Countless recipes call for chicken broth, and it’s nearly impossible to go without using chicken broth at some point in your culinary life (unless you’re vegetarian or vegan, of course).
Chicken broth is a pantry staple that can carry you far in your kitchen. From classic chicken noodle soup to chicken dumpling casseroles to wild variations of oriental ramen dishes, chicken broth can be used for almost everything.
Chicken Broth vs Stock
As you cook, you might come across ingredient lists that specify using chicken broth or chicken stock. Are chicken broth and chicken stock the same thing? Nope!
Although they sound similar, the ingredients used to make chicken broth is a little bit different than the ingredients used to make chicken stock.
Chicken broth is made by simmering chicken meat with other vegetables and aromatics (like onion, parsley, and celery) for 1-2 hours. Chicken broth is usually seasoned according to the chef’s liking with these added vegetables. Chicken broth is almost always made without bones.
Chicken stock, on the other hand, is made by simmering chicken bones for a longer period of time. Some chicken stock recipes will have you simmer both meat and bones together, while other recipes only call for bones, not meat.
Simmering chicken stock may take anywhere from 2-6 hours, depending on the recipe you’re following. If you decide to make chicken stock from scratch, you might consider roasting the chicken bones before simmering them. Doing so will add a darker, rich color to your stock and can help add more flavor to the stock itself.
If you are making your own broth, you will need to check out this post on How to Make Broth. It also gives you clues as to when homemade broth is a must or if you can get away with store bought broth.
Chicken Broth Substitutes
Even though chicken broth is a very common product in most grocery stores, you might find yourself in the middle of cooking a meal before you realize you need chicken broth. Below is a list of tips that can help you get out of a tricky situation like this:
- Plan ahead by stocking your pantry with a package of bouillon cubes. A quick substitute for 1 cup of chicken broth is 1 bouillon cube dissolved in 1 cup water.
- If you have instant bouillon mix instead of cubes, use 1 teaspoon of instant bouillon granules dissolved in 1 cup water for every cup of chicken broth you need to substitute.
- Use 1 tablespoon of butter or olive oil with 1 cup water to substitute 1 cup chicken broth. The butter/olive oil will mimic the fat content that chicken broth has.
- Use 1 cup of white wine for every cup of chicken broth you’re substituting if you don’t mind a subtle taste of wine in your dish. How much of the wine you’ll taste depends on cooking time and how much of the wine cooks off.
- Vegetable stock can also be used instead of chicken broth.
- If your recipe calls for simmering dried beans, use the broth that the beans make instead of chicken broth.
- If you have extra chicken meat (and a few hours to spare), make your own chicken broth by simmering the chicken meat in water for 1-2 hours.
- Miso paste is a great substitution for chicken broth. It has umami and salt, just be sure to add at the end to capture that fresh miso taste.
- If all else fails, just use plain ol’ water.
Make your own Bouillon Powder
Mix a few things you may already have in your pantry for an impromptu substitution for chicken broth.
- garlic powder
- onion powder or flakes
- celery salt
- dried herbs such as rosemary, thyme, basil, parsley
- nutritional yeast
- mushroom powder
Using Water as a Chicken Broth Substitute
It might sound strange, but the easiest way to substitute chicken broth is to use regular water. Having chicken broth (or any of the other alternatives listed above) will help add greater flavor and body to your dish.
When you have chicken broth on hand, use it. But chicken broth is rarely ever an essential ingredient. If you’re using chicken broth to make a soup, stew, or a braise, you can probably get away with using water.
Other ingredients you use to make soups, stews, or braises will simmer and infuse with the water to make their own broth naturally.
If you do choose water over any other alternatives, you’ll probably need to use more salt than what the recipe originally calls for. Chicken broth tends to have a high sodium content to start, so you need to make up for the lack of salt somehow.
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Bianca is a graduate student at the University of Cincinnati. She is an Applied Behavioral Health Technician and a freelance writer. She spends her free time catching up with friends and scaling walls at indoor rock gyms.