6 Common Substitutes for Chicken Broth (+ 2 Strange Ones!)
Chicken broth or chicken stock has become famous for creating flavorful soups that are known to heal the sick… but that’s not all chicken broth is good for!
Chicken broth offers a rich, deep flavor to just about any savory dish that calls for water, including soups, stews, curries, pasta sauces, braises, and more.
Chicken broth is particularly delicious if it’s homemade. This can be made simply by slowly simmering some chicken legs (or a whole chicken) in water with some vegetables (onion, carrot, and celery are the main suggestions!) as well as some herbs and perhaps some garlic or wine.
It’s really up to you how complex you want your stock to be. After you simmer this for 2-3 hours, let it cool and strain it, and you will be left with a lightly colored, clear broth that is so much better than water when you’re making rice (or other grains), soups, and braised meat dishes.
You can store this chicken stock in your freezer in small containers, or better yet, freeze it in ice cube trays and then pull it out when you need a small amount!
You can also buy chicken broth at any grocery store in tetra packs or cans. It is a good idea to have chicken broth on hand if you cook a lot, but if you find yourself without it, here are a few great substitutes for chicken broth or stock, in any recipe.
1. Beef or Vegetable Stock (or Concentrates)
In some recipes, you may want to consider substituting chicken stock with vegetable stock to ensure any vegetarian or vegan guests can enjoy your recipe. If this is not a concern, and you only have beef stock on hand, feel free to use it as a fine alternative for chicken stock in any recipe.
Just note that beef stock is darker in color and often more rich in flavor, so this may impact your final recipe. Either of these substitutes can be used 1:1 in any recipe that requires chicken stock (or water.) If you’re using a store-bought beef or vegetable stock concentrate, make sure you water it down and follow any directions on the packaging, otherwise your final dish may be overly salty.
We highly recommend using stock instead of plain water to cook pasta, rice, or potatoes… Try it once and you’ll never want to go back!
2. Bouillon Cubes or Powders
These are great alternatives to stock because you can keep them on the shelf instead of needing to refrigerate, and they are lightweight making them a great alternative for traveling or camping. They are also very affordable making them great for students or anyone on a budget.
All you need to do is dissolve the powder or cube in warm water, stir, and voila! Instant chicken broth! The downside is that these dehydrated forms tend to be very high in salt, and sometimes have an artificial flavor to them, so use them with caution and always remember to read the package to see how much water you need to use to dilute.
You can always add more or less water depending on your preferences. At a pinch, you can also use powdered gravy mix – add four times the amount of suggested water to thin it out!
3. White Wine
White wine is much more acidic than chicken stock, so it does the job of deglazing and tenderizing meat very well.
White wine is a great alternative to the broth if you are making a stew of braised meat dishes, but make sure you use a dry white wine otherwise, your dish will come out sweet!
A good ratio to use is ¼ cup of white wine with ¾ cup of cold water to replace 1 cup of chicken stock. Again, this substitute will only work with certain recipes (ones that already contain wine, for example) so be mindful when using wine as a substitute.
Also note that some people cannot consume wine because of their religious beliefs, age, and values, so make sure to let people know if you’ve made this substitute!
4. Water (or Herb Water!)
If you’re cooking at home, you have access to water, which can be used as a substitute for stock in a pinch. However, what’s even better than water is herb water!
Herb water is very easy to make. Simply measure the amount of water you need and heat in a pot. Once it comes to a boil, turn off the heat and plunge in a few sticks of your favorite fresh herbs.
5. Coconut Milk
Depending on what you are making, coconut milk can add a nice, neutral creamy texture and rich flavor. This is a great substitute for stock if you are making soups, especially ones that contain spicy ingredients or curry.
Don’t use coconut milk if you’re not okay with the final result being milky and/or slightly white, but if you’re starting with a recipe that calls for cream or any kind of milk and you need stock, you can use a can of coconut milk instead!
6. Salted Butter and Water
Since water doesn’t add a whole lot of flavor or character to your cooking, you might want to try adding some butter to your water if you don’t have broth.
The reason broth works great in dishes like risotto, pasta sauce, and gravy is because broth has a higher fat content than water, and also added flavor… both of which you can achieve from salted butter!
To make this, simply boil 1 cup of water and then add 1 tbsp of cold butter to the water and let it melt. You can now add this to your recipes if you don’t have chicken broth!
This Japanese stock is known for its great flavor because it is packed with salt and umami! Similar to chicken broth, dashi is pale yellow to light brown and can be added to soups and stews to add depth of flavor and mouth-feel.
Dashi can be bought in specialty stores but can also be made from kombu (kelp seaweed) and bonito flakes.
You can substitute dashi with any broth using a 1:1 ratio but just note that dashi has a distinct ‘from the sea’ fishy flavor, so it may not be suitable in all applications.
8. Ramen Packet
Now this might sound a little strange to use something that you maybe haven’t eaten since college, but those little flavor packets that come alongside cheap ramen pack a flavor punch! They also pack a lot of salt so make sure to dilute a package in a full four cups of water.
This is a super cheap and easy alternative to chicken broth and you can use any brand or flavor to spice up whatever you’re cooking instead of using plain water!
As you’ll see from these examples, chicken broth is a wonderful ingredient because it imparts extra flavor to whatever you’re cooking, and a depth of something we can’t always name. We do not know why chicken noodle soup heals sick people, but it seems to!
We think it has something to do with the broth so take our research to heart the next time you’re cooking and you don’t have any chicken broth handy!