Homemade chicken broth — golden yellow and fragrant with chicken, onions, celery, carrots and sage — can’t be beat for recipes. Sometimes you don’t have the time to make it, just need a cupful for a recipe or have run out of your stock supply in the freezer. There are substitutes for chicken broth, both commercial products and homemade.
Boullion cubes or powder mixed with boiling water is a satisfactory substitute for chicken broth when it’s in addition to other ingredients such as a stew. It doesn’t have the flavor or body of a quality canned chicken broth or one you make yourself. Increase the flavor of the bullion by using 25 to 50 percent more of the cube or powder than the package directions call for.
Vegetable broth is available canned or as cubes. Make your own by combining 1 cup each of chopped vegetables such as carrots, celery, onions, spinach and/or parsley with 2 cups water. Simmer until vegetables are soft. Strain the liquid or, for added flavor and vitamins, let the liquid cool then put in the blender and puree. Decrease the water to 1 cup so the vegetables are barely covered with water for a stronger flavor. Any vegetable, except those from the cabbage family, including broccoli and Brussels sprouts, may be used.
Salt Water or Milk
Commercial chicken broth has a high concentration of salt. Substitute plain water or milk for the amount of chicken broth called for and add salt to taste. Start with 1/4 tsp. salt and increase the amount until it’s as salty as you would like. It’s easy to add more salt but impossible to take it out once you’ve added it. If the yellow coloring of the chicken broth is important to the final dish, throw in a few yellow onion skins. They’ll give the water or milk a rich golden color. Remember to remove them before adding to the recipe.
Wine or Beer
When making dishes that use chicken broth for a gravy, sauce, or to simmer the chicken, use either wine, red or white, or beer. Or substitute half water and half wine for the chicken broth. Red wine will give the sauce a deep red color. If you boil the dish after you’ve added the wine or beer, the alcohol evaporates but the flavor remains.
Adding herbs to a dish adds flavor so you might not miss the chicken flavor of the broth. Use plain water in the same amount as the recipe calls for chicken broth. Tarragon, parley, oregano, basil and thyme are all herbs you probably have on hand. Start with 1/4 tsp. total dried herbs — that’s equal to 1 tsp. fresh chopped herbs and increase the amount of herbs until the dish is well flavored.
References and ResourcesGourmet Sleuth: Chicken Broth
What's Cooking America: Ingredient Substitution