When you’re creating in the kitchen, it’s all about layering flavors to build the most delicious food you can possibly make.
One of the home cook’s secret weapons for flavor building comes in the form of cooking bases. These can be in flavors ranging from chicken to beef to seafood to vegetable and mushroom.
This product is easy to store, easy to use, and adds a ton of flavor to whatever you’re cooking without a lot of work on your end of things.
Rather than making a stock or a broth from scratch, you can rely on the concentrated flavor of a chicken base to intensify your dishes.
So, what is chicken base? Chicken base is a highly concentrated flavoring used instead of stock when you’re making soups, gravies, and sauces. It is basically a super concentrated stock that can be purchased and stored long term, making it a great substitution for fresh stocks and broths.
Read on to discover what a chicken base is, how to use it, great substitutes, and where to buy some high-quality chicken bases.
What Is Chicken Base In A Recipe?
When a recipe calls for a chicken base, it is essentially calling for a highly concentrated product that can be a powder, a cube, or a softer textured paste.
This base is made by combining items such as roasted chicken, vegetables, salt, herbs, and other seasonings and reducing it down to a concentrate.
You can make a base from stock as well, but simmering it down until it is highly concentrated.
This process can take a while, so it is often easier to purchase a chicken base than to try to make your own since the convenience of this product is what makes it so great.
Often chicken base is called for in a recipe instead of a stock or broth since it is more readily available and easier to store than a stock, which needs to be refrigerated or frozen.
If your recipe calls for a chicken base, you will want to look for the concentrated product.
Generally, the chicken base will be rehydrated with water once it is added to the recipe to mellow out the flavor and add a complexity to your dish, without having to take the extra step of making chicken stock from scratch.
The rich, concentrated flavors also make a great addition to marinades, stir-fries, casseroles, dressings, stuffings, potato dishes, and any slow-cooked recipe since they add a ton of deep, high-impact flavors.
Most folks won’t be able to tell the difference whether you use a chicken base or a homemade stock, so if you’re pressed for time or storage space, chicken base makes a great addition to the home cook’s pantry.
What Is The Difference Between Chicken Stock And Chicken Base?
If you have a recipe that calls for chicken broth but you only have chicken base, you might be wondering what the difference between them is.
A chicken stock is a rich, flavorful concoction made from slowly simmering chicken bones in water over a long time.
If you want to enhance the flavor, you can roast the bones before you simmer them and add some vegetables such as onions, garlic, and carrots.
To make a simple chicken stock follow these directions:
- Preheat your oven to 400°F.
- Place your chicken bones in a single layer on a baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt. If you want, you can use leftover bones from roasted chickens and skip this step, since they have already been roasted for flavor.
- Place in the oven for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, flip the bones over and roast another 5-10 minutes or until they are nicely browned.
- Remove the chicken bones from the oven.
- Place the bones in a large saucepan with 1-2 roughly chopped onions, 1 bulb of garlic separated into cloves, 3 rough chopped celery stalks, and 1 roughly chopped carrot.
- Cover the bones with 3-4 inches of water and add 1 teaspoon of sea salt and 1 teaspoon of balsamic or apple cider vinegar.
- Turn to high, cover the saucepan with the lid, and bring to a boil.
- Once boiled, reduce the heat to simmer and let the stock cook for 6-12 hours.
- Remove the pot from the heat and let it cool for a while before pouring the stock through a strainer. Discard the bones and vegetables.
- Store in the fridge for a week or the freezer for up to 6 months.
As you can see, the process of making a chicken stock can be long and involved. And if you are already cooking then you won’t want to stop to make a stock to use in your recipe. That’s where your chicken base comes in.
The difference between a chicken base and a chicken stock or broth is that it has been concentrated through boiling or dehydration.
What you are left with is a powder or paste that you can use in place of a broth or a stock in a recipe to give the rich flavor of a stock without the work.
How Do I Use Chicken Base To Replace Chicken Stock/Broth In A Recipe?
If you are cooking and your recipe calls for chicken stock or chicken broth, but all you have is a chicken base, don’t worry! You can easily use your chicken base to replace your broth or stock by following a couple of easy steps.
The first thing you will want to do is figure out how much chicken broth or stock the recipe calls for. If you need 4 cups of broth, you’re going to want to use your chicken base to make the equivalent amount of liquid.
Generally, when you buy a chicken base it will tell you how to rehydrate it to make the equivalent of 1 cup of broth or liquid.
While it may vary depending on brand, a general rule of thumb to follow is that you will need about 1 tablespoon of chicken base for every 1 cup of water.
To replace the broth or stock in your recipe, figure out how much liquid you need and measure out the equivalent in plain water. Then figure out how much chicken base you will need to flavor that much liquid.
For example, if you want to flavor 4 cups of liquid to make the equivalent of 4 cups of broth or stock, then you will need 4 cups of water and 4 tablespoons of chicken base.
If you want to, you can mix them together before adding them to the recipe. If you’re making a soup, you can generally just add them separately and then stir everything together once it’s in the pot.
For dishes like casseroles you might want to combine the base and water before adding it to the mix.
In summary, to replace your chicken broth or stock measure out the equivalent amount of liquid in plain water. Add 1 tablespoon of chicken base per cup of water, then use as directed in your recipe.
Why Should You Choose Chicken Base Instead of Stock?
When it comes to stocking your pantry and fridge, there is only so much space available. That means you need to be smart about what you keep on hand and why.
When it comes to choosing a chicken base instead of a chicken stock, there are some definite benefits.
- If you make 1 pound of chicken stock, you can get about 2 servings out of it. If you have 1 pound of chicken base on hand, then you can get up to 90 servings.
- To store chicken stock you need a lot of space in your fridge or freezer and even then it doesn’t last a long time. In the fridge it’s good for about a week, in the freezer it lasts about 6-12 months. Chicken base has a 2-year shelf life and stays fresh in the fridge for 6 months once open.
- Chicken base is really affordable and requires no effort to prepare as opposed to chicken stock.
- When it comes to storage, it’s a no-brainer. Chicken base takes up virtually no space in your cupboard or fridge. Stock and broth require a lot of storage space and must be kept in the fridge or freezer for safety, which means less space for other foods.
What Are Some Other Kinds Of Soup Bases?
While chicken base may be one of the most common types of concentrates, you can get lots of different varieties depending on what you’re cooking and your flavor preferences.
They also now make lots of vegetarian options for folks who are plant-based or looking for meat-free alternatives.
If you want to use a richer flavor in your cooking, then you want to look for a base that is made from hardier bones.
In that case, a beef base is going to be your best bet since they are often darker and have a much deeper flavor profile than a chicken base.
This beef base is a great choice if you’re looking to try out some new recipes that use this ingredient.
Seafood, Fish, and Lobster Base
If you’re more of a fan of seafood soups and sauces or are just looking for a great base to make the perfect seafood chowder or lobster bisque, then you might want to try a fish, seafood, or lobster base.
Since making your own seafood or fish stock can be a little on the stinky side, this base is one that is definitely a great idea to keep on hand.
There are several tasty options online that you can try out, such as this Better Than Bouillon lobster base.
Many great recipes include something called mirepoix, which is a mixture of flavorful vegetables such as onions, carrots, celery, and sometimes garlic.
If you want to skip the mirepoix step in your cooking, you can turn to delicious vegetable bases.
These bases are made of roasted or cooked vegetables, concentrated down so that you get all the flavor of a slow-cooked veggie broth or stock, without the time or effort required.
You can even combine a vegetable base with any of the other bases for a delicious and layered flavor.
If you’re looking for a vegetable base to add to your cooking tools, this Minor’s vegetable base is perfect for any broth or stock and is definitely a favorite of ours.
Finally, a delicious plant-based option for hearty soups and stews is a mushroom base. It’s not going to have the exact same flavor as a beef base, but it is still a deeply rich and umami flavored way to season your food.
Mushrooms are a fungus, but they have a similar flavor and texture to meat, so they make the perfect vegetarian alternative in cooking. You can also use them to flavor mushroom-based dishes such as risotto or mushroom soups.
There are several brands on the market that offer slightly different flavor profiles and price points depending on what you’re looking for. A favorite of ours is this Vogue Cuisine mushroom base.
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