Beyond the Bouillon: Exploring the Top Tomato Bouillon Replacements

Great chefs and home cooks agree that tomato bouillon is an excellent tool for adding depth to soups, stews, and more, but what happens when the pantry is out of tomato bouillon?

Tomato bouillon is the perfect addition to add savory umami flavor to dishes, but you don’t need to panic if you’ve run out. There are plenty of great choices to bring depth and tomato flavor to your next dish. Try one of these five substitutes for tomato bouillon in your next dish!

Uses for Tomato Bouillon

This common pantry ingredient is used to add the flavors of tomatoes and chicken to dishes. It is a concentrated broth/soup base that is made from tomatoes, chicken, and spices. It adds savoriness and so much tomato-zing to soups and stews.

A few common dishes that use tomato bouillon are:

  • Tortilla Soup
  • Enchilada Sauce
  • Red Sauce
  • Tomato Soup
  • Seasoned Rice

Nutritional Value of Tomato Bouillon

One reason chefs may choose to substitute tomato bouillon is this ingredient’s very high sodium level. Many major brands of tomato bouillon have little positive nutritional value at all. Opting for a substitute for tomato bouillon may be an opportunity to introduce some more beneficial ingredients to your recipe.

A common reason people need to substitute tomato bouillon is dietary restriction. Bouillon uses chicken and is not vegan or vegetarian-friendly. Many of these substitutes are safe for use by plant-based eaters.

How to Choose a Tomato Bouillon Substitute

There are a few factors to consider when choosing a tomato bouillon substitute. Think about the type of dish, is it a soup or sauce or maybe just a finished dish in need of a tomato garnish? These substitutes may have a texture that makes them easier or more complicated to work into your final dish.

Diet should also be considered. Think about the sodium level of your dish, some of these substitutes offer lots of tomato flavor with half the salt. If you are cooking for vegetarians or vegans, consider which substitutes are safe for everyone to eat.

The 6 Best Tomato Bouillon Substitutes

No.Substitute NmeGood For
1Other Bouillon CubesSoup, Sauce, Stew
2Tomato FlakesSoup, Sauce, Stew, Garnish
3Chicken & Vegetable BrothSoup, Sauce, Stew
4Tomato PasteSoup, Sauce, Stew
5Tomato SauceSauce, Stew
6Tomato PureeSoup, Sauce, Stew

1. Other Bouillon Cubes

chicken Bouillon cube

Bouillon cubes are dehydrated stock bases and they come in a wide range of varieties. If you are short on tomato bouillon, substitute it with another variety of bouillon for a straightforward swap. Much like tomato bouillon this substitute has a lot of sodium so be sure to taste your soup or sauce before adding any extra salt.

Bouillon cubes come in flavors like beef, chicken, and vegetarian. To mimic the chicken flavor of tomato bouillon choose chicken-flavored cubes. This substitution works very well for tomato soups that already have plenty of rich tomato flavor. Vegetarian bouillon sometimes uses tomato paste so that is also a great choice for building flavor in soups, stews, and more.

2. Tomato Flakes

Dried tomato flakes in a spoon on burlap, fresh small tomatoes, parsley and thyme on black wooden board background

Tomato flakes are made from dried tomatoes. They have all the flavor and health benefits of tomatoes and do not have added salt. The process of drying tomatoes at their peak freshness allows them to be shelf stable for much longer without compromising flavor.

Tomato flakes can be used in place of tomato bouillon to add tomato flavor to soups, stews, and sauces. They make a wonderful garnish when sprinkled on a finished salad or soup. They do not have the chicken flavor of tomato bouillon so there is a slight difference in the flavor profile.

3. Chicken & Vegetable Broth

Vegetable Broth

Tomato bouillon is often combined with a liquid to create a broth, so using a broth as a substitute just makes sense. Chicken broth and vegetable broth both make excellent substitutes on their own or even combined into one tomato bouillon substitute. Both broths also come in healthier low-sodium options.

Vegetable broth sometimes has tomato paste in it so it can be a little tomatoey and chicken broth mimics the meaty notes of tomato bouillon. That is why many chefs choose to mix the two broths when making this substitution. This swap works very well in instances where the tomato bouillon was being mixed with water. In that instance, you would swap the total amount of water with either chicken or vegetable broth.

4. Tomato Paste

Tomato Paste

Tomato paste is a powerful substitute for tomato bouillon. It is a super concentrated way to get tomato flavor into your dishes. It may add some salt to your dish, but not nearly as much as bouillon or broth. This swap works well for sauces, stews, and more.

This substitute has the tomato covered but doesn’t have the chicken flavor of tomato bouillon so that may differ a little. Its high concentration of tomato flavor means that it can be used with water like a bouillon to create a tomato broth. Keep in mind when using this swap that tomato paste blooms in flavor as it simmers, so its rich tomato flavor will grow in soups, stews, and sauces.

5. Tomato Sauce

Tomato Sauce

Canned tomato sauce makes a good substitute for tomato bouillon. There are many varieties of this ingredient available, but it is generally made from tomatoes, acid, water, sugar, and salt. The consistency can be a little lumpy because the sauce is often not strained.

This tomato bouillon substitute adds plenty of tomato flavor but no chicken. It has a little more sweetness than bouillon as well, but usually less salt. Using tomato sauce works well for sauce and stews.

6. Tomato Puree

Tomato Puree

Tomato puree can make the perfect substitute for tomato bouillon in stews and sauces. It is made very similarly to tomato paste except with much higher water content. It has a thinner consistency and a slightly lower concentration of powerful tomato flavor.

Tomato puree has less salt than tomato bouillon and no chicken-like notes. That said, it works very well to add tomato flavor to soup, sauce, or stew. It is not as powerful as tomato paste, so more may need to be added and this can alter the dish’s texture, so just be aware of that.

The Runner-Up

The second choice for tomato bouillon substitutes is chicken & vegetable broths. While both of these liquids have a lot to offer combining the two into one excellent tomato bouillon substitute is a great option. This swap is still sodium heavy and not for plant-based eaters, but it does a nice job of mimicking the flavor of tomato bouillon.

The Best Overall Tomato Bouillon Substitute

There are so many common pantry ingredients that can take the place of tomato bouillon in a pinch, but the overall best substitute for tomato bouillon is tomato paste. It brings exceptional umami with its concentrated tomato flavor. It does not add extra salt to recipes and it can be used by vegetarians and vegans, making this replacement the perfect swap for anyone looking to substitute tomato bouillon.

6 Best Substitutes For Tomato Bouillon

Seasonal and Savory
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Servings 4


  • Other Bouillon Cubes
  • Tomato Flakes
  • Chicken & Vegetable Broth
  • Tomato Paste
  • Tomato Sauce
  • Tomato Puree


  • From the list of substitutes above, pick your favorite to use in its place.
  • Use your imagination and be creative with these substitute recipes!

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