Differences between chicken stock, chicken bouillon, and chicken soup base

From homemade chicken noodle soup to delicious skillet meals, chicken stock, chicken bouillon, and chicken base are all essential to producing that homemade taste, with less time and effort. However, many cooks are confused as to the differences and similarities between these three essential ingredients. So let me do my best to unconfuse you.

a bowl of chicken base

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Chicken Stock

Chicken stock is primarily made from whole chickens, veggies (like carrots, onions, and celery), and seasonings such as kosher salt, fresh ground black pepper, and tons of fresh garlic. Chicken stock is the foundation for so many recipes: soups, stews, sauces, and even casseroles.

Although you can certainly purchase a good-quality chicken stock from the grocery store, making it in your own kitchen is much more cost-effective and produces a stock with a deeper, richer flavor than the canned varieties.

  • When I make chicken stock at home, I place all of my chicken pieces in a large pot with some veggies like carrots, celery, and onions. I add enough water to cover the chicken completely. Then I simmer this for a few hours – I never try to boil the mixture.

Chicken Bouillon

Basically, a bouillon cube is chicken, beef, or vegetable stock that has been dehydrated and shaped into a small cube. It is used to flavor soups and stews by dissolving the cubes in boiling the liquid. However, bouillon cubes can be extremely salty, so if you want less salt select low-sodium varieties.

Chicken Soup Base

Chicken Base (Also Known as Chicken Soup Base).

Having a deep and rich taste, the chicken base is just a highly concentrated stock used for soups, stews, sauces, and casseroles. You can find the chicken base (sometimes labeled chicken soup base) in powder or cube form in your grocery store. It is typically sold right next to the chicken bouillon cubes.

One of the most popular brands is called Better Than Boullion. Or, you can make your own and all you have to do is take some out of your freezer whenever you need it. The chicken base takes a lot more time to make than chicken stock, but the rich results more than makeup for the longer cooking time.

  • To Make a Chicken Base – Begin with the basic ingredients used in making a stock (whole chicken, onions, celery, carrots, garlic, water, salt, and pepper). Let everything simmer for a few hours until the liquid is much reduced and the veggies have dissolved into the rich sauce. You may want to strain before freezing or using.

Why Chicken Base is better to use Than Chicken Stock

Because the chicken base is simmered much longer than stock, the flavors meld more and become much richer. There is even a difference in color. Chicken base is usually darker, much like a beef broth, while stock is pale and has a thinner consistency. Chicken base is best used when making sauces, skillet dinners, or stews. And, because the chicken base has so much more flavor, and is a bit thicker than stock, its versatility far outdoes its thinner cousin.

  • Though subtle, the differences between chicken base, bouillon, and stock really show how each can be used in different recipes, and even how chicken base is better to use than its thinner relative, chicken stock. Also, making your own base, stock or bouillon is more cost-effective and flavorful than store-bought varieties.

A Few Ways to Use Your Homemade Chicken Base

(Note: if the copykat recipe says chicken stock or bouillon, swapping it out for chicken base will give you a tastier dish. I’ve been switching to chicken base more and more.)

a bowl of chicken base

Homemade Chicken Base

Chicken base is chicken stock where the water has been reduced and is full of flavor.
5 from 3 votes
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Course: Soup
Cuisine: French
Keyword: Chicken Base
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 3 hours
Servings: 8
Calories: 16kcal


  • 2 pounds chicken bones you can use backs, wings, and other leftover trimmings
  • 1 onion quartered
  • 2 celery stalks
  • 2 carrots peeled, and quartered
  • 1 bunch parsley if desired


  • Place the chicken into a large stockpot. Place the vegetables on top of the chicken.
  • Cover with water.
  • Gently heat the stock, do not allow the stock to boil.
  • Cook for about 3 hours on low.
  • Strain the stock, and return the liquid to the pot. Reduce the liquid in half.
  • Use the remaining liquid as base.


Optional vegetables to add to your base:
  • parsnips
  • a clove of garlic 
  • shallots


Calories: 16kcal | Carbohydrates: 3g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 23mg | Potassium: 134mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 3193IU | Vitamin C: 12mg | Calcium: 22mg | Iron: 1mg

About Stephanie Manley

I recreate your favorite restaurant recipes, so you can prepare these dishes at home. I help you cook dinner, and serve up dishes you know your family will love. You can find most of the ingredients for all of the recipes in your local grocery store.

Stephanie is the author of CopyKat.com's Dining Out in the Home, and CopyKat.com's Dining Out in the Home 2.

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Reader Interactions


  1. Jennifer

    5 stars
    I truly appreciate this recipe. I have been trying so hard to find a Chicken Base I can use for soups that do not contain MSG or high levels of sodium. This is absolutely wonderful. I appreciate being able to control what goes into my food more.

  2. David R Campbell

    5 stars
    I’ve enjoyed many of your recipes. Thank you. However your pages are difficult to read because they include too many misplaced icons for me to click on whatever, things I don’t use; like pinterest, facebook, etc., that appear on the left-most side of the screen and block out text as I’m scrolling vertically to read your text. Those same ‘icons’ appear also at the bottom of the page. Really annoying and difficult to ignore. I wish I could include a screen shot of this page so you could see what I’m trying to explain.

  3. Janice

    I had always thought that chicken bouillon cubes were simply dehydrated chicken stock that had been shaped into cubes, as you describe here. However, recently I noticed that all three brands of chicken bouillon cubes that we happen to have in the house are actually labelled “Chicken Flavor Bouillon.” I was pretty dismayed, thinking that perhaps the flavor in them isn’t actually from chicken after all. I decided to research it a bit, and that’s how I came across your article/ post. So now I”m wondering, what are your sources for the information in the article? I’m just curious, because you don’t specifically say. Is it based on your background and/ or cooking training, or is it based on an online or print source that I might be able to also read?

    • Stephanie

      Sure, so this knowledge was my own. I have 30+ years of cooking experience, and 25+ years of recipe development. I have also written two cookbooks, co-authored an ebook. I have had culinary training at a culinary school as well.

  4. Ruth

    Thank you for the information of the difference between the three. You made mention of helping us in the kitchen with almost everything but I was wondering if you could also come help with doing the dishes? Lol. ?

  5. Lindsey

    I have a question, I have tried, unsuccessfully, to make chicken stock with just boiling the bones. I shred and freeze th3 chicken for other recipes. My question is when maki,g your own chicken base, is the chicken still good to use and freeze and do you continue to boil bone and vegetables to make the stock or base ??

    • Mary

      First, the chicken is fine for another use. Next, continuing to boil the bones isn’t going to make it any better. I will save my stock from cooking and wind up adding a soup base to it because it requires much more flavor. They just don’t grow chickens the way they used to; they are feed differently; therefore lighter meat and less flavor. #redibasecooking

    • Stephanie

      So I am late to answer this, but when I make stock at home. I use the bones, skin, and I prefer wings, or necks to make stock with. I place in a large pot all of my chicken pieces, some veggies like carrots, celery, and onion. I add enough water to cover the chicken completely. Then a simmer this for a few hours. I never try to boil this mixture.

      If you want to condense this, you would remove all of the solids, and then boil out some of the water. You can reduce this “stock” by half, and then you will have a very flavorful stock.

  6. Lita Watson

    Some people consider chicken base as a chicken stock that has been reduced over a couple of hours until the vegetables in the stock completely melt into the liquid.

  7. Alicia

    Would you mind if I used your chicken stock image and linked back to this page as part of a post I’m doing on crock pots? Thanks! Alicia Kazsuk, VibrantHomeschooling.com

5 from 3 votes (1 rating without comment)

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