assorted store bought chicken stocks
There is something undeniably comforting about chicken stock. If you've ever made it at home, then you know that the smell of gently bubbling bones, vegetables and aromatics can blanket the whole house in warmth. Additionally, the health benefits associated with stock have been widely touted and it's ability to add flavor to almost any dish is unmatched.
The only draw back is actually finding the hours that it takes to actually make homemade stock. A good stock can take upwards of three hours or more and personally, I don't have that kind of time. While there are methods of making stock that require less actual hands on time (hello Instant Pot), there truly is no substitution for taking the time to roast chicken bones, cut vegetables and letting hot water make magic of scrapes. That being said, a quick stroll down the aisle at any major grocery store yields a slew of store bought alternatives. But which one gets you as close to the homemade stuff as possible?
I have to admit, I got quite a few concerned looks at my local Publix when I purchased almost every boxed chicken stock they had available. After heating up and tasting all four options, I'm confident that I've found the perfect stock for all your kitchen needs.
Pacific Food's Organic Chicken Stock
Pacific Food's chicken stock boasts a slew of all-natural, organic ingredients that make it an incredibly attractive choice. From organic sea salt to whole chicken, this company has really taken great pains to ensure the consumer has a great product. That being said, the flavor here is "chicken water" at best. After warming this broth up on a pan and pouring it into a coffee mug, I couldn't help but notice how watery the stock looked—even before I tasted it. Sadly my first sip confirmed my suspicions. If you're looking for a low-sodium stock option, this is a good one to have in your pantry. While it lacks any discernable chicken flavor, it's better than plain water (barely).
Swanson's Cooking Stock
In my home, Swanson's chicken stock is king. There isn't a soup, stuffing or sauce that doesn't have a splash of Swanson's in it. I'd never tasted the stock on it's own however and was pleasantly surprised by the unadulterated flavor. The first sip reminded me of Campbell's Chicken Noodle Soup, but in a pleasant way. There are some subtle vegetable flavors that shine through as well making this a reliable alternative to homemade stock. If you don't have the time (or desire) to make chicken stock, Swanson's will deliver on all the homemade flavor with out the labor.
Kitchen Basic's Original Chicken Stock
Honestly, I had zero expectations of Kitchen Basic's chicken stock when I grabbed it off the shelf in the grocery store. I'd never heard of the brand or used it in my own cooking. When it was heating up in the pan I noticed, almost immediately, the warm smell of roasted chicken wafting through the house. The stock looked golden brown and slightly cloudy, like the homemade stuff. The taste? If I hadn't poured it of the box myself I would have sworn someone made it. There is just the right amount of salt here to play up the chicken flavor while allowing vegetables like celery, carrot and onion to shine through. This is as close to the real thing as it gets. If you're looking for homemade-tasting stock that you can buy at an affordable price at your local grocery store, look no further.
Publix's Unsalted Chicken Stock
Similar to Pacific Foods, Publix store brand of chicken stock left a lot to be desired. Where Pacific Food's offering lacked flavor, Publix's stock had a strange almost tart after taste that was unpleasant. Of all the stocks I tasted, this one came in dead last. Unless you're a fan of zesty chicken stock, avoid Publix's chicken stock.
And the Winner Is...
By far the store bought stock that was the most similar in taste to the homemade stuff was Kitchen Basic's Original Chicken Stock. From the unfiltered golden brown liquid to that roasted chicken flavor, this is the box that I will keep in my kitchen going forward.
Looking for recipes to use your new chicken stock in? We've got you covered here.