Vegetable broth is a liquid used to flavor dishes and is made from the juices of a variety of vegetables.
The broth is often used in soups, pasta sauces, ramen, pie fillings, stews, gravy, or to make rice, quinoa, and beans.
There are several substitutes for vegetable broth such as bouillon cubes, chicken or beef stock, wine, and tea.
These substitutes all add flavor to dishes and some add the right amount of liquid for specific dishes such as soups and stews.
Best Vegetable Broth Substitute: Bouillon Cube
The best substitute for vegetable broth is a bouillon cube, a block of concentrated, dehydrated stock or broth.
Bouillon cubes are just as flavorful as vegetable broth, easy to use, and can be kept for a long time, making them an accessible substitute for vegetable broth.
Use bouillon cubes as a 1:1 substitute for vegetable broth, and use 1 cup of water to dissolve each cube.
Bouillon cubes are best used as the liquid and flavoring for soups, stews, pasta sauces, gravies, and grains like rice.
Other Vegetable Broth Substitutes, Alternatives, and Replacements
Here are other substitutes that you can use in place of vegetable broth to achieve a similar flavor and consistency:
Homemade Vegetable Broth
A great substitute for store-bought vegetable broth is homemade vegetable broth. Homemade broth closely matches the consistency and flavor of store-bought broth and is easy to make:
- Two large onions
- Three large carrots
- Three celery ribs
- 2–3 cups fresh or frozen vegetable scraps or an array of freshly chopped vegetables (but don’t use cruciferous vegetables like cauliflower)
- Five garlic cloves
- 8 cups of water
- Two bay leaves
- A few sprigs of thyme
- A few sprigs of parsley
- 1 tablespoon of olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Chop all the vegetables into 1-inch cubes
- Heat the olive oil in a large stockpot over medium heat
- Add the carrots, garlic, onion, and celery and cook for five minutes or until softened
- Once the vegetables are soft, add the remaining ingredients, partially cover the pot with a lid, and simmer on a low heat for 45 minutes to one hour
- Strain the broth using a fine-mesh strainer and pour the liquid into a heat-proof pot or bowl
- Discard the solids if vegetable scraps were used, or keep the cooked vegetables for a meal if fresh vegetables were used
- Use the broth right away or store it in airtight containers in the freezer for four to six months
Use homemade vegetable broth as a 1:1 substitute for store-bought vegetable broth in soups, stews, gravy, pasta sauce, and to cook grains.
Chicken or Beef Broth
Beef and chicken broth are made from cooked meat and spices and are good meat-based substitutes for vegetable broth because they add flavor and liquid to dishes.
However, chicken and beef broth are not vegetarian or vegan and don’t make good vegetable broth substitutes for those with dietary restrictions.
Use chicken or beef broth as a 1:1 substitute for vegetable broth in dishes such as vegetable soups, stews, pasta sauces, and grains.
Use beef broth in beef recipes, and chicken broth in recipes that use chicken.
Mushroom broth is made by simmering mushrooms in water to extract the mushroom’s umami flavor.
This broth makes a good substitute for vegetable broth because it adds liquid as well as a flavor similar to vegetable broth.
Mushroom broth can be store-bought or made at home by simmering a handful of mushrooms in 2 cups of water.
Use mushroom broth as a 1:1 substitute for vegetable broth in soups, stews, pies, risottos, and sauces.
Water is a good substitute for the liquid component of vegetable broth if other herbs and spices are called for in the recipe.
Add onion powder, parsley (fresh or dried), oregano, thyme, basil, celery seeds, garlic powder, salt, pepper, or sage to boiling water to add flavor to dishes.
Use water as a 1:1 substitute for vegetable broth and increase the cooking time for soups and stews to allow the other ingredients to add enough flavor to dishes.
Water is a good substitute for vegetable broth because it deglazes a pan, lifting the flavorful cooked food particles known as fond, that stick to pan bottoms.
Wine is an alcoholic beverage made from grapes that makes a good substitute for vegetable broth. Wine extracts the flavors from other ingredients to add more flavor and body to dishes.
Use white wine in dishes that generally use light and clear liquids, and use red wine in rich, meaty dishes such as stews, brown gravy, and chili.
Use wine as a 1:4 substitute for vegetable broth, adding water for the remaining liquid needed.
For example, use ¼ cup of wine with ¾ cup of water for every 1 cup of vegetable broth called for in the recipe.
Much like mushrooms, tomatoes make a good substitute for vegetable broth because the vegetable adds a strong umami flavor.
Tomatoes can be used in various ways as a substitute for vegetable broth. Here are some ideas:
- Add ½ cup of diced mushrooms and ½ cup of water for every 1 cup of vegetable broth to dishes that need a light flavor and texture
- Rehydrate dried tomatoes by boiling 1 cup of tomatoes in water and using the liquid as a 1:1 substitute for vegetable broth
- Add fresh, diced tomatoes or dried tomatoes directly to dishes that need blending, such as soups
Soy sauce is made of fermented soybeans and wheat, and the sauce adds a salty umami flavor similar to vegetable broth.
Soy sauce thinned with water makes a good substitute for vegetable broth in meaty dishes such as stews, pies, and meaty soups.
Use 1 tablespoon of soy sauce mixed with 1 cup of water as a 1:1 substitute for vegetable broth.
Slightly decrease the salt called for in the recipe, and increase the cooking time to allow the soy sauce’s flavors to infuse thoroughly.
Tea is made by soaking a variety of dried or fresh leaves or flowers in boiling water to extract various aromas and flavors.
Tea makes a good substitute for vegetable broth because tea adds subtle flavors that mimic the complexity of vegetable broth.
Any type of tea can be used as a substitute for vegetable broth. However, understanding the various flavors of different teas will help match the right tea to the right dish.
- Add flavor to dairy-based desserts such as panna cotta or ice cream by adding chamomile, lavender, or lemon verbena tea
- Poach fish using white or jasmine tea to add aromatics to the dish
- Earl gray tea adds a rich flavor to butter-based sauces
- Increase the complex flavors in stews by adding mint tea and green tea
- Add green tea to pasta dough for a greenish-tinted pasta full of herby flavors
Use tea steeped in boiling water for 10 to 15 minutes as a 1:1 substitute for vegetable broth.
Mix tea with other vegetable broth substitutes such as mushroom broth, tomatoes, or soy sauce to add a stronger flavor to dishes.
Butter or Olive Oil
In a pinch, butter or olive oil can be used as a substitute for vegetable broth because they add a rich flavor to the dish that resembles vegetable broth’s flavor.
Use olive oil in vegan dishes and butter in meat-based dishes.
In recipes for sauces, stews, and pies, where the broth isn’t the main ingredient, substitute 1 tablespoon of butter or olive oil and 1 cup of water for every 1 cup of vegetable broth (a 1:1 ratio).
Dashi is a stock made by steeping seaweed (kombu) and dried fish flakes (bonito) in water and is commonly used in Japanese dishes.
Dashi makes a good substitute for vegetable broth because dashi adds a clear liquid and strong umami flavor similar to vegetable broth.
Use dashi as a 1:1 substitute for vegetable broth in any dish that calls for vegetable broth including stews, soups, risottos, ramen, sauces, and marinades.
Make homemade vegan dashi by using shiitake mushrooms instead of dried fish flakes. This vegan dashi adds flavor and is easy to make:
- 2 cups large dried shiitake mushrooms (roughly chopped)
- 8 ½ cups water
- 1 ounce kombu (cut into 7-inch pieces)
Instructions for the Cold Brew Method:
- Add the shiitake mushrooms and the kombu to water in a large jar and soak for at least eight hours (or 24 hours for best results) until the flavors have seeped into the water
- Strain the mixture using a fine-mesh strainer and use the water as the broth
Instructions for the Hot Brew Method:
- Bring half the water to a boil in a large saucepan over a high heat
- Add the kombu and reduce to medium heat to simmer, covered with a lid, for 10 minutes
- Add the shiitake mushrooms and allow the mixture to simmer, covered, for another 10 minutes
- Turn off the heat, but leave the lid on for a further 10 minutes before straining the mixture through a fine-mesh strainer