12 Creative Ways To Use Better Than Bouillon In Your Cooking

Some of the most elegant dishes in the French tradition call for something called "glace," made by simmering stock until it's extremely concentrated. That's a lengthy process, but well worth it; the finished concentrate (glace de volaille from chicken, or glace de viande frequently made with beef or veal), brings intense, savory flavor to any dish.

Frankly, most people don't have the time to make it, and chefs seldom make it now that restaurant kitchens aren't overflowing with poorly paid (or unpaid) apprentices. However, home cooks can use commercial bouillon concentrates like Better Than Bouillon to get most of the same benefits.

These concentrates' flavors are richer and more authentic than traditional bouillon cubes or powders because they're made from broth with real ingredients (not just salt and simulated flavors). We're personally never without the basic beef, chicken, and vegetable flavors in our fridge and use them frequently. So, don't think of Better Than Bouillon as a cheat, because it's not. It's a powerful and versatile tool that home cooks can use unapologetically to improve meals. Here are 12 creative uses for the popular bouillon concentrates, to spark your creativity.

1. Upgrade your mashed potatoes

If we're going to talk about upgrading everyday dishes, it makes sense to start with mashed potatoes. They're the most basic side dish imaginable, and yet their comforting blandness makes them a blank canvas for creative cooks.

Store-bought bouillon provides a quick upgrade for mashed potatoes. You can use the concentrate a couple of ways: One is to add a spoonful of Better Than Bouillon to the water as your potatoes boil, essentially cooking them in broth. Potatoes are flavor sponges, so they'll take up that flavor as they cook. You could also stir the bouillon into the hot milk you add to your potatoes, or simply mash it into the potatoes directly. Those last two are especially great hacks for instant mashed potatoes because, unlike scratch-made, you don't have the option of cooking them in broth.

Adding chicken-flavored Better Than Bouillon is a slam-dunk (or there's a vegetarian version ), but it's far from the only option. The vegetable paste adds a subtler flavor, and the roasted garlic, sauteed onion, or mushroom flavor bases are all interesting alternatives.

2. Turn a plain roast beef sandwich into a French dip

There's a case for making the occasional big roast, even for only one or two of you, and that case boils down to one word: leftovers. There are plenty of things you can do with leftover roast beef, and most of them — from casseroles to hash to quick soups – can be improved with a spoonful of Better Than Bouillon. 

Consider the roast beef sandwich. It's ... fine. Nothing wrong with it. But, why settle for a plain ol' sandwich on sliced bread, when you could enjoy an upgraded French dip instead? You may know them locally as drip beef or beef on weck, but all of these are variations on a theme: thinly sliced beef, a crusty roll, and an intensely flavorful beef jus to dip in. You may or may not have any jus left (it's the pan drippings from your roast), but Better Than Bouillon's beef flavor works perfectly as a replacement for those drippings or as a way to stretch them.

That's a big deal because you'll usually have a lot more meat than jus, especially if you use the reverse sear method to keep more of the juices in the beef where they belong. But wait — as the infomercials say — there's more!  How about spreading a thin smear of the roasted garlic or onion-flavored base on your bun? Or the mushroom flavor? Or the chipotle, for a completely different spin? With all of these options, you might decide it's time to bring back those old-school Sunday dinners,

3. Glaze your meats

There are many ways you can add flavor to the meats you cook. You can marinate them for hours, brine them, smoke them, or coat them with a rub of dry spices. Or you could just brush them with a your chosen flavor of Better Than Bouillon, which gives you a quick hit of savory flavors on the spur of the moment. Which of those options is a better fit for time-stressed weeknight meals? Yeah, exactly.

First, thin the concentrate with a few drops of water and then heat it in your microwave, so it's loose and spreadable (add extra water if it's still too thick). Then brush it onto your chicken breasts, steaks, roasts, sliced tofu, or any other food you're frying, roasting, broiling, or grilling. The Better Than Bouillon will give it an attractive sheen, a powerful kick of flavor, and lots of savory umami taste. And, you don't need to default to the obvious choices — chicken flavor with chicken, beef with beef, and so on. The vegetable, garlic, or onion concentrates work just as well with meat or vegetarian dishes.

In the classical French kitchen, chefs brush glace de viande or glace de volaille (highly concentrated stock) onto their meats or poultry. Better Than Bouillon lets you do the same, but without the long hours of simmering.

4. Punch up your pan sauces

Okay, pop quiz: you've just taken your steak or chop or chicken breast out of the skillet, so what's your play? Why, deglaze the pan, of course, to make a pan sauce. And, that's the best time to crank up your sauce's flavor with a judicious dollop of Better Than Bouillon.

Browning foods adds flavor, through the Maillard reaction, and some of that flavor gets stuck to your pan. Those browned-on bits make a great base for pan sauces, but they don't have to carry the freight alone. Better Than Bouillon's concentrates are made with the same kind of aromatics you'd use in homemade broth — onion, celery, carrot, garlic — as well as appropriate herbs and spices for each flavor, so they'll bring a fuller, better-rounded flavor to your sauce than you can get with just those browned-on drippings.

Pour a healthy splash of liquid into the pan and stir to dissolve the stuck-on juices, as usual, but then add your choice of concentrate along with any herbs or spices you think would complement it. A teaspoon of the concentrate is enough to make a full cup of broth, so just a fraction of a spoonful is enough to elevate your sauce. Then, for the proper restaurant look and feel, finish your pan sauce by whisking in a small quantity of butter ("mounting with butter" in chef-speak) which enriches the sauce and helps emulsify it.

5. Make gravy without broth or drippings

Gravy is a relatively simple thing, a down-home girl next door compared to the Hollywood glamor of fine-dining sauces. Even relative novices can make it passably after a few tries, though admittedly you might need to fix a lumpy gravy or two along the way.

Ideally, you'd start your gravy with some broth, or roast drippings, to bring the flavor. If you don't have those or don't have enough of them, that jar of Better Than Bouillon has your back. A teaspoon of concentrate packs the flavor of a full cup of broth, and that same spoonful will bring full, rich flavor to a cup of gravy. You can stir the concentrate into hot water to make broth, or whisk water into your roux and then add the concentrate to your pan. Either way works and makes a pretty good gravy.

It's also a good way to save a bland gravy you've already made the normal way or to stretch the gravy from your holiday bird so there's enough to make everybody happy. Better Than Bouillon lasts for months in your refrigerator, whereas broth is good for only a few days, so it's there when you need it.

6. Bring a kick of realistic, meaty flavor to vegan meats

Almost one in four Americans have cut back on eating meat, on top of the 5% who are vegetarians or vegans, according to a 2020 Gallup poll. An entire industry of faux meat products has sprouted to serve that market, from old-school offerings like soy-based turkey to trendy new brands like Beyond and Impossible. These products try to replicate familiar meaty flavors and textures, and while they aren't quite a perfect substitute (yet), they're getting closer.

In the meantime, the vegetarian versions of Better Than Bouillon's concentrates can help bridge that gap, and they dial up the flavor surprisingly well. Add the No Beef base to your vegetarian meatloaf, meatballs, sauces, and even burger patties (whether store-bought, or a homemade black bean burger), and use the No Chicken product in a vegan Thanksgiving gravy to go with your faux turkey.

There are several ways you can do this, depending on what you're cooking. Opt to simmer plant-based meatballs in your No Beef concentrate, for example, then thicken it to make gravy. For meatloaf or hand-shaped burger patties, you could even mash the paste right into your faux-meat or black bean mixture while it's still in your mixing bowl. The garlic and onion flavors make great additions, too.

7. Build flavors for tofu, tempeh, and seitan to absorb

Some foods are valued for the flavors they (ahem) bring to the table. Others are known for their ability to take on flavors from the ingredients they're cooked with.

Tofu is decidedly in the second camp. Aficionados may be enthused about the delicate flavor of fresh homemade tofu, but realistically it's best known for its chameleonic availability to soak up flavor from its surroundings. Adding the Better Than Bouillon concentrate of your choice to those surroundings can bring a big bang of flavor to your tofu. You can add it to the pot or pan to make broth, stir it into marinades, or even brush it onto your tofu as it cooks.

Seitan and tempeh are other alternative proteins that can benefit from the same treatment. Tempeh is less absorbent and has more of its own flavor, but benefits from bouillon in its sauce. Seitan is made of wheat gluten, simmered in flavorful broth to lend a specific flavor. Better Than Bouillon is an easy way to add that flavor. Note that the concentrates aren't gluten-free.

8. Give your vegetables a savory touch

The great thing about cooking vegetables under your roast or pot roast is that they absorb all that savory flavor from the meat you're cooking. The bad thing about this technique is that the vegetables will often be cooked to death.

Using Better Than Bouillon instead gives you the best of both worlds: You'll still get those savory flavors, but you'll have more control over how you cook your veggies. Toss vegetables with the thinned concentrate before roasting them, for example, and the thin layer of bouillon will season every bite beautifully. Add concentrates to the water when boiling vegetables, to the wok when stir-frying, or to the parchment pouch when cooking them en papillote.

Bouillon will even perk up canned vegetables, in a pinch. It will add flavor to bland canned beans, enliven canned corn or carrots, and even give you a reason to eat mushy canned peas.

9. Add Better Than Bouillon to pasta water

Cooking your grains in broth is a well-established hack for adding flavor to your rice, and it's fundamental to the pilaf method of cooking rice, barley, and other grains. It's a brilliant idea, and easy to do, so why not extend that same logic to your pasta?

Hear us out. Pasta is a grain product like whole grains ("Thank you, Captain Obvious!"). So, try heating your udon noodles in diluted bouillon before adding them to the serving sauce (bonus points for using the bouillon as your sauce base). Or try simmering your soba noodles in flavorful bouillon before making a cold noodle salad. A splash of bouillon in the spaghetti water will enhance the beefiness of your accompanying ragu, or you could even add chicken bouillon to the water for tastier mac and cheese.

Pasta, like whole grains, absorbs water as it boils, therefore it is ideally suited to take on its flavor. It's completely logical and even obvious, once you think about it.

10. Step up your meatloaf game

Classic meatloaf is a wonderful thing when it's done right, and that — plus its frugality — made it a mainstay for generations of home cooks. That's not to say there aren't pitfalls awaiting the unwary, like under-seasoning, — one of the worst meatloaf mistakes you can make. That's why the secret ingredient in so many recipes is an envelope of onion-flavor powdered soup mix: It's packed with savory flavors and a lot of salt, so your meatloaf will never be bland.

This pantry staple worked for your grandma and will work for you, but now you have better options than your grandma. Better Than Bouillon's beef concentrate can up the meatiness factor in your meatloaf by a lot, while its onion, garlic, and mushroom pastes bring the same benefits as powdered soups but in a more refined way, with more flavor and less salt. 

Any combination of those concentrates will give your meatloaf a serious upgrade, and they also work well in meatballs or homemade burger patties. Scoop a total of one half-teaspoon of Better Than Bouillon into the mixing bowl with your meat mixture and knead it until it's thoroughly mixed. Bake your meatloaf as usual, and see what a difference it makes!

11. Make sauces to maximize the value from that pricey lobster

For most of us, lobster is an occasional indulgence — some argue that it's not worth the splurge — so when you shell out for lobster (forgive the pun) you'll want bang for your buck. One way to do that is with lobster-flavored Better Than Bouillon.

You can start by using it to create an elegant sauce for your lobster tonight. Sure, it's good just boiled and served with melted butter, but lobster is supposed to be a special treat. Won't it feel more special if you made a lush sauce by reducing a splash of dry sherry (or dry white wine) to a few flavorful drops, then adding heavy cream and a small spoonful of lobster concentrate? Just let it bubble until it's thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, and you're good to go (a sprig of thyme or tarragon would be good, too). 

If you're fortunate enough to have them, a sauce or broth made with Better Than Bouillon can turn even the skimpiest quantity of leftovers into another memorable meal (try a lobster omelet, and thank us later). You can even pair your leftovers with canned potatoes and other seafood you have on hand, as an elevated shortcut to weeknight chowder. By all means, you should also simmer the lobster shells and make stock rather than throwing them away, it's great stuff. But, you don't have to, and that's the point.

12. Dial your casseroles up to 11

Casseroles follow a pretty consistent template. Most of them use a starchy carb as their base, to provide bulk and inexpensive calories. Then there are savory ingredients to add flavor, perhaps some vegetables for the added nutrition, and a rich, flavorful sauce to tie it all together.

That pattern gives you a lot of scope to play with the flavors you add, and Better Than Bouillon can provide a useful tool at any step along the way. You can add it to the grain or pasta while you're cooking or par-cooking it, brush it onto meats as a savory glaze before dicing them for the casserole, and, of course, use them as the base for your sauce.

The range of concentrates available gives you lots of options. The standard beef, chicken, and vegetable flavors are the obvious choices (you can't go wrong using chicken flavor in a chicken casserole, right?), but don't sleep on the less common choices. Use the turkey base with your holiday leftovers, the lobster base to elevate seafood casseroles, or the ham flavor in a cheesy ham and noodle casserole, and the garlic, onion, and mushroom flavors may be the most versatile of all. So, pick a few flavors to keep in your fridge, and start experimenting.