Quick and Simple Broth Substitutes

There Are a Few Easy Options

Bring chicken broth to boil

The Spruce Eats / Nita West

Broth is used in everything from soups to sauces to casseroles and is one of those staples that you always want to have on hand in your kitchen. Sometimes, though, you might not realize you're out and need some for a recipe. If you have the time, you can make your own chicken broth, beef broth, or vegetable broth. If dinner has to be served ASAP, however, you will need a broth substitute that is quick and easy. For those moments, you can turn to a few simple substitutes.

illustration showing simple broth substitutes

The Spruce / Brianna Gilmartin

One Broth for Another 

Some broths are more interchangeable than others. Vegetable broth swaps more seamlessly for chicken or beef broth than chicken broth does for beef or vice versa. But, if you are in a pinch, and your recipe calls for chicken broth and all you have is beef broth, you can substitute one for the other without ruining the dish. You will notice subtle changes in the color or flavor of the finished dish, but it will still taste great, and it will get dinner on the table on time.

Bouillon for Broth

If you don't have any kind of broth on hand, you can resort to bouillon cubes or granules to make a broth substitute. To create the equivalent of 1 cup of broth, combine 1 cube or 1 teaspoon of granules with 1 cup of boiling water and mix until the bouillon dissolves. Scale the recipe up to make as much as you need using these ratios.

Keep in mind that bouillon tends to be saltier than broth, so you might want to omit or scale back on any salt called for in the recipe. Also resist the temptation to just sprinkle the bouillon granules directly into the recipe—the water is the key, effectively turning the bouillon into broth. 

Other Ingredients

If you don't have another type of broth or bouillon, you still have a few options to use in place of broth. These substitutes won't have the same flavor as the broth they're replacing, but they'll work in a pinch. Consider how they'll fit with your recipe before you give them a shot. They might be suitable for some recipes but not for others.

If you need a chicken broth substitute, you can use the same amount of white wine or a combination of water with 1 tablespoon of olive oil or melted butter. For beef broth, combine water with 1 tablespoon soy sauce. A variety of dried herbs and garlic and onion powders can be mixed into boiling water and used as a replacement for vegetable broth.

Since broth is a rich, flavorful liquid made by simmering poultry, meat, or vegetables in water with seasonings for an extended period of time, when you're using a substitute, remember that the flavorings are the key element. If you use the soy sauce substitute for beef broth, consider adding parsley, garlic, bay leaves, or other seasonings to create a more convincing replacement. Be sure to add just a little at a time as you experiment, then do a quick taste test before you make any additional adjustments.