I’ve personally tried and tested a range of different vegetable broth substitutes to find the best one.
Whatever your reason for avoiding vegetable broth is and whatever dish you’re cooking.
Here’s the quick answer.
The best substitutes for vegetable broth are a homemade version, chicken stock, bouillon cubes, or water. You can mix the water with herbs and spices to make it more flavorful. For a more savory flavor, try mushroom broth or diluted miso paste. And for a fresh note, mix citrus juice with water.
Ready? Let’s jump right in.
I made a wild rice soup to put 12 vegetable broth substitutes to the test.
Vegetable broth is a versatile ingredient that serves as a base for loads of savory dishes, especially vegetarian ones. It amplifies the other flavors in your recipes.
I was looking for a mild substitute that didn’t overpower my dish but helped enhance the other flavors in a similar way.
Here’s what I tested and the verdicts:
|Homemade broth||replace with a 1:1 ratio||10/10|
|Chicken/beef stock||replace with a 1:1 ratio||10/10|
|Bouillon cubes||Mix with water and replace with a 1:1 ratio||10/10|
|Water||replace with a 1:1 ratio||9/10|
|Mushroom broth||replace with a 1:1 ratio||9/10|
|Dashi||replace with a 1:1 ratio||9/10|
|Steeped tea||replace with a 1:1 ratio||8/10|
|Miso paste + water||replace with a 1:1 ratio||8/10|
|Citrus juice + water||replace a mixture of citrus juice and water in a 1:2 ratio (1 part citrus juice to 2 parts water)||8/10|
|Tomatoes||replace with a 1:1 ratio with a mixture of chopped tomatoes and water.||7/10|
|Fruit jam or dried fruits + water||replace with a 1:1 ratio with 2-3 tablespoons of fruit jam or dried fruit mixed with water||7/10|
|Dry white wine||mix equal parts of broth and dry white wine||7/10|
Common dishes that use vegetable broth and their substitutes
Here are some popular dishes that use vegetable broth and the best substitutes for these dishes:
- Soups and stews – homemade or chicken broth, mushroom broth, tomatoes
- Sauces and gravies – bouillon cubes, chicken broth, miso paste
- Risottos – homemade or chicken broth, mushroom broth,
- For cooking rice – water, chicken stock, citrus juice and water
- For poaching – chicken stock, white wine,
If you have some vegetables in your fridge, it’s really easy to make your own vegetable broth. You’ll be rewarded for your efforts with a deeper, richer flavor than the boxed stuff.
Another bonus is you get complete control over how much salt goes into the vegetable broth.
Oh my Veggies has an excellent recipe you can follow – it uses veggie scraps (meaning less food waste).
Pro tip: simmer the vegetable for at least an hour. The longer you let them cook, the more flavorful your broth will be.
(you can also substitute homemade broth with the store bought stuff!).
How to substitute: replace the vegetable broth in your recipe in a 1:1 ratio with your homemade broth.
If you’re not a vegetarian, chicken broth is an excellent substitute for vegetable broth.
It has a more robust flavor than vegetable broth, which means it works best in dishes with a bolder flavor.
You can still use it for delicate dishes, but you may want to mix the broth with water to make sure it won’t overpower your dish.
Psst… if you have chicken stock this will be even stronger than broth, so definitely be careful.
How to substitute: replace the vegetable broth in your recipe in a 1:1 ratio with chicken or beef stock.
I adore homemade broth, but sometimes I need a quick substitute. Enter bouillon cubes (otherwise known as vegetable stock cubs).
You can find these little flavor-packed cubes everywhere. They’re cheaper than store-bought broth and have a long shelf life so you can always have some on hand.
Simply mix the cube in with the specified amount water and you’ll have an instant broth ready to use.
Just a heads up, though – bouillon cubes tend to be saltier than vegetable broth, so you may need to reduce the salt in your recipe to achieve the right balance.
Psst… you can also use bouillon granules!
How to substitute: replace the vegetable broth in your recipe in a 1:1 ratio with the liquid created from dissolving a bouillon cube in hot water.
You can use plain water as a replacement for vegetable broth, but it’s more suited to dishes that get most of their flavor from other ingredients.
Although you can easily make up for the lost flavor by adding salt along with herbs like thyme, rosemary, and bay leaves. Or simply raid your cupboard for whatever you’ve got on hand.
A splash of soy sauce will add a salty, umami kick to your ‘broth’, while a sprinkle of nutritional yeast will bring a nutty, savory flavor.
Got a rind of parmesan sitting in the fridge? Boil it with water to make a cheesy broth that’s perfect for risotto and soups.
How to substitute: replace the vegetable broth in your recipe in a 1:1 ratio with water, and adjust seasonings and flavorings as needed.
Mushroom broth has an earthy, umami flavor that works best in savory, rich dishes like a hearty veggie stew or a vegetarian bolognese.
A downside is it’s not as accessible as vegetable broth, but you can easily DIY a batch with the help of dried mushrooms and water.
You can even add a splash of soy sauce or liquid aminos to further enhance the flavors.
Psst… you can also mix mushroom powder or paste into water.
How to substitute: replace the vegetable broth in your recipe in a 1:1 ratio with mushroom broth.
Dashi is a Japanese soup stock primarily made kombu (kelp) and bonito flakes (dried tuna).
The bonito brings the flavor of the ocean to the broth, while the kombu adds an umami hit. It doesn’t taste like vegetable broth, but it will bring depth of flavor to your dish.
Dashi is great for Japanese dishes, but I’ve also used it successfully for cooking rice and poaching salmon. YUM!
You can usually find ready-to-use dashi in the international section of your local grocery store.
How to substitute: replace the vegetable broth in your recipe in a 1:1 ratio with dashi.
Tea lovers rejoice – your favorite beverage is a surprisingly good substitute for vegetable broth.
Steeped tea brings a has a complex but subtle flavor that’ll elevate your dishes.
And you can easily adjust the ratio of tea and water to control how strong you want it to be.
You can’t cook with just any kind of tea, though – stay away from fruit-based teas and chamomile if you aren’t making desserts.
Masterclass recommends jasmine or white tea for poaching and black tea for bolder dishes.
How to substitute: replace the vegetable broth in your recipe in a 1:1 ratio with steeped tea.
Miso Paste + water
If all you have in your cupboard is miso paste, you’re in luck!
Just mix it with water to create an earthy, umami-loaded liquid that can work as a base for your dishes.
You may need to adjust the salt levels and make up for other flavors with herbs and spices, but it’s a solid substitute for soups, stews, and sauces.
I used yellow miso paste because of its lighter flavor, but you can also go with a darker variety like red miso if you want a more intense, earthy flavor.
You can also use those instant miso soup found in the international aisle at your grocery, but you still have to mix it with water.
How to substitute: replace the vegetable broth in your recipe in a 1:1 ratio with the miso paste and water mixture.
Citrus juice + water
Combining citrus juice and water works wonders as a vegetable broth substitute.
I usually use this substitute during the summer to add a bright, refreshing twist to my dishes.
But I would recommend using this sub for more delicately-flavored dishes, as bold flavors will overpower the citrus juice’s brightness.
Food 52 recommends using lemon, as it’s the most versatile, but don’t be afraid to experiment.
Why not try going with lime if you’re making a Mexican-inspired dish? Or try using grapefruit if you’re making a duck dish.
How to substitute: replace the vegetable broth in your recipe with a mixture of citrus juice and water in a 1:2 ratio (1 part citrus juice to 2 parts water).
Tomatoes often came up during my research for this test, and I thought there was no way they could work – but they did!
You’ll have to cook diced tomatoes with water, so you can use this to add an umami kick to your soups and stews.
You can also use dried tomatoes and blend the mixture for a richer consistency.
The only downside with this sub is that it’ll add a vibrant red color, so I recommend using it for similarly-colored dishes.
How to substitute: replace the vegetable broth in your recipe in a 1:1 ratio with a mixture of chopped tomatoes and water.
Fruit Jam or Dried Fruit + Water
Here’s another unconventional substitute for vegetable broth: fruit jam or dried fruit mixed with water.
It sounds weird, but hear me out. Fruits like apricots and cherries have a tart-sweet flavor that can balance meatier dishes.
Give it a try, and if you think it’s too sweet, add a few drops of vinegar to balance the sweetness.
Pssst… I’ve tried this with chili, and it turned out great!
How to substitute: replace the vegetable broth in your recipe in a 1:1 ratio with 2-3 tablespoons of fruit jam or dried fruit mixed with water.
Dry white wine
Dry white wine is a staple in cooking that brings a crisp, tangy flavor to balance the richness of your dishes.
It’s not an exact replacement for vegetable broth in all dishes, especially where vegetable stock is the base.
But it’s well-suited for boiling, deglazing, and poaching.
Or you can mix it with water or chicken stock to use it as base for your dish.
Pssst… beer is another good option for deglazing and poaching, but you’ll still have to mix it with water.
How to substitute: mix equal parts of dry white wine and chicken broth for a flavorful cooking liquid.
Best Vegetable Broth Substitutes [tried and tested]
- 1 cup homemade broth
- 1 cup chicken or beef stock
- 1 cup bouillon cubes
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup mushroom broth
- 1 cup dashi
- 1 cup steeped tea
- 1 cup miso paste + water
- 1 cup citrus juice + water
- 1 cup tomatoes
- 1 cup fruit jam or dried fruit + water
- ½ cup dry white wine
- Cook your meal according to the recipe.
- Add your chosen vegetable broth substitute at the appropriate cooking time.
- Mix until thoroughly combined and continue with the recipe.