10 Best Substitutes For Chicken Broth

Chicken broth is a liquid (generally water) that has had meat cooked in it. Cooking site The Kitchn explains that the difference between broth and stock lies in the fact that broth is seasoned and does not gel when chilled. Broth can be used in the same manner as stock to make hearty and healthy soups, sauces, braises, and more.

Homemade broth is generally best and has more nutrients, and knowing how to pull it together is handy when you're out of store-bought broth. As LiveStrong points out, homemade broth allows you to avoid excessive sodium. But sometimes, there just isn't time or resources to do so. In fact, homemade stock or broth is something of a luxury, not a necessity. If you're out of chicken broth and looking for alternatives to produce comparable results, we have 10 affordable, easy, and handy swaps you can make for your recipe.

1. Water

Water can serve as a broth base that is then infused with a myriad of flavors by the other items used to create the dish. 

Chris Gardner, executive chef at Peohe's restaurant in Coronado, CA, agrees that water is both an economical and exceptional substitute for chicken broth. Gardner told Mashed, "Most soups are full of flavor lending ingredients. If you are out of chicken broth/stock, it is not the end of your culinary day. If you're using it for soups, stews, or sauces, look towards your vegetables for the flavor. Look for any onion ends — use the brown peelings too — even the ends of green onions, celery and the ends of celery, any tomatoes or tomato product — even canned will work."

Additionally, Gardner suggested using carrots to help create the flavor. "Baby carrots, whole carrots, or even simply the ends of carrots can contribute to this. If garlic is available, fresh or minced, this can be added. Open up the spice cupboard. Look for dried thyme, bay leaves, whole or table pepper, dried parsley can work. A combination of roasted vegetables and dried herbs combined in the right ratios can create a broth/stock to be used in place of any meat stock." 

You can substitute one cup of water for one cup of chicken broth in your recipes. 

2. Butter and water

Auguste Escoffier who, per Britannica.com, was the director of the kitchens at the luxury Savoy Hotel in London, and was given the awesome title of "the king of chefs and the chef of kings," famously quipped, "Indeed, stock is everything in cooking. Without it, nothing can be done." However, Escoffier didn't know The Pioneer Woman, also known as Ree Drummond, the skilled home cook from Oklahoma who serves up the best cowboy fare. 

On her website, Drummond shares that you can also add butter to water to echo the flavors of chicken broth. All that salty buttery goodness will help to create a much heartier and creamier base that will get those savory taste buds working in overdrive. 

According to Drummond, you want to substitute 1 cup of water plus 1 tablespoon of butter for every 1 cup of chicken broth in your recipes. However, Drummond warns that if chicken broth is the "main ingredient," this is not the substitute you are looking for.

3. White wine

If you have a well-stocked wine cellar or even just a leftover bottle you purchased to gift someone during the holidays, white wine can serve as a good substitute for chicken broth. While it may slightly change the flavor, it will add depth and be equally tasty. Ree Drummond shares on her Pioneer Woman blog that if you want to swap white wine for your chicken broth, this substitute works best when you only need a half of a cup of chicken broth for your recipe. Drummond also explains that the white wine will help thicken sauces and deglaze your pan in the process. This swap adds some acidity to your dish, so be warned.

Just as you can substitute chicken broth for white wine, you can substitute equal amounts of white wine for an equal amount of chicken broth in your recipes.

4. Bouillon cubes

No white wine? No problem. You can use bouillon cubes as a substitute for chicken broth by combining one cube with one cup of boiling water to create the equivalent of one cup of broth. However, if you use bouillon to make your broth, you may want to cut back on adding any additional salt, as bouillon tends to be, well, salty. What exactly is a bouillon cube? Fine Cooking explains that these little, perfectly shaped cubes are "dehydrated and compressed" chicken broth. They are an economical way to create broth and, bouillon cubes also have a long shelf life. These broth savers last around two years in your kitchen pantry.

Gramercy Tavern sous chef Aretah Ettarh told Food & Wine, "Bouillon cubes have so much umami in them that it tastes a lot more interesting and more developed than some store-bought chicken stock." Those are encouraging words for those of us who don't have the time to make chicken broth from scratch. Ettarh went on to say, "They're filled with a deep, rich taste that really amplifies whatever you're trying to make."

Duluth News Tribune shares that you will want one bouillon cube dissolved in 8 ounces of boiling water for every one cup of broth when substituting bouillon cubes for your chicken broth in your recipes.

5. Ramen seasoning packets

But if you find yourself in a real bind and can't find any of the above-mentioned ingredients to create your chicken broth, you can use leftover seasoning packets from your favorite ramen noodles. Who knew the food that sustained so many of us in college could be so useful? According to Reddit, ramen noodle seasoning packets are a great way to create a substitute for chicken broth. The thread was started by a college student who was looking for a way to up the flavor of instant potatoes. After doing a little internet sleuthing, the user discovered that chicken broth could be the solution; however, the student had no chicken broth. So, they asked if leftover ramen seasoning could be used to make it. 

Naturally, someone responded and wrote, "Yes. Keep in mind that ramen broth powder is super concentrated and salty though. Just slowly add your ramen powder to a cup of water, until you have something that tastes similar to broth. Then add a spoonful at a time to your potatoes until the flavor is good for you." 

So, if you are using a seasoning packet for your chicken broth substitute in your recipe, you will want to dissolve it in hot water and be conservative in adding it, tasting as you go.

6. Coconut milk

Coconut milk may seem like an unlikely substitute for chicken broth but according to the Gourmet Sleuth, coconut milk can be an easy stand-in for chicken broth. This swap works best when you are making specific types of dishes. It's optimal for curry and African dishes. While coconut milk is delish with its sweet coconut taste, we found ourselves wondering what effect this substitute might have on a recipe, and alas, we were not alone. The Reddit community also shared in this curiosity and luckily someone had the answer. One Redditor cautioned when using this milky ingredient as an alternative to chicken broth that, ". . .the flavor will change, obviously, but it's not going to ruin your food. Just keep in mind that stock has a lot more salt in it than coconut milk, so you might have to adjust your seasonings to compensate." 

When using this substitute in your recipes, Redditors suggest that you, "Remember to add extra spices and salt because the milk itself has a sweet taste. I would encourage you to water it down slightly before you add it (1/4th part water, 3/4 coconut milk)."

7. Aquafaba

Andrew Zimmern, the host of Travel Channel's "Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern" and a known fan of the waste not, want not philosophy, would probably be a fan of this chicken broth substitute suggestion. Pure Wow shares that chickpea liquid — that thick, cloudy, goopy-looking liquid that your chickpeas are packed in — or aquafaba as it is sometimes called, is another handy swap for chicken broth. Whether you are draining a can of black beans or chickpeas, you should hold on to that liquid because it is packed full of flavor. When swapping aquafaba for chicken broth, Pure Wow explains that because this liquid is so starchy, you will need to dilute it using equal parts water. 

Once you've diluted your aquafaba, you can use it as a 1:1 substitute in pretty much any recipe that calls for chicken broth.  

8. Dashi

Dashi or Japanese soup stock can also work as a substitute for chicken stock. If you are unfamiliar, Japanese soup stock has been around since the 17th century, according to Just One Cookbook, and because it is made with just two ingredients plus water, it is simple to create but packs an enormous amount of flavor. Some people may confuse dashi with miso, but miso is a whole different type of ingredient derived from soybeans. 

Per The Kitchn, to make your own dashi you will need water, kombu which is dried kelp, and bonito fish flakes. It is often described as having an umami flavor, but we would probably describe it as briny. Ashcroft Family Table notes that it does have an intensity to the taste buds, so this substitute works best when making seafood stews, casseroles, and sauces. 

When substituting dashi for chicken broth in your recipe, Ashcroft Family Table suggests adding a little at a time, and taste as you go until you achieve the flavor you want.

9. Vegetable stock

Vegetable stock is another easy substitute for chicken broth. Vegetable stock works as a substitute for chicken broth because of the similarities in the color and flavor of the two. Ashcroft Family Table notes that the beauty of vegetable stock is that it is a great vegan option. They also suggest that because vegetable stock's flavor can be a little bland, you may want to add herbs and spices to suit your taste buds' preferences and the dish you are creating. Vegetable stock is also easy to make if you don't have any on hand. The Kitchn shares that you only need water and a few vegetables and aromatics, or even whatever vegetable scraps you may have leftover from a previous evening's dinner, to create this stock. 

It is also an easy substitute for your recipes because you simply need to do a 1:1 swap. 

10. Beef broth

Ashcroft Family Table shares that beef broth can be used as a substitute for chicken broth. It is made in a similar manner as chicken broth, but the site also notes that the flavor is much stronger. Chowhound shares that this substitution works well for soups, but the end result will be much richer in taste. Swapping one broth for another will likely change the color of your what you are cooking, as well as the flavor, but works in most cases with one exception. If the name of the broth is in the name of the recipe, i.e. Chicken Noodle Soup or Beef Bourguignon, you probably want to stick with that particular broth.

If you are going to use beef broth in place of chicken broth, you will want to dilute it with water first and then use it as a 1:1 substitution.