It’s starting to get cold out there. You know what that means — it’s almost chicken noodle soup season! When it comes to comfort foods, there’s nothing quite like chicken noodle soup, and you can’t make chicken noodle soup without chicken broth… or can you?
Chicken broth isn't just delicious — it’s also good for your health. It's packed with collagen, an important protein that helps make your bones, tendons, and skin healthy and strong. While eating collagen-rich food doesn't directly give you more collagen, the amino acids in it play a role in forming proteins that support different functions in your body.
You'll often find chicken broth in popular soups, like chicken noodle, chicken and gnocchi, and chicken and rice. It doesn't stop there, though; you can also use it to add flavor and depth to your sauces.
Today’s blog post is for those of you who are craving some chicken noodle soup, but forgot to grab some chicken broth from the store. Don’t worry! There are plenty of simple and affordable substitutes for chicken broth right in your kitchen cabinets.
What is the Difference Between Chicken Broth and Chicken Stock?
Let's talk about the difference between stock and broth. Broth is made by simmering meat with water, veggies, and herbs for a while. Stock, however, is created using bones, veggies, and herbs and takes a bit longer to cook. Usually, this means that it has a stronger, more flavorful taste to it.
The collagen released from the bones during stock-making gives it a thicker texture. Nutrition-wise, stock is often considered to be a healthier option because it has more protein and usually less sodium compared to broth. Actually, you could use chicken stock as a substitute for chicken broth if you want to.
You can use chicken stock instead of chicken broth at a one-to-one ratio. Chicken stock is available for relatively cheap at most grocery stores, but making it at home is pretty easy, especially if you have leftover ingredients and an instant pot. By the way, if you’ve been wondering what to make for your family during the holidays, you should check out these instant pot recipes!
The Best Substitutes for Chicken Broth
Chicken broth is comforting and delicious, so it can be disappointing when you realize that you don’t have any on hand. Thankfully, there are lots of substitutes for chicken broth that are just as good — and, chances are, you already have these ingredients in your kitchen!
Chicken Bouillon Cubes
Boy, do we love bouillon cubes! They're completely free of genetically modified ingredients and are packed with unique flavors — like lemongrass, ginger, and soy. These cubes work wonders for enhancing the taste of rice and are a lifesaver when you forget to grab broth from the store.
Now, the exact swap for bouillon cubes varies based on the brand and cube size you get. Generally, bouillon brands suggest dissolving one cube in eight ounces of water to replace one cup of broth. But a word of caution: when using bouillon, be mindful of the salt content. These cubes pack a major sodium punch and can alter your dish's flavors, so you might need to adjust your recipe accordingly.
Salted Butter and Water
If you’re skeptical, we understand — but just bear with us! There’s not much in the world (of cooking, at least) that butter can’t fix. You can replace a small amount of chicken broth in a recipe with the rich taste of salted butter.
However, if your recipe requires more than roughly a cup of butter, it's best to explore other options (rather than solely relying on butter). For a one-to-one substitution for one cup of chicken broth, blend a cup of water with a tablespoon of salted butter. It may not be the healthiest option in the world, but it will be delicious!
Dashi, which is a Japanese broth, is made with just a few simple ingredients: water, kelp (kombu), and dried fish flakes (bonito). This broth is famous for its rich umami flavor and forms the base for many popular Asian fish soups. When you're adding dashi to your recipe, take your time pouring it in and keep tasting it along the way.
The strong fishy taste of dashi can easily take over soups and broths, so it's not the best choice to replace chicken broth, especially if you're not careful with the amount you’re putting in. If you're making your own dashi, you can adjust the ratios of kombu and bonito to water. This way, you can create a milder broth that works well as a substitute for chicken broth.
We know what you’re thinking. “Really? Vegetables? As a substitute for chicken?” As it turns out, though, chicken broth and vegetable broth aren’t so different. You'll find vegetable broth right alongside chicken broth in the grocery store, but making your own is also super easy with leftover veggie scraps from your fridge.
To whip up a batch, toss those leftover veggies, stems, and slightly mushy bits into a pot with some water and let them simmer. Amp up the flavor by throwing in garlic and onion for a robust, somewhat chicken broth-like scent and taste. Add dried herbs like parsley, bay leaf, sage, and thyme for an even more unique twist.
Give it about ten minutes to cook, then strain and stash it in your fridge. While this homemade broth is great for unexpected cooking needs, remember that it won't be as thick as chicken broth. You can swap it one-to-one in recipes that call for chicken broth or chicken stock.
Coconut milk is a great choice if you're looking for a richer substitute for chicken broth. It's perfect for adding depth to curries and sauces, especially those with Indian and Asian influences. In Thai soups, coconut milk offers a creamy texture, and it elevates the richness of stir-fries. It works well in other types of recipes, too!
When making risotto, for example, coconut milk is a super valuable ingredient. It adds a flavorful and fatty element that pairs wonderfully with shredded cheese, butter, garlic, and onion. Yum!
The only thing to keep in mind here is that using coconut milk instead of chicken broth will change both the taste and texture of your dish because of its higher fat content. For example, a clear chicken noodle soup won't stay clear, and you'll need another element to infuse that savory chicken flavor into the soup.
Chicken Broth Concentrate
Chicken broth concentrate is similar to bouillon cubes. It includes a paste-like ingredient, though, which makes it easy to spoon. If you happen to have chicken broth concentrate in your kitchen cabinet (admittedly, you might need to dig way in there), it makes an excellent substitute for chicken broth.
Make sure to mix the ratio of chicken broth concentrate to water based on what the directions on the package say. Once you get it all mixed up, you can add it to your dish, and voila! It’s basically like instant chicken broth! Even if you don’t have any chicken broth concentrate on hand right now, we’d highly recommend buying some the next time you go out. It works super well in a pinch!
This one might surprise some people. Miso paste? As a substitute for chicken broth? It actually makes sense if you think about it, though. Miso paste is savory and delicious — just like chicken broth! The color of miso paste depends on how long it ferments — typically, the darker the miso paste, the more intense the flavor.
Because miso paste is rich and flavorful, you can mix it into water to lessen the salty taste. If you're swapping miso paste for chicken broth, we suggest adding it gradually and incorporating a proportional amount of water to balance the recipe. You’ll also want to avoid exposing miso paste to high heat (you can do this by adding it towards the end of the cooking process).
Ramen Seasoning Packets
Did you eat a lot of instant ramen in college? So did we! It’s super cheap, and yummy, too, especially if you put a soft-boiled egg on top. The seasoning in ramen noodles is a mix of salt and spices. There’s quite a bit of sodium in this delicious powder, so it’s admittedly not the healthiest option for those looking for a substitute for chicken broth.
Still, though, it’ll do in a pinch. You can create your own chicken broth using the leftover seasoning packets from your instant ramen. Similar to dashi, the ramen packet seasoning is highly concentrated. To use it effectively, add the packet slowly to warm water, stirring and tasting it as you go.
Who knew there were so many different uses for instant ramen seasoning? There’s even chicken-flavored ramen seasoning available, so it’s a great option if you’re really looking to mimic the taste of chicken broth.
Looking for more meals to keep you warm this winter? Check out our cozy casserole recipes!