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Substitute for Beef Broth

While it’s easy to see why many recipes use beef broth, it’s not always readily available. Maybe you don’t want to whip up a homemade beef stock. Or, maybe you’re not a fan of the taste of beef. Whatever the reason, there is a substitute for beef broth that fits into your diet and agrees with your taste buds.

bowl with stock with vegetables and beef marrow bones

Many recipes include beef broth, ranging from soups to roasts, gravies, and even pasta dishes. It’s a versatile ingredient that adds richness and flavor to any dish it’s added to. It can easily take a roast from good to great.

Best Beef Broth Substitutes And Alternatives

Below you’ll find a list of some of the best substitutes and alternatives for beef broth. This list includes notes on the flavor profile and benefits that vary for each.

1.Beef Bouillon

A bouillon cube is the perfect beef broth substitute in a pinch. They’re convenient and budget-friendly. These are readily available on store shelves and easy to find. 

It will have a very similar taste to the beef broth as it’s a dehydrated meat stock. You can also add a more robust meaty flavor to dishes by using a more concentrated amount of beef bouillon cubes. This can be done by decreasing the amount of water used in conjunction with the powder/cube.

They’re easy to use as well – heat one cup of water, add the cube in, mix, and you’re ready to go. Unfortunately, a lot of brands of bouillon use MSG in the recipe. Keep an eye out for that and avoid if possible.

2. Bone Broth

This is one of the best alternatives for beef broth and will make an excellent beef stew. You’ll still get the rich flavor with an additional health boost to the dish. It has a good amount of protein and smaller amounts of calcium, iron, and potassium. The difference between bone broth and beef broth is in the way it’s prepared. 

First, the ingredients used are different. Beef broth uses meat (and sometimes vegetables/herbs) as the flavor provider, while bone broth uses joints and bones. Beef broth also takes about 4-5 hours to cook, whereas bone broth takes about 8 hours (or a few days depending on who you ask!).

3. Fish Stock

Fish stock is another good choice as a beef broth alternative. You’ll still get protein and some benefits from fish broth. However, the flavor will be vastly different. Typically, the fish stock tends to be saltier than other stocks and has a light fish or seafood flavor. If this is not a flavor you enjoy, opt for a different option. 

The fish stock also tends to be on the lighter side colorwise, so expect your final dish to have a white, off-white, or light yellow color. This will depend on the other ingredients added to the dish.

4. Vegetable Broth

Vegetable broth provides a lighter flavor even than fish stock. It will also offer a lighter colored broth than beef broth. This can easily substitute in for any dish that usually requires beef broth. You can use vegetable broth for sauces, soups, roasts, and pasta. It’s an excellent way for vegetarians and vegans to add flavor to dishes without the meaty taste of the beef broth.

The best part about vegetable broth is how easy it is to recreate it at home. You won’t need to boil it for hours to pull the flavors from the herbs and vegetables into the broth. Plus, you can use nearly any available vegetable you have in your pantry. Only have mushrooms? Make an easy mushroom broth.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I use chicken broth instead of beef broth?

It’s quite common to have chicken broth available in most people’s kitchens. This could be in the form of a prepared broth in a carton or even a homemade broth. So, can it be swapped out for beef broth?

Yes – you can swap out beef broth for chicken broth. The flavor will be lighter, and the dish will be less rich tasting. However, it’s an excellent alternative in a pinch. It might not be the perfect beef stock substitute, but it works well in soups, pasta dishes, or even white gravies/sauces.  

What can I use if I don’t have broth?

Sometimes, the store is closed, and you don’t notice that you’ve run out of broth or bouillon cubes until the last minute. There are still a few options you can choose from to add flavor to your dishes. 

One such item is white wine or cooking wine. This is ideal for dishes like soup or gravy – anything that maintains a more liquid consistency.

When in a bind, you can even use French Onion Soup. Keep this option for roasts or saucy dishes. Stay away from soups or stews with this alternative. While you can make a delectable soup from this, it won’t be close to the consistency of beef broth in that manner.

Can I use water instead of broth?

Surprisingly, yes. You can use water as a substitution for beef broth. It is advised to add either oil or butter to create a similar consistency. This will offer a similar “fattiness” to the water that you would encounter in beef broth.

Also, you’ll want to add seasonings to it as well. Essentially, you can create your quick broth by adding dried herbs and butter. Choose your favorites like thyme, rosemary, basil, and bay leaves for a tasty flavor combination. 

This is also an excellent option for vegans/vegetarians who don’t have vegetable broth on hand. Swap the butter for vegan butter or use oil instead for a dairy-free, meat-free “broth.” 

Below you’ll find some additional commonly asked questions surrounding a beef broth substitute.

Is beef bouillon the same as beef broth?

No, it’s not the same as beef broth. It is similar, except for the final format. While beef broth is kept as a liquid, beef bouillon is stored as a powder, cube, or paste. It’s a very concentrated version that is intended to be diluted in hot water.

Can I use gravy instead of beef stock?

It depends entirely on the application. If you’re planning on making a pot roast, go ahead and use that gravy. Ensure you add some extra liquid to it not fully dissipate or become too thick. For soups, stews, and sauces, gravy is a no-go. Opt for other types of broth, bouillon cubes, or even water instead.

Can I substitute Worcestershire sauce for beef broth?

Yes, you can use Worcestershire sauce instead of beef broth. Here’s the caveat, you can not use this for soups or stews as it lacks the amount of liquid needed for such dishes. Again, you’ll need to add some fat source (butter, oil, etc.), but it will add some flavor to dishes. It’s also possible to use soy sauce to alter the taste. You should also add some additional seasoning, depending on the dish you intend to make.


Next time you’re in the middle of making your favorite dish and run out of beef broth, you can breathe a sigh of relief knowing there are options to replace it in a recipe easily. The above list makes it easy to avoid last-minute trips to the grocery store. 

Each option is flavorful and provides a different taste experience than the one before it. They all contain nutrients or a way to flavor your meal. The beef bouillon, in this case, is the best alternative for beef broth due to its taste and convenience. Ultimately, any of the above options will provide an excellent experience.

Recipes with Beef Broth

Beef Heart Stew

white bowl with yellow potatoes, meat and brown broth

Beef and Farro Stew

dutch oven pot with cooked Ground Beef Farro Stew

One-Pot Risotto with Beef and Feta

a white plate with rice and tomatoes

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