I’ve personally taste-tested a variety of beef broth substitutes to find the best one for every cooking occasion.
Whether you’re on the hunt for the closest flavor match, in need of a last-minute pantry substitute, or seeking an alternative tailored to your specific dietary requirements, rest assured that I’ve got you covered.
The best substitutes for beef broth are the homemade version and beef bouillon. You can also go with beef consomme, other kinds of broth, or mushroom stock. In a real bind, mix water with a mixture of herbs and meaty condiments like liquid aminos, Bovril, or Worcestershire sauce.
Ready? Let’s jump right in.
I whipped up a batch of my mums beef stew to test out loads of beef broth substitutes.
Beef broth is a versatile ingredient made with leftover roasted beef meat and bones. It boasts a rich, savory flavor and serves as the base for hearty stews and soups.
Here are the substitutes I tested and my verdicts:
|Substitutes||How to Substitute||Verdict|
|Homemade Beef Broth||Replace in a 1:1 ratio||10/10|
|Beef Bouillon||Replace in a 1:1 ratio with diluted bouillon or beef soup base||10/10|
|Beef Consomme||Replace in a 1:1 ratio with diluted beef consomme||9/10|
|Other Kinds of Broth (Chicken/Pork/Vegetable)||Replace in a 1:1 ratio||9/10|
|Mushroom Stock||Replace in a 1:1 ratio||8/10|
|Beer||Replace in a 1:1 ratio||7/10|
|Water + liquid||Replace in a 1:1 ratio with water, along with herbs, aromatics, and condiments||8/10|
|Red Wine||Use 1/2 the amount called for, mixed with water||6/10|
Common uses for beef broth and the best substitutes
Here are some common use cases for beef broth and the best substitutes for those situations:
- Soups and stews: Try using homemade beef broth, beef bouillon, beef consomme, or water mixed with a meaty condiment.
- Sauces and gravies: Try using homemade beef broth, beef bouillon, beer, or mushroom stock.
- For braising, poaching, and steaming: Try using homemade beef broth, red wine, or chicken broth.
Homemade beef broth
Making your own homemade beef broth might seem intimidating at first, but it’s simpler than you think.
My go-to recipe is from The Kitchn. You’ll need a bit of patience because you have to roast the meat and vegetables first and then simmer the broth for about four hours.
But it’s worth the wait. At the end, you’ll have a delicious savory, beefy broth. And your kitchen will smell divine!
Pssst… The Kitchn recommends using budget-friendly meaty bones like marrow.
How to substitute: Replace beef broth in a 1:1 ratio with homemade beef broth.
Beef bouillon is a practical and cost-effective alternative to beef broth.
It’s cheaper than regular beef broth and all you need to do is dissolve it in hot water, and you’ve got instant beef broth ready to use!
If you want an even richer flavor, opt for a beef soup base instead of regular bouillon.
These bases tend to have more seasoning, resulting in a more robust and complex taste.
One downside is that bouillon and soup bases are saltier than beef broth, so make suer you don’t add any extra salt.
How to substitute: Replace beef broth in a 1:1 ratio with diluted beef bouillon or beef soup base.
Beef consomme is a clarified version of beef stock, which means it has less fat and is a clear liquid, while stock is murky. You normally find it on fancy menus as a starter.
It has a more concentrated and intense flavor than beef broth, so I diluted it with water before adding it to my stew.
It’a also got more body than broth (thanks to the egg whites – but don’t worry, you can’t taste them!) so it gave my stew a velvety, rich texture that I loved.
Psst… Campbells beef consomme is amazing.
And if you’re interested in substitutes for beef consomme, I have you covered too!
How to substitute: Replace beef broth in a 1:1 ratio with diluted beef consommé, adjusting the seasoning as needed.
Other kinds of broth
Experimenting with different types of broth is an effective way to substitute beef broth while making sure your dish doesn’t lose any flavor.
Chicken and pork broths have a similar savory profile to beef broth, but they’re lighter and more delicate.
If you want to deepen their savory flavor and better mimic the taste of beef broth, try adding a dash of soy sauce and Worcestershire sauce.
You can also opt for vegetable broth. But this is even lighter than the meaty alternatives, so it’s best for dishes where the beef is more of a background flavor and not the main event.
Lastly – bone broth is an excellent choice if you can get your hands on it. But it will be more expensive than your average beef broth.
How to substitute: Replace beef broth in a 1:1 ratio with chicken/pork/vegetable broth.
Mushroom stock is another plant-based alternative you can use instead of beef broth.
It boasts a rich, umami flavor that’ll give your dishes the perfect flavor boost.
You can find pre-made mushroom stock in cartons at your local grocery store or try making it from scratch.
I like using this recipe from Holy Cow Vegan. You need dried mushrooms, herbs and 30 minutes to spare.
I went with with dried porcinis for my homemade stock, but you can also use dried oyster or shiitake mushrooms.
Pro tip: if you’re really short on time – steep the dried mushrooms in hot water and just use the soaking liquid. A squeeze of lemon juice will help brighten the flavor.
Or if you prefer using fresh mushrooms, check out Becky’s easy recipe.
How to substitute: Replace beef broth in a 1:1 ratio with mushroom stock.
If you’re a beer fan, you’ll be happy to know that your beer collection is about to come in useful!
Beer has a slight bitterness from the hops, and a richness from the malt which gives it the same flavor notes as beef broth.
For best results, use a dark beer like stout or porter. If you only have lighter beers on hand, these can work but they won’t have the same depth.
Pro tip: if the beer you use ends up tasting too bitter in your dish, you can always add a touch of honey to balance it out.
Psst… non-alcoholic beers will work too.
How to substitute: Replace beef broth in a 1:1 ratio with a dark beer.
Water + liquid aminos
Water on its own isn’t going to work to replace beef broth.
But if you know how to enhance it’s flavor, it can work surprisingly well!
Begin by adding a combination of aromatics and herbs, such as garlic, onions, thyme, rosemary, or bay leaves to a pot of water. Simmer the ingredients together to create a fragrant infusion that will provide a flavorful base for your dish.
And then mix in a meaty condiment like liquid aminos or Worcestershire sauce for a deep, umami twist. Liquid aminos isn’t the cheapest ingredients, but it’s low salt, vegan, and paleo friendly so suits a lot of diets!
For another plant-based option, miso paste (or one of these miso paste substitutes) can provide a rich, savory hit that’ll remind you of beef broth.
How to substitute: Replace beef broth in a 1:1 ratio with water, along with herbs, aromatics, and liquid aminos.
Red wine is a great beef broth replacement for recipes where you simmer the sauce for a while, so the wine has time to reduce and the alcohol can cook off.
It can also step in for deglazing pans.
And in hearty dishes like stews, red wine’s acidity helps cut through the richness. Although you’ll need to mix it with water so the flavor doesn’t overpower the dish.
The wine you chose matters here. Go with a dry red wine with a medium to full body, such as a Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot for the best results.
Avoid overly sweet or fruity wines.
How to substitute: Replace beef broth with half the amount of wine and make the volume up with water.
Other substitutes to consider
The options above are my top picks as a substitute for beef broth, but here are some other options you can consider if you already have them on hand:
- Bovril – this is a meat extract with a rich, beefy taste. It’s often mixed with hot water to create beef tea, which you can use as a substitute for beef broth. If you can’t find Bovril, try looking for Bovrite – it’s essentially the same thing but has a runnier consistency. Or marmite!
- Demi-glace – this has an intensely beefy flavor, so you’ll need to dilute this with water before using. Most grocery stores sell this in ready-to-use form.
- Cola – this works if you only need a small amount of beef broth for picnic roasts. You can add a splash of vinegar to prevent it from becoming overly sweet.
- Dried fruit – this may sound odd, but mixing apricot or cherry jam with water creates a tart-flavored cooking liquid that can help offset the rich flavors of stews and chilis.
- Soy sauce + steak sauce – for a last minute easy substitute, mix soy sauce and steak sauce with some water. Soy sauce on it’s own is too salty and lacks any meatiness, which is where the steak sauce comes in!
Avoid using dashi
If you’ve ever substituted chicken or vegetable broth, you might have used dashi. But this delicate broth isn’t a good swap for beef broth.
It got totally lost in my stew and I didn’t get the decadent result I was after.
It’s loaded with lots of umami though. And it’s great for poaching fish, veggies, and eggs or as a base for your vinaigrette.
Can I use beef stock instead of beef broth?
Yes, beef stock and broth can be used interchangeably in most cases.
Technically, broth is lighter and made by simmering meat in water. While stock is thicker and based on bones. But these days the words are often mixed up!
If you have a choice, use broth when the dish if getting lots of flavor from the liquid. And go for stock if the flavor of the dish mostly comes from other ingredients.
18 BEST Beef Broth Substitutes + 1 To Avoid
- 4 lbs meaty beef bones
- 2 tbsp canola oil
- 3 medium carrots
- 3 medium stalks celery
- 2 medium yellow onions
- 3 large garlic cloves
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- ½ medium fresh parsley
- 8 sprigs fresh thyme
- 3 dried bay leaves
- 1 tbsp whole black peppercorns
- ¼ cup red wine vinegar
- kosher salt
- 1 to 3 tsp soy sauce, optional
- 1 cup ice cubes
- Preheat the oven to 450 F with the rack in the middle of the oven.
- Rinse the beef bones under cold water and dry with paper towels. Place them in an even layer on the baking sheet and drizzle with the canola oil.
- Roast the meat bones until lightly browned for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, cut the carrots and celery into rough pieces. Peel and quarter the onions and smash and peel the garlic cloves.
- Remove the baking sheet from the oven and turn the bones over. Place the veggies around the bones and toss them with the rendered fat. Add a dollop of tomato paste all over the baking sheet.
- Return the baking sheet in the oven and roast until the vegetables and bones are caramelized.
- Place the fresh herbs in an 8-inch square cheesecloth or inside a coffee filter and roll to create a parcel. Tie it close with a kitchen twine.
- Boil about a cup of water over medium heat. Transfer the roasted bones and vegetables into a deep stock pot. Pour the boiled water onto the baking sheet to scrape up the browned bits into the stockpot.
- Fill the stockpot with cold water until the bones and vegetables are just covered. Add the red wine and the herb parcel. Reduce the heat to low and simmer uncovered, at least four hours. The longer you let this simmer, the deeper the flavor will be. Occasionally skim the surface to remove the scum. Top up with water for the first couple of hours to ensure the bones and vegetables stay covered.
- Remove the bones and herb bundle. Strain the broth with a fine mesh strainer line with cheesecloth.
- Taste and season the broth with salt as needed. You can also add soy sauce for a deeper color.
- Place cooled broth into airtight containers. When frozen, this broth can last up to four months.