Chicken stock is on the rise. When we last set out to find the best store-bought chicken broth and stock, we sampled 10 low-sodium varieties that were easy to find at your local store. For our updated test in 2020, we thought we’d just re-sample a couple of top contenders from two years ago, plus a handful of newer stocks and broths. But when we began compiling the list of new and re-vamped broths, stocks, and bone broths on the market, the list grew longer and longer. You have a lot of choices these days if you're stocking up.
We tasted 12 boxes, jars, and pouches of vegetable broth to find the best tasting, most well-rounded option for cooking and sipping.
Kitchen Basics Unsalted Chicken Broth and Swanson Bone Broth tied for first place in our updated blind taste test. But you'll want to read on for the specifics, because each broth offered a pretty different flavor profile. We also selected the best organic chicken broth options, in case you’d like to add them to your shopping cart instead. And, just FYI, though I’ll be using the terms broth and stock interchangeably in this review, they aren’t quite the same thing. Read all about the differences here.
For our methodology and a list of all the broths we tasted, scroll to the bottom. First up, the winners:
Our Favorite Chicken Stock(s): Kitchen Basics and Swanson Chicken Bone Broth
Kitchen Basics Unsalted Chicken Stock scored well in our previous taste test, but this time around, our notes were pretty different (and indeed, a search on their website reveals that Kitchen Basics recently “changed the formulation” of their chicken and beef products). This new recipe is fragrant and bright, boasting notes of lemon and thyme. Several tasters mentioned that they’d drink it straight, praising its “meaty, rich, savoriness.” They said they’d be happy using it in soups, stews, risottos, and any other place that might need a little chicken stock. Do note, though, that we also tasted Kitchen Basics Organic Free-Range Chicken Stock, but didn’t find it to be as lively and delicious as the non-organic offering.
Swanson Chicken Bone Broth tied with Kitchen Basics for the top spot. Tasters thought it had darker, more earthy flavors than Kitchen Basics, but liked it just as much. Where KB was more herbal, the Swanson was more vegetal. It’s worth noting that Swanson doesn’t contain added sugar, while Kitchen Basics does include honey. If that’s something that concerns you, you may want to go for Swanson, or one of the organic contenders below.
The Best Organic Chicken Stock: Brodo and Osso Good
This was another close race, and these two contenders were nearly tied. Brodo inched just a bit ahead, taking the top spot for its savory, rich, straight-chicken flavor. If you’re looking for a broth that can deliver on chickeny goodness without any distractions, this should be your go-to.
Osso Good’s chicken stock is on the earthier side, with woodsy herbs and mushrooms standing in the flavor spotlight. It’s wonderfully savory and rich, and we’d be happy using it in stews or braises. (We'd also happily sip it from a cup.)
BUY IT: Brodo Chicken Bone Broth, $13 for a 22-ounce container (or less if you choose to subscribe to regular deliveries) at Brodo.com
What We Were Looking For
We wanted an all purpose chicken broth that could be used in soups, stews, risottos, and anywhere else chicken broth is needed. It had to have robust chicken flavor; otherwise we could simply rely on water and aromatics. Notes of carrot, celery, or herbs were welcome, but anything that tasted musty or stale was out.
We selected only broths that contained less than 500 milligrams of sodium per cup (note that this did eliminate several “low-sodium”-labeled offerings)—any higher and the broth would be too salty for reductions or using in combination with other salty ingredients like soy sauce, miso, or other condiments that might also be going into your recipe.
How We Tested
Since the selected stocks came in a wide array of sodium levels, we calculated the amount of salt each would need to bring them all to an equal level. Each stock was brought just to a boil with the required amount of salt, and then tasted blind by a team of Epicurious editors and staff. No distinction was made between organic and non-organic brands during tasting.
The Other Stocks We Tasted
- Bare Bones Organic Classic Chicken Bone Broth
- Bare Bones Organic Rosemary & Lemon Chicken Bone Broth
- Bonafide Provisions Organic Chicken Bone Broth
- College Inn Fat-Free Lower-Sodium Chicken Broth
- Epic Provisions Homestyle Savory Chicken Bone Broth
- Imagine Low-Sodium Free-Range Chicken Broth
- Kitchen Basics Organic Free-Range Chicken Stock
- Pacific Organic Low-Sodium Free-Range Chicken Broth
- Porter Road Chicken Stock
- Progresso Unsalted Chicken Broth
- Rachael Ray Stock-in-a-Box Low-Sodium Chicken Stock
- Simply Balanced Low-Sodium Chicken Broth
- Trader Joe's Organic Low-Sodium Chicken Broth
- Whole Foods 365 Everyday Value Organic Chicken Broth
- Zoup Low-Sodium Chicken Broth
All products featured on Epicurious are independently selected by our editors. If you buy something through our retail links, we may earn a small affiliate commission.
Originally Appeared on Epicurious