There are few fundamental ingredients as essential as a good broth. Beef, chicken, and vegetable broth are essential components of recipes across the board, forming the basis for building dimensions of flavor. Even if beef broth is a staple in your home, made and saved frequently, there will come times when there’s simply none left.
We’ll be taking you through the fifteen best beef broth substitutes, including some vegan options.
A beef broth is a savory liquid served either as is or used in soups, stews, and gravies. The French term for broth is bullion, which refers to a reduction made from meat separated from bones. While a stock is made from meat and bones.
Understanding Beef Broth’s Flavor
Beef broth adds meatiness and the unmistakable rich roasted taste of browned meat or vegetables to any meal while at the same time thickening the mix and enriching existing flavors. Most varieties of beef broth include not only a reduction made from seared, roasted meat like short ribs or flank steak, but also a range of flavor-enhancing additives like leek, carrots, bay leaves, vinegar or apple cider vinegar, and even additional marrow.
Here are the fifteen best beef broth alternatives available.
As a clarified beef broth typically made from lean meat like shank, beef consommé is one of the very best alternatives available. Yet, if you don’t have beef broth on hand, then it’s unlikely that you’ll have homemade consommé laying around either. Be on the lookout for beef consommé in a can for a substitute that’s a near match in taste and consistency with a richness that’s near unbeatable. Beef consommé will typically be a little saltier than a regular beef broth, so please adjust your recipe according to taste.
Demi-glace is a rich brown sauce that combines the core French mother sauce, Espagnole, with beef or chicken stock. A demi-glace reduction takes as long as two to three days and creates an intensified stock. Classic Espagnole sauce traditionally uses a veal stock base, but beef is far more common to today’s commercially produced glace and demi-glace. Look for glace or demi-glace in the condiment section to save yourself the effort of making your own while adding authentic home-cooked flavor to your meal.
Chick broth is a fantastic substitute for beef broth or beef stock in most recipes. Homemade chicken broth is best if you’ve got some in storage, but a canned stock also works well as an alternative. Any poultry stock will take the place of beef broth well while changing the flavor profile slightly. Keep in mind that gamier meat like duck, quail, or turkey will be far more savory than chicken stock.
As all vegetarians and vegans know, vegetable broth is a tasty alternative to any meat-based stock or broth. Either make your own by sauteing and then boiling down a selection of vegetables like onions, carrots, celery, and an assortment of fresh herbs like parsley, thyme, fennel, and bay leaf with black peppercorns and salt. When making your own, feel free to add any other vegetables that you feel will complement the flavor. Alternatively, store-bought vegetable broth is a readily available beef broth substitute in a range of flavors, thanks to the wealth of brands out there.
A good old beef stock cube in water works wonderfully in most recipes, especially after adding a few of your favorite herbs and spices. Using bouillon cubes or powder is one of the quickest ways to make a stock. Whereas the go-to substitute is normally beef bullion, many cooks report even tastier results when combining beef, chicken, and vegetable stock cubes together in various ratios suited to each meal.
Dried and powdered mushrooms like shiitake, oyster, chaga, and reishi are ideal for making a quick mushroom broth. However, one can easily whip up an umami mushroom stock in no time by boiling up chopped Cremini and Portobello, or any other variety preferred with sautéed onion, carrots and garlic, and a bay leaf or two. The more different varieties, the better. Within 45 minutes to an hour, you’ll have a mushroom broth ready to substitute for any stock that you may need. Mushroom stock is surprisingly versatile and packs a nutritional punch.
Marmite and other vegetable extracts are an excellent substitute for beef broth. The ideal alternative is Marmite or another vegetable extract mixed into a cup of boiling water with a dissolved bouillon cube. However, if you don’t have any bullion stock available, use plain water instead. The umami flavor of Marmite, Vegemite, Promite, and other similar extracts complements the hearty, rich nature of bullion stock to perfection, together creating a beef broth substitute that can be even more flavorful than the original recipe depending on the exact ingredients. You may need to lower the salt in your meal as Marmite, and similar products are quite salty.
Worcestershire sauce is a great addition to any meal that calls for beef broth. One can omit beef broth in lure of a dash or two of Worcestershire sauce, but it’s far better to add beef or another flavor of bullion as well. Combining beef bullion and Worcestershire sauce mimics the complex dimensions of flavor provided by beef broth. If you select the right stock cubes/powder and add just the right amount of Worcestershire sauce towards the end of your meal’s cooking cycle, you’ve got a hearty Vegan substitute that’s right in just about anything. Keep in mind, Worcestershire sauce has a mildly sour taste akin to vinegar which can be overpowering, so use sparingly and taste to gauge how much your recipe needs.
Soy sauce fortifies meals with satisfying umami flavor and a salty richness. Both soy sauce and liquid aminos are made from soybeans, but soy sauce is saltier and more intense. We recommend that you combine soy sauce with at least half a cup of beef or vegetable bullion to reach a flavor most similar to beef broth. Many cooks opt to add equal quantities of soy sauce and steak sauce to mimic beef’s flavor. The same solution applies to liquid aminos.
Although normally made from soybeans, liquid aminos can also be fermented from coconut water. There’s only a slight difference between soy sauce and liquid aminos. Opt for liquid aminos as the lighter beef broth alternative if you’re looking for a healthier gluten-free option. They do not contain wheat as soy sauce does, and each serving is, of course, fortified with free aminos acids while coming free from preservatives. Liquid aminos should also be your go-to choice if you’re looking for a less salty, mildly sweet flavor that’s also lower in bold umami pungency than soy sauce. Just as is the case with soy sauce, many chefs report excellent results from combining one or two tablespoons of liquid aminos with an equal quantity of steak or barbecue sauce.
Miso paste is a fantastic Vegan substitute for beef broth. All you need is a teaspoon of miso paste mixed into a cup of water to replace a cup of beef broth. Feel free to add a little more if you’d like to increase the savory richness. Be sure to work around the umami flavor imparted to your meal when opting for miso. For this reason, many chefs decide to add a little miso paste at a time to their meal during cooking while tasting to determine the quantity needed.
The next time you’re in need of the rich, savory flavor of beef broth, give deglazed dry red wine. Once your meat and/or vegetables have finished searing, coat the pan in red wine, adding a little at a time. Toss in a few of your favorite herbs like thyme, rosemary, or marjoram, and use a wooden spoon to scrape the roasted bits off the bottom of the pan. Stir the scrapings into the liquid to create a sauce. Once the wine thickens, add a little water or dissolved beef bullion and continue stirring for a few minutes until the deglazing reaches the thick, sticky consistency needed.
Add a cup of beer or wine can to recipes in the place of beef broth to imbue rich flavor that compliments roasted flavor notes while at the same time tenderizing the meat or vegetables. You’ll need to compensate with extra salt, but a good beer adds dimensions of flavor to any meal that calls for beef stock or broth. Add beer after browning your meat or vegetables, just like when you’re deglazing a pan with red wine. The best beer is ideally a dark one, but any ale, lager, porter, or stout will elevate your meal.
Whether hearty and made in your own kitchen or mixed on from a powder/concentrate, bone broth is a great substitute for beef broth. Bone broth typically uses meaty bones and joints boiled over an extended period of time. Boiling down sinuous bones like knuckle, neck, oxtail, and shank creates a rich stock that’s high in gelatin thanks to the conductive tissue, which grants a silky texture to sauces, stews, and other meals. Pork and poultry also boil down to a delicious bone broth but beef bones are best as a direct alternative to beef broth.
Yes, it may not be the authentic taste of home-cooked beef, but a packet of beef ramen seasoning can transform the taste of just about anything to something far beefier in a pinch. The only drawback to ramen seasoning is that it’s typically loaded with MSG which some may avoid. Otherwise, the right ramen brand and flavor will work wonders on your meal, coming close in flavor to beef broth.
Ultimately, there’s no one best way to replicate the results intended by another chef. When a recipe calls for beef broth, it’s the basic flavor profile you’re looking for. Each one of these substitutes will take the place of beef wherever you need beef broth or stock while giving each recipe a rich mouthfeel and a rewarding spectrum of flavor of its own.