Chicken Broths

Most commercial chicken broths are dreadful, “fowl” concoctions. So what is the time-pressed home cook to do?

Rare is the cook who has the time for the slowly simmered perfection of homemade chicken stock. The rest of us head to the soup aisle of the local supermarket to make do with some permutation of commercially prepared chicken broth. But truth be told, it could take nearly as long just to choose from the confusing array of offerings: Alongside the standard metal cans of broth and the dehydrated bouillon powders sit dozens of broths sporting “aseptic” packaging (resealable paper cartons) and glass jars filled with gloppy “base” (chicken broth reduced to a concentrated paste). Add organic, low-sodium, and gourmet-shop varieties to the mix, and the number of options quickly becomes overwhelming.An honest chicken broth distinguished by its chickeny flavor and hearty aroma.

So what chicken broth product should you reach for when you haven’t got time for homemade? We recommend choosing a mass-produced, lower-sodium brand—and check the label for evidence of mirepoix ingredients. (The best-tasting brands get help from vegetables, a glutamic compound, or both.)

And the winner is:

Swanson Certified Organic Free Range Chicken Broth

We’re not ones to jump on the organic bandwagon for its own sake; the proof’s in the taste. Swanson’s newest broth won tasters over with “very chickeny, straightforward, and honest flavors,” a hearty aroma, and restrained “hints of roastiness.”

Published in: on January 28, 2010 at 2:19 pm  Comments (8)  

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8 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Thanks for the update in the chicken broth wars! You all are my heroes.

  2. Ugh. That stuff may be the least objectionable of the prepared broths but I find that Orrington Farms chicken base (not chicken flavored) is about as close to the real thing as you’ll find Plus its less expensive and you don’t waste it because you only use what you need. You also can control the strength of flavor.

  3. Agree this is a top-knotch option ~ but we do have to plug Pacific Natural Foods Organic Free Range Chicken Broth as an equally impressive alternative. In our kitchen, both provide a useful (and delicious) alternative to homemade.

  4. “Rare is the cook who has the time for the slowly simmered perfection of homemade chicken stock.”

    I couldn’t disagree more. Homemade chicken stock is one of the easiest tasks in the kitchen, and it has heaps more flavor and substance than any box will ever. How many home cooks roast chickens or buy bone-in chicken pieces for meals? How hard is it to throw those bones in the freezer for future use or in a pot to sit on the stove at a simmer overnight (or like I do them, in the oven just under 200°)?

    We’re such a wasteful society, that it’s discouraging to me that you would tacitly encourage that. I’m sure that many lazy cooks will appreciate your research, but wouldn’t it be so much more responsible to educate people about how easy and worthwhile it is to do it yourself?

  5. This is indeed the broth to have on the shelf for emergency use. Sometimes one runs out of the frozen goodies. That doesn’t make a person lazy, just out of frozen chicken broth.


    Yields: 6 Cups


    2 Pounds Chicken Bones
    3 Quarts Cold Water
    1 Cup Onions (chopped)
    ¾ Cup Carrots (chopped)
    ¾ Cup Celery (chopped)
    1 teaspoon Cracked Black Pepper
    1 Sprig Fresh Whole Thyme (or ½ teaspoon dry leaves)
    About 8 Each Parsley Stems
    2 Each Whole Cloves
    2 Each Bay Leaves


    1) Wash bones in cold water. Place in a roasting pan and place into a 350-degree oven for 30 minutes or until lightly browned. Mix the bones and place back into oven for 30 more minutes.

    2) Put bones into a large stock pot (scrape the roasting pan and add the drippings to the pot with the bones)

    3) Pour the water over the bones and place on stove. Bring to a boil the simmer for 30 minutes. (SKIM THE SCUM off of the top of the stock.)

    4) Add the remaining ingredients and continue to simmer for 4-6 hours and continue to SKIM THE SCUM frequently.

    5) Strain the stock then place into an ice bath to cool as quickly as possible.

    • When you simmer 3 quarts of water for 4-6 hours how much stock should I have as an end result?

  7. I kinda agree on the choice, as it’s also one of the more widely available, too. No, I don’t agree with the idea of BUYING factory-made stock, but then again, think about who this article is geared towards.

    In comparison, it takes about 15 min to change one’s oil in their car (and most of it involves waiting for it to drain), but how many people take their cars to a mech? A lot. We live in a ‘get in, get out’ society, and we should consider ourselves lucky to be able to have services of all shape and color.

    And even Chefs who are in a bind know the value of a stock all ready prepared at a store

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