Tomato bouillon is a powerful ingredient to use to make chilis, soup, stews, and more. It adds a kick of tomato, while still offering balanced flavors using one simple bouillon cube.
As much as you might love adding tomato bouillon to your food, you would be looking for a substitute if you have run out, or if your local store doesn’t have any.
What are the best tomato bouillon substitutes? The best tomato bouillon substitutes would depend on what you are making and the flavor you are after, but some of the best options include chicken bouillon cubes, tomato paste, beef bouillon cubes, tomato sauce, and more.
Read on to find out what your options are when you run out of tomato bouillon, and how the various substitutes work in place of tomato bouillon.
The Best Substitutes In Place Of Tomato Bouillon
Bouillon is a type of broth where a specific ingredient is simmered down in water and then processed to make a solid bouillon cube. Different cubes are made from different ingredients, such as beef or chicken.
Tomato bouillon has quite a strong flavor compared to the others due to the acidity of the tomatoes. However, this makes it ideal for soups, stews, and more!
Finding a substitute for tomato bouillon can be tricky, as you would want that same intense flavor, and you would want a similar texture too.
Below are some of the best substitutes to use in place of tomato bouillon — just keep in mind what you are making and the flavors you hope to create!
1. Chicken Bouillon
The flavor of chicken bouillon is milder than that of tomato bouillon, but it works well in many of the same dishes, such as stews, soups, and more.
There will be less acidity in the dish when using chicken bouillon, but it will still give good flavor to a dish — you can always add some extra acidity by using vinegar or lemon juice.
Half a tablespoon of vinegar or lemon juice will add the right amount of acidity to a dish when using chicken bouillon in place of tomato bouillon; just make sure to taste as you go so that you can achieve the same balance of flavors.
2. Tomato Paste
If you are after the deliciously strong and rich tomato flavor that tomato bouillon brings, then the best substitute would be tomato paste.
A small amount of tomato paste is all you need to bring about much of the same flavors. It is an intense paste that brings about a punch of flavor and is a great addition to soups, stews, and more.
Tomato paste has a good balance of sweetness and acidity, so it adds depth to a dish, just like tomato bouillon would.
You do need to consider that the paste is quite thick, whereas tomato bouillon cubes are usually mixed with water, so you might need to add a little more liquid to make up for this.
A good ratio to work with is one part of tomato paste to two parts of water, and work your way from there until you reach the right level.
A small amount of tomato paste will be all you need, so start off with a tablespoon and add in if needed from there, tasting as you go.
3. Beef Bouillon
Another bouillon to use in place of tomato is beef. It has a deep, rich flavor that matches the intense flavor of tomato bouillon, just with less acidity.
As beef bouillon cubes have quite a strong flavor, you might want to start out by using half a cube, mixing it in with the other ingredients, and then having a taste. Half a cube might be all you need, but you can also always add in more if needed.
To make up for the lack of acidity, you can add in a small amount of lemon juice or vinegar, just to bring out some of the similar notes of tomato bouillon.
4. Tomato Sauce
Tomato sauce makes a good substitute for tomato bouillon when you are using it in a stew or soup which needs acidity and tomato flavor. Tomato sauce is also a great option to use for vegetarian meals!
Compared to tomato paste, tomato sauce is more liquid, so it works well when you need a more liquid consistency. Tomato sauce is usually seasoned, and you can buy it pre-made, or make it yourself.
The common seasonings include garlic, onion, salt, herbs, and spices. This helps to replace many of the different flavors that would have been found in the tomato bouillon.
When using tomato sauce in place of tomato bouillon, it does help to allow the sauce to simmer down for a little while, especially if you are making it from scratch, just to concentrate the flavors more.
5. Vegetable Bouillon
Made from a range of different vegetables, vegetable bouillon does bring that veggie flavor to dishes, and this makes it a good substitute for tomato bouillon when making vegetable soups and stews.
However, like with the other substitutes, vegetable bouillon will be lacking the acidity that tomato bouillon has — you can make up for that by adding some lemon juice to the dish as it cooks.
You can use vegetable bouillon in the same ratio that you would use tomato bouillon, although you might need to add additional ingredients such as lemon juice (maybe even sugar) to balance the flavors and create a more similar flavor.
6. Chicken Broth
You can buy chicken broth ready-made, which saves you from having to use it in bouillon cube form. Chicken broth and chicken bouillon have much of the same flavor, just with the preparation being different.
When using chicken broth in place of tomato bouillon, and when you want the taste to be as close as possible, mix in a tablespoon of tomato paste to the chicken broth while it is warm.
This creates a deliciously deep flavor thanks to the acidity of the tomato paste and the rich flavors of the chicken broth. It also offers a more liquid ingredient to add to your cooking, which is ideal for soups and stews.
The tomato paste also adds a good sweetness to the chicken broth, balancing out the saltiness of the chicken broth.
Simmer the broth over heat and add the tomato paste in, stirring together well, then allow it to simmer for a few minutes before adding it to the rest of the ingredients.
7. Sun-Dried Tomatoes
Sun-dried tomatoes, as the name suggests, are tomatoes that have been left to dry out in the sun. This allows the tomatoes to have an intense flavor, which is great when added to so many different meals.
This option works well in place of tomato bouillon when you are breaking the bouillon cube up into small pieces and adding it to rice (or similar dishes) for added flavor.
To use sundried tomatoes in place of tomato bouillon, chop them up fine and sprinkle them into the dish you are preparing.
The sun-dried tomatoes will have the same intensity of flavor and balance of sweetness and acidity as tomato bouillon, so they make for a great substitute when you are looking for a more solid ingredient to use.
Alternatively, you can puree the sun-dried tomato (or add chopped sundried tomatoes) to a soup, stew, or pasta sauce for that extra tomato flavor. You can also add liquid in the form of chicken or vegetable broth.
There are many great ingredients to use in place of tomato bouillon; you just need to consider the meal you are making, and whether you want to stick to that tomato flavor or if you are happy with a blend of other flavors too.
If you want that tomato kick, then tomato paste, tomato sauce, and sun-dried tomatoes are good options.
If you do not mind a slight change in flavor, then another bouillon cube (such as chicken, beef, or vegetable) works well too.
Now that we’ve learned all about tomato bouillon, as well as some of its top substitutes, here are some additional questions that we thought you might have.
What is tomato bouillon powder?
Tomato bouillon powder is just the same as tomato bouillon, just in a loose powder form. This allows you to add as much as you want to your dish without being limited to the quantities of a single cube.
Does tomato bouillon contain chicken?
Some tomato bouillon cubes and powders do contain chicken. The chicken and tomato ingredients are blended with spices such as onion, garlic, and more to create a rich-tasting blend.
Is Caldo de Tomate the same as chicken bouillon?
Caldo de Tomate can be used in much the same way as tomato bouillon. It is a blend of chicken, tomato, onion, spices, and herbs that can be added to different dishes.