Chicken bouillon powder is a versatile ingredient that adds rich, savory flavor to many dishes. However, you may sometimes need a substitute if you've run out or want a vegetarian option. Luckily, there are many tasty alternatives to chicken bouillon powder.
Chicken bouillon powder is made by dehydrating chicken broth into a concentrated seasoning. It typically contains chicken fat, salt, vegetables like onions and carrots, and savory yeast extract. The powder easily dissolves into soups, stews, rice dishes, casseroles, gravies, and more to impart a lovely chicken aroma and flavor.
1. Chicken Broth or Stock
Chicken broth or stock is hands-down the best direct substitute for chicken bouillon powder. Chicken broth provides the same rich, savory notes and chicken flavor bouillon powder does. It makes an effortless 1:1 swap without compromising taste.
For 1 teaspoon of bouillon powder, use 1 teaspoon of chicken broth. If a recipe calls for 2 cups of bouillon powder, substitute with 2 cups of chicken broth. Make your own broth or opt for canned or boxed versions for convenience.
Chicken stock works just as well too. It's usually more intensely flavored than broth as it simmers bones and vegetables. But the taste is quite similar to bouillon powder, so the substitution ratio remains 1:1.
Key Takeaway: Chicken broth and stock make the simplest swaps for chicken bouillon powder using a 1:1 ratio.
2. Commercial Chicken Bouillon Cubes or Granules
Another easy shortcut is swapping in commercial chicken bouillon cubes or granules. Bouillon cubes are compressed bouillon powder shaped into small cubes. Granules are simply bouillon powder broken into tiny grains rather than a fine powder.
Both cubes and granules provide the same rich chicken flavor as bouillon powder. The main difference is texture. Cubes need to dissolve in hot liquid. Granules mix in more easily but give a slightly grainy result.
Use bouillon cubes and granules in place of powder at a 1:1 ratio. For every 1 teaspoon of bouillon powder, substitute with 1 teaspoon of cubes or granules. Adjust amounts as needed to suit your tastebuds.
3. Homemade Chicken Bouillon Powder
You can actually make your own homemade chicken bouillon powder quite easily. This gives you control over the ingredients for a healthier, more natural version.
To make about 1 cup of powder:
- 1 cup nutritional yeast
- 1/4 cup salt
- 2 tablespoons onion powder
- 1 tablespoon garlic powder
- 1 tablespoon dried parsley
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
Process everything together into a fine powder. Use just like store-bought bouillon powder. The nutritional yeast provides savory flavor similar to bouillon powder.
Key Takeaway: A homemade blend of nutritional yeast, salt, and herbs replicates chicken bouillon powder's flavor.
4. Commercial Vegetarian Bouillon Powder
Don't eat meat? No problem! Swap in a commercial vegetarian bouillon powder instead of chicken. Brands like Edward & Sons offer tasty vegetarian bouillon cubes, granules, or powder.
The base usually consists of yeast extract, vegetables, salt, and seasonings like garlic and onion. While the flavor isn't identical to chicken, it provides savory notes and saltiness that work well in place of chicken bouillon powder.
Use an equal amount of vegetarian bouillon powder in place of chicken powder. For instance, if a recipe needs 1 tablespoon chicken bouillon powder, use 1 tablespoon vegetarian bouillon powder.
Vegetable broth powder is very similar and makes a fine substitute too.
5. Mushroom Powder
Grind dried mushrooms into a fine powder using a blender, food processor, or spice grinder. For every 1 teaspoon chicken bouillon powder, use 1/2 to 1 teaspoon mushroom powder. Add more or less to suit your tastes.
Boost the chicken flavor even further by combining the mushroom powder with nutritional yeast. This vegetarian duo nicely mimics the savory taste of chicken bouillon powder.
6. Soy Sauce or Tamari
Fermented soy sauce introduces salt, savory flavor, and vegetarian protein. The thin consistency won't provide the richness of chicken bouillon powder, so use soy sauce sparingly along with another substitute to avoid over-salting your dish.
For 1 teaspoon chicken bouillon powder, start with 1/4 teaspoon soy sauce and go up to 1/2 teaspoon to taste. Tamari works the same way as a lighter, gluten-free alternative.
7. Miso Paste
Miso paste is a thick, salty condiment common in Japanese cuisine. It consists of fermented soybeans and sometimes rice or barley.
The hearty, savory flavor of miso makes it an umami-rich sub for chicken bouillon powder. But a little goes a long way due to the concentrated paste form and salty flavor.
Start with just 1/4 teaspoon miso paste in place of 1 teaspoon chicken bouillon powder. Slowly add more if needed, up to 1/2 teaspoon.
8. Tomato Paste
Tomato paste provides a vegetarian way to add rich, savory flavor similar to chicken bouillon powder. Aim for tomato paste in a tube versus canned for fresher flavor.
For every 1 teaspoon chicken bouillon powder, substitute with 1/2 to 1 teaspoon tomato paste. The tart, sweet tomato flavor won't taste exactly like chicken, but certainly enhances soups, stews, and sauces.
9. White or Red Wine
A splash of dry white or red wine adds meaty, savory depth to replace chicken bouillon powder. Pour some into pan sauces, gravies, soups, and braised dishes.
For each teaspoon of chicken bouillon powder, use about 1 teaspoon wine. The alcohol cooks off, leaving behind a lovely roundness. Avoid giving dishes cooked with wine to kids.
10. Vegetable or Mushroom Broth
In place of chicken bouillon powder, use an equal amount of vegetable or mushroom broth. The clean savory flavor makes veggie broth a popular choice. Mushroom broth offers extra umami flavor.
For the best results, choose high-quality, low-sodium broths. You may need to balance the flavors with extra seasoning since they won't have as much richness as chicken bouillon powder. But an easy swap overall.
11. Maggi Seasoning Sauce
Maggi seasoning sauce is a thin, soy sauce-based condiment popular in Nigeria, Ghana, and across West Africa. The sauce provides concentrated savory flavor from fermented soybeans, wheat flour, and hydrolyzed vegetable proteins. A vegetarian, gluten-free tamari sauce also works.
Use about 1/2 teaspoon Maggi seasoning sauce for every 1 teaspoon chicken bouillon powder. Start with less, as it's quite salty. The sauce adds nice flavor complexity.
12. Mushroom Juice or Soaking Liquid
When you soak or pickle mushrooms like shiitakes, the tasty mushroom soaking liquid remains. Rather than throw it out, freeze it to use as achicken bouillon powder substitute.
The mushroom juice adds deep umami flavor when added to soups, stews, grains, etc. Replace 1 teaspoon chicken bouillon powder with 2 to 3 teaspoons mushroom soaking liquid.
13. Nutritional Yeast
Nutritional yeast is an inactive yeast with a delicious cheesy, nutty, savory flavor. It's a popular vegan ingredient used to mimic cheese.
On its own, nutritional yeast won't replicate the richness of chicken bouillon powder. But combine it with salt, garlic powder, onion powder, and paprika for a homemade vegetarian seasoning blend.
Use about 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast mixture for 1 teaspoon chicken bouillon powder. Adjust to taste, as it provides lighter flavor compared to chicken.
14. Marmite or Vegemite
Marmite and Vegemite are thick, concentrated yeast extracts frequently used to flavor soups, stews, and gravies. They provide robust savory flavor similar to bouillon powder.
Marmite originates from the UK, while Vegemite hails from Australia. A little dab will go a long way since they are quite strong.
Start with just 1/4 teaspoon of Marmite or Vegemite instead of 1 teaspoon chicken bouillon powder. Add more as needed up to 1/2 teaspoon.
15. Plain Water
In a total bind, you can use plain water as a substitute for chicken bouillon powder. Obviously it won't provide any flavor. But water thins a dish and allows other seasonings to shine.
For each teaspoon of chicken bouillon powder, use 1 teaspoon of water. Boost flavor with extra salt, pepper, garlic, onion, parsley, etc. A squeeze of lemon brightens up the taste too.
Not ideal, but works in a true pinch!
|Chicken Bouillon Powder Substitute||Substitution Ratio||Notes|
|Chicken broth or stock||1:1||Best for flavor|
|Bouillon cubes or granules||1:1||Different texture|
|Homemade bouillon powder||1:1||Healthier option|
|Vegetarian bouillon powder||1:1||For plant-based diets|
|Mushroom powder||1:0.5 to 1||Provides umami|
|Soy sauce or tamari||1:0.25 to 0.5||Use sparingly|
|Miso paste||1:0.25 to 0.5||Strong flavor|
|Tomato paste||1:0.5 to 1||Adds richness|
|White or red wine||1:1||Avoid for kids|
|Vegetable or mushroom broth||1:1||Lighter flavor|
|Maggi or tamari sauce||1:0.5||Popular in West Africa|
|Mushroom soaking liquid||1:2 to 3||Extra umami|
|Nutritional yeast||1:1 tablespoon||Light flavor|
|Marmite or Vegemite||1:0.25 to 0.5||Very strong|
|Plain water||1:1||No flavor|
Key Takeaway: Water, broths, wines, pastes, yeasts, and more make suitable substitutions for chicken bouillon powder.
Choosing the Best Chicken Bouillon Powder Substitute
When selecting a substitute, consider the purpose of the chicken bouillon powder in your dish. Is it mainly for flavor, or does the recipe rely on its richness and savory depth?
For the absolute best flavor match, chicken broth or stock can't be beat. But homemade bouillon blends, vegetarian broth powder, mushroom broth, and other umami-rich ingredients also work nicely depending on your needs.
If you just need extra moisture, plain water welcomes other seasonings and flavors to take center stage.
Tweak substitute amounts based on the intensity of flavor needed for your recipe. And enhance overall flavor with extra salt, herbs, spices, wine, lemon, etc. to compensate if the sub lacks richness.
How to Use Chicken Bouillon Powder Substitutes
Substituting chicken bouillon powder is easy. Just use the same amount of your chosen substitute that your recipe calls for in bouillon powder.
For example, if a soup recipe needs 2 teaspoons chicken bouillon powder, use 2 teaspoons of mushroom broth powder instead.
For homemade blends and strong flavors like miso or Marmite, start with less and add more to taste.
Factor in substitutions when adjusting overall seasoning. As we mentioned, something like soy sauce already contains salt so you likely won't need extra. But a mild broth sub may need a seasoning boost.
Finally, taste the dish before serving and tweak flavors as needed. Adding a splash of lemon juice or wine brightens up lighter bouillon powder subs. Dried parsley, garlic, or onion powder compensates for missing savory flavor.
Frequently Asked Questions
What's the difference between chicken bouillon powder and cubes?
Chicken bouillon powder provides fine-grained concentrated chicken flavor. Cubes are compressed bouillon powder shaped into small squares for convenience. Both dissolve in hot liquid to create broth.
What can I substitute for chicken bouillon cubes?
The best substitutes for bouillon cubes are chicken broth or stock, commercial bouillon granules, homemade bouillon powder, and vegetable bouillon cubes. Use a 1:1 ratio.
Is bouillon powder vegetarian?
Chicken bouillon powder contains chicken fat or extract so it's not vegetarian. But you can find vegetarian bouillon powder, cubes, or granules made from yeast, vegetables, salt, and seasonings. Mushroom broth powder also works well.
What is the best substitute for a chicken bouillon cube?
Chicken broth and chicken stock offer the most similar flavor. Vegetable or mushroom broths provide vegetarian options. For convenience, swap in commercial chicken bouillon granules.
Can I use water instead of bouillon powder?
In a pinch, plain water replaces chicken bouillon powder. The flavor will be very mild so season with more salt, pepper, herbs, spices, etc. Add a little white wine, lemon juice, or broth for more richness.
Chicken bouillon powder provides incredible savory chicken richness perfect for enhancing soups, gravies, rice, vegetables, and more. With so many easy substitutions available, you won't need to worry when you run out.
For the best results, look for alternatives that mimic bouillon powder's salty, savory umami flavor. Chicken broth, vegetarian bouillon cubes, miso paste, tomato paste, nutritional yeast, and wine all fit the bill beautifully.