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Healthy Slow Cooker

Chapter 4

Slow-Cooker Broths, Best Brands, Sodium Comparison

All About Broths

An essential ingredient in soups and stews, broths are also a valuable tool in creating other healthy slow-cooker recipes, adding flavor and keeping things moist without adding much in the way of fat or calories.

The brands pictured below are all winners of test kitchen tastings. Note that many store-bought broths contain a lot of sodium. Making broth from scratch is a reliable way to limit sodium, but if you don’t have time, we recommend that you buy unsalted broth.

Broth Types

  • Swanson Chicken Stock

    We reach for chicken broth for the bulk of the liquid in our slow-cooker soups and stews. Not surprisingly, while searching for the best-tasting commercial broth, we found that few came close to the rich flavor and consistency of homemade. That said, we preferred brands with short ingredient lists that included vegetables like carrots, celery, and onions. our favorite? Swanson Chicken Stock, which tastes rich and meaty thanks to its relatively high percentage of meat-based protein. With 510 milligrams of sodium per cup, our winning chicken broth can easily push the sodium level of a serving very high given how much is used when making soup. So if you need to watch your sodium intake, we recommend Swanson’s Unsalted Chicken Stock, which has only 130 milligrams of sodium per cup.

    ➜ View Chicken Broth Taste Test

  • Better Than Bouillon Beef Base

    We don’t often reach for beef broth, but when we do, we use our winning brand, Better Than Bouillon Beef Base. This jar makes up to 38 cups of broth. This concentrated paste (it must be reconstituted with hot water) is an economical choice that stores easily, costs just 16 cents per cup, and does a good job of boosting savory depth in soups and stews.

    ➜ View Beef Broth Taste Test

  • Orrington Farms Vegan Chicken Flavored Broth Base & Seasoning

    Our favorite is a vegan “chicken-flavored” broth, Orrington Farms Vegan Chicken Flavored Broth Base & Seasoning. Tasters preferred its mild savoriness to traditional vegetable broth. This jar of powder makes up to 28 cups of broth. To limit your sodium intake we recommend Edward & Sons Low-Sodium Not-Chick’n Natural Bouillon Cubes with 130 milligrams of sodium per cup.

    ➜ View Vegetarian Broth Taste Test

  • Bar Harbor Clam Juice

    When we need bold, briny flavor for a seafood chowder or stew, we reach for clam juice, made by briefly steaming fresh clams in salted water and filtering the resulting broth before bottling. Moderation is key with clam juice when you are keeping an eye on sodium intake since 1 cup has 480 milligrams of sodium. Fortunately, a little goes a long way. Our winning brand, Bar Harbor Clam Juice, hails from clam country in Maine and brings a “bright” and “mineral-y” flavor to seafood dishes.

Warm up with Soup

Recipe Slow-Cooker Beef and Garden Vegetable Soup

It's rare that you find a vegetable-packed soup that also features tender, juicy chunks of beef, but this slow-cooker version does just that.

Comparing Sodium Levels: Store-Bought vs. Homemade

Here is how the sodium levels per cup stack up for the broths we use most often in our recipes (based on the test kitchen’s winning brands).

Store-Bought Store-Bought (Low Sodium) Homemade

Chicken Broth 510mg

Chicken Broth 130mg

Chicken Broth 180mg

Beef Broth 680mg

Beef Broth N/A

Beef Broth 130mg

Vegetable Broth 750mg

Vegetable Broth 130mg

Vegetable Broth 140mg

Slow Cookers
Make Homemade Broth

Recipe All-Purpose Chicken Broth

Chicken broth is one of the most versatile and often-used ingredients in any kitchen, and our tasty slow-cooker version is a breeze to make.


Recipe All-Purpose Beef Broth

Rich, deep beef broth is a must-have in any cook's kitchen, and with the help of the slow cooker, it can be whipped up with ease.


Recipe All-Purpose Vegetable Broth

Vegetable broth is essential to full-flavored vegetarian cooking, enhancing meat-free dishes with clean vegetal flavor.