same amount of chicken broth as the cream of chicken soup required in your recipe.
Yes, chicken broth is thinner, but you can always add the most common thickening agent: cornstarch. In case you're serving someone with corn allergies, opt for plain flour or gluten free flour products.
Simply create a slurry by dissolving the thickening agent in water using a 1:1 ratio. Then, add the cornstarch or flour mixture to your simmering or boiling dish, sauce, or gravy while constantly stirring.
When serving vegetarians and vegans, replace the chicken broth with vegetable broth.
Best for just about anything.
3. Creamy Soups
Another popular answer to "What can you substitute for cream of chicken soup?" is creamy soup. These canned soups have the same consistency as the cream of chicken, giving your recipe the creaminess it needs.
Also, when you use any creamy soup to substitute cream of chicken soup, you won't need to adjust the measurement. Add the same amount of the cream soup as the recipe calls for chicken soup.
That said, here are my favorite go-to cream soups to use:
Cream of Mushroom Soup
This ingredient might not be as savory and salty as cream of chicken, but it has a strong earthy, umami flavor that can elevate your recipe's taste and aroma.
Hence, cream of mushroom soup isn't just a vegan and vegetarian substitute for cream of chicken soup. It's also ideal for those looking for an ingredient that can add a unique twist to their recipes without affecting the balance of flavor.
However, most cream of mushroom soup products aren't gluten free because they contain wheat flour.
Best for vegetarian chili, béchamel sauce, and veggie stroganoff.
Cream of Potato Soup
Another excellent vegetarian and healthy canned cream of chicken soup substitute is potato soup. It's known for absorbing the flavors of the other ingredients in your recipe, elevating your dish's overall taste.
While it has a neutral taste, I usually use it in potato-based dishes. But, of course, it doesn't mean you can use it for other chicken-based recipes.
Best for baked potato casserole, potato gratin dish, hash brown casserole, soups, and stews.
Cream of Celery Soup
Some of you might be surprised to find celery soup as one of the answers to "What is a substitute for cream of chicken soup?" This is understandable because celery has a strong, distinct flavor and aroma, but this is only true for raw celery.
Celery soup is milder and won't overpower the ingredients in your recipe. In fact, celery is one of the aromatics popular for its flavor-enhancing properties.
Still, I make sure I only use it for dishes with stronger-flavored ingredients, such as beef, and those that require a small amount of cream of chicken soup.
Best for meaty soups, sausage casseroles, and bread.
Cream of Broccoli Soup
Another surprising answer to "What can I substitute for cream of chicken soup?" is broccoli soup because of the vegetable's distinct flavor profile. Like celery soup, the broccoli's flavor has been toned down by the soup's other components, especially milk and broth.
Best for vegetable-based soups.
Cream of Bacon Soup
Now, if you don't need a vegan and vegetarian substitute for cream of chicken soup and your recipe doesn't completely rely on the chicken flavor, this soup is an excellent replacement. It's also perfect for those undergoing keto diets.
Just remember that it isn't the best option if you're serving guests with dairy restrictions and those watching their fat intake.
With that out of the way, I love cream of bacon soup because of its salty, savory, smoky flavor. It can replace the chicken flavor without affecting the dish's overall taste and balance of flavor. Add that to the nutty, sweet, smoky aroma it brings to the dish that will make your guests drool!
Best for au gratin dishes, soups, and pasta bakes.
Cream of Shrimp Soup
This canned cream soup isn't a staple found in most homes, but it's also as easily accessible as the rest of the canned soups on my list. You might wonder, "How can it be a good condensed cream of chicken soup substitute if it has a strong seafood flavor?"
Well, I choose this option each time I have pescatarian guests and want to serve them dishes popular for their rich chicken taste. We all agree that we enjoy surprising our guests with unique dishes or common dishes with a bit of a twist we prepare for them.
Best for chowders, pasta sauces, and creamy casseroles.
4 Other Cream of Chicken Soup Substitutes To Try
A few recipes list cream of chicken soup mainly for thickening purposes and binding ingredients instead of adding chicken flavor to the dish. While making sure you use a substitute that can help you achieve the right creamy texture, you have to choose an ingredient that won't affect the balance of flavor.
With that in mind, here are easily accessible and affordable options that I highly recommend:
1. Beurre Manié
A fancy-sounding ingredient that can intimidate some of you when seeking the answer to "What can you substitute for cream of chicken soup?", beurre manié is simply kneaded butter with flour. The flour helps thicken your dish, while the butter will lend its flavor-enhancing nutty taste.
Also, you don't need to buy one since you can make it in your kitchen while cooking. Simply measure equal amounts of butter (or vegetable oil for vegetarians and vegans) and flour.
The flour you use will depend on whether your guests have dietary restrictions. For instance, opt for oat flour, rice flour, or almond flour if you need a gluten free substitute for cream of chicken soup.
Knead the ingredients together until you have a tough paste. Set aside to use in the later stage of cooking to avoid giving your dish an unpleasant flour taste.
To use, some cooks suggest adding a ball of the butter-flour mixture to your dish, but I find this a bit tricky for beginner home cooks. After all, you will only estimate the amount of the mixture, leading to a longer cooking time. Again, it can lead to your dish having an unpleasant flour taste.
What I do is dilute a small ball of the butter-flour mixture in half a cup of warm water and whisk it until I have a lump-free soft paste before adding it to my dish. Measurement-wise, use the same amount of dissolved beurre manié as the recipe requires for the cream of chicken soup.
Best for thickening stews, soups, gravies, and sauces.
2. Heavy Cream
Heavy cream is a top contender when it comes to what to substitute for cream of chicken soup without adding an extra step in the prep and cooking process. Use half the amount of the cream of chicken soup listed in your recipe and add it at the later stage of cooking.
The heavy cream will become richer and creamier as it cooks while absorbing the flavor of the other ingredients. Hence, you'll have a creamier and tastier dish to serve.
One thing I want you to keep in mind is not to use flavored heavy cream for an obvious reason: not adding any unusual taste to your dish, sauce, or dip.
Best for thickening just about anything!
3. Sour Cream
Full-fat sour cream is another excellent substitute for condensed cream of chicken soup that will give your dish the creaminess it needs. Like heavy cream, it's a good flavor enhancer as it takes on the flavor of the other ingredients.
The difference is it has a slightly citrusy, tangy flavor because of the lactic acid present. While it won't affect the overall flavor and quality of your dish, you can counter it by adding spices like pepper, salt, onion powder, and garlic powder.
To use sour cream as a substitute, add half the amount of the required cream of chicken soup to your recipe.
Now, what if the only variety you have is low-fat? Well, that's perfectly fine, but you need to add more sour cream to achieve the desired consistency.
Best for bean-based dishes, such as chicken enchiladas.
4. Unflavored or Plain Greek Yogurt
What is a substitute for cream of chicken soup when serving people allergic to gluten or watching their intake of nutrition calories? Plain Greek yogurt!
However, I don't advise you to use Greek yogurt straight from its container. I highly suggest running it through a towel- or cheesecloth-lined sieve to remove as much moisture as you can. Doing so makes the yogurt thicker.
Like with sour cream, you'll find several varieties, and I highly recommend the full-fat one because it has the thickest consistency. With it, you will only need to use half a cup of Greek yogurt for every cup of cream of chicken soup.
Nonetheless, it's okay to use low-fat or non-fat varieties, but add more to ensure your dish has the right level of creaminess.
Additionally, this cream of chicken soup substitute is a bit tangy, which some might not find suitable for their recipes. Well, again, you can always add spices like onion powder, garlic powder, and celery salt.
Best for chilies, chicken noodle casserole, and hash brown casserole.
Creamy and Flavorful Without the Cream of Chicken Soup
From chicken-flavored to the creamiest ingredients, you have several options when it comes to what to substitute for cream of chicken soup. My list narrowed down your choices to make it easier for you to find the condensed cream of chicken soup substitute that will work for your recipe and your guests' dietary restrictions.
Homemade Substitute for Cream of Chicken Soup
- ½ cup chicken or vegetable broth
- ½ cup whole milk (almond, oat, soy, or coconut milk for vegans and vegetarians)
- 3 tablespoon unsalted butter (plant-based butter for vegans and vegetarians)
- 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour (almond, arrowroot, or brown rice flour for vegans, vegetarians, and gluten-free diets)
- Salt and pepper
- Set your stove at medium-low heat and place your pan on it.
- Set your stove at medium-low heat and place your pan on it.
- As soon as the butter melts, add the flour.
- Whisk occasionally until you have a bubbly, smooth mixture.
- Remove the pan from the stove, slowly add the broth and milk, and stir.
- Adjust your stove to low heat and place the saucepan back.
- Allow the mixture to boil while stirring occasionally.
- Once your homemade cream of chicken soup thickens, add salt and pepper to taste.
- Turn off the fire, transfer your homemade cream to a bowl, and use it in your recipe like how you'll use canned condensed soup.
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