From homemade chicken noodle soup to delicious skillet meals, chicken base, bouillon and stock are all essential to getting that homemade taste, but with less time an effort. However, many cooks are confused as to the differences and similarities between these three handy ingredients.
Primarily made from whole chickens, veggies like carrots, onion and celery, and seasonings such as kosher salt, fresh ground black pepper and tons of fresh garlic, chicken stock is the base for so many recipes: Soups, stews, sauces and even casseroles. Although you can certainly purchase a good-quality chicken stock from the grocery store, making it homemade is much more cost effective and has a deeper, richer flavor than the canned varieties.
Bouillon, whether chicken or beef, normally comes in cube form and is used to flavor soups and stews by dissolving them in boiling liquid. They can be extremely salty, however, so when purchasing chicken bouillon cubes, select low-sodium varieties. Basically, a bouillon cube is chicken or beef stock that has been dehydrated and shaped into a small cube form.
Having a deep and rich taste, chicken base is just a highly concentrated stock used for soups, stews, sauces and casseroles. You can find chicken base in powder or cube form, or you can make your own and have a supply on hand in your freezer. Unlike chicken stock, chicken base takes a lot longer to make, but the rich results more than make up for the long cooking time. To make a chicken base, start with the basic ingredients used to make a stock (whole chicken, onion, carrots, celery, garlic, water, salt and pepper) and let simmer for at least a few hours, until the liquid is reduced and the vegetables have dissolved into the rich sauce. You may want to strain before freezing or using.You can find chicken base in your grocery store. It is typically sold right next to the chicken bouillon cubes.
Why Chicken Base is better to use Than Chicken Stock
Because chicken base is simmered much longer than stock, the flavors have melded and become much richer. There is even a difference in color; chicken base is usually darker, much like a beef broth, while stock is pale and has a thinner consistency. Chicken base is best used when making sauces, skillet dinners, or stews. Use chicken stock for making chicken noodle soup, chunky chicken and vegetable stew, and chowders. However, because chicken base has so much more flavor, and is a bit thicker, than stock, its versatility far outdoes it thinner cousin. Here are a few ideas for using homemade chicken base: Chicken gravy, chicken and dumplings, chowders, heavy stews, homemade cream of chicken soup, chicken casseroles (like Green Chile Chicken Casserole, Chicken Ole Casserole), and even non-chicken dishes such as Jambalaya, potato soup or chowder, beef or chicken curry, other ethnic dishes like Indian recipes and meaty soups like Cheeseburger Chowder, Beef-vegetable Stew and many others.
Though subtle, the differences between chicken base, bouillon and stock really show how each can be used in different recipes, and even how chicken base is better to use than its thinner relative, chicken stock. Also, making your own base, stock or bouillon is more cost-effective and flavorful than store-bought varieties.