Chicken base, chicken broth, bone broth, there’s a lot of chicken products to choose from when cooking. It can get confusing what to use for which recipe and which ingredients can be substituted for one another.
In this post, we’ll break down the similarities and differences between chicken base vs broth, the best substitutes for each, and which one is best for your gut health.
Key Differences Between Chicken Base vs Broth
Chicken base has a thick syrupy paste-like consistency made from simmering chicken bones. Chicken base is made by reducing the liquid in chicken stock until a soft paste is formed. Chicken broth is a watery liquid made from simmering chicken meat in water with vegetables.
What is Chicken Base?
Chicken base is concentrated chicken stock. It is golden brown in color and has a thick syrup-like paste consistency. It is rich in flavor and is great for adding chicken flavoring when the watery consistency of chicken stock won’t work. Chicken base is made from reducing the liquid in chicken stock by simmering it over heat to evaporate half of the liquid until it is a concentrated paste.
Chicken base is great for adding rich flavor to hearty soups, stews, gravies, sauces, and more. It may also be labeled “chicken soup base” and sold near the chicken bouillon cubes in the grocery store.
Making Homemade Chicken Base
If you are already making homemade chicken stock, making homemade chicken base won’t take too much more effort. After making chicken stock, return the strained stock back to a clean pot after making your homemade stock. Having strained out all the bones, vegetables, and herbs. Continue to simmer the chicken stock until it is reduced in half, meaning half the liquid has evaporated. You can also make chicken base by simmering frozen store-bought chicken stock (or chicken bone broth).
Chicken stock is made from cooking chicken bones with vegetables and herbs in a large pot with water; slow-simmered for 12+ hours or more. Chicken stock contains collagen-rich gelatin, minerals, and other nutrients released from the bones, giving it a full-mouth feel. Chicken stock is essentially the same as chicken “bone broth.” The term “bone broth” has become popular in the wellness world as a way to distinguish broth made from bones vs broth made from chicken meat.
Homemade chicken stock (or bone broth) can be made with leftover chicken bones, or you can ask your local butcher if they have bony parts of a chicken leftover for making stock. There may be a cost for a chicken carcass or bones, given the uptick in popularity around bone broth. I have a basic recipe for making homemade chicken stock or “bone broth” here.
What is Chicken Broth?
Chicken broth uses chicken meat as the main ingredient, and some bones can also be used. Chicken broth has the consistency of water and can be used as a flavorful water in cooking.
Chicken broth is typically made by simmering the chicken meat for about an hour with other vegetables and spices; broths are generally seasoned and are full of complex flavors. Broth can be enjoyed on its own or used as an ingredient in cooking. Vegetable broth is made similarly, just without the chicken and a stronger focus on more vegetables.
Making homemade chicken broth is a great way to use extra chicken. You can even turn it into a homemade chicken noodle soup. Chicken broth is excellent for use in all sorts of soups, stews, gravies, or as a substitute for water to make more flavorful rice or pasta.
Similarities and Differences between Chicken Base vs Chicken Broth
- You can use both chicken base, and chicken broth can be used in soups, stews, gravies, and sauces.
- Chicken base and broth result from simmering parts of a chicken with vegetables.
- Making homemade chicken base and chicken broth are great ways to use leftover parts of a chicken and vegetables that otherwise might end up in the trash.
- Chicken base is thicker; like a syrupy paste, chicken broth is a watery liquid.
- Chicken base has a richer flavor than chicken broth as it is very concentrated.
- Chicken base is made primarily from simmering chicken bones. Chicken broth is made from simmering chicken meat.
- Chicken broth takes less time to make than chicken base. Broth simmers for about an hour. In contrast, chicken base takes a long time to make and is a more complex cooking process. First, it is simmered to make chicken stock and then simmered as stock to make chicken base.
- Chicken broth can be used as a flavorful cooking liquid (as a substitute for water) when making things such as pasta and rice.
Nutrional & Gut Health Benefits
Chicken base, chicken stock, and chicken broth all have significant health benefits.
Chicken broth helps support your body’s muscles, bones, skin, and blood cells. Chicken broth may be a great source of protein, essential fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals such as iron and selenium, along with several others- depending on what ingredients are used. Store-bought chicken broths can be high in sodium, be sure to check the label.
Chicken broth is low in calories, which can support weight management. Chicken broth is also known to support the body with vitamins and minerals when fighting common ailments like the flu, colds, and sore throats.
Chicken Stock also known as bone broth, has been used for generations to maintain a healthy gut and support the immune system. Since chicken base is concentrated chicken stock, it carries the same nutritional and gut health benefits. The main difference nutritionally between chicken broth and chicken base and stock are that chicken base is going to be filled with more collagen-rich protein from the bones as well as more vitamins and minerals from all ingredients being simmered for a longer period of time.
Drinking chicken stock has been touted as helping to support joint and gut health. Chicken stock is rich in vitamins, minerals, and protein. What really sets chicken stock and chicken base apart from chicken broth is its collagen-rich protein, extracted from the animal bones and connective tissue. This collagen-rich gelatin helps support gut health, heal leaky gut, reduce inflammation and support our joints, which lose collagen as we age.
Chicken Base and Broth Substitutes
Substitute for Chicken Broth or Stock
You can quickly turn chicken base into a broth by adding water. A general guideline is to mix 1/2 teaspoon of chicken base with one cup of water.
Substitute for Chicken Base
You can use bouillon cubes as a substitute for chicken base but know they contain much more sodium.
You can also use chicken stock or broth as a substitute. Depending on what the recipe calls for, you may need to reduce spices (as stock will already be flavorful).
You can also make your own chicken base by simmering down chicken stock to reduce the amount of liquid.
What are chicken bouillon cubes?
A bouillon cube is a small cube of condensed or dehydrated chicken stock or broth made in a cube form. The big drawback of using bouillon cubes in cooking is the amount of salt or sodium they contain.
Should I use Bay Leaves When Making Chicken Broth or Stock?
Bay leaves make a great addition in both chicken broth and stock. Bay leaves add a mildly sweet flavor that helps to enhance the other bolder flavors in the broth. The bay leaves should be discarded after simmering as they aren’t meant to be eaten after simmering. They become rough and have an unpleasant texture.
What is Vegetable Stock?
Vegetable stock is essentially the same as vegetable broth, as what makes chicken stock different from chicken broth is the use of bones- and vegetable broth doesn’t use bones. You may see less sodium or no-sodium in vegetable stock in the store as it is meant to be the base of a soup or dish. But this will all depend on the marketing, so check the ingredient label.
Can I Use a Slow Cooker to Make Chicken Base or Chicken Broth?
Yes! You can make chicken broth and chicken stock all using a slow cooker or on the stovetop. Using a slow cooker can make it much easier to set all the ingredients and just let it simmer for 12-24 hours.
Chicken base will probably do better on the stovetop, where you can monitor it until half the liquid has simmered off.
While there are distinguishing features between chicken base vs broth and they are definitely not the same. If you are in a pinch while cooking, you can certainly use one to substitute for the other by adding or reducing the liquid to make it work for your recipe.
Chicken broth is a nutritional liquid, low in calories, and makes a great base for soups, stews, gravies, and more.
Chicken base is a thicker syrupy paste. It is filled with collagen-rich protein and makes a great base for soups, gravies, stews, casseroles, and more.
Karla Kueber is a Certified Evidence Based EFT Practioner and Health Coach, with a double Masters Degree in Education. She works with people to overcome emotional eating, curb cravings, and overcome resistance to eating new healthy foods. You can learn more about coaching with her here.