What’s the Best Substitute for Vegetable Broth?

It’s always surprising that a small amount of vegetable broth can bring so much flavor to almost any dish. One cup can make or break whatever it is you’re cooking.

That said, there are some downsides to using vegetable broth that may have you reaching for a substitute. 

The best substitutes for vegetable broth, both vegetarian and non-vegetarian, include bouillon, chicken or beef broth, mushroom broth, soy sauce, wine, or water.

Bouillon

Bouillon, both chicken, and vegetable is broth stored in a more concentrated, dehydrated form. The word ‘bouillon’ is literally the French word for broth – so it makes sense!

Bouillon comes in both cubed and loose powdered forms. It has a longer shelf life than a ready-made broth and is very easily substituted for vegetable broth.

1 cup of vegetable broth = 1 bouillon cube (or 1 teaspoon of powder in hot water)

Make sure you dissolve your bouillon cube or powder in boiling water before you add it to your dish in place of vegetable broth! If you add it straight to whatever it is you’re cooking you won’t get the most flavor.

Homemade Boullion Powder

This substitute for vegetable 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.

Ingredients

  • 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.

Chicken or Beef Broth

Quite possibly the easiest and simplest of substitutes for vegetable broth, you can find chicken and beef broth at your local grocery store and you can also make your own.

Unless you follow a vegan or vegetarian diet, chicken or beef broth is a perfect substitute for vegetable broth.

Keep in mind that the taste will be slightly different if you substitute chicken or beef broth for vegetable broth. Meat-based broths contain animal gelatin, giving them a rich flavor. Vegetable broths are more neutral.

If you don’t want the chicken or beef flavor to overpower what would have been a more neutral dish, you can also cut your substitute broth with a bit of water to even out the taste.

Mushroom Broth

Mushroom broth makes for a wonderfully aromatic and rich vegetable broth alternative.

Mushroom broth is readily available at most grocery stores, and you can easily make your own. Mixing the types of mushrooms used will give you a broth with more dimension, too.

You can use any combination of the following mushrooms to make a great mushroom broth:

  • Shiitake
  • Chanterelle
  • Boletus
  • Button
  • Oyster

You don’t need a lot of mushrooms to make a satisfying broth — even just a handful will do!

Definitely caramelize the mushrooms before cooking them into a broth. This will give your vegetable broth replacement an even richer and deeper taste.

Once you make your mushroom broth you can substitute it 1:1 for your vegetable broth.

Soy Sauce

Soy sauce has a salty umami flavor that makes it a great substitute for any broth, and especially vegetable broth. 

Soy sauce or a comparable substitute should be mixed with water to make a comparable vegetable broth substitute. Otherwise, you’ll end up with a salty mess. 

You should also allow the soy sauce and water combination to simmer for quite some time with your other ingredients. This will allow all of your flavors to meld together beautifully.

Given its high salt content, you should adjust an additional salt called for in your recipe should you use soy sauce as a substitute for vegetable broth.

1 cup of vegetable broth = 1 cup of water + 1 tablespoon of soy sauce.

Wine

If you or a guest has any sensitivity to alcohol, this may not be the best substitute for vegetable broth. That said, white wine can be a rich substitute given its depth of flavor.

You should use a dry white wine here, as they make the best substitutes for vegetable broth. A  Pinot Grigio, Pinot Gris, Sauvignon Blanc, or Pinot Blanc are all good options. 

If you’re making a richer or meat-based dish, you can substitute red wine for vegetable broth instead.

Wine will give your dish a less salty, and slightly lighter flavor than if you use vegetable broth. Make sure that when you’re using white wine in any recipe you cook it down so that the alcohol cooks off. 

You don’t want to only use wine as a substitute for vegetable broth – you should also add water to make sure the taste doesn’t overpower your dish.

1 cup of vegetable broth = ¼ to ½ cup wine + ¾ or ½ cup water.

Water

If you don’t have any of these on hand or are just in a pinch, water is the handiest substitute for vegetable broth. It’s easy, it’s just not as flavorful. 

You can mitigate the lack of flavor by adding seasoning to your water or increasing the amount of seasoning already in the recipe. 

1 tablespoon of seasoning mix 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 seasoning to 2 tablespoons to prevent your dish from tasting extra watery.

Great seasonings can include thyme, oregano, tarragon, rosemary, and basil, all dried, along with onion and garlic powder. For a richer flavor, add cumin.

If you’re making a meat-based dish, you may not need to worry about adding extra seasoning to the water. The water will pick up the flavor from the meat, making a rich vegetable broth substitute. 

1 cup of vegetable broth = 1 cup of water (with spices).

Whatever you choose, you can’t go wrong with any of these substitutes for vegetable broth. You can also always make your own with any vegetable scraps you have on hand. Happy eating!