I Reviewed Chicken Broth and I’ll Never Buy the Boxed Stuff Again

Don’t pay extra to ship water. Concentrates are where it’s at.

Published Sept. 20, 2022.

After reviewing chicken broth, I’ll never buy the boxed stuff again. Don’t worry, I’m not about to get on my high horse and say it’s homemade or bust. I love homemade broth. It’s an elixir from the gods as far as I’m concerned. I just don't always have it on hand. 

To supplement my precious homemade stash, I use our winning concentrate—Better Than Bouillon Chicken Broth (or BTB, as I like to call it).

Unlike many versions that come in little cubes, this concentrate is a paste and comes in a jar. I use it on its own or stir a spoonful into homemade broth to up the savoriness and stretch my supply. 

Here’s why I’m a BTB devotee.

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It Saves Me Money

At 16 cents a cup, Better Than Boullion is more than seven times cheaper than the priciest liquid broth we tasted. And while liquid broth may seem more “real” because it resembles homemade, it isn’t. 

Almost all commercial broths (liquid and concentrate) start out as concentrates made by one manufacturer, International Dehydrated Foods (IDF). Companies purchase a concentrate from IDF, reconstitute it, and sell it as boxed broth. 

Concentrates tend to be less expensive for the consumer than liquid broths because you aren’t paying to transport water.

Most cartons of liquid broth weigh 2 pounds and yield 4 cups. An 8-ounce jar of BTB yields 38 cups. That much liquid broth would weigh nearly 20 pounds. 

Pay less and just use your own water.

Better than Bouillon Chicken Base

Just about every broth in the supermarket amounts to a science project of flavor enhancers and salt. Does that have to be a bad thing?

It Lasts Way Longer than Boxed Broth

Once opened, Better Than Boullion will last for two years(!) in the refrigerator. Liquid broths keep for no more than two weeks once opened.

Even better, you can reconstitute only as much as you need and say so long to throwing away rotten half boxes of broth (was that just me?). 

Now I buy two oversized BTB jars at a time at Costco—an heir and a spare, as they say. 

It’s Supercharged with Umami

We reviewed the 10 top supermarket chicken broths, trying each warmed plain, in risotto, and in gravy. Of the two we liked, one, a liquid broth from Swanson, was more meaty while the other, the Better Than Boullion concentrate, was more savory.

Savoriness is often associated with glutamates, amino acids that enhance meaty, umami flavor. Glutamates are found in chicken (and anchovies, Parmesan cheese, and tomato paste). 

Many broth companies add more glutamates in the form of yeast extract or hydrolyzed soy protein. Better Than Boullion goes a step further and also adds nucleotides called disodium inosinate and disodium guanylate (flavor-enhancing compounds that occur in foods such as meat, seafood, and dried mushrooms).

When glutamates and nucleotides are combined, the umami notes are multiplied exponentially. 

A cook portioning out warmed broth for the plain tasting.
We tasted eight supermarket liquid broths and two concentrates in our review.

It’s Low(er) Sodium than Many Concentrates

In my research, I found that most brands hovered around 1000 mg of sodium per cup (and one cubed concentrate had a whopping 1500 mg/cup). At 680 mg/cup, BTB has less sodium than many competitors.

Still too salty for your taste? Because you're reconstituting it, you can control the strength. Scaling back to 3/4 teaspoon BTB per cup reduced the saltiness without noticeably diluting the broth’s flavor.

They have a lower sodium version which we tried and didn’t like as much. This method gives you all the flavor with just less salt.

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The chicken version isn't the only one we love, either. The beef broth also won our tasting, beating out nine other major supermarket broths. And the vegetarian broth was a close second to our winner in that tasting, another concentrate from Orrington Farms

Homemade is best but if I don’t have any on hand, it’s BTB for me.

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