Chicken stock is one of the first things that you learn about when you start culinary school. And rightfully so, as there are a lot of recipes that call for chicken stock. In fact, it is a valued ingredient all around the world. Singapore has chicken rice, America has chicken noodle soup, the Japanese use chicken stock when making ramen, and the Italians use chicken stock in their fabulous risottos.
I have noticed that a lot of people make the mistake of using the term chicken base when they are referring to chicken stock. Even many of my foodie friends do this and confuse chicken stock with chicken base. While it is easy to confuse the two, there are some key differences between the two of them, and if you add the humble chicken bouillon into the equation, there is even more confusion. If you are one of those people, I am going to help you by telling you what separates the three ingredients.
Chicken stock is created by using whole chickens, water, some salt, ground black pepper, garlic, and vegetables, like carrots, onions, and celery. The concoction is then boiled and simmered in a stockpot for hours until you get a clear chicken broth soup (a lot of skimming is involved during this process).
Chicken base undergoes the same process but it’s cooked for longer. The broth is then slowly simmered into a highly concentrated chicken stock. Chicken base can also be bought in stores in a highly concentrated powder form. Typically, the chicken base is darker and thicker than regular chicken stock, while chicken bouillons is bought in cubes that dissolve in boiling water.
As chicken stock is much lighter than chicken base, it is preferred in dishes like chicken noodle soups, risottos, and chowders. While the thicker and richer consistency and taste of the chicken base makes it a perfect to include in stews and sauces.
Personally, I prefer making chicken base, as opposed to chicken stock, because of its rich flavor. I absolutely love making ramen at home, so it is imperative that I know a thing or two about making a great chicken base. I have done this over a hundred times as an ingredient for my chicken rice, chicken and fisherman stew, crab chowder, and even Indian curries.
However, making chicken base will take you hours and hours, so it’s not suitable if you need it for a quick recipe. I have scoured the internet for other ingredients that can be used as a substitute for chicken base and listed them below for you.
Chicken bouillon, while not the healthiest option, is the quickest substitute for chicken base. This intense flavor packed cube can replicate a stock soup that normally takes an hour to make in just a matter of minutes. To make the broth, simply fill a stockpot of water and bring it to the boil. Then take out your chicken cubes and dunk them into the stockpot. Remember that the ratio of water to chicken cubes depends on how many cups of chicken base you need. So if your recipe calls for four cups, just add four chicken bouillon cubes to four cups of boiling water.
Using a whisk, mix the broth with the boiling water until it is all dissolved. Once this is done, bring the heat down to medium and simmer for a few minutes. Then add another bouillon to get that intense chicken base flavor.
- Pro Tip: Don’t add any salt when using bouillon to create stock. Most bouillon cubes already have a high sodium content so adding more salt can make it too salty. Don’t forget to taste the broth to check that you are happy with the taste.
Vegetable bouillon is another substitute if you don’t have any chicken broth cubes in the kitchen. While it won’t impart the taste of chicken, it does a good job of mimicking the saltiness and flavor of the chicken base. However, I will let you in on a secret; use some roasted vegetable bouillon instead of the regular variety, and it will mimic the meaty taste of chicken.
To make the broth, just follow the same steps, just as you did in the previous item on the list. One significant benefit of using roasted vegetable bouillon is that it is a good alternative for vegetarians. While this doesn’t replace a good old-fashioned chicken base, it is much quicker to do and might even be the healthier option if you go with the low sodium variety.
Okay, this is one of those emergency situations where you really need to make a chicken base and all the other options are not available. While I have yet to try this option, some people have said they tried masking the lack of flavor of chickenless broth by adding some soy sauce.
The logic behind it is that the thick, rich flavor of the soy sauce can mimic the saltiness of the chicken base. Using the same process as above, substitute one teaspoon of soy sauce with every cup of water that you need. Taste the soy sauce broth during the entire process, and add salt if you still think it is needed.
However, please keep in mind that this is strictly an emergency substitution.
Consider using white wine if you are really out of options and need to make some chicken base. You just use half a cup of white wine with half a cup of water and you are good to go. Keep in mind that this will make your broth less salty so you might want to add a bit of salt to the mixture.
Sherry is another type of wine that you can use in this recipe. But be aware that this will give it a taste of alcohol, so don’t serve it to those who are sensitive to alcohol.
If beef bouillon is all you have, then do not despair. Beef broth is still a worthy substitute if you really lack the other ingredients. Just follow the water to cube ratio in our instructions and you should be fine.
Chicken base is a fantastic and very versatile ingredient to have around the house, as there are a lot of things you can do with it. However, cooking it is a different animal. It can take hours to finish it. While there is no substitute for a rich chicken base that has been simmering for a long time, it still pays to know what other ingredients you can use that come close to the real thing.
I adore making this kind of list. Cooking is not an easy hobby or profession, and there are a million tired moms and single dads who tire themselves out day in and day out just to put food on the table. So, if I can help them out by making their jobs easier, I absolutely jump at the chance.
If you loved our article today, then feel free to share it with anyone who might be interested. If you have any stories about the chicken base substitute, then it would be great to hear about them. Please tell me your stories in the space below. Keep on cooking and eating!