10 Best Substitutes For Beef Broth

When you're under the weather, nothing makes you feel better quite like a hot bowl of broth. But, the savory liquid is much more than a remedy for the common cold. In fact, the regular practice of drinking broth — especially bone broth, which is rich in collagen — may also provide some health benefits including improved joint and digestive health and helping with inflammation, according to Healthline.

Broths are also used heavily in cooking and can be utilized in many ways depending on the specific flavor. For example, beef broth not only works well as a liquid for braising meat, but is also a great base for soups, stews, and sauces that will bring a rich and deep flavor to your creation. It is fairly easy to make yourself, simply requiring a combination of beef (with or without bones), the holy trinity of veggies known as mirepoix, and aromatics that are simmered in water. Making homemade beef broth does, however, require a bit of time. 

It may be helpful to have a carton or two of the store-bought version on hand, but for the times that making a quick run to the market isn't an option, or when you need a vegetarian version, there are plenty of substitutions available to replace this flavorful and necessary ingredient.

1. Chicken broth

If your beef broth supply is depleted, but you have some chicken broth on hand in your pantry, you can absolutely use it as a substitution in the recipe you're making. The make-up of the two broths is nearly identical, with chicken broth simply calling for, well, chicken at its base rather than beef — a difference that makes for a lighter flavor, though it will still be meaty and delicious. You may also notice a difference in color in the final product, as beef broth is darker than the poultry version.

It's just as easy to make a batch of chicken broth at home, and just might end up being cheaper than homemade beef broth since chicken is generally less expensive to purchase. However, boxed chicken broth is readily available to purchase from the store as well. Both versions of the ingredient can be used wherever beef broth is called for in a 1:1 ratio.

2. Vegetable broth

Interestingly enough, Organic Facts attests to the fact that vegetable broth may be the best substitution for beef broth, even more so than the chicken variety. Made up of an even smaller list of ingredients that includes just veggies, herbs, and spices, using this version of the liquid can make your dish vegetarian or vegan-friendly without sacrificing the flavors found in any of the broths that use meat as the base. 

In fact, if you're making your own vegetable broth, you might want to use more than just the classic trio of onions, carrots, and celery (maybe add in mushrooms and kale) along with a wide variety of seasonings to make it even tastier — with the added bonus of getting rid of the leftover veggie scraps sitting in your fridge.

Like chicken broth, vegetable broth can be used in any recipe that calls for beef broth, but works especially well in sauces, soups, and casseroles. This is another easy swap as well, simply requiring the same amount of beef broth called for in a 1:1 ratio.

3. Beef stock

On the surface, it may seem like beef broth and beef stock are the same thing. Both can be used in similar fashions, making great bases for soups and sauces, though there is a big difference in the make-up of the two: Whereas beef broth is made using meat and occasionally bones, beef stock only has clean animal bones at its base. There is also no blend of herbs and spices on the ingredient list for beef stock, giving it more of a neutral flavor.

Still, despite their differences, beef stock can easily be used as a substitute for beef broth when you don't have the latter on hand. According to The Daring Kitchen, the stock can be used in a 1:1 ratio in place of broth, though you will want to make a few adjustments to it beforehand to get its taste up to par. The article suggests adding red wine, herbs, and spices into a saucepan with your stock, bringing it all to a boil before letting it simmer for between 10-30 minutes. Once it's done, strain the mixture and it will be ready for use.

4. Mushroom broth

Mushrooms are often used as a substitution for meat in a variety of dishes including tacos and veggie-friendly burgers, so it's no wonder they can be turned into a broth that can work in place of beef broth as well. This replacement is both vegetarian and vegan, as it's made similarly to vegetable broth, though a majority of its flavor comes from an assortment of mushrooms rather than a mix of veggies. Mushroom broth is comparable to beef broth in both taste and consistency, but will also bring a delectable umami flavor to your dish when used as a replacement.

Like the other alternatives mentioned in this list, mushroom broth is fairly easy to make at home, and can even be further intensified with the addition of some red wine, soy sauce, or miso paste, suggests Tastessence. It can be purchased from the store as well, though this option will alter how it should be used in place of beef broth. If you are going that route, Good Thymes And Good Food suggests adding 1 teaspoon of store-bought mushroom broth to a cup of water to use as a substitution for beef broth; homemade mushroom broth, on the other hand, can be substituted in a 1:1 ratio.

5. Bouillon cubes

Dressed up in metallic wrappers, bouillon cubes may look like pieces of candy, but you'll be in for a real shock if you start popping them into your mouth like Hershey's Kisses! Despite looking just like a sweet treat, bouillon cubes are actually made of dehydrated broth that has been shaped into small cubes. They are incredibly convenient to have on hand, as they take up very little room in the pantry compared to an actual carton of broth, and have a long shelf life. They can also be used in just about any recipe that calls for beef broth.

Beef bouillon cubes can easily be found at the grocery store, though chicken or vegetable flavors will also work in place of the liquid form of beef stock. The typical process of getting them ready for use involves letting one cube dissolve in a cup of boiling water to produce the equivalent of one cup of beef broth. Keep in mind that bouillon cubes, no matter the flavor, tend to be higher in sodium than regular broth, so you may need to adjust other parts of your recipe accordingly so the finished product doesn't end up too salty.

6. Beer or wine

If you plan on accompanying your meal with a glass of beer or wine, open them up ahead of time and use these items for cooking too — both of these adult beverages can work as a suitable replacement for beef broth. This substitution will work best in a stew, chili, or gravy, and, according to Tastessence can also be used as a braising liquid for meats to give your dish a rich flavor.

You'll need to dilute your beer or wine for this swap, though, with a half-cup of the alcohol you choose (non-alcoholic beer will work as well) combined with a half-cup of water to make the equivalent of one cup of beef broth, says Good Thymes And Good Food. Make sure you give your dish ample cooking time for this swap as well in order to ensure that the alcohol content completely evaporates, and be mindful of your heat settings since both of these ingredients are flammable.

7. Soy sauce

As previously mentioned, adding a dash of soy sauce to mushroom broth can create a tasty beef broth replacement, but the dark brown liquid can also be incorporated all on its own as a great substitute. The condiment has a rich umami flavor that will provide the same saltiness as beef broth in a number of recipes, including soup, stir fry, and gravy. Because soy sauce is made from fermented soybeans, this is also a great swap when you're looking to make your dish vegetarian or vegan.

When it comes to utilizing this replacement, know that a little goes a long way. Rather than dumping a bunch of soy sauce into your dish as you cook it, you'll want to dilute one tablespoon of soy sauce with one cup of water to mimic one cup of beef broth, according to Tastessence. You an also kick the flavors up a notch by adding a few spices to the solution, or even cut the amount of soy sauce down to one teaspoon and pair it with a teaspoon of steak sauce for a taste that will be even more similar to that of beef broth.

8. Worcestershire sauce

Worcestershire sauce is another condiment that can act as a replacement for beef broth in most recipes when you don't have any on hand. Worcestershire will provide a complex umami flavor that will also take care of the salt factor that your dish requires, and you may even find it to be a more flavorful option compared to soy sauce. 

Unfortunately, Karissa's Vegan Kitchen notes that this ingredient often contains anchovies or fish sauce, so this swap will not be suitable for those following a vegetarian or vegan diet. However, there are vegan versions of the condiment available for purchase, which can be utilized in the same fashion to make a beef broth replacement.

This is another potent substitution, so don't go overboard when incorporating it into your recipe. Good Thymes And Good Food suggests using a single tablespoon on its own to mimic the taste of beef broth, or mixing together one tablespoon of Worcestershire and one cup of water to make the same amount as one cup of beef broth that will have both its flavor and consistency.

9. Liquid aminos

Liquid aminos have recently gained some serious popularity in the food world, with the buzz around them growing stronger every day. This ingredient is similar in both look and taste to soy sauce, meaning that it can also be used just as well as a beef broth replacement to provide an intense, savory flavor — though you may find it to be a touch sweeter. Liquid aminos are vegetarian and vegan-friendly, naturally gluten-free, and offer other benefits including no chemical preservatives and a high concentration of amino acids. 

If you're trying to limit your soy intake, you may want to try a coconut-based amino product instead.

For this swap, you'll want to mix up a solution of one teaspoon of liquid aminos and one cup of water to create a suitable replacement for beef broth. Use in a myriad of recipes including soup, stir fry, and gravy.

10. Miso paste

Miso is an ingredient commonly used in Japanese cuisine, but can also be utilized in a number of ways as a vegetarian substitution — in this case, for beef broth. It's often found as a thick paste that is made up of fermented soybeans, which are mixed with salt and a mold known as koji that gives it a rich and savory flavor. But it has more uses than just a base of miso soup — it also makes a great marinade or sauce, and it can be incorporated into stir fry as well.

There are a variety of miso pastes available, but red miso paste is the best to use in place of beef broth as it has been fermenting the longest, giving it an even more intense flavor (via Bon Appétit). To make the swap, replace one cup of beef broth with a mixture of one tablespoon of miso paste and one cup of water for the best results.