I’ve personally tried and tested a range of different chicken broth substitutes to find the best one.
Whatever your reason for avoiding chicken broth is and whatever dish you’re cooking.
Here’s the quick answer.
The best substitutes for chicken broth are making your own broth or vegetable broth. Beef broth also works for richer dishes. You can go for chicken bouillon, but watch out for the salt level. And for an easy substitute, mix water with something like miso paste, soy sauce, orange juice, white wine, or a simple mixture of herbs.
Ready? Let’s jump right in.
I made risotto to test out loads of different chicken broth substitutes.
Chicken broth is a staple ingredient made with chicken meat and bones. It has a light savory flavor that adds depth and complexity to your dishes.
I was looking for a substitute with a similar flavor that would work as a base for lots of dishes.
Here’s what I tested and the verdicts:
|Homemade Chicken Broth||Replace in a 1:1 ratio||10/10|
|Chicken Bouillon||Replace in a 1:1 ratio with reconstituted bouillon||10/10|
|Other Kinds of Broth||Replace in a 1:1 ratio with beef or vegetable broth||9/10|
|Mushroom Stock||Replace in a 1:1 ratio||9/10|
|Water||Replace in a 1:1 ratio, adding seasonings as desired||8/10|
|Garlic Broth||Replace in a 1:1 ratio||8/10|
|Ramen Seasoning||Replace in a 1:1 ratio with diluted seasoning||8/10|
Common uses for chicken broth and the best substitutes
Here are some common use cases for chicken broth and the best substitutes for those situations:
- Soups and stews: Try using homemade chicken broth, chicken bouillon, other kinds of broth, or mushroom stock.
- Sauces and gravies: Try using homemade chicken broth, other kinds of broth, or mushroom stock.
- For braising, poaching, and steaming: Try using homemade chicken broth, other kinds of broth, or wine or beer.
Homemade chicken broth
Nothing beats the rich, full-bodied flavor of homemade chicken broth.
Not only does it provide the most authentic taste, but making the broth allows you to have complete control over the ingredients.
One of my favorite recipes for homemade chicken broth comes from Olga’s Flavor Factory. This delightful recipe uses a whole chicken and a classic combination of vegetables including carrots and celery.
To elevate the taste even further, I like adding earthy mushrooms and fresh herbs like parsley, thyme, and rosemary.
How to substitute: Replace chicken broth in your recipe in a 1:1 ratio with homemade chicken broth
Chicken bouillon is a convenient and budget-friendly alternative to chicken broth.
This pantry staple is widely available in granules and cube form, and some brands even sell a concentrated paste version.
Since bouillon has a long shelf-life, you can easily stock up and have it ready for whenever you need an emergency chicken broth replacement.
Just remember that bouillon is typically saltier than regular chicken broth, so you may need to adjust the salt content in your recipe accordingly.
Pssst… or you can try looking for reduced-sodium versions – Knorr has one!
How to substitute: Replace chicken broth in your recipe in a 1:1 ratio with reconstituted chicken bouillon.
Other kinds of broth
You can definitely swap out chicken broth for other types of broth!
Vegetable broth is an excellent alternative for those looking to avoid animal products.
It has a lighter flavor than chicken broth, but adding a dash of salt will make it more savory.
You can also use beef broth which offers a richer, bolder flavor than chicken broth. It’s an excellent choice for heartier dishes like stews.
How to substitute: Replace chicken broth in your recipe in a 1:1 ratio with beef or vegetable broth.
Think vegetable broth isn’t flavorful enough? Try using mushroom stock instead.
Mushrooms are naturally loaded with umami, so this stock will add depth and complexity to vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes.
You can purchase pre-made mushroom stock at most grocery stores or make your own using this recipe from Holy Cow Vegan.
This homemade version uses dried mushrooms for a concentrated umami punch and calls for dried herbs for an extra depth of flavor.
How to substitute: Replace chicken broth in your recipe in a 1:1 ratio with mushroom stock.
Water is the most accessible substitute for chicken broth. It’s available right from your tap (most of the time)!
It definitely lacks flavor, but you can easily spruce it up with classic additions like salt, pepper, and dried herbs.
And if you’re craving an instant umami boost, why not add a teaspoon of miso paste or a splash of soy sauce?
The possibilities are endless – I tried boiling water with a parmesan rind for my risotto, which added a cheesy, umami twist everyone loved!
And to replicate the fat content in chicken broth, mix a tablespoon of butter or olive oil to your water.
How to substitute: Replace chicken broth in your recipe in a 1:1 ratio with water, adding seasonings and flavors as desired.
I’d never heard of garlic broth before, but it’s a total game-changer as an emergency substitute for chicken broth.
Raw garlic has a potent flavor, but it mellows out and develops a delicious, savory quality when you cook it with water and salt.
If you love garlic like me, you can’t really go wrong with this substitute. Although I did slightly reduce the added garlic in my risotto.
How to substitute: Replace chicken broth in your recipe in a 1:1 ratio with garlic stock.
Ramen seasoning might not be the first substitute that comes to mind for chicken broth, but it can work surprisingly well in a pinch.
This seasoning packet is chock-full of savory, umami goodness that took my risotto to the next level.
Just a heads up, though – it has a concentrated flavor, so you’ll need to dilute it with water before adding it to your dishes.
Start with a small amount of seasoning and taste as you go so you don’t end up with an overly salty broth.
It’s not the most elegant solution, but it’s cheap and convenient.
How to substitute: Replace chicken broth in your recipe in a 1:1 ratio with a mixture of ramen seasoning and water, adjusting the seasoning to taste.
Wine / beer
If your recipe calls for less than a cup of chicken broth, swap it for white wine.
It has a touch of acidity that’ll brighten up your dish and is great for deglazing or thinning a sauce.
For best results, use a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc or Chardonnay.
If you need to add more than a cup you can mix the wine with water. This is what I did with my risotto and the result was light and flavorful.
In more savory dishes, you can use red wine or even beer!
How to substitute: Replace chicken broth in your recipe in a 1:1 ratio with wine, mixing with water as needed.
Other substitutes to consider
The substitutes above are my top picks for chicken broth substitutes, but here are some other options you can try if you have them on hand:
- Bean or chickpea liquid – if you’re making something with beans/chickpeas, don’t throw the liquid out! It’s flavorful enough to stand in for chicken broth, but you’ll need to add extra water to make sure you have enough liquid.
- Jus or gravy – this is usually made from animal fat drippings and broth, and used to finish off a dish. But you can also dilute it with water and use it to replace chicken broth! Watch out for the salt content though.
- Dashi – despite being made from kelp and bonito flakes, dashi doesn’t taste fishy, making it a decent substitute for chicken stock, especially in Asian dishes. It has a delicate flavor, so won’t work as well in dishes with lots of powerful ingredients.
- Jam – this may sound weird, but mixing a tart–but-sweet apricot or cherries jam with water will create a cooking liquid that can balance out decadent dishes. You need to be careful not to make it too sweet though!
- Citrus juice – in a similar vein, mixing citrus juices like orange or grapefruit juice with water gives you a broth you can use with light, summer-inspired dishes.
- Steeped tea – okay, I know things are getting weird now so this will be my last suggestion! Steeped tea will add a deep, complex flavor to your dishes. This tea stock recipe uses green tea.
Coconut milk – substitute to avoid
Coconut milk is a tasty ingredient, but I wouldn’t recommend it as a substitute for chicken broth (as some other sources suggest!).
It has a prominent nutty flavor that will only work for some dishes like curries.
And it has a creamy consistency that can affect your dishes’ texture. I wasn’t a fan of my coconut milk risotto – it made the whole thing feel like dessert.
Homemade Chicken Broth & 14 other substitutes
- 1 whole chicken, skinned and breast meat and tenderloins removed
- 1 to 2 large onions, quartered
- 1 to 2 carrots, chopped
- 2 to 4 celery stalks, chopped
- 1 head of garlic, cut in half
- 2 pieces dried bay leaves
- 1 tbsp black peppercorns
- Fill your large stockpot with all the ingredients.
- Add filtered water until everything is covered ans season with salt to taste.
- Heat until the broth is boiling, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 1 to 1½ hours. Occasionally skim the foam off the top.
- Strain the broth with a cheesecloth-lined fine mesh sieve.
- Use immediately or tore in the refrigerator for 5 days. Alternatively, freeze the broth for up to three months.