Here’s everything you’d want to know about beef flavorings, such as beef base. Learn how to use them, make them, buy them, substitute them and more.

Here at Summit Hill Foods (parent company to Better Than Bouillon®), we know and love our beef flavorings. Learn the difference between stock, broth, consommé, beef base and bouillon. Discover how to make beef flavorings from scratch, how to use them in recipes, how to substitute for other ingredients and so much more.  

By the time you’re done reading this, you’ll be confident using beef flavorings and love them just as much as we do.

Below, for your convenience, is a table of contents; skip around if needed.

Table of Contents

The Difference Between Beef Stock, Broth, Consommé, Base and Bouillon 

There are many different forms of beef flavorings, and the ingredients and preparation methods are very similar. Which can be confusing. Hopefully, this article will help clarify the differences.  

The beef flavorings we are discussing today all use bovine as the main ingredient. Beef bones or meat (or both), mirepoix vegetables and water are then slowly simmered. The length of time these ingredients simmer and the presence (or not) of seasoning will determine if your end product is a stock, broth, beef base or bouillon.

Let’s look at how to make each type of beef flavoring, how the ingredients differ, what each one looks like, the thickness and most important, the taste.

What Is Beef Stock?

Beef stock is the foundation for many other flavorings such as beef base, consommé and broth.  It is also essential for creating savory, beef dishes including soups, chilies, gravies and delicious sauces like demi-glace.  Beef stock is a thin, cloudy, light brown liquid with a mild beef flavor.

The ingredients used to make beef stock are veal bones, mirepoix vegetables and water. There are minimal to no seasonings. The reason is that beef stock is an ingredient rather than a final creation.

How to Make Beef Stock

Grab your ingredients: veal bones, mirepoix vegetables (onions, celery, carrots, leeks and herbs) and water. Begin by preparing the bones by baking them in the oven for an hour; this opens up the bones and maximizes the final flavor results. Next, place the bones, veggies and water in a large pot. Simmer for a minimum of 8 hours to a maximum of 48 hours.  While simmering, the bones release gelatin, nutrients and flavor into the water. Once simmering has finished, strain everything out; the leftover liquid is beef stock.

What Is Beef Base?

Beef base (a.k.a Beef Soup Base) is a highly concentrated stock. Place beef stock on the stovetop and simmer until the liquid begins to evaporate and is reduced by half (usually 2 to 3 hours.) It will become a syrup-like to a paste-like consistency with a darker brown color and rich beef flavor. Beef base, just like a stock, is considered an ingredient. Use a base when you don’t want as much liquid, but you still want the flavor, in dishes such as stuffing, pasta and casseroles. 

What Is Beef Consommé? 

A consomme is a clarified or “clean” stock. Beef stock is often cloudy and not very attractive. Chefs use an egg white method to float particulates to the top, and then skim and strain them away. This process removes the cloudiness, and the result is a beautiful, clear liquid called consommé. 

There are two different methods to do this. The simplest is to use egg whites, crushed eggshells and lemon juice. Add these to a pot of beef stock, and simmer until you see what’s called an “egg raft” form. It looks like frothy bubbles that form on the surface. Once the egg raft begins to brown, it’s ready to skim and strain. 

Another clarifying method calls for mirepoix vegetables, pureéd veal meat and seasonings, in addition to the egg whites and eggshells. This recipe further infuses flavor. Like the first method, an egg raft will form, and once it browns, strain it. 

What Is Beef Broth?

A beef broth is delicious to consume on its own and can be used as an ingredient. It is made from veal bones, meat or both, mirepoix vegetables (onions, celery, carrots, leeks and herbs) and seasonings. The simmering time is about an hour.   

To make a broth, place all of the ingredients (bones, meat, vegetables and herbs) in a pot and simmer for an hour. Beef broth has a much shorter simmering time than a stock, beef base, consommé or bouillon. After simmering, simply strain and season to taste. 

What Is Beef Bouillon?

Bouillon is the French word for “a savory liquid in which something has been boiled.” In other words, a broth. It’s also a term synonymous with a highly concentrated broth seasoning. Bouillon comes as a paste, cube or powder. If you’re looking for a grocery store option, we suggest Better Than Bouillon®. (Of course, we’re a little partial). But consumers have made it their top choice too, so we must be on to something! To make bouillon, start with beef broth, place the liquid back on the stovetop, and simmer until the liquid begins to evaporate and is reduced.  Use a bouillon when you’d like the beef flavor and the seasoning, without all of the liquid.

A base is a concentrated stock, and bouillon is a concentrated broth.

What is Beef Bone Broth?  

Have you heard the news about how healthy drinking bone broth is for you? It’s full of collagen and nutrients, and it’s all the rage. So what exactly is it? Well, if you read the above sections about stocks and broths, you’ll come to realize that bone broth is a bone stock that was made from bones and simmered for a minimum of 8 hours. Bone broth is also seasoned to make it palatable as a stand-alone drink. 


What If You Don’t Have Beef Base? Here’s How to Substitute.

It happens, we’re in the middle of a recipe, and we realize we don’t have all of the ingredients, such as a beef base. Here are a few solutions.  

Substituting Beef Stock for Beef Base

Look at the recipe; does it call for beef base AND water?  If so, use a beef stock to replace the amount of water and the base if the recipe does not call for extra water. Go ahead and use stock BUT adjust the recipe as necessary as stock has more liquid. Or, if you have an additional 2-3 hours, you can make a beef base by putting the stock on the stove and simmering it until evaporation has reduced it to half.

Can I Make a Base Using Beef Broth?

Traditionally, a base is made from stock rather than a broth.  A broth is simmered for a shorter time and therefore does not contain gelatin, which creates a richer mouthfeel. Also, a broth has already been seasoned to taste. An attempt to make a base from a broth could result in a base that is over seasoned. With all of that said, great chefs experiment!    

Using Beef Broth Instead of Beef Base

Beef base is not seasoned, but broth is. When substituting a broth for a base, season it to taste rather than following the recipe’s seasoning amounts to avoid over seasoning.

Making Beef Broth from Beef Soup Base?

To turn a beef soup base into a delicious beef broth, warm it up on the stove and add water (optional) and seasonings to taste. 

Substituting Beef Bouillon for Beef Base?

A beef bouillon generally refers to a concentrated broth that has already been seasoned. Therefore, if you’re substituting bouillon for a base, you won’t have to add as much additional seasoning, or possibly any.

Using Beef Base for Stock

A base is a concentrated stock. Therefore, all you need to do is use equal parts of base and water to turn it into a stock. 

Can I Use Beef Broth as a Base For Soup?

Yes, broths, stocks, bases and consommés can all be used as ingredients in soups, stews, gravies, sauces, marinades, mashed potatoes, rice or anything that would benefit from beef flavor.

How Are Beef Consommé and Beef Base Similar? 

Both consommés and bases are made using beef stock. The consommé is clarified using egg whites (see above), resulting in a beautiful clear liquid.  The beef base is a concentrated stock resulting in a dark brown, syrup-like consistency. 

How Many Bouillon Cubes Do I Use to Make Beef Broth?

One cube will make 8 ounces of broth. A cube is equal to 1 tablespoon of bouillon powder. Bouillon cubes, powders and pastes are not the best substitutes for recipes calling for a stock or a base, so use carefully as they may over-season the final dish.

What Can I Use Instead of Beef Base?

What it all boils down to… (I’ll let that simmer for a minute!). . .when in a pinch, use a stock, a consommé or a broth to substitute for a beef base.    

How Is Beef Base Used in Recipes?

The possibilities are endless! You can use a beef base in anything in which you’d like to add a rich beef flavor.  Use it in soups, stews, pho, dipping sauces, marinades, glazes, gravies, fajitas, mashed potatoes, rice, quinoa, pot roast, pasta and so much more.  Try it in one of these delicious recipes: 

Recipes Using Beef Base

Health Questions

Is Beef Base Gluten-free?

Beef base is naturally gluten-free. However, commercially produced products may (or may not) have added gluten ingredients to thicken them. Look for products that are certified gluten-free. If the product doesn’t specify, read the ingredient list and look for the following items to indicate gluten.

  • Triticum vulgare 
  • Triticale 
  • Hordeum vulgare
  • Secale cereale
  • Triticum spelta
  • Wheat protein/hydrolyzed wheat protein
  • Wheat starch/hydrolyzed wheat starch
  • Wheat flour/bread flour/bleached flour
  • Bulgur
  • Malt
  • Couscous
  • Farina
  • Wheat germ oil or extract

The following ingredients may or may not indicate gluten. It depends on what grain or vegetable was used to create it. Exercise caution if you see them:

  • Vegetable protein/hydrolyzed vegetable protein
  • Modified starch/modified food starch
  • Natural flavor/natural flavoring
  • Artificial flavor/artificial flavoring
  • Modified food starch
  • Hydrolyzed plant protein (HPP)
  • Hydrolyzed vegetable protein (HVP)
  • Seasonings
  • Flavorings
  • Vegetable starch
  • Dextrin and maltodextrin

Nutrition, Calories and Protein

The nutrition facts differ from homemade vs. store-bought products and even from company to company.  The best way to know for sure is to check the Nutrition Fact label. Here are the nutrition facts for 8 ounces of homemade beef base and 1 teaspoon of Better Than Bouillon® beef base (makes 8 ounces of broth when diluted with water).  

Homemade Beef Base Nutrition

  • Serving Size 8oz 
  • Calories 69.2
  • Total Fat 4g
  • Saturated Fat 1.7g
  • Polyunsaturated Fat 0g
  • Monounsaturated Fat 0g
  • Cholesterol 18.1mg
  • Sodium 232.8mg
  • Potassium 10.4mg
  • Total Carbohydrate 0.8g
  • Dietary Fiber 0.1g
  • Sugars 0g
  • Protein 6.4g

Better Than Bouillon® Beef Base Nutrition 

  • Serving Size 1 tsp. (makes 8 oz of beef base)
  • Calories 10
  • Total Fat 0g
  • Saturated Fat 0g
  • Polyunsaturated Fat 0g
  • Monounsaturated Fat 0g
  • Cholesterol 18.1mg
  • Sodium 510mg
  • Potassium 10.4mg
  • Total Carbohydrate 1g
  • Dietary Fiber 0g
  • Sugars 1g
  • Protein 1g

Frequently Asked Questions

We get a lot of questions about flavor bases. Below are many of the questions we’ve had about beef base. 

How Much Beef Base Do I Use?  

Read the label as each company may be a little different. However, most base companies use 1 teaspoon of product per 8 ounces of water.  

Where Can I Buy Beef Base?

You can buy a beef base at most grocery stores. Go to the soup section and start looking for rectangular boxes containing a liquid; these are the stocks. Next to the stocks, look for small jars that look similar to baby food jars; these are usually the bases and bouillon. Here is what Better than Bouillon® looks like.

Does Beef Base Expire?

Yes, beef base can expire. A homemade base needs to be refrigerated or frozen within 3 to 4 days of making it. Store-bought bases are generally vacuum sealed and stay fresh longer. Still, they will need to be refrigerated after opening; make sure to check the label for the care instructions and expiration date. Canned or jarred bases are shelf-stable and will last 1 to 2 years unopened. However, once opened, some will only last 4 to 5 days, and others will be good for a year or two. Again, check the label for the instructions.      

Can I Use Beef Base After the Expiration?

We wouldn’t recommend it. Manufacturers add an expiration to their labels for a reason. Through testing, they’ve determined the optimum amount of time a product will last. In some cases, the product just might not taste as good outside the expiration date, or it could mean the product could cause illness if consumed after the date. In the end, use your discretion, but it’s wise to follow the motto, “If in doubt, throw it out!” 

Summit Hill Foods Beef Flavoring Products

We produce several types of beef bases and more for restaurants, industrial manufacturers, prepared meals and kits, casinos and others in the foodservice industry.  We specialize in custom flavor solutions, based on your company’s unique needs. See if you qualify to receive free product research and development services.  

  • Beef Base
  • Roasted European Beef Base
  • Vegetarian Beef Flavor Base – Halal Certified
  • Viande Premier Beef Base
  • Beef Base Flavor Solution
  • Beef Base – Reduced Sodium
  • Roasted Beef Base
  • Clarified Beef Stock Concentrate
  • Glace de Veau
  • Beef Au Jus
  • Five Star Beef Base
  • Five Star Au Jus