What Is Chicken Bouillon?

When I was a youngster and my parents were busy with work but I didn’t have school for some reason, I would frequently be shunted to my grandmother’s house. I didn’t mind; my grandmother let me watch hours of TV uninterrupted, and she always had a steady supply of milk and cookies (she favored Hydrox over Oreos, but nobody’s perfect). It was undoubtedly at Nana’s house that I first had chicken bouillon. For dinner, she would sometimes make an extremely simple soup out of a bouillon cube, water, and…maybe some rice? In my memory it was honestly just bouillon. In any event, I loved the salty, rich flavor of it and have been a low-key bouillon fan ever since. But what is chicken bouillon, exactly? What’s in it? How is it made? Let’s sip up some answers.

What is chicken bouillon?

A bouillon cube (also known as a stock cube) is essentially dehydrated stock that has been pressed into a cube shape. There are many types of vegetable and animal stock and therefore many types of bouillon. Chicken bouillon is made from chicken stock. 

What is in chicken bouillon?

According to the label, a cube of Knorr chicken bouillon contains “Salt, Monosodium Glutamate, Partially Hydrogenated Cottonseed Oil, Chicken Fat, Hydrolyzed Corn Protein, Corn Starch, Sugar, Dried Chicken Meat, Onion Powder, Water, Turmeric, Garlic Powder, Caramel Color, Spices, Dried Parsley, Citric Acid, Disodium Inosinate, Disodium Guanylate, Natural Flavors.” So, it’s a bit more complicated than just dried stock. 

Does chicken bouillon have chicken in it?

Chicken bouillon is made from chicken stock or broth, which includes chicken fat and even a little dried chicken meat. It is definitely an animal product and would not be suitable for vegetarians or vegans. 

Is chicken bouillon vegan?

Chicken bouillon is what it sounds like: It is made from chicken, specifically chicken broth. Thus, it would not be suitable for strict vegetarians or vegans. That said, there are brands of vegan chicken bouillon out there, such as Edward & Sons Not Chick’n.

Is chicken bouillon gluten free?

While bouillon is the type of thing that sounds like it should be gluten free, that is not always the case. Many brands of bouillon utilize yeast extract from barley, which would not be suitable for those with an allergy. The good news is that there are gluten free bouillons on the market. Be sure to double check the label to be absolutely sure there are no glutenous ingredients before purchasing! 

How is chicken bouillon made?

First, dried and dehydrated chicken stock is formed into a kind of paste. Then, that paste is mixed, left to mature, and then segmented into cube shapes, before being packaged. If you want to make chicken bouillon for yourself at home, you can! The Modern Nonna has a great step-by-step recipe for those feeling adventurous. 

Does chicken bouillon go bad?

One of the big advantages of bouillon is that it doesn’t spoil for a long time. There is usually an expiration date printed on chicken bouillon, but multiple sources suggest you can still eat it a year or two past its posted expiration date. Keep in mind, however, that bouillon will eventually go bad. The flavor intensity will decrease, and there could even be harmful bacteria eventually. Be sure to use your best judgment when using extremely old chicken bouillon.

About the Author

Matt Crowley

Matt Crowley is a comedy writer living in Los Angeles. He likes maple-flavored snacks, loves every kind of cheese, and is slowly learning to accept mushrooms.

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