Even a stocked pantry goes dry sometimes and we start digging for a substitute for beef broth. We did a little research to see a few options for what to use instead of beef broth in recipes.
Beef broth is a seasoned liquid, also called a bouillon, in which beef meat (with or without bones), along with aromatics and vegetables, are simmered in water.
It’s a must-have kitchen staple and many cooks often use it in savory soups, sauces, and braises.
I often use my beef broth to bring back the heavenly goodness of my leftover prime ribs—and guess what? I love how much flavor it offers even in small amounts!
If you’re following a recipe that calls for beef broth but you’ve run out, no need to worry!
Here are the 7 terrific beef broth substitutes that work in a pinch.
And check out our #7—a versatile, powerful substitute for beef that I use ALL THE TIME.
Beef broth features a rich and noticeable meaty, beef flavor coming from protein, vegetables, and herbs. It’s thinner than beef stock, but beef broth tends to be more flavorful than the former.
Beef broth is great for adding savory flavors to your creations such as soups, stews, braises, and sauces.
How beef broth is often used
Beef broth can be used as a braising liquid for meat or added as one of the key ingredients in making stews, soups, gravy, and sauces.
You can even pour the savory liquid on top of your leftover prime rib and reheat it to achieve the same juicy and tender goodness as a freshly prepared prime rib!
Here are other recipes you can use with beef broth:
- Combine beef broth with unsalted butter, flour, and drippings to create a homemade gravy.
- Use it to make a flavorful braising liquid for brisket.
- Mix the broth with mushrooms, butter, flour, and seasonings to make a rich mushroom gravy.
- Give your beef and broccoli a nice consistency by adding beef broth.
- Take your ordinary burger a notch by massaging cooled beef broth over the meat.
Can I use water in place of beef broth?
It’s a BIG yes! You can use water instead of beef broth in your recipe, however, keep in mind that the broth is seasoned, meaning it’s impossible that you’ll imitate the taste of beef broth using the water.
In that case, the best thing to do is to add ingredients like butter and oil to give the mixture a closer taste to beef broth.
Subs and how to use them
We’ve all been there: You want to throw together a quick soup but you don’t have any beef broth on hand.
Luckily, there are a few fantastic substitutes for beef broth—ready for the list?
1. Homemade beef broth
If you’re running out of canned or packaged beef broth but have a lot of free time, then I suggest making your own broth from scratch.
Though it takes effort to finish, preparing your own beef broth means you can control the ingredients added to the liquid and modify them if necessary.
To create, simply gather beef stock bones, and stew meat like flank steak, olive oil, onions, carrots, celery rib, garlic cloves, parsley, bay leaves, and peppercorns.
Start by roasting the meat, bones, and vegetables in the oven. Next, transfer them to a hot water over a roasting pan.
Add the other ingredients and put the heat on high and bring the pot to a low simmer—that’s it!
2. Beef stock + salt
If you’re not a fan of beef broth, beef stock is the closest in taste to beef broth.
The only difference is that the stock is thinner and has a less meaty flavor than the broth.
So you might need a pinch of salt to achieve that salty undertone of the beef broth.
To use it as a substitute, use the same amount of beef stock mixture as the beef broth called for in your recipe.
3. Bouillon cubes + water
Another impressive beef broth substitute is bouillon cubes.
For this substitute, you only need to add one cube into a half cup of boiling water then wait for it to be fully dissolved.
You can find lots of flavors that should adequately substitute for the beef flavor, as they all seem to have a similar flavor profile. Wyler’s, Knorr’s, Tone, and Herb Ox all seem to do the trick and are widely available.
Just like beef broth, bouillon cubes are great for soups, stews, sauces, and gravies. A warm cup of broth makes for a good sweet drink substitute on a chilly evening, too.
Usually one beef bouillon cube dissolved into boiling water equals 8 oz of prepared beef broth.
4. Vegetable broth
Vegetable broth refers to a seasoned liquid made from simmering or boiling vegetables and herbs without savory meat.
The rich taste of the broth usually comes from the blend of vegetables and seasonings such as carrots, onions, mushrooms, garlic, rosemary, thyme, and pepper.
It may not be identical to beef broth when it comes to taste and color but the vegetable broth is pretty impressive as a substitute.
Use a 1 to 1 ratio as a substitution.
5. Mushroom broth
The mushroom broth is a great substitute for beef broth.
The best part about this replacement is that the ingredients needed for making the broth are most likely in your kitchen.
Simply chop and saute the mushrooms and carrots then add water and the rest of the ingredients. Let it boil until the veggies are soft.
To use mushroom broth instead of beef broth in your recipe, simply use it in a ratio of 1:1.
6. Soy sauce + water + herbs
Last but not least—soy sauce!
Soy sauce is notable for its umami flavor and dark brown color.
When it combines with a blend of parsley, garlic, bay leaves, and water, this Asian pantry basic will become a worthy replacement for beef broth.
To use it as a substitute, use the same amount of soy sauce as the beef broth called for in your dish.
And a combination of worcestershire, soy, seasonings, and water might do the trick too.
Use ¼ c of soy sauce with ¾ c water and seasonings to equal one cup of beef broth.
7. Better Than Bouillon
One of my favorite cooking helpers is this little glass jar of super concentrated paste called Better Than Bouillon.
It comes in several different flavors, and it does have a long list of ingredients that includes sugar and dairy, but with a single tablespoon, I can season a small crockpot of beef stew or chicken and dumplings.
I’ve used a little in my quiches and a lot in my big pots of marinara sauce. I’ve dropped a level teaspoon of it into grilling marinades, even a bit into homemade salad dressing.
It’s so versatile and I am such a fan of the flavor. But it IS very strong, and I’ve over seasoned a roast being heavy-handed with the beef flavored one. Let’s just say there’s no turning back. Not all the potatoes in the world could get the salt out.
I have found it in many nearby supermarkets and the big-box stores, but here’s our affiliate link if you want to pop one into your cart to try it.
You can get it in reduced sodium but I haven’t tried it yet. I’ve had and can vouch for the Better Than Bouillon in chicken, beef, seasoned vegetable, and garlic flavors. They offer a vegetarian, mushroom, ham, chili, and lobster too.
I keep open jars in my fridge for weeks, and closed, I just watch the best-by date, though nothing’s lasted long enough for me to watch it that closely.
This isn’t a paid fan-girling, but hey, Better Than Bouillon, if you’re looking for the president of your fan club…
A teaspoon of Better Than Bouillon mixed with 8 oz hot water makes the equivalent of 8 oz of broth.
When you’re short on beef broth or simply asking yourself a bold question—what can I use instead of beef broth?—you can always rely on these 7 alternatives!
The closest in taste to beef broth is likely the beef stock with a pinch of salt.
Although other substitutions will work, keep in mind that some of them may produce a slightly different flavor in your finished recipe.
And if you are hoping to have a nice hot drink of beef broth, your best bet is a tried-and-true bouillon from concentrate like a cube or paste.
Or even better, make your own homemade and tailor the recipe to your liking.
I recommend experimenting with herbs and spices such as parsley, garlic, bay leaves to make your replacement more convincing.
- Beef stock
- A pinch of salt
- Use the same amount of this beef stock mixture as the beef broth called for in your recipe.
- Serve and enjoy!