Chicken bouillon adds a ton of flavor to any recipe, so what happens when you’re plumb out? Substitutes may slightly change the flavor of the dish, but that doesn’t always have to be bad!
You can substitute chicken bouillon using chicken stock, a homemade powder — even white wine, or soy sauce! If none of these are options for you, vegetable broth, beef broth, and water can all work as well.
Chicken bouillon is convenient, but so are these substitutes. Even if you’re making your own imitation powder, you can make enough to stock up. Let’s get into it.
Top Substitutes for Chicken Bouillon
1. Chicken Broth & Stock
Quite possibly the easiest and simplest of substitutes for chicken bouillon, you can find chicken stock and broth at your local grocery store and you can also make your own.
Chicken bouillon cubes are actually less flavorful than chicken broth – so you’re getting an added flavor bonus! If you’re using chicken stock, you’ll get a comparable flavor that’s just a bit richer than bouillon.
1 chicken bouillon cube (or 1 teaspoon of powder in hot water) = 1 cup of chicken stock or broth
Chicken stock and broth both tend to have a higher sodium count. Check your local grocery store for low-sodium options, or look for all-natural stock or broth with no added salt.
2. Homemade Chicken Boullion Powder
This substitute for chicken bouillon is easy to make, and stores in your pantry for months! It’s also vegan — an added bonus.
To make it, you’ll just need a few key pantry ingredients and a food processor to make a fine powder. This recipe will make enough powder for 3-4 months.
- 1 cup nutritional yeast
- ¼ cup salt
- ⅛ cup granulated garlic powder
- ⅛ cup granulated onion powder
- ⅛ cup dried basil
- ⅛ cup dried oregano
- ⅛ cup dried rosemary
- 1 tablespoon black pepper
Blend all of the ingredients in your food processor until you have a very fine powder. You don’t want your mix to be too grainy, because if you use the powder in a soup it won’t dissolve as easily.
Nutritional yeast is a great ingredient to have on hand for a number of recipes. It’s a great vegan cheese substitute! You can easily find it in the natural foods section or spice section of your local grocery store.
Tip: If all you have on hand is garlic salt you can substitute ⅛ cup of salt, and ⅛ cup of garlic salt.
To make a broth: Use 1 tablespoon powder for every 8 ounces of water used
3. White Wine
This may not be the best substitute for chicken bouillon if you or a guest has any sensitivity to alcohol, but white wine can be a rich substitute for chicken bouillon.
You should use a dry white wine here – Pinot Grigio, Pinot Gris, Sauvignon Blanc, and Pinot Blanc are all good options. Your choice of white wine doesn’t also have to be “good” or expensive – a $3 wine will work just as well as a $30 wine.
Dry white wine will give your dish a less salty, and slightly lighter flavor than if you use chicken bouillon. Make sure that when you’re using white wine in any recipe you cook it down so that the alcohol cooks off.
1 chicken bouillon cube (or 1 teaspoon of powder in hot water) = 1/2 cup of dry white wine.
Don’t forget! Decrease your other liquids in your recipe proportionally here, because you’re using less of your chicken bouillon substitute.
4. Soy Sauce
Another substitute for chicken bouillon, soy sauce will give your dish a similarly salty flavor. Your dish will not taste like it would if you’d used chicken bouillon, but it will be delicious all the same.
As its name suggests, soy sauce is made from fermented, processed soybeans. It may not be the best substitute for chicken bouillon if you’re serving anyone with a soy allergy.
1 chicken bouillon cube (or 1 teaspoon of powder in hot water) = 1 tablespoon of soy sauce
Keep in mind that because you are using a smaller amount of liquid in the soy sauce, you may need to increase other liquids, such as water, to compensate.
Tip: Don’t add additional salt to a recipe that uses soy sauce until you’ve tasted it! Soy sauce is incredibly salty – you don’t want to overdo it!
Light soy sauce is the go-to here as a substitute for chicken bouillon. Dark soy sauce may make your dish overly salty and ruin it. If you only have dark soy sauce, use 2 teaspoons of soy sauce and 1 teaspoon of water.
Other Substitutes for Chicken Bouillon
If the above substitutes don’t do it for you, try any of these alternatives for chicken bouillon.
5. Vegetable Bouillon
Vegetable bouillon is just like chicken bouillon, but with vegetables! You can easily substitute vegetable bouillon for chicken bouillon, 1:1. Both come in cube or powder form.
Keep in mind that vegetable bouillon, unless it’s the roasted vegetable variety, will not be as flavorful as chicken bouillon. You can compensate by adding herbs and spices, or a dash of white wine or soy sauce to ramp up the flavor.
6. Beef Broth
Beef broth may give your dish a totally different flavor, but it makes for an excellent substitute for chicken bouillon. Beef broth is richer than chicken bouillon, with higher sodium content, so keep that in mind when adjusting your recipe.
Beef consommé is another even more flavorful substitute for chicken bouillon. If you can get your hands on some, it’s highly suggested that you give it a try.
If you don’t have any of these on hand or are just in a pinch, water can also substitute for chicken bouillon. It’s easy, it’s just not as flavorful. You can mitigate that by adding poultry seasoning or increasing the amount of seasoning already in the recipe.
1 tablespoon of poultry seasoning to 1 cup of water will add enough flavor for a delicious base. If your recipe calls for additional water, you may want to increase the poultry seasoning to 2 tablespoons to prevent your dish from tasting extra watery.
Don’t have poultry seasoning on hand? You can substitute tarragon, rosemary, thyme, oregano, and basil, all dried, along with a bit of onion and garlic powder. For a richer flavor, add cumin.
The great news about all of these substitutes is that they can be used in soups or any other recipe that calls for chicken bouillon. It’s always best to check nutrition labels for your ingredients, as chicken bouillon and the majority of these substitutes tend to have a higher sodium content.