Looking for a beef broth substitute? Beef broth is one of the most common ingredients in savory recipes such as soups, sauces, stews, gravies, and casseroles. This is because it adds a rich, umami flavor to these dishes.
However, despite beef stock being sold in most stores, it doesn’t mean you’ll always have it on hand. Have you ever been well into a recipe that calls for it and find you completely forgot to purchase some? Don’t worry, it happens.
Fortunately, there are plenty of beef broth substitutes you can use. From homemade beef stock to vegan replacements like mushroom broth or vegetable stock. In this post, we cover which are the best beef broth substitutes and how to use them best. Just in case you find yourself in a pinch.
What is Beef Broth?
Beef broth is a nutrient-packed stock made with meat, beef bones, vegetables, and herbs. It’s typically used to add flavor to dishes such as a hearty and savory stew, lentil soup, and a red wine steak sauce.
You can use store-bought or homemade beef broth when a recipe calls for it. Although homemade broth is healthier and often tastes better, store-bought is more convenient. Whatever you choose, make sure to choose a good-quality broth, as this will be the difference between an okay-ish dish and a flavorful bacon cheeseburger gnocchi casserole.
Why Substitute Beef Broth?
Whether you like to use store-bought or homemade beef broth in your recipes, sometimes you might not have this ingredient in your kitchen. When you’re in the middle of cooking and realize you don’t have any broth left, it’s easier to use a beef broth substitute. In this case, chicken stock or beef consommé can be a lifesaver.
Also, if you’re vegan or vegetarian, you’ll want to substitute beef broth from any recipes that ask for it. Thankfully, you can use many great substitutes without diminishing your dish’s overall taste. Some examples include mushroom broth, vegetable stock, and even soy sauce (depending on the amount the recipe calls for).
A few of my personal go-tos to replace beef broth include:
- Chicken stock or chicken broth
- Beef stock
- Bone broth (as it has numerous health benefits)
We’ll cover more alternatives below.
Beef Broth Versus Beef Stock
This a great question, and one that I’ll be honest, I always used to confuse the answer. In short: beef broth is made from the cow’s meat and vegetables, while beef stock is made mainly from the bones of the animal.
Because the bones of animals contain tons of good-for-you-type stuff like collagen and calcium, beef stock (aka bone broth) has health benefits that beef broth does not.
Can I Substitute Beef Broth with Water?
Sure, you can use water instead of beef broth, but the question is, really do you want to? Some people out there might say that is a way to reduce the overall calories of a dish, but in reality, beef broth is a low-calorie food.
If you insist, thinking it’s a good weight loss idea, I guarantee you, your dish won’t taste the same. So yes, you can. But no, you probably shouldn’t.
Best Beef Broth Substitutes
Whether you don’t have beef broth at home or you rather not use this ingredient, there are plenty of substitutes you can choose from. From chicken broth to baking soda. Keep reading to learn more about the best beef broth substitutes and how to use them to make the most delicious dishes.
Mushroom broth is a great substitute for beef broth, because of its rich, umami flavor. This broth is not only vegan, but it’s also a great addition to most dishes without adding an overpowering mushroom flavor to them. You can replace beef broth in most recipes with a one-to-one ratio of mushroom broth, plus a couple of tablespoons of soy or Worcestershire sauce.
The best part about mushroom broth is how simple it is to make it at home. It only requires six ingredients:
- 1 pound Cremini mushrooms
- ½ pound dried mushrooms
- 2 celery ribs
- 2 medium-sized carrots
- 8 cups water
- kosher salt to taste
To make mushroom broth, dice all the veggies and add them to a pot along with the water and salt. Let it simmer for 15 minutes before straining out the vegetables. Once it cools down, you can use the broth to make this creamy mushroom sauce or freeze it for up to six months.
Soy sauce is a great replacement for beef broth. Not only is this an ingredient you probably already have iSoy sauce is a great replacement for beef broth. You can replace a cup of beef broth with one or two tablespoons of soy sauce, tasting the dish to make sure it’s not overly salty. You can also dilute the soy sauce in a cup of water and use it as a substitute in a 1:1 ratio.
This beef broth substitute is excellent for vegans and vegetarians, but most soy sauces aren’t gluten-free. However, liquid aminos are a great replacement. Trust me, a couple of tablespoons mixed with a cup of hot water can add depths of flavor to any recipe. Tamari or a Tamari substitute is also a great option.
Beef bouillon cubes are small, easy-to-use blocks of dehydrated stock. They’re made up of dehydrated meat and veggies and seasonings like salt, spices, and MSG. Bouillon cubes are typically used to add flavor or to thicken dishes like soups, sauces, and curry.
To use bouillon cubes as a substitute for beef broth, simply boil a cube in water until it dissolves completely. Once you can’t feel any remaining bouillon granules, you can use the resulting broth in a 1:1 ratio to substitute beef broth in your dishes.
Vegetable broth is one of the best vegan and vegetarian substitutes for beef broth. You can use this substitute in a 1:1 ratio in soups, sauces, gravies, and casseroles. But, of course, your dishes will taste better if you use homemade veggie stock, which is very simple to make.
You can make vegetable stock with scraps from veggies like carrots, celery, onion, and mushrooms. You can also add miso paste and herbs such as rosemary, parsley sprigs, and thyme for a flavorful broth.
Boiling A Whole Chicken
If you don’t have beef or chicken stock in hand, boiling a whole chicken is a great option. Not only will you have a great beef broth substitute, but you’ll also have dinner ready without much effort. To boil a whole chicken, follow the following steps:
- In a large pot, place the chicken, yellow onion, celery, carrots, garlic, and bay leaves, and season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Next, fill the pot with water, covering the chicken completely.
- Bring to a boil and then, reduce to a simmer. Cook for two hours or until the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 165° F.
- Once cooked, take out the vegetables and chicken.
- Strain the broth and store it in an airtight container. You can keep it in the fridge for up to five days or freeze it for later.
This broth can be used as a beef broth substitute in a one-to-one ratio in any recipe.
However, you have to be wary of one thing when using this as a substitute: You obviously can’t replace a liquid with a powder. So, if a recipe asks for a cup of beef broth, you can add one or two teaspoons of baking soda, then use a cup of water.
This might sound crazy, but both store-bought and homemade ramen noodles are packed with flavor and spices. This makes them a great substitute for beef broth in sauces, soups, and stews. You’ll just have to drain the noodles and use the broth in the same quantity of beef broth the recipe calls for. Or, just use the broth. But those noodles are a tasty snack 🙂
Alcoholic drinks like beer and red wine make a great beef broth substitute in gravies, sauces, and soups. Any type of beer, including non-alcoholic ones, can be used as a replacement for beef broth in a one-to-one ratio. This will add depths of flavors to dishes like this french onion soup or this chicken noodle soup.
Remember, the alcohol will burn off, so this replacement is appropriate if you have kids. But if you don’t drink alcohol or are serving someone who doesn’t, I wouldn’t recommend this substitute.
Ginger or Garlic
You can replicate the flavor of beef broth with a combination of spices and aromatics. Garlic and ginger are great for this. Adding them fresh to your dishes will create depths of flavor and spice that will take your meals to the next level!
But, of course, you can’t use these replacements in a 1:1 ratio. If a recipe calls for a cup of beef broth, you’ll want to add up to one garlic head to the recipe instead. And if you’re using ginger as a substitute, you can add up to a tablespoon of fresh minced ginger or two teaspoons of ground ginger. Then, regardless of whether you’re using garlic or ginger, add a cup of water to substitute the liquid.
Lemon Juice or White Vinegar
Lemon juice or white vinegar is an excellent substitution for beef broth in most recipes. When using lemon juice, one or two lemons will be enough to use instead of a cup of beef broth. As for white vinegar, you can substitute a cup of broth for up to half a cup of vinegar.
Both store-bought and homemade chicken broth are great substitutes for beef broth. You can use them as substitutes in a one-to-one ratio in soups, sauces, gravies, and casseroles. They’re great for making a batch of this cream of chicken soup.
Bone Broth (Beef Stock)
Bone broth is as flavorful as beef broth, plus it’s a great source of micronutrients like calcium, iron, and potassium. The main difference between these broths is their ingredients. While bone broth uses bones and joints as its main ingredients, beef broth uses meat, veggies, and herbs.
You can substitute bone broth for beef broth in a one-to-one ratio. Store-bought works fine but homemade bone broth will take your cooking to the next level. Although making it can be a long process, it’ll be worth it!
Tomato paste is great for adding a rich, umami flavor to your dishes. To use it as a beef broth substitute, add a tablespoon of tomato paste to 1 cup of hot water.
As you can see, beef broth is the base for many dishes, from simple soups to complex sauces. But if you don’t have or simply don’t want to use this ingredient, don’t worry! There are numerous beef broth substitutes you can use instead, such as soy sauce, vegetable stock, and tomato paste.
13 Beef Broth Substitutes
Beef Broth Substitutes
- Mushroom Broth
- Soy Sauce
- Bouillon Cubes
- Vegetable Stock
- Boiling A Whole Chicken
- Baking Soda
- Ramen Noodles
- Ginger or Garlic
- Lemon Juice or White Vinegar
- Chicken Broth
- Bone Broth (Beef Stock)
- Tomato Paste
- Choose beef broth substitute.
- Replace broth with substitute.
- Cook and enjoy!
Recipes That Call For Beef Broth (or a substitute)
Beef Broth FAQs
What can I use in place of beef broth?
If you find yourself without beef broth, you have several suitable alternatives:
- Chicken Broth: It’s lighter in flavor but can be enriched with a few more spices.
- Vegetable Broth: A good option for vegetarian dishes or if you want a lighter taste.
- Bouillon Cubes or Granules: Dissolve these in hot water according to package instructions.
- Red or White Wine: Provides depth and acidity; best for braising or slow-cooking.
- Soy Sauce and Water Mixture: Mix one tablespoon of soy sauce with one cup of water for some umami depth.
Can I just use water if I don’t have beef broth?
Yes, you can use water as a direct substitute for beef broth. However, water doesn’t contain the flavors and depth that beef broth adds to recipes. Consider enhancing the water with spices, salt, or a splash of wine for more flavor complexity.
What is the same as beef broth?
Beef consommé is closest in flavor to beef broth. It’s a clarified beef broth and is stronger in flavor. You can also consider beef bouillon as a direct substitute when dissolved in water.
What is the difference between broth and stock?
Though often used interchangeably, broth and stock have distinct differences:
- Broth: Typically lighter and seasoned with spices and salt. Broth is usually made from the meatier parts of the animal and is ready to be consumed as is.
- Stock: Made primarily from bones and simmered for a longer period, resulting in a richer, more gelatinous liquid. Stock is usually unseasoned, providing a neutral base for dishes.
Both have their unique applications in the kitchen, with stock often being used as a base for sauces and gravies, while broth is commonly used for soups and stews.
There are countless uses for beef broth. But sometimes, you’ll find yourself with leftover broth. In that case, it’s best to pour the broth into ice trays and freeze it so it doesn’t go bad. Then, you can heat it to use!
Have questions or suggestions? Leave them in the comments below. Until next time: Stay salty, and sweet 😉