Substitutes for Chicken Bouillon

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Chicken bouillon is a common ingredient in many soups, but can also be a frequent additive in numerous other recipes calling for a dash of bold, hearty flavour. If you don't have chicken bouillon granules on hand, there are a few other substitutions you can safely get away with depending on the recipe in question and your particular tastes.

Chicken Stock

For the most true-to-the-recipe taste, chicken stock or broth (either fresh or canned) is by far the best alternative. Since bouillon granules are essentially dehydrated stock crystals, this option will not noticeably alter most recipes. Substitute one cup chicken broth for one teaspoon granules (or one cup prepared bouillon).

Vegetable Stock

While the taste will vary slightly, vegetable stocks offer a lower-sodium option for many recipes, and can be quickly prepared by simmering whatever vegetables you have on hand in a few cups of water for 45 minutes. Season liberally with salt, pepper, and herbs that complement your recipe, and strain the broth through a fine mesh strainer before using.

Beef Stock

Beef stocks and broths will noticeably change the colour and flavour of most recipes when used in place of chicken bouillon, but can safely be used in certain situations. Recipes that are largely vegetable based will gain pleasant richness from the inclusion of beef stock, and sometimes adding a little minced meat or sausage to certain soups and stews can aid in more seamless substitutions. Note that beef stock also tends to have a saltier flavour than chicken bouillon cubes and granules, so sampling the recipe as you go and adjusting accordingly are good ideas.


Water, contrary to inclination, can make a perfectly acceptable substitute for chicken bouillon in many cases, especially when a recipe is already exceptionally rich and flavour-packed. You can significantly cut the sodium content by using extra herbs and spices and plain water. Herbs that pack a big punch of flavour without overpowering the recipes include thyme, rosemary, parsley, celery leaves, and even bay leaves in moderation.

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