Chicken Broth

We have all seen chicken broth called for in recipes and we know that it gives a good base of flavor, but do you know the particulars of it?

What is chicken broth?

Chicken broth is a simple liquid made by simmer the meat and sometimes the bones of chicken with vegetables in water for a short period of time. Once strained, you have a batch of chicken broth that is ready to use.

Alternatively, you can head to the store and buy already made chicken broth in plastic containers or in cans. Some of these vary in terms of flavor. For example, some will use certain herbs and additions and others will be very straight forward.

Chicken broth is great as a base for soups, as a layer of flavor when cooking things like rice or other grains, gravies, and so much more. Often if I see “water” listed in a recipe, I will substitute chicken broth for it to give the dish more depth.

Here are some great recipes using chicken broth:

What is the difference between chicken broth and chicken stock?  

This comes down to two things. Chicken broth is usually made with meat (and sometimes bones) and typically simmered for a shorter period of time. The result is lighter in flavor and in fat content.

Chicken stock on the other hand is made with meat and bones that are sometimes roasted to deepen their flavor and simmered for a much longer period of time. This longer period of time allows the gelatin in the bones to release into the liquid.

Once strained, this has a much deeper flavor, and the fat content much higher. Chicken stock is often gelatinous when cold. Broth will have a layer of fat on the top and remain liquid on the bottom.

What is the difference between chicken broth and bouillon?

These two names are sometimes used interchangeably. They both refer to a chicken-forward flavored broth made from cooking meat, sometimes bones, and aromatics for over low heat to extract those flavors.

However, bouillon cubes and powders, are not the same thing. These can add a burst of the same type of flavor in a pinch as they are the dehydrated and condensed version. Be careful when using these with the amount of salt you add. They often have quite a bit of added sodium so taste early and taste often to make sure things are on track.

What can I use instead of chicken broth?

If you don’t have any handy, you can easily use chicken bouillon cubes hydrated in water, vegetable broth, vegetable bouillon cubes hydrated in water as well. 

Can chicken broth go bad?

This will depend on what type of broth you have. Use this as a general guide, but always trust your gut and your nose when making the call. A sour or off-putting smell usually means it is time to pitch it:

Sealed commercially packaged broth in cans or aseptic containers: These can last in a cool dark place like your pantry for a year or so. Check the best by date on the container. 

Opened commercially packaged broth in cans or aseptic containers: These can be stored in the fridge and used within five days or so once opened.

Homemade broth: This falls into the same 5-day category. The good news is, you can freeze whatever you don’t use for a later date. I like to freeze mine in an ice cube tray or in cup containers, so I know exactly how much I have.

Can you overcook chicken broth?

Yes. I would say an hour or two is plenty of time. If you leave it going too long, the liquid can develop bitter notes that will then be part of any dish you add it to.

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