This essential kitchen ingredient provides the clear base and concentrated flavoring for many dishes, including soups, gravies, rice, and pasta. In France, bouillon means stock while in the U.S., it generally refers to compressed cubes or granules. Court bouillon (meaning “short boil”) is an acidic vegetable stock usually prepared for fish or poultry.


Bouillon cubes were first commercially marketed in 1882. Prior to that, they were referred to as “pocket soup” and “portable soup.”

Buying Tips

While not the first choice for many cooks, cubes and granules are space-saving and inexpensive. They are available in a variety of flavorings, including beef, chicken, vegetable, seafood, tomato, mushroom, and duck. The downside is that dehydrated forms are typically very salty and may contain other additives.

Storage Tips

Bouillon cubes and granules will keep for several years in a cool spot.

Usage Tips

  • A great advantage to homemade bouillon is the control of salt.
  • Commercial beef bouillon contains half the calories of chicken.
  • To reduce saltiness in bouillon, add quartered potatoes, bring to a boil and then simmer. Remove potatoes and strain.
  • When reconstituting chicken bouillon, add white wine; for beef flavoring, use a light red.

Substitution Tips

  • Powdered fish stock (dashi), which can be found at Asian markets
  • Clam juice

Try one of our favorite bouillon recipes:
Frozen Bouillon Cubes
Zingy Tomato-Orange Bouillon
Catfish Court Bouillon