Beef broth gives soups, stews and sauces a deep, rich flavor. It can also be used in place of other liquids — such as wine or water — to flavor fast-cooking dishes, such as stir-fries and sautés. However, sometimes homemade or high-quality commercial beef broth is not on hand, in which case, you may need to find a substitute. In addition to mixes and powders, there are also other broths one can use to replicate characteristics of beef broth.

Beef stock is waterier and less flavorful than beef broth. The difference between stock and broth comes down to seasoning: stock is not seasoned with salt or spices, while broths are. Beef stock can be used as a direct substitute for beef broth, or it can be seasoned to make a fast broth.

To turn beef stock into beef broth:

  • Add a splash of red wine, as well as fresh or dried herbs, and salt to a beef stock.

  • Bring it to a rolling boil, and cook for 10 to 30 minutes, to extract all of the flavor from the seasonings.

  • Strain the stock — now broth — to remove the seasonings, and use as you would beef broth.

Bouillon cubes are small cubes of highly concentrated flavoring. They can be dissolved in water to approximate beef broth. Bouillon cubes use a lot of seasonings — natural and commercially produced — and often a lot of salt to recreate the taste of beef broth. While the saltiness and some of the spice will be similar, bouillon cubes generally lack the depth of flavor associated with true broth. To use, dissolve one cube in 1 cup of warm or hot water to substitute for 1 cup of broth.

Beef base is similar to bouillon cubes, but it has a deeper, richer flavor. Beef base, which is sold as a paste, and unlike bouillon cubes, often contains concentrated beef and beef stock, to provide a less salt-reliant flavor. To use, dissolve 1 to 2 tablespoons of base in 1 cup of hot water. The amount you use depends on how strong you would like your beef “broth” to be.