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Oct 9, 2009 10:58 AM

Canned stock vs. bouillon cubes

When I buy canned stock(beef, chicken, veg.)I feel like I'm paying ten times the price for the shipping of the water weight vs. buying bouillon cubes.

For instance: Eight large Knorr chicken bouillon cubes, which make two cups of stock each, costs a dollar.One can of Swanson's chicken broth, a little over a cup, costs about the same.

Why pay ten times more for shipping water weight when you can just add it in your own kitchen? I could use Evian water to make stock from bouillon cubes and still come out way ahead of the game.

Is canned stock really any better than bouillon cubes?

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  1. You'll probably get a lot of push back from others on this, but I adore bouillon. I also love to make my own stock, and do so when I have the chance, but bouillon is such a great tool for the kitchen. I'm pretty poor, so I feel kinda bad using expensive Swanson for basic things, like cooking rice, or adding more liquid to a soup or something. I'm likely to try and use water rather than use stock in that case, and of course the food suffers. Plus I have a small pantry and stock take up a ton of room if you want to keep it as a pantry item. I'm sure that bouillon is less like real Chicken stock and more like "chicken-flavored broth" (the flavor is more like chicken ramen than chicken stock . But when applied in small doses, such as in a soup with lots of veggies, beans, etc., it really does the trick and you can't tell the difference. I guess if I were making something that really relied on the chicken flavor I'd go with stock, but really...if I were at home and wanted to make that recipe, and all I had was boullion? I may well just go with it. I have made risottos with that when I didn't have anything but arborio rice in the pantry and needed a side dish fast.

    6 Replies
    1. re: cpilgrim84

      there's a jarred alternative called "better than bouillon." 1 teaspoon dissolved in a cup of boiling water; not as good as homemade, but a lot better than the cubes. an 8-ounce jar is around $5. keeps forever in the fridge.

      1. re: wonderwoman

        Yep! It's great stuff! Comes in chicken, beef, and vegetable versions.

        1. re: OCEllen

          Also comes in a low sodium variety. I like it and use it when I don't have stock on hand or too lazy to thaw frozen stock. I find the regular ones a little too salty and have to adjust my salt content of other components in the dish.

          1. re: OCEllen

            As well as clam, fish, ham, lobster, turkey, mushroom...

            To the OP - taste for yourself. Warm up a cup of good broth (Kitchen Basics and TJ's house brand are my fallbacks) and a cup of bouillon and have a sip of each. You may want to adjust the salt levels so they're comparable.

            For my tastebuds, homemade is the best (and the cheapest, since I make it from ingredients that would otherwise get pitched), followed by boxed broths, concentrated bases, and bouillon cubes in that order. YMMV.

          2. re: wonderwoman

            "Keeps forever in the fridge" has the unfortunate side effect of "occupies space permanently in the fridge". :-(

            Maybe we need another "does X really need to be refrigerated?" thread to help us make space in our refrigerators. (E.g., ketchup does not need to be refrigerated.)

            1. re: eleeper

              I go through mine so quickly!

        2. I buy the 10 packs at Costco, pretty reasonable and quick.

          1 Reply
          1. re: duck833

            does Costco carry bouillon cubes?

          2. Bouillon is way too salty for most dishes. Use only in emergencies.

            1. Knorr's makes a number of different types of base bouillon....unfortunately, not all are available to the home shopper. However, two of their products that are available come in a 2.2 pound can that are classified as dry bouillon (powder), and are sold in most Asian markets that sell dry goods. One is aimed at the Latin consumer, the other is aimed at the Chinese consumer.....personally, I find the Chinese one less salty and better tasting......and better than any canned or box version I have tried.


              3 Replies
              1. re: fourunder

                I like to keep Goya bouillon on hand. It's important to remember how salty it is, but the taste - chicken, beef, ham or fish - is definitely there and can really boost flavor if used appropriately. And I'm with you - tinned or jarred stock takes too much space, is hard to store. If it's stock I need, I'll either make it - or pull it from the freezer (get a really good freezer bag and you can store it flat!)

                1. re: fourunder

                  The Knorr Mexican cubes are full of MSG, Yeccch.

                  1. re: fourunder

                    Knorr's makes a sodium-free bouillon. It's a lot cheaper and easier to store than canned or boxed broth/stock. I just bought 100 packs online (equivalent to 25 32-oz boxes of liquid broth) which came to less than $30.00 including shipping. Tremendous savings.

                  2. If I'm moist-cooking meat I often (okay, always) add boullion cubes to the water, especialy if I'm out of stock. Even if I have stock and it's low in sodium I may add some boullion. If i"m say, cooking a chicken for matzo ball soup, I add a fair bit of boullion to the poaching water rather than salt. None of us are hypertensive or in renal failure here, and it's still a lot less salt than in restaurants.

                    I used to pooh-pooh the boullion cubes, but sometimes things just need something. That's one of my secret-ingredietn-fixes that I don't mention much. We all have them, you know you do. :)