Bouillon powder is a versatile kitchen staple used to quickly add flavor to soups, stews, rice dishes, sauces, and more.
However, you may find yourself without bouillon powder when a recipe calls for it. Fortunately, there are many easy substitutions to give your dish an umami boost in a pinch.
Overview of Bouillon Powder
Bouillon powder is dehydrated stock that comes in granulated or powdered form. It originated as a meat-based product made from boiled down animal bones, meat, and vegetables. However, vegetarian bouillon powders made from mushrooms or nutritional yeast have become widely available.
Standard bouillon powder contains salt, flavor enhancers like monosodium glutamate (MSG), and dehydrated vegetables like onion, carrot, parsley, and garlic. It provides an easy way to impart a rich, savory flavor reminiscent of simmered stock.
Bouillon powders offer convenience, long shelf life, and portability. They are a staple ingredient in commercial kitchens and home pantries alike. You'll find bouillon enhances the flavor of:
When a recipe calls for bouillon powder but you don't have any, don't worry! With a well-stocked pantry, you can improvise easy bouillon powder substitutes.
Key Takeaway: Bouillon powder is a versatile, concentrated seasoning made from dehydrated stock. It adds rich flavor to many dishes.
Vegetarian/Vegan Bouillon Powder Substitutes
If you follow a vegetarian or vegan diet, look no further than these handy substitutions to mimic bouillon powder's savory umami flavor.
Nutritional yeast is an inactive yeast with a nutty, cheesy, and slightly savory flavor. It contains glutamic acid that provides a natural umami taste.
To use it as bouillon powder:
- Combine 3 parts nutritional yeast with 1 part salt.
- Add any desired dried herbs and spices like onion powder, garlic powder, turmeric, or Italian seasoning.
- Use 1-2 teaspoons of this mixture per 1 cup hot water to make vegetarian broth.
Nutritional yeast is the closest you'll get to bouillon powder's taste without using MSG. It offers a healthy way to add meaty richness to plant-based cooking.
Dehydrated mushrooms offer an earthy, deep flavor similar to bouillon. Look for mushroom powder or dried porcini mushrooms and add them to your homemade bouillon blend.
Mushroom powder concentration varies, so start with 1 teaspoon per 1 cup hot water and adjust to taste. For dried porcini mushrooms, use 2-3 tablespoons chopped.
Vegetable Broth Powder
Like bouillon powder, vegetable broth powder provides instant flavor from dehydrated vegetables, herbs, and spices. It comes in handy when you need a vegan substitute fast.
Use it just as you would bouillon powder by dissolving 1 teaspoon per 1 cup hot water. Taste and adjust concentration if needed.
This fermented soybean paste contributes savory umami flavor to recipes. Its salty, nutty taste resembles bouillon powder.
Use about 1 teaspoon miso paste per 1 cup water. Reduce added salt since miso is already salty.
Soy Sauce or Tamari
As another fermented soy product, soy sauce or tamari offer instant umami depth. Use 1-2 teaspoons per 1 cup water to make your "broth."
Tomato paste provides rich, concentrated flavor. For an impromptu vegetarian bouillon substitute, stir 1 tablespoon paste into 1 cup hot water.
To boost the savory flavor, add a dash of soy sauce, nutritional yeast, or miso paste. Tomato paste offers an easy substitute but may slightly change the end flavor.
Key Takeaway: Nutritional yeast, mushroom powder, broth powders, miso, soy sauce, and tomato paste all substitute nicely for vegetarian bouillon powder.
Non-Vegetarian Bouillon Powder Substitutes
If you eat meat, you have even more options for mimicking bouillon powder's hearty savoriness.
Chicken or Beef Broth/Stock
Broths and stocks make simple bouillon powder substitutes, as they are flavorful liquids made from simmered bones and vegetables.
Replace bouillon powder and water with an equal amount of broth/stock. For example, if a recipe calls for 1 teaspoon bouillon powder dissolved in 1 cup water, use 1 cup chicken or beef broth instead.
Broths contain more seasoning than stocks for a bolder flavor. But you can use either. Opt for low-sodium versions to better control saltiness.
Meat-Based Bouillon Granules or Cubes
Bouillon granules and cubes provide concentrated meat flavor similar to powder. Look for chicken, beef or vegetable varieties.
Use cubes and granules exactly as you would bouillon powder, dissolving into hot water according to package directions.
Beef or Chicken Base/Paste
Concentrated meat bases offer bold flavor free of artificial additives. They provide a quick shortcut for making broth from a paste or concentrate.
Replace bouillon powder with a small amount of base dissolved in water. Start with 1 teaspoon paste per cup of water and adjust to taste.
Simmering meat bones for hours extracts collagen and nutrients, resulting in a lush, full-bodied broth. While time-consuming to make, bone broth offers profoundly meaty flavor.
Swap bouillon powder and water in a 1:1 ratio for pre-made bone broth. Or, use bone broth as the base when dissolving bouillon powder or cubes.
This clarified and concentrated beef broth provides ultra-savory flavor reminiscent of bouillon powder. Its clarity also makes it ideal for glazes or gravies requiring a crystal-clear appearance.
Substitute beef consommé for bouillon powder combined with water at a 1:1 ratio. Reduce other liquids in the recipe if needed to prevent thinning.
Key Takeaway: Meat-based broths, stocks, bases, bouillon products, and bone broth all substitute well for bouillon powder's deep umami flavor.
Universal Bouillon Powder Substitutes
The following ingredients can lend rich flavor when you're out of bouillon powder, whether you eat meat or follow a vegetarian/vegan diet.
With its earthy, woodsy flavor, mushroom broth offers a satisfying umami-rich substitute for bouillon powder. Use it 1:1 in place of bouillon dissolved in water.
To make your own, simply simmer dried mushrooms in water before straining. Porcini, shiitake, and portobello mushrooms work well.
Dried Herbs and Spices
Bouillon powder relies heavily on dried vegetables and savory herbs/spices for flavor. Blending your own dried herbs, vegetables, and spices can closely mimic commercial bouillon powder.
Try a mix of onion powder, garlic powder, parsley, oregano, basil, thyme, and salt. Start with 1-2 teaspoons per 1 cup hot water.
Red or White Wine
The acidic fruity flavor and aroma of wine can lend richness and depth when cooking. Use dry varieties like Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet, or Merlot.
Replace 1/4 cup water + bouillon powder with 1/4 cup wine. Ensure alcohol cooks off before serving.
This fermented sauce offers bold umami flavor from anchovies and tamarind. A small amount can impart savoriness reminiscent of bouillon.
Start with 1 teaspoon Worcestershire and reduce other liquids in the recipe by a tablespoon to compensate.
Soy Sauce or Tamari
As a fermented product, soy sauce concentrates umami flavors through natural processes. It provides instant savory flavor to dishes. Use responsibly, as soy sauce is high in sodium.
Boost flavor with bouquets of fresh herbs like parsley, thyme, rosemary, oregano, or bay leaves. Their vibrant flavors and aromas can help compensate for missing bouillon.
Key Takeaway: Mushroom broth, wine, Worcestershire, soy sauce, and fresh herbs lend savory richness when you lack bouillon powder.
Making Homemade Bouillon Powder
Whip up a homemade batch of bouillon powder to keep on hand for future recipes. Tailor your blend to your taste preferences.
- 8 cups nutritional yeast
- 1/4 cup salt
- 1/4 cup onion powder
- 1/4 cup garlic powder
- 2 tbsp dried parsley
- 1 tbsp dried thyme
- 1 tsp turmeric
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
Combine ingredients in a food processor. Process into a fine powder. Store in an airtight container up to 6 months.
Use 1 tbsp per 1 cup hot water to make broth. Adjust amounts to taste.
Customize your bouillon powder by adding:
- Dried mushrooms
- Tomato powder
- Smoked paprika
- Dried celery
- Herbes de Provence
- Vegetarian "chicken" flavor
- Bay leaves
- MSG (optional)
Key Takeaway: Making your own bouillon powder allows you to control the ingredients. Customize your blend with herbs, spices, vegetables, and salt to match your taste.
Frequently Asked Questions
How long does homemade bouillon powder last?
Properly stored in an airtight container in a cool, dry place, homemade bouillon powder will last 6-12 months.
What's the best way to store bouillon powder?
To maintain freshness and prevent clumping, store bouillon powder in an airtight glass jar or bottle away from heat, light, and moisture. The refrigerator or freezer will prolong shelf life.
Is all bouillon powder vegetarian?
Traditionally bouillon contains meat and fish ingredients. However, vegetarian and vegan bouillon made from mushrooms, nutritional yeast, vegetables, and spices are now widely available. Check labels if avoiding animal products.
What's the difference between bouillon powder, cubes and granules?
Bouillon powder provides the most concentrated flavor, while cubes and granules are pressed into solid pieces. Follow package instructions, as cubes/granules may call for different dilution ratios. But all add instant savory flavor.
What dishes can I use bouillon powder in?
Bouillon powder enhances flavor in soups, stews, sauces, gravies, casseroles, rice dishes, pastas, eggs, and vegetables. It provides a burst of savory umami flavor wherever used.
Bouillon powder is a versatile pantry staple for adding meaty, savory richness to all kinds of dishes. Thankfully, with a well-stocked kitchen, you can mimic bouillon powder's potent flavor using ingredients you likely have on hand already.
Vegetarian options like nutritional yeast, mushrooms, miso, and tomato paste provide healthy, homemade ways to replace bouillon powder. Meat eaters can turn to broths, stocks, wine, and fermented sauces for an umami flavor boost. And a customized homemade blend lets you control the ingredients.