If you’re trying to find a vegetarian or vegan substitute for chicken broth, you know it’s not exactly easy.
As common as veggies are, a perfect substitute for chicken isn’t that easy to find or make. Still, we have a few ideas you may try and they’ll definitely be good for any vegetarian or vegan dish.
Keep in mind you can use one or mix several of these substitutes to get the flavor you want.
Vegetarian and vegan substitutes for chicken broth
Some of the best vegetarian and vegan substitutes for chicken broth are vegetable bouillon cubes, mushroom stock, kombu broth, miso paste, or soy sauce.
Yon can use one substitute or mix several together, to get the taste as close as you can. We also encourage you to add a bit of garlic and onion to the mix, as they provide lots of flavor and mimic meat flavors a bit.
Chicken broth is such a common ingredient it’s definitely going to come up in several recipes. If you’re following a plant based diet, or simply don’t want to use chicken stock, these are the best substitutes.
To best replace chicken broth, you will need:
- aromatics, to get the flavor just right
- (optional) collagen substitute, to make the broth rich
- color, to get a nicely colored broth
Below you’ll find a list of the substitutes you can use, explained, and we also explain how to use each of them to get the best results.
Best aromatics for vegetarian/vegan chicken broth
This section has all the aromatics you may need or use to get the perfect vegetarian or vegan chicken broth substitute. Feel free to mix and match them as you please, just know that this is the first part.
You will also need a collagen replacement (optional, but helps a lot), and something to add that beautiful color.
Vegetable broth and herbs
Whenever you use chicken stock, be it in cube form or liquid form, you know veggies are in there somewhere. remove the chicken and you’re left with the veggies and herbs.
The most common ones are: celery sticks or root, onion, garlic, carrots. You can also add bell pepper, a bit of potato, mushrooms, parsley, leeks, shallots, bay leaves, dill, chives.
Whether you buy the vegetable stock or make it as home, it will need to be concentrated. Another idea would be to use Vegeta, a vegetable seasoning but it’s also high in sodium, so be careful.
If you want to make your own vegetable stock at home, then we’ve got a list of ingredients for you. Recipe is courtesy of Ohmyveggies.com, a site dedicated to plant based recipes.
This is the list of ingredients:
- One large onion, quartered
- Four large carrots, trimmed and cut into large pieces
- Four ribs celery, trimmed and cut into large pieces
- Two leeks, white and pale green parts only, halved and rinsed well
- Two cloves garlic smashed
- Eight sprigs thyme
- Eight sprigs parsley
- One bay leaf
- Five whole peppercorns
- 18 cups water
- One teaspoon ground turmeric
- One teaspoon smoked paprika
- Salt to taste
Bring everything to a boil, and let simmer for 2 whole hours. Stocks take a lot of time if you want them to release all their flavor. Once they’re done simmering, let the stock cool.
Strain through a sieve or mesh strainer, and use immediately. It freezes very well, so you can store it in airtight bags or containers in the freezer, and add to your next meal.
Our tip would be to finely chop and sautee the vegetables in a little bit of oil, before boiling everything. It deepens the flavor and the color as well.
Mushrooms are possibly the best replacement for meat out there. True, mushrooms are a bit better for dark meat replacements but they can be good chicken substitutes as well.
You can buy mushroom broth, or make your own. If making your own, feel free to mix several mushroom types to get a deeper flavor with more dimension.
Some great mushrooms to use are: boletus, chanterelle, button mushrooms, oyster mushrooms, and shiitake.
To get the best flavor, you will have to caramelize the mushrooms. Lightly sautee a large onion in olive oil, them add the chopped mushrooms. They will release a lot of moisture, let that happen.
As the water evaporates, you’ll notice the mushrooms and onions get a darker, golden hue. Let them caramelize, and in the last 30 seconds add in crushed garlic. Don’t fry the garlic, if it burns it will be bitter.
The add water, and let everything simmer for at least an hour. Feel free to add whatever veggies or herbs you may like.
You can find pre-made kombu broth, or make your own. If you’re not familiar with kombu, we’ll tell you it’s a type of Japanese kelp. Yep, the broth will taste a little fishy or oceany, but some folks may like that.
You don’t have to make an actual broth, but can add large kombu leaves in the dish as it cooks, and remove then when you’re done. like with bay leaves.
This works great with a bit of garlic and fried onion, and with the next ingredient.
Miso paste and/or soy sauce
Miso paste is a concentrated soybean paste. The flavor is strong and it’s what’s used in miso soup. If you find the flavor too strong, add a little bit of lemon juice.
Remember to add some onions, peppers, celery and other vegetables to make it more to your taste.
If you don’t have misto paste, you can use soy sauce (or Worchestershire sauce) and it will work just as well. Keep in mind that all of these ingredients will darken your stock considerably.
Vegetarian/ vegan collagen substitute
This makes the broth have more body, and have that rich feel to it. With chicken stock (not every brand) this is obtained through the collagen contained in bones, skin, and marrow.
But for plant based options, we need an alternative. There is vegan collagen, derived from a bacteria and explained very well by Healthline. However it’s not really widely available to the public, as it still needs some fine tuning.
A simpler option is to use agar agar, a red algae-based jelly. It’s not gelatin, and it will behave a bit differently. To use agar agar you need to actively boil it to set it.
We’re not looking to set out stock, but we want to give it more body so you won’t have to use much. Just know that when the dish is done, after using agar agar, it may be a bit thicker as it cools.
This is why this point is optional, and you may mimic richness by using a little more oil in the sautee and ensuing stock.
Add color to vegetarian or vegan broth
As the color of the broth makes the entire dish appealing, it’s important to get a nice hue going. Most chicken stock comes in a golden variety, with a greenish hue from the herbs and vegetables.
You can use several items to mimic that color.
Red peppers, paprika, and carrots give a yellow-orange hue to anything, since they contain beta carotene.
Turmeric has a deep, golden yellow and provides a bit of flavor as well, so you can use that too.
Mushrooms and soy sauce will darken the broth significantly. It’s up to you if you like this or not, but we find that adding a golden or red color from the ingredients above really helps.
Whatever ingredients you decide to use, you should remember a few key points. Vegetable broth is great, and can be made even better with extra seasoning.
For example a dash of curry powder will really put a twist on everything, as would some sriracha.
Add a bit of oil and sautee everything before you boil it. It gets you caramelization, which boosts flavor and deepens the color. Everyone loves that and it really changes the final flavor.
Finally, remember herbs and spices. They’re your best friend. Cooking entirely plant based meals can be tricky, but using the right spices and herbs can really help.
If you’ve got any other food curiosities be sure to check the related articles below, we’re always adding more food facts to make your life that much easier.