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The 9 Most Suitable Substitutes For Vegetable Broth

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One of the first things we have to learn when we are learning to cook is how to make substitutions. It just happens, we think we have all the ingredients, but we don’t. But what if our recipe calls for vegetable broth and we just don’t have any?

The best substitutes for vegetable broth are other types of broth, bouillon, water, white wine, soy sauce, or tomatoes. Our job as a cook is to choose the substitute that is available to us that will create a dish that is the most similar to the same dish made by recipe directions with vegetable broth.

In the following paragraphs, we will discuss each of these substitutes for vegetable broth and how they can be used.


1. Chicken Broth

Chicken Broth Box

Chicken broth makes one of the best substitutes for vegetable broth even though chicken broth will give a meaty taste to the dish you are cooking, and vegetable broth has a slightly sweet taste that chicken broth doesn’t have. Otherwise, chicken broth and vegetable broth have similar flavors and colors so using either one will not create a significant difference in the dish. 

Often, when chicken is being boiled to make chicken broth, vegetables are added so that the chicken broth does have the vegetable taste in addition to the meaty chicken taste.

How to Substitute:

In most cases, chicken broth can be substituted for vegetable broth on a 1-to-1 basis. Or, if you happen to have some vegetable broth but just not enough for the recipe, mixing the amount of vegetable broth that you have and adding enough chicken broth to make the total amount called for in the recipe would be a good way to go.


2. Beef Broth

Beef Broth Box

Beef broth is another good substitute for vegetable broth. Here, again, as with chicken broth, beef broth will give the dish you are making a meaty taste so the dish you are preparing will determine whether chicken or beef broth will be a better fit with the other flavors in that particular dish.

How to Substitute:

As with chicken broth, beef broth can be substituted on a 1-to-1 basis for vegetable broth, or a combination of part vegetable broth and part beef broth would be a good way to go.


3. Bouillon

Two types of bouillon

Bouillon, which is available in many different flavors, is a good substitute for vegetable broth. It comes in beef, chicken, vegetable, roasted chicken base, roasted beef base, seasoned vegetable base, roasted garlic base, sauteed onion, organic seasoned vegetable, etc.

Depending on the flavors that you have on hand, it will be the choice of the cook to decide which flavor to use. 

Bouillon is available in most grocery stores, supermarkets, and chain stores like Wal-Mart and Target, and depending on the store you happen to be shopping in, each store will have its own selection as far as varieties and brands of bouillon from which to choose.

How to Substitute:

All you have to do is add one bouillon cube per cup of liquid that your recipe calls for, or in the case of the bouillon that is sold in granules, just follow the label directions for the amount that is needed for your recipe.


4. Water

Water in a Measuring Cup Small

If you have no other options and there is nothing else in your kitchen that you can substitute for vegetable broth or you are cooking vegetarian or vegan, you can always use water as a substitute for vegetable broth. But, if water is your only option, your recipe will be missing the flavor of vegetable broth.

If you decide to just substitute water for the vegetable broth, my recommendation is to chop up a couple of potatoes and any other vegetables you have on hand, boil them for 20-30 minutes, and use the water that you pour off the vegetables as a replacement for vegetable broth. The taste will be so similar that no one will know the difference.

Also, if using water as a substitute for vegetable broth, add some extra herbs like bay leaves, celery seeds, garlic powder, onion powder, rosemary, and thyme to add back some of the flavor lost by not using vegetable broth.

How to Substitute:

Water can be substituted for vegetable broth on a 1-to-1 basis, but by adding some extra herbs and spices, it should result in a dish that tastes almost exactly like the same dish made with vegetable broth.


5. Homemade Vegetable Broth

Pouring Vegetable Stock Into a Bowl

Homemade vegetable broth is one of the easiest broths to make and can be made from vegetables that you normally keep on hand in your refrigerator or pantry. And, in less than an hour, you can have a pot of flavorful vegetable broth that will liven up any dish that you are making.

Here is a basic vegetable broth recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon Olive Oil
  • 3 Carrots
  • 3 Celery stalks
  • 1 large Onion
  • 1 bunch of Green Onions
  • 8 cloves Garlic
  • Fresh Herbs
  • 3 Bay Leaves
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 quarts Water

Directions:

  1. Chop the vegetables into 1 to 2-inch pieces.
  2. Heat the oil in a large pot or Dutch oven and saute all vegetables and herbs until tender and beginning to brown.
  3. Add water and salt and bring to a boil, stirring well.
  4. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 30 to 45 minutes.
  5. Strain and discard vegetables.

Homemade broth will last 2 to 3 days in the refrigerator. To store homemade broth for a longer period of time, it can be canned using safe canning practices or stored in an airtight container, like these one found on Amazon in the freezer for up to 6 months.

PRO TIP: Be sure to label your canned or frozen containers with the contents of the container and the date canned or frozen so that you can rotate your foods and make sure you are using the oldest first to prevent losing the foods because they are outdated.

Other ingredients that can be used in making vegetable broth

There are many other things that can be used to make homemade vegetable stock. Here are a few:

  • Asparagus
  • Bell Peppers
  • Celery leaves and root
  • Chard
  • Corn and corn cobs
  • Eggplant
  • Fennel
  • Mushrooms
  • Peas and pea pods
  • Peels from onions, garlic, and carrots
  • Potato peels
  • Trimmings from these and other vegetables

Many people, including myself, keep a freezer bag or other container in the freezer to put all vegetable trimmings in that they have, and when they have enough, they go ahead and make a batch of vegetable broth to have on hand when they need it.

However, just remember to use a variety of vegetables and/or trimmings when making broth so that the broth doesn’t taste too strongly of one particular vegetable. I also recommend leaving out vegetables such as cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts because they tend to leave a bitter flavor in the broth.

How to Substitute:

Homemade vegetable broth can be substituted for packaged vegetable broth on a 1-to-1 basis.


6. White Wine

A man pouring white wine into a glass while preparing a mea

White wine can be substituted for vegetable broth and makes an excellent substitute because it will not change the color of the dish and adds some sweetness to the dish as does vegetable broth. While white wine doesn’t add flavor to the dish, it does enhance the flavor of the other ingredients making the dish much more flavorful than with some of the other substitutes for vegetable broth.

And for those concerned about the alcohol content, cooking causes the alcohol to evaporate leaving only the flavor of the wine to complement your dish.

How to Substitute:

While there are conflicting opinions on substituting white wine for vegetable broth, there are some who recommend substituting on a 1-to-1 basis. The opposing opinion, which is also my opinion, is to combine equal parts water and wine and then substitute that mixture on a 1-to-1 basis for vegetable broth.


7. Soy Sauce

Best choice soy sauce bottle

Soy sauce can be used as a substitute for vegetable broth and the taste is very similar to the taste of vegetable broth. While soy sauce is closer in flavor to beef broth than vegetable broth, it also enhances the flavor of the other ingredients in the recipe.

One thing to remember about substituting soy sauce for vegetable broth is that soy sauce is high in sodium, and the amount of salt called for in the recipe should be adjusted accordingly so that your dish is not too salty.

How to Substitute:

Soy sauce can be substituted for vegetable broth by adding 1 tablespoon of soy sauce for every cup of water added to the dish.


8. Tomatoes

Can of diced tomatoes

An excellent substitute for vegetable broth, especially in vegetarian and vegan dishes, is tomatoes. Because tomatoes are vegetables and are often included as an ingredient in vegetable broth, the taste of the dish when tomatoes are used as a substitute for vegetable broth will be very similar to the same dish made with vegetable broth.

How to Substitute:

It is recommended that tomatoes be mixed half and half with water and then that mixture can be substituted on a 1-to-1 basis for vegetable broth.


9. Potato Broth

Homemade potato broth

Even though I have never read nor heard of others doing the same, I quite often substitute potato broth for any kind of broth in some recipes, especially in soups and stews. When space in my freezer permits, I freeze the broth drained from the potatoes I cook when I make mashed potatoes or potato salad and use it in making different types of soup, especially vegetable soup.

So, it sounds reasonable to me that potato broth would be a good substitute for vegetable broth, especially in some dishes like soups.

Potato broth is filled with the nutrients that are cooked out of potatoes when you cook them, primarily carbs, fiber, vitamins B6 and C, potassium, and manganese. It makes a very hearty broth and my mother made the best potato dumplings I’ve ever had. She only added a little milk and butter to the broth and dropped in some dumplings (the flat kind) made with milk, and they were delicious.

I watched her make those dumplings many times and occasionally make a batch myself.

How to Substitute:

I would recommend substituting potato broth for vegetable broth on a 1-to-1 basis.


What is the Difference Between Stock and Broth?

Even though the terms stock and broth are used more or less interchangeably and the ingredients are basically the same, the difference between the two is that broth is made by boiling meat and/or vegetables and straining the liquid that is called broth. Stock, however, is made by boiling bones and straining the liquid that contains collagen and gelatin which cooks out of the bones.

Another difference between stock and broth is that broth is flavorful enough to drink on its own, while stock is used as a base in cooking soups and sauces, and its main purpose is to provide body, not flavor.

Final Thoughts

The next time you are making that special dish and the recipe calls for vegetable broth and you don’t have any on hand, this article gives you quite a few options that will allow you to continue with your cooking and avoid an extra trip to the store.

Thanks for stoppin’ by!

Jelly Grandma

For more, don’t miss Do Vegetables Lose Nutrients When Cooked in Soup?

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