Whether you’re an amateur chef or a culinary connoisseur, chicken bouillon can be a handy ingredient to keep in your kitchen.

In addition to adding flavor to soups and stews, it can be used as a simple substitute for broths and stocks when you’re running low.

However, while most are familiar with this pantry staple, many are unsure how it’s made and whether it’s healthy.

This article covers the basics of chicken bouillon, including what it is, how to use it, and how it can affect your health.

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Nadine Greeff/Stocksy United

Chicken bouillon is an ingredient made from dehydrated chicken stock, dehydrated vegetables, fat, and salt.

It also includes a variety of seasonings, such as turmeric, parsley, and coriander.

In some cases, it may also contain monosodium glutamate (MSG), an ingredient used to enhance the flavor of certain dishes.

Although chicken bouillon is most commonly found in the form of dry cubes, it’s also available as a paste, powder, or liquid.

It can be stirred into soups and sauces or mixed with liquids to form a broth, which can be used to flavor dumplings, curries, casseroles, and pasta dishes.

Summary

Chicken bouillon is made from dehydrated chicken broth. It’s made from chicken stock, vegetables, fat, salt, and seasonings, and sometimes MSG. It comes in several forms and can be used to flavor a variety of dishes.

Chicken bouillon is low in calories but high in sodium.

It also provides a small amount of several other micronutrients, including copper and selenium.

One cup (241 mL) of chicken bouillon prepared with water contains (1):

  • Calories: 10
  • Protein: 1 gram
  • Fat: 0.5 grams
  • Carbs: 1 gram
  • Sodium: 42% of the Daily Value (DV)
  • Copper: 3% of the DV
  • Selenium: 2% of the DV
  • Riboflavin: 1% of the DV
  • Magnesium: 1% of the DV
  • Calcium: 1% of the DV

Keep in mind that the nutritional value can vary depending on the brand and exact ingredients used.

Additionally, many varieties are available, including several low sodium and sodium-free versions.

Summary

Most varieties of chicken bouillon are low in calories and other micronutrients but high in sodium. However, low sodium and sodium-free varieties are available.

Although the terms bouillon, broth, and stock are often used interchangeably, several key differences set them apart.

Stock is typically made by simmering the bones and meat of animals for an extended period of time, producing a rich and flavorful liquid.

Because stock is usually thicker and has a more intense flavor, it works especially well in recipes like soup or dumplings.

On the other hand, broth is made from meat or cooked vegetables. It’s much lighter than stock and can be made using chicken, beef, or fish.

It’s thinner and less concentrated than stock, so it may be a better option for dishes that feature other strong flavors, including cream-based sauces, gravies, and casseroles.

Meanwhile, bouillon is a dehydrated stock, which is ideal for ramping up the flavor of dishes.

Bouillon is more concentrated and great for saving space, and it can last for several months in the fridge. Conversely, stock and broth should be used within 3–4 days after they’re opened.

Summary

Stock is made from bones and meat, while broth is made from meat or cooked vegetables. Bouillon is dehydrated stock, and it’s more concentrated. It can help flavor your dishes.

If you happen to not have any chicken bouillon on hand, you can use many other ingredients instead.

Chicken broth and stock work especially well and can be easily swapped in for other liquids in your recipe.

For example, if a recipe requires 1 cube of chicken bouillon with 1 cup (237 mL) of water, you can use 1 cup (237 mL) of chicken broth or stock instead.

Dry white wine is another common substitute that can replace chicken bouillon in some dishes.

Simply replace one cube of chicken bouillon with about 1/2 cup (119 mL) of dry white wine. Be sure to decrease the amount of other liquids in your recipe by the same amount.

Alternatively, you can simply omit the chicken bouillon from most recipes. Although this will alter the flavor of your product, you can compensate by adding extra spices and seasonings, such as sage, thyme, black pepper, and rosemary.

Summary

Chicken broth, chicken stock, and dry white wine can all be used to replace chicken bouillon in many recipes. You can also omit chicken bouillon and increase the flavor of dishes using extra spices and seasonings.

Chicken bouillon can be a convenient and versatile ingredient to keep on hand.

In fact, it can help add flavor to a variety of dishes, including soups, stews, pastas, and casseroles.

Plus, it’s highly concentrated and requires less storage space than regular stock, making it a good option for those with smaller kitchens.

It also has a longer shelf life than regular chicken stock or broth, both of which only last a few days once they’ve been opened.

Summary

Chicken bouillon is convenient, versatile, and great for adding flavor to dishes. It also requires less storage space and can last longer than chicken stock or broth once opened.

Chicken bouillon is typically very high in sodium, with some types packing 42% of the recommended daily value (DV) in a single 1-cup (237-mL) serving (1).

Consuming high amounts of sodium may increase water retention and blood pressure levels, especially in those who are more sensitive to the effects of salt (2).

According to some research, excessive sodium consumption may even be linked to a higher risk of developing stomach cancer (3, 4).

Therefore, if you’re limiting your salt intake, it’s best to opt for a low sodium or sodium-free version of chicken bouillon.

Furthermore, chicken bouillon lacks nutrients and only provides small amounts of vitamins and minerals, including copper and selenium.

Additionally, some varieties may contain MSG, a common additive used to enhance the flavor of many foods.

Some people avoid MSG due to concerns about its long-term health effects. However, these claims aren’t supported by evidence, and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) considers MSG safe for consumption (5).

Some people report sensitivities to the effects of MSG and may experience symptoms like weakness, dizziness, headaches, flushing, and difficulty breathing after consuming MSG in very large amounts (6).

However, according to the FDA, the agency hasn’t been able to confirm that normal amounts of MSG in food can cause such symptoms (5).

Summary

Chicken bouillon is high in sodium but lacks other nutrients. Some varieties may contain MSG, an additive that many people choose to avoid. However, the FDA recognizes MSG as safe.

Chicken bouillon is a versatile ingredient that can boost the flavor of many dishes.

It’s made from dehydrated chicken stock, which is produced by simmering the meat and bones of chicken for an extended period of time.

However, although chicken bouillon is very convenient and easy to use, some types are high in sodium. Also, some varieties may contain MSG, which many people choose to avoid.

Fortunately, if you choose not to use chicken bouillon, you can use plenty of alternatives, including broth, stock, or dry white wine, in your favorite recipes.