Chicken bouillon – Some additional details…cost and sodium content

The results from the chicken bouillon taste test pointed to a clear winner. The vast majority preferred the taste of the Chicken bouillon gel capsules. I also have to agree, that this one tasted the most like a classic chicken stock. However, let’s look beyond just taste.

The gel capsules are the most expensive out of the four that were featured and the packaging is bulky and difficult to store. With this additional information, would you still choose this product?

From a taste standpoint, here is how the chicken stock ranked (best tasting to worst tasting):
  1. Homestyle Stock – Chicken (gels) – most people preferred this one
  2. Chicken Broth (tetra pak) – also acceptable
  3. Bouillon Chicken Instant Stock Mix (powder) – also acceptable but tasted more bland
  4. Chicken Bouillon Cubes – least desirable due to greasy film and very salty taste

From a cost standpoint, here is how they ranked per cup reconstituted (from highest to lowest):

Chicken Broth (tetra pak) – $0.91
Homestyle Stock: Chicken (gels) – $0.35
Chicken Bouillon Cubes – $0.27
Bouillon Chicken Instant Stock Mix (powder) – $0.03

What about the sodium content? 

Here is how the sodium content ranked across the four products that were tested (listed from highest to lowest) once they were reconstituted:

  1. Chicken Bouillon Cubes: 1130 mg/cup
  2. Homestyle Stock – Chicken (gels): 850 mg/cup
  3. Chicken Broth (tetra pak): 560 mg/cup
  4. Bouillon Chicken Instant Stock Mix: 170 mg/cup

Putting these numbers into perspective:
Health Canada recommends no more than 2,300 mg of sodium per day (the equivalent of 1 tsp of salt). The number was recently lowered even more  to 1500 mg/day as a general recommendation.

Average sodium intake of Canadians: 3,400 mg

Sadly, the chicken bouillon cubes which used to be my go to source for chicken stock were the highest in sodium. Needless to say, I will no longer be buying these. I’m going to switch to the instant chicken stock powder instead. It’s the cheapest out of the four and has the least amount of sodium per serving. It also allows me to use as much or as little as I want each time (without me worrying about it going bad). I also found the flavour to be acceptable. The chicken stock gels and tetra pak, although flavourful, tend to be more expensive and are getting quite high in sodium (you also have to worry about shelf life as they only last about 3-4 days once opened).

Overall, the chicken stock powder is both the cheapest and the lowest in sodium so for me, that is the clear winner. The chicken broth tetra pak would also be an acceptable option so long as you use it all up within 3-4 days or freeze whatever is left.

Interestingly enough, the taste testers who grew up on homemade chicken broth said that homemade chicken stock is still the best (no surprise). However, some of the taste testers that had been brought up on chicken stock powder and canned chicken broth actually enjoyed the taste of these stocks. It just goes to show that preference is largely affected by what people are used to/grew up with (again, no surprise).

Of course, the die hards in the group still insist that homemade chicken broth (made from scratch) is still the best from both a cost and health standpoint.

Tip: A cooking tip that came out of this taste test is that some people save roast chicken drippings and freeze them in ice cube trays which they later reconstitute to make chicken stock. This might be a possible alternative for a nice tasting homemade stock without the investment of time.