Sometimes you want your dishes to have a rich chicken flavor but with little effort. This is when chicken bouillon comes in handy.
What is chicken bouillon? Chicken bouillon is dehydrated chicken stock. It also contains a blend of spices and herbs. Chicken bouillon has a concentrated flavor and is used dissolved in hot water. You can add it to soups, stews, gravies, and other dishes.
Read this article to learn everything about chicken bouillon, including its types, ingredients, uses, and substitutes. You will also get step-by-step instructions for making chicken bouillon at home.
What Is Chicken Bouillon?
The term chicken bouillon may be confusing to some people because of the definition of the word bouillon. By definition, bouillon means “a broth made by stewing meat, fish, or vegetables in water”.
It comes from the French word bouillir which means “to boil”. In fact, France, along with England, is considered to be the place of origin of chicken bouillon.
Chicken bouillon, however, is the name given to bouillon cubes. In different parts of the world, these cubes are also known by the names broth cubes or stockpot.
Chicken bouillon is essentially dehydrated chicken stock which explains the rich chicken flavor these small cubes provide.
Surprisingly enough, the history of chicken bouillon goes back to as early as the 17th century. Anne Blencowe, a British compiler of recipes, talked about dehydrated meat stock in her writings in the 17th century.
Types Of Chicken Bouillon
Chicken bouillon comes in a few different forms, though the cubes are the ones most widely manufactured, sold, and used.
Chicken bouillon may also come in a liquid form or in the form of a paste. Bouillon paste usually comes in jars. Consistency-wise, the bouillon paste feels like a jelly or highly condensed stock.
Liquid chicken bouillon is full of flavor too despite its consistency being rather thin.
What Is Chicken Bouillon Made Of?
Chicken bouillon cubes are dehydrated chicken stock or broth mixed with herbs, salt, and seasonings that go well with poultry. They may also contain dehydrated vegetables. It is always shaped into a cube for ease of use.
While the ingredient list of chicken bouillon cubes varies from manufacturer to manufacturer, nearly all of them contain flavor enhancers.
You may also find sugar, palm oil, flour, and yeast extract among the ingredients of some of the most popular chicken bouillon cubes.
How Do You Use Chicken Bouillon?
Chicken bouillon cubes are very dry. They will crumble easily if you put pressure on them.
As soon as you put chicken bouillon cubes in boiling water, they dissolve within minutes. As a general rule, you need to use a cube per cup of water.
Chicken bouillon cubes are used to make a richly flavored chicken stock. Here are some ideas for using chicken bouillon.
- Use chicken bouillon cubes for gravies and sauces.
- Add chicken bouillon to stews and soups.
- Add a chicken bouillon cube to boiling grains.
- Use it to add flavor to vegetables when making a vegetable sauté
- Use chicken bouillon to add tremendous flavor to your Spanish paella.
Whatever you decide to make using chicken bouillon, keep in mind that there is salt in it and reduce the overall salt content of your dish.
How To Store Chicken Bouillon
Everything about chicken bouillon is easy. These flavorful cubes are not only easy to use but are easy to store too.
No matter what type of bouillon cubes you have – chicken, beef, pork, vegetable, or otherwise, keep them in a dry and cool place. Humidity and moisture will make the bouillon cubes go bad very quickly.
How Long Do Chicken Bouillon Cubes Last?
One of the main advantages of chicken bouillon is that the cubes last very long. If you store chicken bouillon cubes properly, they maintain their best flavor qualities for around 24 months.
The cubes will be safe for consumption past the “best by” date indicated on the packaging so long as you have been storing them correctly and the packaging is undamaged.
Chicken bouillon cubes will gradually lose the intensity of their flavor until they go bad.
Discard chicken bouillon cubes if they have developed an off-putting smell or flavor. Don’t use them if they look different than they normally do, or the packaging is damaged. Never use bouillon cubes if there is mold on them.
Is Chicken Bouillon The Same As Chicken Base?
Chicken base may not be as popular as chicken stock or chicken bouillon cubes, but it is certainly a product worth using if you want to add a rich chicken flavor to your dish without much effort.
Chicken base is concentrated chicken stock. Its consistency is something between a syrup and a paste. Chicken base has an appetizing golden color.
It is useful in recipes where you need the chicken flavor chicken broth provides but don’t want to add a lot of liquid to the dish.
You can use chicken base to make sauces, gravies, and casseroles. Also, you can easily turn chicken base into chicken stock just by adding water to it.
You can make chicken base yourself too. All you need to do is to let the stock simmer and evaporate so that it thickens and reaches a syrup-like consistency.
Chicken Bouillon Cubes Vs Granules
Granules are concentered chicken stock, just like chicken bouillon cubes. They contain the same ingredients and are used in the same way.
Similar to chicken bouillon cubes, granules can also be dissolved in liquids. You can add them to any dish where a bouillon cube could be used.
So, the only difference between bouillon cubes and granules is the form they come in. Granules are crushed bouillon cubes. Or, we may say that cubes are granules pressed into cubes.
If you are choosing between bouillon cubes and granules, consider the pros and cons of the ways they are used. Cubes are pre-measured while you have to measure the granules yourself.
Bouillon cubes are easier to store while the advantage of granules is that you can always add a little more to the dish to enhance the chicken flavor.
If you don’t use such additives very often, we recommend buying cubes instead of granules as they keep better. You may notice granules clumping up as a result of improper storage conditions or if you have had them for long.
Granules and chicken bouillon cubes are interchangeable too. You can substitute one chicken bouillon cube with a teaspoon of granules.
What Is The Best Substitute For Chicken Bouillon?
If you are looking for a chicken bouillon substitute, chicken broth is your best bet. You can use both homemade and store-bought chicken bouillon.
While there is a blend of spices and herbs in bouillon cubes that make their flavor rich and special, the broth will still provide an intense chicken flavor.
Substitute 1 cup of water mixed with 1 bouillon cube with the same amount of chicken broth.
Are Chicken Bouillon Cubes Healthy?
Chicken bouillon cubes are packed with flavor. They are easy to use and add depth to any chicken dish you use them in. But are they healthy?
Unfortunately, in the case of chicken bouillon cubes, you can’t have the best of both worlds. These flavorful cubes are not as healthy as we would like them to be.
First off, all bouillon cubes, including the chicken-flavored ones, contain glutamate, which can cause allergic reactions in some people, though very mild ones. This flavor-enhancing agent is added to food for a brighter umami flavor.
Secondly, bouillon cubes full of artificial additives stimulate your appetite. You may eat more than you typically do. Doing this repeatedly may result in weight gain.
And lastly, chicken bouillon cubes are far from having the nutritional value real chicken broth has.
They don’t contain as much protein and other nutrients your homemade chicken broth may have. Chicken bouillon cubes by some brands are also rather high in sodium.
If you search well, you may find chicken bouillon brands that don’t use any flavor enhancers. These flavor enhancers trick you into thinking that bouillon cubes have a richer chicken flavor than homemade broth.
But the truth is, nothing compares to a true homemade chicken broth with authentic flavor and a great nutritional value.
So, even if chicken bouillon cubes are your favorite way to enrich dishes with chicken flavor, try to use them consciously.
Can You Make Chicken Bouillon At Home?
There are many added ingredients and flavor enhancers in commercially manufactured chicken bouillon cubes that you may want to avoid.
But is there a way to use chicken bouillon without the unwanted chemicals and preservatives? Turns out there is. You just have to spend some time and effort to make homemade chicken bouillon.
While the process of making homemade chicken bouillon is time-consuming, it very affordable. Another good thing is that you can customize it.
You can use whatever herbs and spices you like, and most importantly, you can control the salt content.
Make a few jars of homemade chicken bouillon once, and use it for months. Just like store-bought chicken bouillon cubes, the homemade version is shelf-stable too.
But as there are no preservatives in the mixture, you may need to take extra steps to make it last long, such as using an oxygen absorber and storing it in the fridge.
DIY Chicken Bouillon Recipe
You can make chicken bouillon at home using either your oven or a dehydrator. To make the simplest chicken bouillon powder, you need bone broth, regular broth, or de-fatted stock, and salt.
Making Chicken Bouillon In The Oven
- Pour 1 cup of broth into a shallow baking pan.
- Preheat your oven setting it at the lowest temperature.
- Put the pan with the broth into the oven and wait for a few hours for the liquid to evaporate. After around 8 hours you will be left with a dry broth residue.
- Don’t forget to rotate the pan while the liquid evaporates. Doing this will ensure that the broth dries up evenly.
- After the broth has all dried up, transfer what is left in the pan into a blender.
- Blend it until you reach a smooth texture.
- Taste the mixture and add as much salt to it as you want. For example, you can add 1 part salt to 2 parts of bouillon powder.
- Transfer the powder into a dry jar with a tight-sealing lid.
Making Chicken Bouillon In A Dehydrator
- Pour 1 cup of broth into the dehydrator tray. Use as many trays as your dehydrator comes with.
- Set the dehydrator at 155°F for 10 hours.
- Rotate the trays during those hours to ensure even drying.
- Once the broth has all dried up, remove the trays and transfer the residue into a blender.
- Blend until you reach a fine powder consistency.
- Add salt to taste.
- Transfer the homemade bouillon powder into a dry jar with a tight-sealing lid.
Now that we’ve explored chicken bouillon and found out what it’s used for, let’s answer a few more questions on the subject!
Is chicken bouillon vegan?
Chicken bouillon cubes are not vegan. So, if you are a vegan or vegetarian you should certainly avoid them.
As an alternative, you can buy a vegan chicken base and use it in recipes where you need some chicken flavor, including soups, stews, sauces, and gravies.
Another thing you can do is to make vegan chicken bouillon powder yourself. Using spices commonly found in poultry seasoning, you can create a powder mix that yields a flavor similar to the one that bouillon cubes provide.
You can mix herbs and spices with nutritional yeast in a food processor for a customized vegan chicken bouillon powder.
Here’s what you can use: salt, black pepper, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, dried parsley, tarragon, marjoram, fresh rosemary, sage, thyme, and seeds, including mustard seeds and celery seeds.
You can also add a bay leaf to the mix as an herb that pairs exceptionally well with chicken.
You can use this DIY vegan chicken bouillon by dissolving a tablespoon of it in 8 ounces of water.
Is chicken bouillon gluten-free?
Chicken bouillon cubes often contain wheat flour and yeast extract. As you may know, wheat flour contains gluten. So, it should be avoided by anyone with gluten intolerance.
Yeast extract may or may not be gluten-free. If you are following a gluten-free diet, use it only when it comes with a gluten-free label.
Luckily, there is a wide range of chicken bouillon cubes on the market. You can certainly find an option that doesn’t have any ingredients that contain gluten.
If you can’t find gluten-free bouillon cubes, look into chicken stocks or make some yourself.
Is poultry seasoning the same as chicken bouillon?
Some people confuse poultry seasoning with chicken bouillon. The latter contains chicken essence while poultry seasoning is a mix of spices and herbs that go well with chicken.
If you love the flavor chicken bouillon cubes provide, you can crush one and mix it with the poultry seasoning.
When doing this pay attention to how salty your mix becomes as both chicken bouillon cubes and poultry seasoning may contain salt.
Add salt to your dish only after you have added the poultry seasoning. This is the only way to make sure you don’t oversalt it.
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