What is Bouillon?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 09 October 2019
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Bouillon is a clear soup stock made from poultry, meat, fish, or vegetables. It is the basis of many dishes, and can also be used on its own for mild, delicate soups. Making bouillon at home can be time consuming, although some cooks think it is worth it. Otherwise, ready-made versions can be purchased in most grocery stores in a variety of forms. The word comes from the Latin bulla, which means “bubble,” a reference to the long simmering required to make it.

Typically, the cook starts by frying vegetables like garlic, onions, and celery in oil with spices before tossing in meats to brown and covering the mixture in water to simmer. Once the ingredients have begun to break down, the bouillon is drained to remove the large solids. Next, it is typically clarified, usually with the use of egg white. An egg white will attract small impurities, so dropping one into a broth pulls the impurities to the egg white, which can then be removed with a slotted spoon.


Making bouillon is an excellent project for a cold day when someone is stuck at home. The cook can start it simmering while he or she works on other projects, periodically checking on it to make sure that it is not boiling over. After the bouillon is made, it can be frozen for use later or used in a soup. Since some sauces also call for small amounts of bouillon, cooks may want to consider filling an ice cube tray with it so convenient small helpings are available for sauces.

In the store, bouillon can be found in the form of flakes, granules, cubes, and concentrated sauces. As a general rule, these dehydrated options are more salty, but they are perfectly acceptable for many foods, especially when mixed with an assortment of other ingredients. Granules made for convenience were first introduced in the late 1800s, and cubes followed shortly afterwards in the early 1900s. These forms are dissolved in warm water to rehydrate them and activate the flavoring.

While classic bouillon is made with meat, vegetable bouillon is also available in many places, especially regions with big vegetarian communities. This form can have a wide range of flavors, depending on which vegetables were used. Carrots, onions, celery, and mushrooms are common ingredients in vegetable bouillon. If a store bought version is too salty for a cook, he or she can add potato chunks to the water, allow the mixture to simmer briefly, and then pull the potatoes out.


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Post 8

I remember my grandmother making bouillon in my childhood. I still associate that smell with being cozy and full on a winter day.

She would cook anything from bacon to steak with garlic, onions, and celery. I used to watch her chop the ingredients up and add them to a simmering pan. The smell was so satisfying, and it would linger for hours, often leading to late night cravings and snacks of reheated soup.

She would freeze her homemade bouillon and use it for a long time. She didn’t like to make it in the summer, because it really heated up her small kitchen. She would make enough frozen cubes in winter and spring to last through the hottest part of summer.

Post 7

Unlike most people, I don’t eat cheese on my pasta. Because of this, I had to find a way to add flavor to my noodles.

I bought some beef bouillon granules and decided to add them to my spaghetti water. I sprinkled in the recommended amount and boiled it in with the noodles for ten minutes.

I ended up with some great tasting spaghetti. It had the flavor of meatballs without the chunks. Also, I didn’t even have to salt it.

I did add a pat of butter to the noodles once I put them in my bowl, but I’m not even sure that was necessary. The flavor had soaked in so well that it would have been good on its own.

Post 6

You can add chicken or beef bouillon cubes to stews or soups for extreme flavor. I like to use three bouillon cubes when making a big pot of my chicken tortilla soup.

This soup calls for garlic and onion powder, and I did not know when I bought the cubes that I had purchased the already-seasoned kind. The cubes contained both garlic and onion, so they really amped up the flavor of the soup. I liked it so much that I keep on buying them.

Since the soup has chicken in it, I use chicken bouillon instead of beef. However, I have been known to use beef cubes in stews, and the results were amazing.

Post 5

I love using chicken bouillion cubes to flavor dishes. I know that the salt content is high, but that gives it more flavor! Also, you can dilute it by using more water than the bottle calls for. Typically, you use one cube per cup of water, so you can adjust it according to your salt preferences.

I like to boil lima beans in chicken bouillion water. First, I bring the water to a boil. Then, I drop in a cube and stir it until it is completely dissolved. Next, I add the lima beans and boil them for about 20 minutes. The result is really flavorful veggies.

Post 4

@MedicineBall - I've tried Better Than Bouillon before for cooking, but the stores I shop at stopped carrying it. I've been looking for it and now I have to buy it online if I want to use it at all. I have never found bouillon that tastes that good again. It isn't salty at all.

I remember that the stores in my area only carried the beef Better Than Bouillon, is there a chicken flavored one at all? I haven't found it yet. Most of the soups I make are chicken flavored, so I've been using the regular chicken bouillon cubes. I'll keep looking.

Post 3

@ElbowTickle - Do you mean instant mashed potatoes or do you just sprinkle the bouillon over the top? I made it both ways and I like the instant potatoes mixed with it better.

I used to use bouillon all the time but now I use "Better than Bouillon." It's a wet concentrated bouillon. You said that you juice fasted for awhile and it reminded me that when I detoxed a few years back, that's when I found better than bouillon.

It makes wonderful bouillon broth that actually tastes like real beef broth. You should try it if you juice fast again.

Post 2

@tanner182 - That's sounds really good! I like to mix beef bouillon cubes in with my mashed potatoes -- with just a pinch of consommé and butter. Delicious.

When I decided to juice fast for awhile to detox my body, I drank a lot of beef and chicken broth as something salty in between all the carrot and apple juice I was drinking at the time. I had to get the low sodium kind because I didn't want to drink that much salt.

Post 1

I just thought that I'd share my recipe for chicken bouillon curry rice. It's really tasty and serves four people.

Start by making two cups of plain white rice, following the instructions on the bag -- only heat the water and add three chicken bouillon to it. Mix it until the bouillon cubes are dissolved.

Stir fry chicken breasts in two teaspoons of crushed garlic, one tablespoon curry powder and two tablespoons of butter. Stir fry until done – the smaller the pieces the better – and mix it all together in a large bowl. Serve hot with soy sauce and tea!

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