5 Best Beef Broth Substitutes

by John Staughton (BASc, BFA) last updated -

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Beef broth substitutes are relatively easy to find in most kitchens, particularly if you like to cook! Finding the right beef broth substitutes can save or even elevate your cooking.

Beef broth, also known as beef stock, is a liquid made from simmering beef bones with carrots, celery, onions, herbs, and vinegar in water over a long period of time. It is extremely rich in flavor and gives a delectable boost to soups, stews, and curries. You may be cooking up fingerling potatoes, or using beef broth to add flavor to rice, grains or couscous. Beef broth contains a savory umami flavor that we crave, and homemade beef broth is high in iron, calcium, and amino acids, which promote a healthy gut, bones, and immune system.

Beef Broth Substitutes

If you don’t have a carton of broth on your shelf, or 24 hours to simmer your own broth, don’t worry! There are several great substitutes that will taste just as good, such as vegetable broth, chicken broth, bouillon cubes, soy sauce, beer, and red wine among others.

A close-up view of bone broth in a bowl

On cold days, curl up and have a huge bowl of bone broth. Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Vegetable Broth

Store-bought broth is readily available, but if you’re making your own broth, this is as cheap and easy as it gets. Save all your veggie scraps in the fridge or freezer. Sauté them in a large pot and then cover and simmer for a few hours. Always use onion skins, carrot scraps, and celery tops, then try a healthy handful of mushroom stems, kale ribs, or even peppers for different flavors. Strain with a cheesecloth and use in place of beef broth for a dynamic boost.

Chicken Broth

Chicken broth can be purchased or made at home in the same way as beef or vegetable broth and is a perfect 1:1 substitute. It will give you the flavor boost you’re seeking. Homemade broth also delivers certain health benefits, such as reducing cold and flu symptoms, improving bone health, and acting as an anti-inflammatory agent.

Bouillon Cubes

In a pinch, dissolve store-bought beef, chicken, or vegetable bouillon cubes in water. The sodium content will be higher, but you’ll get a major flavor boost.

Soy Sauce, Worcestershire or Liquid Aminos

Adding a tablespoon of any of these flavoring liquids to a cup of vegetable broth or water is a great substitute for the umami flavor found in beef broth.

Beer or Red Wine

A mix of water, beer or wine can be a good substitute for beef broth. Use it in stews, or to deglaze a pan to make a delicious and complex sauce or gravy. Most of the alcohol will evaporate during cooking, leaving an exciting flavor behind.

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About the Author

John Staughton is a traveling writer, editor, publisher and photographer with English and Integrative Biology degrees from the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana (USA). He co-founded the literary journal, Sheriff Nottingham, and now serves as the Content Director for Stain’d Arts, a non-profit based in Denver, Colorado. On a perpetual journey towards the idea of home, he uses words to educate, inspire, uplift and evolve.

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