Chicken stock – the liquid produced by simmering chicken bones – is called for in numerous recipes. Stews, soups, gravies and sauces all often contain chicken stock as a liquid base, and the meaty, gelatinous qualities are hard to reproduce with other ingredients. For vegetarians or people simply looking to switch chicken stock with an alternative containing less sodium, there are several options to choose from.
Vegetable stock is the obvious go-to substitute for chicken stock and can be found in most supermarkets. Organic and low-sodium varieties are also available. Making vegetable stock at home is also a cheaper alternative. The Mayo Clinic has an easy recipe for vegetable stock available on their website.
Roasted Vegatable Stock
Roasting your vegetables before turning into stock promotes flavor development and adds a deep, meaty smokiness to your stock. Roasting your stock vegetables beforehand also helps to break down heartier veggies such as mushrooms and leeks. A recipe for roasted vegetable stock can be found on the Well Fed blog.
Though water won’t add any flavor to your dish, it will do in a pinch as a chicken stock substitute, especially for dishes that already contain a lot of seasoning, such as gravies or sauces. Add fresh or dried herbs to make up for the loss in flavor, and be sure to taste and re-season with salt to compensate for the loss of sodium.
Gelatin is a collagen substitute. Since you’ll be losing all the collagen goodness that chicken stock provides, you’ll need to use gelatin for dishes that rely on chicken stock for its thickening capabilities. Though many brands of gelatin are animal-based, there are vegetarian alternatives available, and can be found in convenient powdered form at your local supermarket or health food store.
Wine is hearty, flavorful, rich and aromatic, making it a great alternative to chicken stock in recipes that call for those qualities, such as braises and stews. Though you never want to use a wine in a dish that you wouldn’t drink, cheaper wines do well in long-cooking dishes such as slow-cooked giambotta. Tablewine.com has a list of recommended wines to use in different dishes.
Jacob Michael has been a freelance writer since 2010, with expertise in computers, cooking, travel and other topics. He holds a bachelor's degree in English from the University of Hawaii at Manoa and is pursuing a master's degree in American studies.