A good broth can elevate the flavor of any dish. Broths are popular for their versatility and their health benefits, and beef broth has become increasingly popular as a staple kitchen ingredient.
Wondering what it is and if there are any beef broth substitutes you could use? Read on to learn everything you need to know about cooking with beef broth.
What is Beef Broth?
Beef broth is a liquid made by simmering beef or ox bones and some meat in water for a long time. Most people season it with herbs, salt, and pepper. Some people also add vegetables such as onions, celery, and carrots along with the bones.
The result is a rich liquid that is perfect for making stews, gravies, and soup. You can also use it to add that extra burst of flavor to rice and other grains. Adding beef broth to your meals is a great way to get all the nutrients from the meat in an easy-to-digest form.
It is high in iron, calcium, and amino acids and low on calories. Beef broth can be beneficial for your gut, immunity, and bones. You can also freeze the beef broth and pop the cubes into the pot while cooking for that wonderful umami flavor.
Want to get cooking but can’t find beef broth in your kitchen? There is no need to worry. There are some excellent substitutes for beef broth that can save the day. We are going to list five substitutes for beef broth that taste just as good.
Recommended Beef Broth Substitutes
If you don’t have the time to simmer beef bones to make broth or drive down to the nearest supermarket, don’t fret. You can pick any of these substitutes for beef broth and still produce a restaurant-quality meal.
1. Chicken Broth
Chicken broth makes an excellent substitute for beef broth. It works best as a replacement when making soups, stews and as a base for a creamy sauce.
Meat is also the primary ingredient in chicken broth, so you can use chicken broth instead of beef broth. The method to prepare chicken broth is similar to beef broth. Chicken and its bones are simmered in water to bring out the meaty flavor. You can choose to add vegetables for added nutrition.
Chicken broth is a light, low-calorie choice that makes for a healthy option for those who are not too well or recovering from an illness. It is rich in protein, minerals, and fatty acids.
Chicken broth is easily available and stores well. It can be used as a braising liquid and also to cook grains. It also works well as a beef bouillon substitute. A significant difference between beef and chicken broth is their color. Beef broth tends to be darker in color, while the chicken broth is of paler color.
When replacing beef broth with chicken broth, you can use the same quantity, so there’s no need to spend time calculating the quantity.
2. Vegetable Broth
If you’re a vegetarian, a vegetable broth is a great beef stock substitute. Just because it doesn’t have meat doesn’t mean it is low on flavor. You can add any number of vegetables to it. The most popular vegetables for broth are carrots, onions, garlic, leeks, tomatoes, celery, mushrooms, and parsnips.
You don’t have to stop at vegetables. Herbs can take your vegetable broth to the next level. Add bay leaf, thyme, parsley, and rosemary for an aromatic concoction that tastes as good as it smells. Season it with salt and pepper for a hearty yet healthy base for soups, stews, gravies.
Vegetable broth is extremely versatile. You can also use it to cook grains, deglaze pans, reheat pasta, make sauces, or a chilled gazpacho.
Although vegetable broth does not contain gelatin and collagen, which comprises beef and chicken broth, it still has a lot of valuable nutrients. It is rich in magnesium, potassium, and several minerals. Vegetable broth is hydrating and boosts immunity.
As far as closeness to beef broth is concerned, the vegetable broth doesn’t have that earthy, umami flavor due to the absence of meat. You can add equal parts of vegetable broth to substitute for beef broth.
3. Bouillon Cubes
Bouillon cubes are a quick and convenient substitute for beef broth. Also known as a stock cube or broth cube, they are commonly comprised of beef, chicken, or vegetables. The closest replacement for beef broth would be the beef bouillon cubes.
Dehydrated meat stock, vegetables, fat, salt, and seasonings make up bouillon cubes. The base ingredients are shaped into cubes and packaged for sale. You can easily find these at your nearest grocery store and are usually housed in the seasoning section.
It is good to have a small stash of these cubes at home for those times when a recipe calls for broth, and you don’t have any. They are frequently used to make soups, stews, casseroles, and gravies.
Since bouillon cubes are concentrated stocks, you need to dissolve them in water. One bouillon cube makes about 1 cup of broth. Simply take a cup of water, bring it to a boil, and add a bouillon cube to it. Stir it until the cube dissolves completely. Once the cube combines with water, you can use it to replace 1 cup of broth.
Similarly, you can prepare whatever quantity of beef broth your recipe calls for by dissolving these cubes in an equivalent amount of water. An important thing to note about bouillon cubes is that they can be quite salty. Adjust the amount of water or add a lesser amount of salt than suggested by the recipe.
4. Mushroom Broth
Mushroom broth is another great option for those looking for a vegetarian substitute for beef broth. Mushrooms are rich in umami, so it comes much closer to the taste of the beef broth as compared to a vegetable broth. Given that mushrooms have a somewhat meaty taste, this doesn’t come as a surprise.
To prepare a mushroom broth, you can saute onions, mushrooms, carrots, and herbs such as parsley, bay leaf, and thyme. Add water and allow the mixture to simmer over medium heat. Season the broth with salt and pepper. The mushrooms will become mushy, and the quantity will reduce once it is ready.
You can use assorted mushrooms or a single variety of mushrooms for the broth. Darker mushrooms have more umami as compared to lighter ones. Similarly, dried mushrooms give a greater umami flavor than fresh mushrooms. Dried shiitake mushrooms are your best bet if you want a strong umami flavor.
Mushroom broth ranks high on health benefits too. It contains iron, selenium, Vitamin A, Vitamin K and is low on calories. It is vegan, gluten-free, and takes very little time to prepare as compared to beef broth.
You can use this broth as a base for sauces, gravies, and soups. You can also use it for cooking rice and grains.
In terms of quantity, replace the beef broth with an equal amount of mushroom broth for a lip-smacking experience.
5. Liquid Aminos or Soy Sauce
If you’re looking for vegan options which are easily available, and don’t need any prep time, look no further. Soy sauce and liquid aminos are excellent choices.
Soy sauce is a staple in Asian cuisines. It not only adds flavor but also a dark color to the dish. The best part about using soy sauce as a beef broth substitute is its ready availability. It is cheap and easily available in grocery stores.
You can add a spoon of soy sauce to a cup of water and use it as a replacement for beef broth. If you have vegetable stock on hand, add a spoon of soy sauce to a cup of stock to replace a cup of beef broth.
Liquid aminos are very similar to soy sauce. They are vegan and gluten-free that makes them a healthier alternative. Liquid aminos are made by treating soybeans with an acidic solution. The result is a savory, salty sauce that is high on health benefits.
Liquid aminos contain amino acids and taste milder than soy sauce. They don’t have any chemical preservatives and can complement a variety of dishes. They are not as easily available as soy sauce, but this is not as big of a challenge as veganism becomes more popular.
Just add a tablespoon of liquid aminos to a cup of water and substitute it for an equal quantity of beef broth.
More on Soy Sauce:
Beef broth is a key ingredient in many recipes. If a recipe calls for beef broth and you don’t have it on hand, knowing how to make a beef broth substitute is important so you can still cook the dish. The same goes for people who are vegetarian or vegan but want to experiment with alternatives to beef broth.
With these substitutes, you can modify your recipe to produce a dish that is healthy, delicious, and full of umami. Just be careful with the quantities, and you’re all set to enjoy a hearty meal with the goodness of nutritious ingredients.