Chicken broth isn’t sexy like black truffles or trendy like pork belly, but in the test kitchen we rarely go a day without using it. As the backbone of much of our savory cooking, it appears in—at last count—586 of our recipes. That’s more ...
Unlike most of the other liquid broths in our lineup, this one achieved “rich,” “meaty” flavor, and did so the old-fashioned way—with a relatively high percentage of meat-based protein. The only problem: Some tasters thought it came across as “beefy” or even “mushroomy,” not chicken-y.
IngredientsChicken stock; contains less than 2%: sea salt, dextrose, carrots, cabbage, onions, celery, celery leaves, salt, parsley
By adding nucleotides to its glutamate-rich base, this brand produced a remarkably “savory” broth, despite that it contains very little protein. It’s also by far the cheapest broth we tasted, and once opened it lasts for two years in the fridge. However, this product’s high sodium content pushed our upper limits for saltiness, so we had to dial back the company’s prescribed ratio of concentrate to water.
IngredientsChicken meat including natural chicken juices, salt, sugar, corn syrup solids, chicken fat, hydrolyzed soy protein, dried whey (milk), flavoring, disodium inosinate, guanylate, turmeric
Recommended with Reservations
Knorr Homestyle Stock Reduced Sodium Chicken
$3.99 for 4 tubs that make 3.5 cups each, 14 cups total ($0.29 per cup)
This concentrate’s “meaty” depth is built on the same flavor-boosting combination of glutamates and nucleotides as Better Than Bouillon—and it fared quite well as straight broth. But 32 ingredients later, this concentrate fell short on actual chicken flavor. It was also sweet like “canned pumpkin” when reduced.
IngredientsWater, maltodextrin (corn), salt, palm oil, autolyzed yeast extract, sea salt, sugar, carrots, lactic acid, chicken fat, leeks, potato starch, xanthan gum, garlic, chicken powder (with rosemary extract to protect quality), parsley, natural flavor, malic acid, locust bean gum, thiamin hydrochloride, disodium guanylate, disodium inosinate, disodium phosphate, glycerin, ascorbic acid, caramel color, succinic acid, spice, mustard oil, beta carotene (for color), coconut oil
Ingredients (Cont'd)sulfur dioxide used to protect quality
This broth was “not super-meaty”; it was like “sweet squash” when reduced in gravy. No surprise: It was average for salt and contains the most sugar per serving, carrot juice being the likely culprit.
IngredientsChicken stock; contains less than 2%: salt, flavoring, yeast extract, carrot juice concentrate, celery juice concentrate, onion juice concentrate
Off-notes detracted from the otherwise “good chicken flavor” of this broth. Some of us called out a “sour” lemony taste, while others fingered “sweet,” “floral,” “gingery,” and even “minty” flavors that were out of place in chicken broth.
IngredientsChicken broth, salt, sugar, natural flavor, carrot puree, yeast extract
Even though it contains only natural ingredients, this broth tasted artificial—like “ramen” or “powdered seasoning packets,” tasters said. With less than 1 gram of protein, it’s likely that this product contains very little actual chicken.
ProteinLess than 1 g
IngredientsOrganic chicken stock (filtered water, organic chicken broth concentrate), sea salt, natural flavors, organic evaporated cane juice, organic chicken flavor, organic turmeric
This “weak” broth “could be dishwater,” according to one taster. “Chicken of any kind is a stretch,” wrote another. This makes sense considering that the broth has very little protein, which suggests that not much chicken was used in production. Instead, “vegetal” flavors came to the forefront. This product has the second lowest amount of sodium and low glutamate levels. At press time, we learned that the company was in the process of repackaging this product.
IngredientsChicken broth, salt, dextrose, natural flavor, yeast extract, onion juice concentrate, carrot and carrot juice concentrate
Beyond tasting “bitter,” “sour,” and “burnt,” this broth had strong “vegetal” flavors that spoke not of chicken but of mushrooms. We found that surprising given its high concentration of protein—until we noticed that it contained mushroom stock, which rendered the liquid “alarmingly” dark and tinted risotto the color of brown rice.
IngredientsChicken stock, chicken flavor, sea salt, vegetable stocks (carrot, onion, mushroom, celery), honey, bay, thyme, pepper
The reformulated version of our previous favorite just didn’t measure up. The manufacturer wouldn’t specify the changes, but the ingredient label indicated that there was less sodium. The product was also low on protein. As a result, we found it “mild but genuine” as straight broth, but its flavor disappeared during cooking, leaving food “seriously bland,” with “no meatiness whatsoever.” As one taster put it, “Fess up: This is water, right?”
IngredientsChicken stock; contains less than 2%: sea salt, vegetables (carrots, onions, celery, spinach), chicken fat, yeast extract (wheat), cane juice, dehydrated onions, salt, canola oil, molasses, dehydrated carrots, flavoring (wheat), turmeric, potato flour, black pepper
This was some seriously funky broth. For one thing, its taste was “not chicken-y...or meaty at all.” Worse, “sour, vegetal” notes dominated, not to mention other “really odd” flavors reminiscent of “old Chinese buffet.”
IngredientsOrganic chicken broth, organic chicken flavor, sea salt, organic cane sugar, organic onion powder, organic turmeric extract, organic rosemary extract