For a dish like Classic Matzo Ball Soup, where chicken broth is the star, it's worth the time to make the broth from scratch. But sometimes, life calls for store-bought broth, so we keep cases of canned and boxed chicken broth in the test-kitchen pantry. It takes up a lot of space, though, so we wondered how less-bulky broth concentrates taste.
To find out, we blind-tasted three popular brands of chicken concentrate, or base (diluted with water to broth strength according to package directions), and compared them for taste and price. Here are the results:
Better Than Bouillon Chicken Base
This paste provides good chicken flavor but is quite salty; be sure to taste your food before adding more salt, or buy the lower-sodium version.
An 8-oz. jar yields 38 cups of broth. At approximately $5.99, that comes to only 16¢ a cup (compared to an average of 75¢ a cup for canned broth).
Swanson Flavor Boost 100% Natural Concentrated Chicken Broth
These little liquid packets contain rich, meaty, comforting flavor and the least sodium.
The concentrate is equivalent to a reduced broth and can be used not only to make broth but can also be added as is to a sauce or tossed with pasta or vegetables for extra flavor. At approximately $4.09 for a box of 8 packets (each produces 1 cup of broth), you pay 51¢ per cup of broth.
Knorr Home-Style Chicken Stock
These tubs of concentrated stock are full of vegetable flavors (and salt) but are not particularly "chickeny." For $3.99, you get four 1-oz. tubs. Each tub produces 3-1/2 cups of broth, so you pay about 29¢ per cup.
The Bottom Line
Half of our tasters preferred the Better Than Bouillon and the other half the Swanson Flavor Boost. None chose the Knorr. When it comes to convenience, boxed or canned broth still holds an edge, but considering their decent flavor as well as their cost and shelf space savings, we think these products make a good pantry addition.
Photos by Scott Phillips