Learn what chicken base is, how it differs from other types of chicken flavorings like stock, broth, bouillon and salt, how to use it to impart maximum flavor in a variety of dishes and more.

The Ultimate Guide To Chicken Base

Time to discuss chicken base (a.k.a chicken soup base). We call this The Ultimate Guide to Chicken Base because we took all of your questions and had our chefs, food scientists and culinary experts answer them. We’ll go over the differences of chicken base, stock, broth, bouillon and salt, as well as how to make, use and substitute them. We’ll also touch on other things such as their history and provide delicious recipe ideas and more. Let’s start with your questions.

Feel free to skip around with the links below.

Table Of Contents

The Differences Between Chicken Base, Stock, Broth, Bouillon and Salt

It can be confusing when a recipe calls for a chicken base, stock, broth, bouillon or salt. After all, these different chicken flavoring options can look alike, and have similar ingredients. To fully understand the subtle differences, let’s look at each one in-depth.

What Is Chicken Base?

Most of us are familiar with chicken stock, broth and bouillon, but have you heard of chicken base? If not, here’s a simple explanation. Chicken base is a concentrated stock. It has a syrup-like to paste-like consistency and golden brown color. Chicken base has a rich flavor ideal for making  casseroles, appetizers, gravies and mouth-watering sauces. Chicken base is used when you want to add chicken flavor, but you don’t want all the liquid of a chicken stock. However, chicken base is made with chicken stock—a base is a stock that has been reduced by half through slow-simmering and evaporating the liquid on the stovetop. Once you reach a syrup-like or paste consistency, you have a chicken base.

What Is Chicken Stock?

Chicken stock is made by combining chicken bones and mirepoix vegetables (onions, celery, carrots, leeks and herbs) in a large pot with water. It is then slow-simmered for 4 to 6 hours. Next, everything is strained out, and the remaining liquid is chicken stock. Minimal to no seasoning is added to stocks. While cooking, the bones release gelatin, minerals and other nutrients. It’s the gelatin and minerals that give the stock a full-mouth feel and a delicious flavor. It has a yellowish color and a water-like consistency. Chicken stock is an ingredient used when making recipes such as soups, stews and chilis.  

What Is Chicken Broth?

Some say chicken broths and chicken stocks are the same thing, but they are definitely different. A broth uses chicken meat (bones can also be used) and stock recipes rarely use meat. The other key difference is broths are seasoned, whereas stocks are not. Because of this, broths may be consumed as is, as well as used as an ingredient. A stock is only considered an ingredient. It takes 4 to 6 hours of simmering time to create a stock, but because meat is more flavorful, broths only require 1 hour. When a recipe calls for chicken broth or stock, you can use either. Just know, a broth is already well seasoned.

What Is Chicken Bouillon?

Bouillon is French for broth. Therefore, chicken bouillon is just another name for chicken broth.  However, bouillon is also a term used for a broth that has been condensed and is available as cubes, granules, powders, pastes or liquids. Chefs and food lovers alike use bouillon to add flavor to soups, stews, gravies and sauces. Our favorite brand is of course Better Than Bouillon®. You can probably understand why we’re just a bit partial!

What Is Chicken Salt?

Chicken salt is entirely different from a base, stock, broth or bouillon. However, because of the name, it might be confused with everything else, so let’s talk about it.

There are two versions of chicken salt, one is made with real chicken and the other is a vegetarian option. Chicken salt is a seasoning that includes onion, garlic, paprika, celery salt and curry powder. If you’re ever in Australia, be sure to ask for it with your fries (hot chips).

Let’s Summarize All Of The Chicken Options

Hopefully, you now better understand the subtle differences between all of these options. Chicken stock is an ingredient used to create many chicken flavored dishes. It’s also used to create chicken base. Chicken base is a highly concentrated chicken stock. Chicken broth is seasoned and consumed alone, but also used as an ingredient. Chicken bouillon is a highly concentrated chicken broth. And chicken salt is a versatile seasoning option.

How Is Chicken Base Used?

Chicken base is a great way to add chicken flavor to any recipe.

Chef and food scientist Maryanne Jones says she uses it in soups, stews, gravies and sauces. Maryanne also uses it as a marinade, a dry rub, in mashed potatoes and in cooking her pasta. She’ll even take a chicken base, add water and turn it into chicken stock.

Chef and food scientist Maryanne Jones

How Restaurants Use Chicken Base

Many restaurants and prepared meal kit companies use commercially produced chicken base as a speed-scratch flavor solution. In other words, chicken base saves time and labor costs. Many times, these cost savings are shared with customers, keeping the restaurants and meal kit companies competitive in their market.

Restaurants take a chicken base, mix it with fresh ingredients, and in just a few minutes, have a delicious dish ready to serve. Preprepared chicken base provides a consistent flavor and texture, giving the guest the same great experience every time.

How To Make Chicken Base

At Summit Hill Foods, making chicken flavorings, especially bases, is our specialty. And we can produce these products on an enormous scale, anywhere from 1,000 to 100,000+ pounds at a time. We cater to the foodservice industry, serving restaurants, industrial manufacturers, prepared meal kit companies and others.

You can, however, find our retail brand in grocery stores too. Look for the name, Better Than Bouillon®. Below is a delicious recipe you can easily make at home. It takes a few hours, but you’ll love the results. However, if you don’t have time to make it yourself, we think you’ll like our mouthwatering chicken base flavors, available in your favorite grocery store nationwide.  

Homemade Chicken Base


  • 2 lb. raw chicken bones (wings and joint bones give the best result)
  • 1 onion, quartered
  • 2 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 2 carrots, peeled and quartered
  • Parsley, 1 bunch


  1. Place the chicken bones on a baking pan and place in the oven at 350oF for 1 hour. 
  2. In a large pot, add the chicken bones, making sure to scrape any juices off the baking pan and add that in too.
  3. Add the vegetables to the pot and cover with water.
  4. Bring the pot to a simmer, do not allow it to boil.
  5. Simmer for 4 to 6 hours.
  6. Strain the stock, removing bones and vegetables.
  7. Continue to simmer the leftover liquid until it has been reduced to half.
  8. Once the stock has been reduced to half, you have a chicken base.

Bonus tip: For an extra meaty flavor, add chicken meat about 30 minutes before the stock is ready to strain. The meat, once strained out, can then be used for another dish.

What Soups Use A Chicken Base?

Using a chicken soup base is very popular. Below are just a few soups that come to mind that use a chicken soup base (some of these soups could also use a mirepoix or vegetable base). 

  • Chicken Noodle Soup
  • Chicken Alfredo Tortellini Soup
  • Creamy Tortellini Soup
  • Pasta e Fagioli Soup
  • Chicken Avocado Lime Soup
  • Lentil Soup
  • Chicken Tortilla Soup
  • Lemon Chicken Soup
  • Minestrone
  • Squash and Zucchini Sou
  • Creamy Chicken Soup
  • Split Pea Soup
  • Coconut Chicken Soup
  • Onion Soup
  • Cabbage Soup
  • Vegetable Soup
  • Potato Soup
  • Egg Drop Soup
  • Cream of Celery Soup
  • Lemon Rice Soup
  • Chicken Base Recipes
  • Homemade Chicken Base Recipe
  • Delicious Chicken Gravy Recipe
  • Creamy Parmesan Mushroom Chicken with Orzo

Health Questions

Chicken broths, for decades, have been used as a comfort for the common cold. Chicken base is very healthy, with a high concentration of collagen, gelatin and minerals extracted from the bones used to make it. Bone broths are a vital part of the keto and paleo diets for that very reason.   

At Summit Hill Foods, we produce flavor bases, and we listen to our customer’s manufacturing needs. Our customers, more and more, are asking for clean-label products such as organic, Non-GMO, gluten-free, Kosher, Halal, and MSG-free. We have a team of skilled chefs, food scientists and regulatory experts that ensure we produce high-quality products that meet and exceed our customer’s health stipulations.      

Does Chicken Base Have MSG? 

It depends; there are food manufacturers that make it with or without MSG. Make sure to check the label. If you or your guests are sensitive to it, here are a few different names that MSG goes by on an ingredient list:

  • MSG Monohydrate
  • Monosodium Glutamate
  • Monosodium L-glutamate Monohydrate
  • Sodium Glutamate Monohydrate
  • Monosodium Salt
  • Monohydrate
  • Hydrolyzed Protein
  • Autolyzed Yeast

Is Chicken Base Gluten-free?

Again, it depends on the manufacturer; some companies do add wheat or other grain-based ingredients to thicken their products. Make sure to check the label. There are apps you can download that will quickly check ingredients for any hidden glutens. Check out the Shopwell App

Is Chicken Base Vegetarian?

No, a traditionally made chicken base is not vegetarian. However, there is a solution; many manufacturers produce vegetarian and vegan options. In fact, Summit Hill Foods produces a vegetarian variety.


Chicken bouillon, chicken stock or chicken broth are all great substitutes for chicken base. Let’s look at each one and the small changes you’ll want to make to use it as a substitute.

Our preference is to use a base as much as possible, as it gives a rich chicken flavor and has a lot of densely packed nutrition. However, you are the master of your kitchen, so play around with each one to see which one you prefer.

Chicken Bouillon as a Substitute

In general, when using chicken bouillon, use one cube or 1 teaspoon per cup of water. Depending on the company that makes your bouillon, it might have more or less salt and seasonings. Read the label, follow the directions and season to taste.

Chicken Broth as a Substitute

When a recipe calls for chicken stock or base, and you want to substitute with a chicken broth, remember a broth is already seasoned. Therefore, reduce the amount of salt and seasonings to ensure you’re not over seasoning.

Chicken Stock as a Substitute

Chicken stock can be a substitute for a chicken base; however, a stock is a watered-down version of a base. Therefore, use twice the amount of chicken stock, and before you add it to a recipe, simmer it down to half the amount, what’s left will be a base.

Chicken Soup Base as a Substitute

When utilizing a chicken soup base as a substitute for chicken stock, use a ratio of 1:1 of chicken soup base and water.

Can you use Chicken Salt for a Soup Base?

Yes, you can use chicken salt and water to make a soup. However, know it’s more of seasoning rather than a traditional soup base, and generally won’t provide the full-mouth feel of chicken stock or chicken base.

The History of Chicken Base and Stock

Early humans began making bone stocks soon after they figured out that fire made it easier to extract nutrients from bones. Back then, nothing was wasted. Food historians say that stocks, broths and soups were one of the first foods early humans began preparing. In medieval times, a pot was hung over the fire and kept simmering over the fire. Bones, leftover meat and vegetables were added continuously, effectively making an endless supply of stock.

The French took this to a whole new level in the 17th century when they began documenting and perfecting bases, stocks, demi-glace, broths and bouillons. Fast forward to the 1930s, when bases, broths and bouillon cubes first became commercially available.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are Chicken Base Powder and Granules?

Powder and granules are commercially produced forms of chicken base. Both types are in your local grocery store, typically in the soup aisle. Both can be produced commercially for your manufacturing facility, restaurant or prepared meal kit company.

Where Can I Buy Chicken Base?

You can buy it at your local grocery store and many online retailers. You can also buy it direct from our Summit Hill Foods website, www.shfoods.com.

Where Do I Find Chicken Base in the Grocery Store?

It can generally be found on the soup aisle of any grocery store, next to the stocks, broths and bouillon. Some stores also have organic and gluten-free options in their healthy foods section as well.

Does Chicken Base Need to Be Refrigerated?

Chicken base does expire. A homemade base needs to be refrigerated immediately, and used or frozen within 3 to 4 days. A commercially prepared base is generally vacuum-sealed and will stay fresh longer.  Some products are shelf stable, while others need to be refrigerated. Make sure to check the label for the care instructions and expiration date. 

How Much Chicken Base Per Cup of Water?

Read the directions on your specific product; to make a soup you generally use 1 teaspoon per 1 cup of water.

Can I Mix Chicken Base Powder with Milk?

Yes, use 1 teaspoon of product per 1 cup of milk for creamy chicken soup. 

How Can I Use Chicken Base with Rice?

Use 1 teaspoon of base per 2 cups of rice, with the amount of water indicated on the package.

Can I Add Chicken Base Powder to a Cooked Soup?

Yes, use it to enhance the flavor of already prepared soups. Because prepared soups will be preseasoned, start with a small amount, and keep adding until you’ve reached your desired flavor.   

Can I Make Chicken Gravy with Chicken Base?

Yes, you can make gravy with chicken base by adding water and seasoning, and then thickening it with arrowroot or cornstarch. Simply add 1 teaspoon of base to 1 cup of water and mix in cornstarch to thicken your gravy. Stir while heating to desired consistency, and serve.

Summit Hill Foods Products

We love our flavor bases, and we have a lot to choose from. We work with the foodservice industry, including restaurants, industrial manufacturers, prepared meal-kit companies and casinos. If you’re in the food-industry, we’d love to discuss chicken flavor or any of our other flavor bases with you.  Here’s a list of our chicken base products. Check out our product catalog.   

  • Natural Chicken Base
  • Chicken Base (Type MC)
  • Roasted European Chicken Base
  • Viande Premier Chicken Base
  • Chicken Broth Concentrate
  • Chicken Base
  • Roasted Chicken Base
  • Chicken Base – Reduced Sodium
  • Asian Chicken Powder – No MSG
  • Chicken Pho Broth Concentrate
  • Organic Chicken Broth
  • Powdered Halal Chicken Base
  • Powdered Chicken Flavor Base
  • Vegetarian Chicken Flavored Powder
  • Clarified Chicken Stock Concentrate
  • Clarified Chicken Stock
  • Chicken Flavor Concentrate – Halal
  • Chicken Stock Concentrate
  • Five Star Chicken Base
  • Five Star Chicken Base – No MSG
  • Five Star Chicken Base – Low Sodium
  • No Chicken Vegetarian Base

Customize Your Chicken Base Flavor 

Are you looking to develop your own custom flavor base? Our Summit Hill Foods Development team has a Culinary Design Studio, Innovation Center, USDA Certified Pilot Plant, and a brilliant R&D team here to serve you. To get started, give us a call at 801-326-8492, extension 224.