Are Chicken Broth and Chicken Bouillon the Same? Health Benefits and Uses

Medically Reviewed on 8/5/2022

What’s the difference between chicken broth and chicken bouillon? 

Chicken broth and chicken bouillon are typically interchangeable in a recipe, but there are certain differences between the two. Health benefits may include shorter colds and a good dose of vitamins and minerals.
Chicken broth and chicken bouillon are typically interchangeable in a recipe, but there are certain differences between the two. Health benefits may include shorter colds and a good dose of vitamins and minerals.

While chicken broth and chicken bouillon are typically interchangeable in a recipe, there are certain differences between the two. Each offer slightly different nutritional profiles and health benefits. 

Chicken broth, chicken bouillon, and chicken stock are all used as bases for soups and stews or as added flavor in a variety of other recipes. The main difference between them is the manner in which they’re prepared. 

Chicken stock

Chicken stock typically has the most intense flavor of the three since it’s made by slowly simmering raw or roasted chicken bones for up to 8 hours. As the bones stew, they release gelatin. The gelatin, combined with vegetables and herbs added to the pot, creates a stock that’s full of body and deep flavors.

Chicken broth

Technically, chicken broth is made by stewing the meat of the bird instead of its bones. Since the meat doesn’t release gelatin, the final broth usually has a less intense flavor than a stock.

Chicken bouillon

While chicken broth and stock can be store-bought or homemade, chicken bouillon is typically bought. Bouillon is made by removing the water from chicken broth, leaving all the flavor of the broth without the volume. Bouillon is typically sold as a loose powder or compact cube, which can be redissolved in boiling water to create an instant broth.

Shelf stability

One benefit of using chicken bouillon is its shelf stability. It can last for months at a time, making it a convenient staple to keep in your pantry. Meanwhile, chicken broth, either homemade or store-bought, should be used within a few days of making it or opening the package. 

Chicken broth and chicken bouillon nutrition

Although chicken broth and chicken bouillon are easily interchangeable in recipes, they do differ when it comes to their nutritional profiles. Homemade chicken broth slightly edges out chicken bouillon as the healthier choice. 

Chicken broth nutrition

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), one cup of homemade chicken broth contains roughly:

  • 86 calories
  • 6 grams of protein
  • 3 grams of fat
  • 8.5 grams of carbohydrates

Chicken broth also contains small amounts of essential minerals, such as: 

  • Calcium
  • Magnesium
  • Iron
  • Potassium
  • Phosphorus

On average, homemade broth contains around 340 milligrams of sodium, but that can vary depending on how much salt is added to the broth during cooking. 

It’s important to note that store-bought chicken broth will likely contain much higher amounts of sodium than homemade versions.

Chicken bouillon nutrition

Compared to homemade chicken broth, chicken bouillon contains fewer calories, but also has lower amounts of protein and essential minerals. One cup of chicken bouillon has about:

  • 14 calories
  • 1.5 grams of protein
  • 0.2 grams of fat
  • 0.4 grams of carbohydrates

A major difference between the nutritional profiles of chicken broth and chicken bouillon is their sodium content. Regular chicken bouillon can contain as much as 890 milligrams of sodium, nearly three times the amount found in homemade broth and nearly half of the recommended daily value.

If sodium intake is a concern, there are low-sodium varieties of chicken bouillon and store-bought chicken broth available. Check the nutrition label before purchasing and look for items labeled low-sodium or sodium-free.

Health benefits of chicken broth and chicken bouillon

Although chicken broth and chicken bouillon have slightly different nutritional profiles, they both provide some health benefits, especially when used as the base for a warm, hearty soup.

May reduce cold symptoms

A 1978 study tested the effects of drinking cold water, hot water, and hot chicken soup on nasal mucus velocity — another way of saying how quickly you become decongested when you have a cold.

The study found that drinking hot liquids helped to clear out the nasal cavities faster than drinking cold liquids, but the quickest route to decongestion was having chicken soup. 

A more recent study found that chicken soup can reduce the action of neutrophils when you're sick. Neutrophils are part of the immune system. While these white blood cells are critical for destroying invading pathogens and help to boost the response of other immune cells, they may also cause the buildup of mucus and congestion when you have a cold. 

The study suggests that chicken soup may help alleviate the stuffy nose that comes with a cold.

Provides essential minerals and protein

Bone broths in general have gained popularity in recent years for their supposed health benefits. Bone broths, like chicken broth, do contain small amounts of important minerals and some protein, but there is little evidence that drinking any kind of bone broth is essential for better health. 

The research that is available about bone broth indicates that beneficial compounds like amino acids and collagen aren't present in broth at high enough quantities to give any health benefits. 

Even if bone broth doesn't turn out to be a miracle food, it is generally delicious and safe to consume. 

Are there any health concerns when using chicken broth and chicken bouillon?

There do seem to be some health benefits to consuming chicken broth and chicken bouillon, especially as the base of a chicken soup when you’re sick. However, there are a couple of things to be aware of before you break out the soup pot. 

High in sodium

A major concern with chicken bouillon and store-bought chicken broths is the amount of sodium they contain. Sodium is an essential mineral and an important component of a healthy diet. However, diets that are consistently high in sodium carry a risk of causing high blood pressure

High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, occurs when there is too much water in the bloodstream. Since sodium attracts water, too much of it can lead to high blood pressure, which can eventually damage organs and lead to conditions such as heart disease and stroke

To reduce your sodium intake, choose low-sodium options when purchasing pre-made bouillon and broth. High sodium chicken bouillon can also be diluted with more water to reduce the sodium content — use about 1.5 cups of water per cube instead of 1 cup. 

Even better, make your own. It's easiest to control the sodium levels of homemade chicken broth by adjusting the amount of salt you add to it.

May contain MSG

One potential concern regarding chicken bouillon is that many formulations contain monosodium glutamate, or MSG. MSG is a food additive that helps give foods a deep, savory umami flavor. MSG occurs naturally in foods and is typically isolated from fermented starches or sugar. Glutamate, the base component of MSG, occurs naturally in the body. 

While MSG is regarded as safe to eat when consumed in suggested serving sizes, it may cause negative reactions like nausea and dizziness in large doses. 


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Uses of chicken broth and chicken bouillon

Chicken broth and chicken bouillon are both good choices as the base of a meal, particularly if you’re feeling under the weather. Use either broth or bouillon as the base for a hearty chicken noodle soup, add it to a bowl of ramen noodles, or use it to make a veggie-forward soup like minestrone.

If your chicken noodle soup recipe calls for chicken broth but you only have chicken bouillon on hand, no need to worry. Chicken broth will likely give your dish a deeper flavor, but using chicken bouillon instead won't make a huge difference in the overall taste. 

Chicken broth and chicken bouillon aren’t just for soups, though. They’re also great additions to dishes that benefit from a richer flavor. Add chicken broth to a creamy risotto or to masa to make rich tamales, or use it as the base to braise meat. Chicken bouillon, especially bouillon powders, are also great as an additional seasoning on their own.

Enjoying chicken broth and chicken bouillon

There are subtle differences between chicken broth and chicken bouillon but both provide modest health benefits and are excellent bases for a variety of delicious meals. Chicken soup is particularly helpful if you have a cold and are feeling congested. Store-bought chicken broth and chicken bouillon can contain high amounts of sodium, but seeking out low sodium options or making broth at home are great alternatives. 

Health Solutions From Our Sponsors

Medically Reviewed on 8/5/2022

Bon Appetit: "What Tastes Better: Boxed Stock or Better Than Bouillon?"

Chest: "Chicken soup inhibits neutrophil chemotaxis in vitro," "Effects of Drinking Hot Water, Cold Water, and Chicken Soup on Nasal Mucus Velocity and Nasal Airflow Resistance."

Food and Drug Administration: "Questions and Answers on Monosodium glutamate (MSG)," "Sodium in Your Diet: Use the Nutrition Facts Label and Reduce Your Intake."

Food & Wine: "The Difference Between Stock and Broth."

Food Network: "Broth vs. Stock: What’s the Difference?"

Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health: "Collagen."

International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism: "Bone Broth Unlikely to Provide Reliable Concentrations of Collagen Precursors Compared With Supplemental Sources of Collagen Used in Collagen Research."

National Cancer Institute: "Neutrophil."

The New York Times: "Chicken Stock."

U.S. Department of Agriculture: "Chicken or turkey broth, bouillon, or consomme," "Chicken or turkey broth, without tomato, home recipe."