Homemade bouillon cubes

This is one of those cooking tricks that I’ve always done without thinking much about it, but it’s probably time to share. They say the secret is in the sauce, but these little gelatinous lumps are the secret to the sauce!

I had quite a bit of leftover pork stock from my head cheese project, and after freezing several jars, I decided to reduce the rest down further for a soup enhancer known as bouillon.

I tossed store-bought liquid and cube bouillon from my pantry a very long time ago. The amount of  salt, monosodium glutamate (MSG), and hydrogenated oil (trans fat) that they contain just isn’t something I want to feed my family. Why make a soup from scratch only to then add a highly processed ingredient? (Remember Shaina’s story?)

Instead, in addition to homemade stock, I flavour soup and sauces with natural aromatics – fresh herbs, Parmesan cheese, dried mushrooms, chilies, garlic, spices, vinegars – and homemade bouillon like this.

Homemade bouillon cubes | Simple Bites

How to make homemade bouillon cubes

If you’ve come for a tidy little recipe, you might be disappointed. It’s more of a method than a cut and dried recipe – but it’s simple: only one ingredient.

Homemade Bouillon Cubes
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Recipe type: Condiment
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They say the secret is in the sauce, but these little gelatinous lumps are the secret TO the sauce.
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Stock. It all begins with homemade stock. You can use chicken or beef, or any meat-based stock. For the bouillon above I used pork stock for a delicious rich, bacon-scented flavour. It's pretty awesome.
  2. Skim. I like to cool my finished stock overnight, then skim off any fat that has risen and congealed. Then I place it in a pot and begin the reduction. Don't worry, you'll still get plenty of flavour, just none of the grease.
  3. Simmer. Simply reducing stock to a syrup-like sauce is all it takes to make homemade bouillon. I boil it fast at first, and then lower to a simmer when it is about half reduced. Why? Because it can get away on you towards the end, over-reduce and possibly burn.
  4. Sauce. On average, a gallon of stock will reduce to about 1 cup of liquid bouillon, but rather than measure everything (which I almost never do), it's better to know what to look for in a reduction of stock. It will have thickened into a lush sauce. It should coat the back of a spoon, and hang out there, all glossy and rich. It's about the consistency of hot maple syrup, still runny, but with some weight to it. Now cool the sauce!
  5. Set. Line a pan (loaf pan, 8x8, 9x13.....depending on how much stock you boiled, you can probably eyeball this) with plastic wrap. Pour the cooled sauce into the pan and place in the refrigerator overnight. The sauce will set like jello.
  6. Slice. Invert the brown jello onto a board, peel off plastic wrap and cut into squares. Package in ziplock baggies or small jars. Store in the refrigerator for up to 2 months or the freezer for up to 1 year, but they never last that long.

 

Do you make stock at home? Would you try bouillon?

About Aimee

Cooking has always been Aimée's preferred recreational activity, creative outlet, and source of relaxation. After nearly ten years in the professional cooking industry, she went from restaurant to RSS by trading her tongs and clogs for cookie cutters and a laptop, serving as editor here at Simple Bites. Her first book, Brown Eggs and Jam Jars - Family Recipes from the Kitchen of Simple Bites, was published in February 2015.

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Comments

  1. I had never considered doing this…definitely on my ‘when it’s no longer 40C weather’ list! Thanks!

  2. That’s simply brilliant, Aimée. I often don’t have time to thaw a jar of stock but it would be simple to toss in some bullion to get the taste I want.
    Thanks!

  3. Yes! I love this! I have never heard of doing this but I make my own stock all the time and this is so easy! Thank you.

  4. I don’t know why I’ve never heard of this or thought of it or anything! I’ve been making my own stock for years. I will definitely give this a try! Great idea.

  5. Aimee, this is so cool. I was just making stock this morning from veggies saved up over the last week and I’m assuming since there’s no animal product in my stock this process wouldn’t work. Your thoughts? Thanks!

    • Right. It really needs the natural gelatin that is released from the bones.

    • Add none favored gelatin to Veggie stock. No this isn’t going to be vegan or vegetarian friendly but will work. For it’s the gelatin that creates the bouillon cube. Add in the beginning of the stock reduction. Then reduce as called for in recipe above.

      I stumbled upon another one stating you can dehydrate the finished cubes in a fridge or cold cellar for an additional 8-24 hrs after sliced into cubes and these will keep much longer, up to a year.

    • You can also use Agar-Agar, it is made from kelp. It will set a liquid just as well as Gelatine.
      Cheers, Chris

  6. This is taking stock to another level! Great idea. Especially when short on freezer space.

  7. I also make my own stock and never considered this! Can’t wait to give it a go!

  8. I’ve never thought about this but it does make sense. We make lots of broth and using the carcasses from turkey and chicken is easy — finding soup bones are a different matter. You can’t find them in the grocery store because most of the meat does not come in like a side of beef — it is already cut in smaller portions. If you can find a bone it costs about as much as a steak. Do you have a butcher? If there were a butcher shop close by I try to make friends with the butcher.

    • Marisa,

      I get my soup bones at the local farmer’s market. There are a few farmers that sell beef/pork/chicken and they sell the bones that are left after having the meats butchered.

      Hope that helps!

    • I do have a butcher and sometimes I will call ahead and reserve some bones. They still charge me, but not much. Less if I take frozen bones.

      They always seem surprised, though. As if….other people know about stock? 😉

  9. This is incredible! Thanks so much for sharing this, Aimee — I can’t wait to try it next time I make stock.

  10. Awesome! I have never heard of anyone making their own bouillon before! I’m super excited to try this!!

  11. This is simply the answer to so many of my broth-based problems! Thank you, Amy!

  12. What a GREAT idea! I always keep homemade stock on hand, but sometimes I don’t have time to thaw a whole container to flavor my rice, casserole, etc. This is the perfect solution. Thanks for sharing!

  13. I have never thought of making my own bouillon. I make my own stock all the time and just avoid the little foil packets.
    Thanks for the method!

  14. Alex Chambers says:

    Homemade Bouillon cubes is just so incredibly amazing! I thought i’d gonna buy this stuff in the market forever but thanks to you Aimee! 🙂 I will surely try and make my own bouillon cubes now and bye bye market routine! 🙂

  15. I love this idea Aimee. Do you just drop a cube or two into water when you’re ready to use it?

    Also, I make my own stock whenever I have a leftover carcass and I just love the low amount of salt it contains. I freeze the stock in 1 or 2 cup containers and then dump them in a small pot on the stove and defrost right before I use them. The small ice block usually melts completely in just a few minutes on the stove.

    • Cheryl, I don’t usually reconstitute, but it depends on what I am making. For sauces and soups, I just toss a few lumps in and let them dissolve.

      If I need a cup of stock for a recipe, then yes, I’ll add 3-4 to hot water.

  16. What a remarkable idea. And then I sit here thinking, why didn’t I think of that?

  17. This is brilliant! I had no idea that you could cook stock down and store it for 2 months. I knew it’d gelatinize, but I didn’t realize the potential. Mind blown!

  18. Holy cow this is fantastic. I have jars and jars of stock in the freezer out in the garage. Yep. trying this. Does it work with poultry stock (chicken or duck) or with Veggie stock???
    Thanks for the tutorial and can’t wait to try this!

  19. I love the idea! I often reduce my stock too much and end up adding a little water when using for soups.

    Now I know I should reduce part of it even more and then use them for sauce! Great tip.

    And I love how low they keep for in the fridge…..

  20. I was wondering when you would add salt to the stock? Before you make the bouillon or after when you add it to water?
    I am making a batch for a post surgery clear liquid diet. It seemed like the perfect nutrient dense liquid and the easiest way to prepare!

    • Kinome, I’d say a bit of both. You could add a little after it is reduce, before you gel it, but it’s always best to season the dish directly.

      All the best for your surgery. Great idea for a recovery food!

  21. Thanks for this brilliant (why didn’t I think of it) idea! I’m going to try letting mine set in the non-stick pan I reduced it in & cut it with a plastic knife. Mostly because I’m out of plastic wrap & don’t want to risk wasting any 🙂

  22. Hi Aimee, I don’t cook for myself but my cat has developed Feline Hyperethesia Syndrome & I need to give her 5 drops of a homeopathic medicine 5 times a day. So I tried some beef broth, ( 10 drops broth, 5 drops medicine ) & surprisingly she lapped it right up, she’s very finicky won’t eat any can food only grain free dry. Sasha is only 17 months old & sadly will have to have this treatment for the rest of her life. As you well know there is nothing but bad ingredients in anything sold on the market, so I will gladly use your instructions above to make chicken & beef bouillon for my kitty!! My dilemma is what to do with the meat once cooked down!! Do you have a very simply recipe using 1 pan, bisquits,cheese,the meat, maybe potatoes, & my oven, these are my mainstays, I don’t eat vegetables!! I know it sounds ridiculous, but I’m a meat, potato, cheese & bread girl that’s all I eat!! Please help and send a recipe or 2 to my email!! Also what cuts of beef & chicken are best for bouillon?? Thank you in advance, Sincerely, Starr

  23. This is Starr with the sick kitty again I think I should have put my email on my first comment page above so anyone who reads it can help me out with a recipe, so here is my email if anyone can help gotstarrbaby777@yahoo.com Thanks Again In Advance, Starr

  24. BanksiaRose says:

    I love this concept as well; I have some stock in the freezer that I want to try cooking down even more to get it to gel.

    Subsequent thought: am wondering if, once its gelled and cubed, how would it be to put it through a cycle in the dehydrator, maybe not to bone dry, but to bring down the moisture even more, then either try grating it or put it through the mini-food processor…would probably still be a tad paste-y, but just an idea…

    Thank you for this!

  25. Aimee,
    Curious if you’ve done any research as to whether cooking down the stock so much effects the nutrient content very much? I think I’m going to try it anyway, because it would be nice to have some easy go to gelatinous broth always on hand for those weeks that I don’t have time to make a fresh pot of bone broth (and I certainly don’t have room in my freezer to freeze a half gallon/gallon of broth…). But have you seen any research on the nutrient availability when it is cooked down for so long?

  26. Hi Aimee, how can I make this for commercial purposes?

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