Substitutes for chicken broth

Chicken broth is an essential base for adding body and richness to stews, sauces, braises and even casseroles.

It’s literally the best thing that can ever happen to your frozen chicken breasts because of it’s overpowering nature that builds up flavors exactly reminiscent of those lost from lack of brining.

But one sad thing, it’s not exactly the ingredient that is always available on the pantry shelves or inside the refrigerator, and most of the time, we only get to discover this tragedy when we’re mid-way into cooking.

That’s an annoying episode of culinary lifestyle to deal with, but while you’re busy holding up tears contemplating between quick pizza delivery and rushing into a nearby store to save the day and the menu, you might as well consider a third option, which is any of the decent substitutes outlined below that works great for recipes that don’t exaggerate specifically on the chicken broth!

Here they are:

All tested substitutes for chicken broth (or stock if you like)

S/n Substitute for chicken broth How to substitute
1 Chicken or beef Bouillon cube, grain, liquid, or powder. 1 cube (8oz) dissolved in 1 cup of boiling water.

1 teaspoon powdered bullion dissolved in 1 cup boiling water.

1 teaspoon granule bullion dissolved in 1 cup boiling water.

1 teaspoon liquid bullion dissolved in 1 cup boiling water.

2 Water. 1 cup water for every 1 cup of chicken broth called.
3 Beef broth. 1 cup beef broth for every 1 cup of chicken broth called.
4 Vegetable broth. 1 cup vegetable broth for every 1 cup of chicken broth called.
5 Other poultry broth i.e turkey 1 cup for every 1 cup chicken broth called.

Substitute for chicken broth

1) Bullion

By far, the most superior alternative to chicken broth in soups, sauces, stews or even casserole dishes would be your favorite brand of bullion in any form that it’s available. It’s after all, the closest thing that resembles a chicken broth.

Bouillon for anybody that cares, is a pre-made broth (of chicken or beef) dehydrated and formed into solid cubes, liquid, granule or powder.

Bullion typically contains the base ingredients that makes up any regular homemade or store bought broth, and can even have additional ingredients to further enhance flavor or richness i.e. for a Maggi chicken bouillon cube the following key ingredient are listed: chicken meat, chicken fat, sugar, caramel, yeast, vegetables, spices, flavor enhancers, salt, palm oil and wheat flour to mention but a few. This means that bouillon is generally going to be richer in ingredients than your regular homemade broth although it may not necessarily be the more flavorful!

Here’s how to substitute bouillon for chicken broth:

For cubed bouillon: it’s 1 ratio 1

Bring a cup (8oz) of room temperature water to a boil in a medium sized pot. Do that on a stovetop, in any case you’re one of those smart home cooks that like to complicate things inside an oven!

Next, dissolve one cube of chicken bouillon into the water. You can use beef seasoning variety as well, but there might be a little offset in the finished aesthetics and taste of the food. Stir continuously until the granules dissolve and a broth is formed. This usually takes less than a minute to happen.

Bring the mixture down from the heat and allow to cool (so the flavors come together in their new state) before adding to the recipe.

You want to make sure you’re using 1 cup of this bouillon broth for every 1 cup of chicken broth called for in the recipe. It’s basically a 1 ratio 1 formula as you might have guessed, or stole-guessed it from the heading up there.

If you want to scale things up, remember, it’s one cube of bouillon for every cup of boiling water.

For granules and powder: still 1 ratio 1.

Use the procedure from above, but this time, incorporate one teaspoon of bouillon granules or powder instead of the cube.


  • If you’re using a cube that is high in sodium (i.e. up to 880 milligrams), consider upping the ratio of water to 1½ cups, or use the same ratio as before but reducing the amount of salt and salt based products you add to whatever you’re making. In short, simply rely on your taste buds to guide you! Too much salt is something the buds never fail to point out. I just hope your bud are as good as normal!
  • Make sure you don’t just break the bouillon cubes or sprinkle the granules directly into whatever you’re making. Doing so is the equivalent of substituting for 1½ teaspoon of stock as opposed to 1 cup of it.

2) Other poultry broth

If you have any other broth aside chicken resting somewhere in the refrigerator or freezer i.e. turkey, duck or even a mixed turkey-chicken broth, feel free to use it as a substitute in any recipe that calls specifically for chicken broth. It may not give you the exact same results but i promise, the overall difference will be too subtle that you wont even notice that much.

3) Water

The next closest thing to a chicken broth is water (a.k.a the universal ingredient!). This substitute works perfectly well when you don’t have bouillon or other ingredients on this list. Simply substitute one cup of water for every cup of chicken broth called for and you’re good to go.

But doing just that, alone, won’t really get you anywhere in terms of richness and flavor, especially if you’re making something like a simple poached chicken.

You need to add vegetables, and oils, and herbs, and spices, and melted butter (usually one tablespoon – to mimic the little fat you get from chicken broth), wherever fits, so that they boil down and release their own juice and flavor to form an in-process broth! Season well, and it’s only a matter of time before you find out why the chicken broth is there to gild the lily!


  • When substituting water for store bought stock, make sure to season with salt a little bit aggressively. Let your taste buds be your main guide though. We only bring poultry products and cow meat, you don’t want to brine yourself from inside out!
  • Don’t substitute water in a chicken soup. The broth is simply an essential you shouldn’t miss. Just delay the recipe for another day!
  • Don’t substitute water (and all the veggies, spice and flavor additions) for chicken broth in a delicate recipe i.e. one that doesn’t fare well with many aromatics worked into it. A good example is risotto or French onion soup. It’ll simply destroy the base and render the flavoring far outwards from what you’re expecting to get. So use your sense a lot and determine when water should be a decent option and when it shouldn’t.

4) Beef broth

The third advice i can give regarding substitute for a chicken broth is to use a beef broth when you have one. You’ll get a subtle change in flavor and color of the finished product, regardless, the dinner will still taste great. If it bothers you too much, just take consolation for the fact that you’re only substituting, and that you would have gotten those nice flavors and colors had you opted for a real chicken broth!

5) Vegetable broth

The last and what i call the most distant substitute for anything called a chicken broth is a vegetable broth.

It’s made from boiling vegetables in a frowning solution of spices, but it may still work a decent magic depending on the type of food you’re working with.

Actually, this is more resembling of the water + vegetable substitutes mentioned earlier, and thus, the advise is, you should only use it for situations already circled out for the water + vegetable and seasoning substitute.

In light of all these, vegetable broth is actually the most perfect option there is for anyone who is a vegetarian and looking to not miss out a lot from ditching chicken broth in their recipe.

And that’s it folks. Happy substituting and have a good day ya’ll.

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