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Jun 18, 2009 04:29 AM

What's a good canned/boxed chicken broth/stock?

Two recipes recently suggest strongly against using canned/boxed chicken broth. One was a risotto recipe I read last week on chowhound, and the other in the NYT yesterday...Mark Bittman's recipe for West African Peanut Soup w/ Chicken..."refrain from using canned stock". The chowhound recipe said do not bother to make the recipe with canned or boxed broth, it's not the same. So, I didn't.

I have never had too much success in making my own homemade chicken stock/broth (it looks and tastes like dishwater), so I tend to buy my stock/broth in the tall boxes. I usually try and get the Organic Pacific brand, which I think is fine for making soups. I've seen brands by famous chef's, i.e. Wolgang, Emeril and Rachel...they tend to name theirs stock, as opposed to broth. Is there really a difference? Also, I noticed that one of the Pacific brands is unnaturally yellow, it may be the free-range one. It makes me think they add food coloring to it...a little scary.

Anyway, can someone tell me if there is a store-bought brand out there that taste good and resembles a homemade stock, or at least comes close. What do you use?

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  1. I would never use a store bought stock when a good stock is needed. If I were you, I'd work on making my own. I usually make mine in a crock pot. Just save up bones, meat, whatever as you have chicken. Throw it in the CP with some carrot, onion, celery, bay leaves, salt (Very important), sage, rosemary and pepper. I let it simmer overnight and into the next afternoon. It should turn into jelly in the fridge. Scoop the fat off the top and you've got it.

    I use the boxed Campbells broth in place of water in most things. It's just more tasty.


    2 Replies
    1. re: Davwud

      Yeah, but "Oh make it at home" is not the answer to this question. Some of us simply do not have the time, the inclination, or the freezer space to save the stuff for stock.

      (Temporary rant: Sometimes on this site somebody will ask a simple question like this one, and somebody else will immediately post a horrified, "You don't make YOUR OWN?" This smacks of snobbery, particularly when you've a 15-year-old in a busy two-career family. Live with reality: Make what you can, use the best store-bought when you can't and let the rest fall by the wayside.)

      I find Kitchen Basics is pretty good, either the broth or the stock.

      1. re: jmckee

        I agree with the general "Make it at home" reply thing as well. In this case tho, the OP said they didn't make it at home because they've "Never had too much success" in making it at home. Inferring that you can't buy it and expect it to be as good as DIY.

        I did also offer a suggestion as asked.


    2. At the DIB house, we almost always have frozen chicken stock since I make it in 16 gallon pot. But, for those few times I need some and don't have any, I like College Inn broth. Refrain from salting dish until tasting, as like most stocks, it has plenty of sodium, but they do make a low sodium version. They also make turkey stock for Thanksgiving.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Diane in Bexley

        Ditto here on the College Inn. I usually keep some in the pantry but generally never use it as we do the homemade variety as well.

      2. >>"Anyway, can someone tell me if there is a store-bought brand out there that taste good and resembles a homemade stock, or at least comes close.<<

        There isn't. Store-bought stocks range from terrible to acceptable. None are good.

        >>"What do you use?""<<

        In extremis, Kitchen Basics or Trader Joe's house brand (which I suspect is the same). But really, there's no reason you can't make your own stock. I agree with Davwud that the crock pot is the easiest way to do it, but would suggest a slight variation for best results.

        Try starting with a whole chicken. Let it simmer until the chicken is done, then remove the bird and let it sit until it's cool enough to handle. Pull off the meat and reserve (for chicken salad, chicken enchiladas, chicken pot pie, chicken & dumplings, etc.), return the bones to the pot, and finish as indicated.

        The low cooking temperature should keep the stock from being cloudy. And the taste is guaranteed to be far superior to any store-bought stock.

        Note: you can make your stock without salt, and it will work just fine in any dish you use it in. But it won't taste like much on its own. If you want it to taste good by itself, you must salt it.

        1. I like to use Better than Bouillon, which is a concentrate. Also, in various Julia Child cookbooks (even Mastering the Art ....), she suggests, if you don't have homemade stock, to go ahead and use a canned or boxed stock (I tend to prefer the boxed ones) and simmer it with some aromatics etc. (I can find the details for you if you are interested).

          As others have said - if you are interested in trying to have more success making chicken broth, there are a lot of useful threads on it on the HC board and I'd be happy to find links for you. I make it as a way to use my leftover roast chicken carcasses.

          1. First, chicken fat can seem very unnaturally yellow and might have been incorporated into the broth somehow. It might not be food colouring.

            Second, if there's a Trader Joe's near you, the broth or stock or whatever in the box is great. It's got a good flavour, and it's easy to keep since it's just little packets instead of big cans. Generally, I go this route.

            Third, since you show interest in making your own broth/stock, I will say that once you master this skill, no store bought will ever come close. I do understand the failures - having made stock and assisted in the process thereof, I still sometimes just produce amazing smelling water for reason unknown to me. Sometimes, it really isn't you. In my experience, older chickens produce a better stock. Chicken feet give fantastic mouthfeel. And nothing beats experience. (Also, seafood stock, veggie broth, etc. are all much easier to make, quick to pull together, and can be a great swap-out in recipes where that's not an issue, as in chicken noddle soup or matzoh ball soup.)