Don’t have beef broth or want to go vegetarian? Here are 8 substitutes

by Joost Nusselder | Updated:  September 7, 2022

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You’re in the middle of making a delicious soup, but you don’t have any beef broth. There’s one thing no one can live without in their kitchen, and that’s a good broth!

What are you supposed to do? Go out and buy some from the store? That’d be a huge hassle! 

So what should you do if you’re craving the delicious, savory taste of beef broth for your next dish, but without the meat itself?

The solution is simple: just use our beef broth substitutes instead! These alternatives won’t leave your food bland or lacking flavor.

6 substitutes for beef broth

Many of our vegan, vegetarian, and even meat-loving readers have asked for a post on beef broth substitutes. Thankfully, you can easily substitute beef broth with a meatless alternative for a flavorful meal.

My favorite beef broth substitute is mushroom broth. It’s a delicious, vegetarian-safe option packed full of flavor. The best I’ve found is this Better Than Bouillon base:

Better than bouillon mushroom beef broth substitute

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Additionally, there are other types of broths that you can use to achieve the same results you could’ve achieved with beef broth.

Here are some of the best replacements:

8 panels showing alternatives for beef broth

The top 8 beef broth substitutes at a glance

  1. Beef stock
  2. Chicken bouillon
  3. Vegetable broth
  4. Mushroom broth
  5. Beer or wine
  6. Soy sauce & steak sauce
  7. Bouillon granules
  8. Liquid aminos

Check out my video on why these are great substitutes and how to use them in your dishes:

Plenty of people are confused about the difference between beef broth and beef stock.

So, what are all the differences between these two?

Beef stock is a bit waterier and doesn’t have as much flavor as beef broth.

The first difference between beef broth and stock is in how they’re made.

Stock is made by simmering beef bones for a long time and results in a well-rounded, flavorful liquid.

Broth is made by simmering the beef meat itself, rather than bones. This results in a thinner liquid with tons of flavor.

The second difference between these 2 comes down to seasoning. Beef stock isn’t seasoned with spices or salt, whereas beef broth is.

How can you turn beef stock into beef broth?

  1. Add some red wine, dried or fresh herbs, and salt to the beef stock.
  2. Increase the heat to a rolling boil, and then let it cook for around 10 to 30 minutes. If possible, let the broth cook for the whole 30 minutes. This important step extracts all the seasonings’ flavors.
  3. Using a strainer, carefully strain the stock to remove all the seasonings.

How to substitute beef broth for beef consommé

How to substitue Beef Broth for Consomme

Consommé isn’t truly a substitute for beef broth. It’s actually the term for purified stock or broth. Still, a lot of questions are asked about consommé as a broth substitute.

You get comsommé by simmering your cloudy stock or broth until it’s a clear liquid. It’s richer in taste and thicker in consistency, making it an upgrade from beef broth rather than a substitute.

To get the perfect consommé broth, simmer regular broth with egg whites and minced meat. When steamed, the egg whites will rise to the top of the broth, where you can then scoop them up.

8 best substitutes for beef broth

simmering pan of beef broth

Ok, so we already did one: beef stock. Now let’s take a look at the remaining 7 options you have at your disposal.

Also read: best dashi stock and instant powder, even a vegan one

1. Chicken bouillon cubes

Besides chicken stock in liquid form, bouillon cubes are another great way to cook stock.

Both chicken and beef bouillon cubes add savory and meaty goodness to any dish. They’re so convenient that you’ll find yourself reaching for these cubes all the time. 

What’s a bouillon cube?

Bouillon cubes are popular seasoning cubes found all over the world. These compact squares of concentrated stock are made from dried seasonings. 

Bouillon cubes are the epitome of convenience in the kitchen. Simply dissolve 1 cube in 1 cup of hot water, add to your food, and boil.

For example, if you want to use it in a soup, just add a cube along with all the other ingredients and let it come to a boil. 

Bouillon granules

If you don’t like bouillon cubes, there are many different bouillon granules in various flavors.

The most popular types are chicken granules. Simply add a teaspoon straight into your food to infuse your dish with incredible chicken flavors.

There’s also a tasty beef flavor, which comes in regular and sodium-free versions.

2. Vegetable broth

Vegetable broth is one of the most popular and best substitutes for beef broth. Since it’s already a broth, it contains a lot of the same flavors through its seasoning.

Add leftover vegetables like garlic, carrots, onions, and mushrooms to enhance the flavor of your simmering vegetable broth. You could also add some Italian seasonings, rosemary, bay leaves, thyme, or pepper as you sauté the vegetables.

Vegetable broth

When using vegetable broth as a substitute, replace every cup of beef broth with your vegetable broth with a 1:1 ratio. 

Also read: those thick Japanese noodles are called udon and this is how you can use them

3. Vegan bouillon cubes

These delicious, gluten-free, vegan cubes are an excellent substitute for beef bouillon cubes or any other meat-based bouillon.

The resulting taste is an extra-savory vegetable broth that, according to customer reviews, is full of yummy flavor!

Check them out here:

Vegan bouillon cubes

(view more images)

4. Vegan mushroom broth

Mushroom broth beef broth substitute

Vegan mushroom broth beef both substitute

Joost Nusselder
This exciting broth is easy to make at home and is a great vegan substitute for beef broth.
No ratings yet
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 1 hr
Total Time 1 hr 5 mins
Course Soup
Cuisine Italian
Servings 4 people

Ingredients
  

  • 1 carrot
  • 1 yellow onion
  • 1 cup assorted mushrooms
  • 2 twigs thyme
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 sprigs parsley
  • 4 peppercorns
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 gallon water
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil

Instructions
 

  • Cut the mushrooms, carrot, and onion into slices and lightly sauté them in the bottom of a large stockpot with the vegetable oil for around 4 minutes.
  • Add the water and the rest of the seasonings, and allow the mixture to boil. Then let it simmer on low heat until it reduces.
  • You'll know the broth is done when all the vegetables are soft and your stock has some mushroom flavor to it. However, you'll have to be patient, as this can take up to 1 hour.
  • After the broth has flavor and the vegetables are all soft, you can strain the ingredients out and what's left is a delicious vegan mushroom broth.

Notes

You can use button mushrooms as a replacement for your assorted mushrooms, as they’ll serve the same purpose.
Keyword Broth, Mushrooms, Vegan
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

You can use button mushrooms to replace assorted mushrooms. You can also add a splash of soy sauce and a dash of red wine as you sauté the veggies to infuse the broth with extra flavor.

Add a bit of miso paste if you want to try something more interesting (and Asian, which is fantastic!).

5. Beer or wine

Yes, you heard that right! Beer or wine makes a flavorful substitute for beef broth.

However, you need to make precise measurements. Make sure everything’s in a 1:1 ratio, meaning that for every portion of wine or beer you use, you need to use the same amount of water to dilute it.

In addition, you also might need to add extra cooking time to whatever the recipe says to allow all the liquids to fully evaporate.

If you don’t want to use alcohol, you can use non-alcoholic beer as a substitute.

6. Soy sauce, steak sauce, and Worchestershire sauce

Soy sauce is an excellent replacement for the salty flavor of beef broth. Add it alongside vegetable stock for an extra hearty substitute. 

You can also use 1 cup of water and 1 teaspoon of both soy sauce and steak sauce. Stir well. 

Worchestershire sauce is another flavorful option that can enhance your dish with an excellent umami flavor.

With those quantities, you’ll be able to substitute this 1 cup of soy sauce solution with 1 cup of beef stock.

7. Vegan substitute: Liquid aminos

Liquid aminos is a great vegan substitute similar to soy sauce. It’s made out of mixed fermented coconut sap, salt, water, and soybeans, resulting in a similar salty flavor to soy sauce. 

The amino acids are naturally vegan and gluten-free. Plus, they add tons of savory flavor!

Can I use chicken broth instead of beef broth?

Chicken and Beef Broth uses

Many people say that you can swap these 2 broths and substitute one for the other.

However, keep in mind that the tastes are quite different. Beef broth has a stronger flavor, whereas chicken broth has a milder, less intense flavor. 

You can use chicken broth where the recipe calls for beef broth, but you might lose some taste. On the other hand, if you substitute beef broth for chicken broth, it may overpower the dish.

Also check out these substitutes for chicken broth

Can I use water instead of beef broth?

While you can use water instead of beef broth, you’ll lose all of the extra flavors from the broth. 

However, it’s a bit easier to substitute chicken stock with water because of its lighter flavor and taste.

Tips for using beef broth substitutes

When determining which beef broth substitute would be ideal for your recipe, make sure that you understand what makes a broth, well, a broth!

Broth is made out of simmering meat and vegetables with additional seasonings.

If you’re using soy sauce as a substitute for beef broth, make sure that you add some peppercorns, garlic, bay leaves, parsley, or other seasonings to make the replacement more convincing.

Make sure that you add these seasonings in small quantities, especially when experimenting with seasonings for the first time. Then, proceed to taste your broth before making any additional adjustments.

If you add too much seasoning or the substitute doesn’t taste the way you wanted, you can add some more water and start the entire process of tasting and adding again.

How can I make my broth taste better?

If you want something better than a regular broth, you can always add more ingredients to take the flavor to the next level.

Here’s a list of things to make your broth tastier:

  • Add spices like peppercorns, coriander, cloves, etc.
  • Add other aromatic veggies, such as carrots, ginger, garlic, and celery root.
  • Don’t skip fresh, finely chopped herbs. Try parsley, thyme, bay leaves, sage, lemongrass, rosemary, etc.
  • Add some parmesan or Camembert cheese rind for a rich flavor.
  • Simmer the broth with lemon or lime peels to give the broth a citrusy and slightly sour taste.
  • Add in some miso paste.
  • Try fish sauce or hot chili sauce for a unique flavor.
  • Add a pinch of smoked salt.
  • Incorporate a teaspoon of vinegar if you want a sour broth.

What’s the best substitute for beef broth in stroganoff?

If you don’t have any beef broth, you can add a similar flavor with dried shiitake mushrooms. Also, add some of the water you get when you rehydrate your mushrooms.

The soy sauce/steak sauce combination works well with Stroganoff as well.

What’s the best substitute for beef stock?

If you don’t have any beef stock, you can substitute it with another broth. Vegetable broth works best, especially with a lot of mushrooms, which should also include garlic, carrots, onions, among others.

How can you substitute one broth with another?

Tips on chicken and beef substitute

Chicken broth is another convenient substitute for beef broth. There might be a few minor changes in the dish’s flavor and color, but it’ll still have a great taste!

It’s important to note that some broths are more easily substituted than others.

For example, vegetable broth isn’t as great of a substitute for beef or chicken broth as beef is for chicken, and vice versa, due to the fat content in meat-based broths.

Is beef broth healthy?

Now that you’ve seen all the alternatives, you’re probably wondering if beef broth is healthy for you.

Well, if you have time to make the broth at home from scratch, then yes!

Drinking beef bone broth has been shown to benefit your joints and digestive system. Beef contains several essential vitamins and minerals, making it great for your overall health. 

Nutritional value of beef broth

100 grams of homemade beef stock, broth, or consomme has the following nutritional value:

  • Energy: 7 kcal
  • Protein: 1.14 grams
  • Fat: 0.22 grams
  • Fatty acids: 0.11 grams
  • 30-80 calories

Beef broth is an excellent source of calcium, iron, potassium, minerals, vitamin B, and more.

Try out these beef broth substitutes

There are many options available for broth substitutes. Whether it’s beef broth, chicken broth, or a vegan substitute, these alternatives make excellent healthy options for all your dishes!

Besides, the most exciting part when it comes to cooking is experimenting with ingredients. Your skills are definitely put to the test when using what you have lying around to make a recipe.

However, enjoying your meal and knowing that all your efforts paid off is a fantastic feeling!

When you’re trying out new recipes, even the tiniest changes (like substituting an ingredient) can make a huge difference. So try out several of these beef broth substitutes until you find your favorite!

Read more: What are the different kinds of Japanese noodles?

Check out our new cookbook

Bitemybun's family recipes with complete meal planner and recipe guide.

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Joost Nusselder, the founder of Bite My Bun is a content marketer, dad and loves trying out new food with Japanese food at the heart of his passion, and together with his team he's been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with recipes and cooking tips.