Making delicious soups, stews, and sauces often starts with a good stock or broth as the base.
While commercial stock powders and cubes are convenient, they can also be high in sodium and MSG.
Having some easy stock powder substitutes on hand allows you to quickly enhance flavor while controlling ingredients.
Vegetarian and Vegan Bouillon Powder Substitutes
If avoiding animal products is a priority, there are many plant-based substitutes for bouillon powders:
Vegan Stock Powder
Vegan bouillon powder, also called vegetable stock powder or broth powder, directly replaces bouillon cubes in granular form. Use 1 teaspoon bouillon powder in place of 1 cube.
Benefits: Vegan, avoids animal products, easy substitution for bouillon powder.
Store-Bought Vegetable Stock
Substitute vegetable broth diluted with water for bouillon cubes and water. May need extra seasonings for full flavor.
Benefits: Easy to find, vegan/vegetarian, let's you control sodium.
Homemade Vegetable Stock
Simmering vegetables and herbs into a homemade stock, then straining, provides a flavorful substitute. Use 1 cup in place of 1 bouillon cube and 1 cup water.
Benefits: Total control over ingredients, very customizable.
The deep umami flavor of mushroom broth replicates bouillon well. Replace 1 cube and 1 cup water with 1 cup mushroom broth.
Benefits: Adds savory flavor, vegetarian/vegan.
Soy Sauce or Coconut Aminos
A tablespoon of soy sauce or coconut aminos plus water substitutes for 1 bouillon cube and water. Provides savory flavor.
Benefits: Easy pantry staple, vegetarian/vegan.
The bold flavor of steak sauce replicates bouillon when mixed into hot water. Use 1-2 tbsp per cup of water.
Benefits: Easy substitution from a common pantry item.
Homemade Herb and Spice Blends
Benefits: Total control over flavor and ingredients.
Chicken and Beef Bouillon Substitutes
If avoiding meat broths isn't a concern, these substitutes provide savory, umami flavor:
Chicken or Beef Bouillon Cubes
Bouillon cubes are compact, concentrated broth perfect for substituting powders. Use a 1:1 ratio.
Benefits: Very convenient, replicates bouillon flavor.
Chicken or Beef Broth
Boxed or canned chicken or beef broth provide meaty flavors that substitute well for bouillon powders.
Benefits: Adds richness and savory flavor.
Simmering meat bones produces a collagen-rich bone broth perfect for adding meaty savoriness.
Benefits: Nutrient-dense, provides similar flavor to bouillon.
Vegetable Bouillon Powder Recipe
Making homemade vegetable bouillon powder takes just minutes and lets you completely control flavor.
- 1⁄2 cup nutritional yeast
- 2 tbsp onion powder
- 2 tbsp garlic powder
- 1 tbsp Italian seasoning
- 1 tsp celery salt
- 1⁄2 tsp black pepper
- 1⁄4 tsp turmeric
- Dried veggies like mushrooms, carrots, celery, etc. (optional)
Key Takeaway: A simple blend of spices, herbs, and nutritional yeast makes an easy homemade bouillon powder.
- Combine all ingredients in a spice grinder or food processor. Blend into a fine powder.
- Store in an airtight container. Keeps for ~6 months.
- To use: Add 1 tsp powder + 1 tsp soy sauce/Bragg's + 1 cup hot water.
This vegetable bouillon powder stores nicely and substitutes 1:1 for commercial powders. Feel free to customize flavors to taste by playing with herbs and spices. Dried vegetable powders add extra richness if desired.
Substitute for Chicken Bouillon Powder
Chicken bouillon powder provides savory, chicken-flavored broth perfect for enhancing recipes. If you're out, these substitutes work well:
Canned Chicken Broth
Canned chicken broth contains similar flavors to bouillon powder. Use a 1:1 ratio to substitute.
Benefits: Convenient and replicates bouillon well.
Italian Seasoning Blend
The blend of herbs in Italian seasoning provides rich flavor. Use 1-2 tsp per 1 cup liquid.
Benefits: Easy spice blend substitution.
Chicken, beef, or vegetable broths make easy subs. Pay attention to flavor balance.
Benefits: Allows flexibility based on recipe flavors.
Chicken Bouillon Cubes
Cubes provide concentrated chicken flavor. Crush to substitute powders. Use equivalent amounts.
Benefits: Direct bouillon powder replacement.
Herbs and Spices
Thyme, rosemary, marjoram, etc. can substitute when bouillon is unavailable. Use ~1 tsp seasoning per cup liquid.
Benefits: Allows custom flavoring.
What's the difference between bouillon powder and cubes?
Bouillon powder and cubes contain the same ingredients - concentrated, dehydrated broth with seasonings. Cubes are compressed into tablet form while powder is loose. They can substitute for each other using equivalent amounts.
How can I make my own bouillon powder?
Simmer vegetable scraps, herbs, and spices into a concentrated broth. Strain liquid and dehydrate into a powder using a food dehydrator or low oven. Blend with seasonings to taste. Store in an airtight container.
What are good vegetarian bouillon substitutes?
Store-bought or homemade vegetable broth, mushroom broth, soy sauce, nutritional yeast blends, and custom herb/spice mixes make excellent vegetarian and vegan bouillon substitutes.
Can I substitute chicken broth for bouillon powder?
Yes, chicken broth contains similar flavors to chicken bouillon powder. Use equivalent amounts, adjusting seasonings to taste. Canned chicken broth works particularly well.
How long does homemade bouillon powder last?
Properly stored in an airtight container in a cool, dry place, homemade bouillon powder will last ~6 months before losing potency. If powder clumps or smells "off", it's time to replace it.
Having easy bouillon powder substitutes on hand like chicken broth, mushroom broth, soy sauce, custom spice blends, bouillon cubes, or homemade options allows flexibility in the kitchen.
Substitutes let you avoid unnecessary sodium, MSG, and additives while still infusing dishes with rich, savory flavor. Experiment with different bouillon powder swaps to find your favorites.