You've been looking forward to making your favorite soup all week, and then it hits you. You're out of the beef broth. Dang, it! Don't worry; we're about to share six ways to make a beef broth substitute, plus an EASY freezer-friendly slow cooker recipe that will ensure you never run out of broth again.

bowl of beef broth, from Shelf Cooking

Beef broth is a shelf cooking pantry staple! You can use it to make your own soup, cook a nice roast, or add flavor to pork chops. It's definitely an item we suggest keeping around!

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But, let's be honest, even the best planners sometimes end up in a bind! So, whether you've run out of beef broth and need a quick substitute or you want to learn how to make your own broth and save some cash, we're here to help you out. Let's whip up some beef broth, you guys!


Okay, let's start with a quick lesson! We're going to help you beef up your beef broth knowledge. Some recipes call for beef broth, and others call for beef stock. Can you use them interchangeably? What the heck is the difference?! Yeah, it's a little confusing, so let's set the record straight.

  • Beef Broth – Broth is typically made from meat and vegetables. It's more watery in consistency but tends to hold more flavor.
  • Beef Stock – On the other hand, stock is a bit thicker and is made using leftover bones.

So, can you use them in place of one another? Yes! Just note that since stock is a little less flavorful, you may need to add extra seasonings to your dish. All out of stock AND broth? Let's get to some other substitute ideas!


3 glass jars of broth, from Shelf Cooking

If you're in a bind and need to get that soup going in a HURRY, then try one of these quick and easy beef broth substitutes:

  • Water + Soy Sauce – Combine 1 cup water with 1 tbsp soy sauce, and voila! You have “beef broth.” You can mix in some parsley, garlic, or bay leaves to make it more convincing.
  • Boullion + Vegetable Broth – Drop a bouillon cube in some veggie broth to give it a beef broth flavor.
  • Chicken Broth – While the taste might be slightly different, chicken broth makes a great substitute for beef broth. In most recipes, you won't even notice a difference! And because you can use a one-to-one ratio, it's easy peasy.
  • Mushroom Broth – One of our favorite ways to use up mushrooms is to make a batch of broth! Just chop and sauté a large onion, then add 11 cups of water, the onion, a pound of mushrooms, and the seasonings of your choice to a large pot. Simmer over medium heat for about an hour, and enjoy!
  • Red Wine – Wondering what to do with that bottle of wine you were gifted last Christmas? It makes a great beef broth substitute! And don't worry, the alcohol evaporates during the cooking process, so it's safe for the kiddos, too.
  • Boullion + Water – Out of veggie broth, too? Combine a bouillon cube and water. Feel free to add other seasonings, too. Check out Better Than Bouillon for a richer more authentic flavor. It's so good.

Bookmark this page as part of your running list of substitutions! Next time you need some beef broth, you'll know what to do. And here's another option: you can make a big batch in bulk and freeze some for later. We'll show you how!


We love making a big batch of broth to freeze for later! It's just a good item to have on hand. Freezing beef broth is super easy! Here are two options:

  • Mason Jars – After your broth cools to room temperature, pour it into glass mason jars, saving an inch or two at the top. Remember, liquid expands as it freezes. Pop the lid on the top, label, and store in the freezer for up to one year.
  • Ice Cube Tray – Here's another method we love! Pour your broth into an ice cube tray. When you have beef broth cubes, pop them into an airtight freezer bag. You can drop a cube or two into recipes as you need them. Super convenient!

When you're ready to thaw your leftover broth, move it to the refrigerator for 24 hours. You can also place your mason jar in a bowl of warm water for a quick defrost.


plate of spaghetti and meatballs, from Shelf Cooking

So, what can you do with all that beef broth (besides making a yummy soup or stew)? There are tons of ways to incorporate beef broth into recipes! Here are some of our favorite ideas:

  • Fancy Ramen – Take a $1 bag of ramen and turn it into something unique! Spice it up with your homemade broth, add some veggies and protein, and drop a poached egg on top. YUM!
  • Flavorful Rice – Instead of using water, cook your rice in beef broth.
  • Easy Gravy – Add 1/4 cup of butter and 1/4 of flour to a saucepan, make a roux, and then add 2 cups of beef broth and stir often. You'll have gravy within 15-minutes! Serve it over rice, mashed potatoes, or grandma's meatloaf.
  • Spaghetti Sauce – Combine beef broth, tomato paste, and your favorite meat for a delicious sauce.
  • Make a Marinade – Add some garlic, onion, salt, pepper, and brown sugar to about a cup of beef broth and use it to marinade steaks! Just drop those steaks in a large freezer bag, toss in the marinade, shake, and let them sit for up to 24 hours before grilling.

We want an invite if you decide to grill out some steaks, so don't leave us hanging!


Making your own broth is probably a lot easier than you think. And it's cheaper, too! Why throw out perfectly good bones or meat when you can turn them into a kitchen staple?!

bowl of beef broth, from Shelf Cooking

Slow Cooker Beef Broth

This recipe is good for your budget and your body! Did you know bone broth has healing properties? Learn how to make a batch in your crockpot.
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 16 hours
Total Time 16 hours 5 minutes
Course Ingredient
Cuisine American
Servings 4


  • Slow-cooker


  • 1 lb beef bones
  • 1 cup onion, chopped
  • 8 cups water
  • salt/pepper, to taste


  • Add all your ingredients to the slow cooker, then set to low heat. If you have a larger pot, you can add more water to fill it to the top.
  • Cook on low for 16-18 hours. The longer it simmers, the better the flavor.
  • Turn off your slow cooker and allow the broth to cool slightly, then use a colander to remove any bones from the broth.
  • Use immediately, or divide broth into glass mason jars to freeze or refrigerate.


You can also add seasonings or veggies to this recipe, so use up what you have! We like to add a cup or two of chopped celery and carrots, along with some fresh rosemary. 
Keyword Beef Broth

If you don't plan to use your beef broth immediately, just store it in a glass jar or airtight container and store it in the refrigerator for up to a week. Or you can plan to freeze some for later!

As you can see, making your own batch of beef broth to freeze for later is a breeze! And if you're short on time, you can use one of these substitutes to save your supper. You're ready for anything!

Now, tell us. What's your favorite way to use beef broth? Drop a comment below, or stop by the Shelf Cooking Facebook group to join the conversation.

Image with text that reads "easy slow cooker beef broth" from Shelf Cooking

Are you looking for more advice on making recipe substitutions? Check out one of these posts!

Until we meat again!