store bought chicken stock, which brand? Here for six-weeks and not going to start stocking my mother's freezer with home-made...

I'm in the US for our summer sojourn and doing some cooking at my mother's. Stunned to find that EVERY single box of chicken stock/broth at Whole Foods has added sweetening, either sugar or honey and most have a ton of salt. Ended up buying Pacific Natural organic free-range low sodium broth because it had the lowest sodium of anything there (not that I'm on a low-sodium diet, but I prefer to season my own damn cooking, thank you very much...) and it's OK, but wondered if you picklers had any better suggestions.

Follow-up question for bonus points: when we're talking store-bought in the box in the US, is there actually a consistent differentiation between stock and broth products?



sonya August 10, 2015
I use the Better than Bouillon chicken broth base most of the time, because it is really cheap, keeps forever in the fridge, and has a nice chicken-y flavor (I heard about from Cook's Illustrated, where it did quite well in their taste test)...but I don't think you'd like how much salt it has! To combat that, I add less salt to the recipe. If the stock will be reduced, such as for a sauce, then it is just way too salty, so I use their other recommended brand, Swanson's chicken stock. They also tested reduced sodium brands, and their winner was Swanson Unsalted Chicken Stock: "“Subtle” and “light,” “mild” and “clean-tasting,” and “with mellow, distinct chicken flavor,” this unsalted version of our winning chicken broth pleased most tasters.....To compare how each tasted, we sampled the broths side-by-side 
plain, in vegetable soup, and in a simple Parmesan risotto, rating them on flavor, saltiness, off-flavors, if any, and overall appeal. We weren’t that surprised to find that our tasters preferred the regular chicken broth in 
all three tastings, but the unsalted broth fared surprisingly well. When we need to restrict sodium, we won’t hesitate to reach for Swanson Unsalted Chicken Stock."

The problem with the Pacific Natural organic free-range broth, according to Cook's Illustrated, is that it just tasted awful: "This was some seriously funky broth. For one thing, its taste was “not chicken-y...or meaty at all.” Worse, “sour, vegetal” notes dominated, not to mention other “really odd” flavors reminiscent of “old Chinese buffet.”"

LOL! Based on your personal preferences of low-sodium and not chalk full of additives, might be worth making your own and stocking her freezer :)

Stock vs. broth is not consistent in the grocery store.
spiffypaws June 24, 2015
I'm a purist and like to make my own but in a pinch Swanson's Chicken Stock is pretty good. I recently stumbled across it in Publix, it is much better than the Swanson's broth.
Diana June 24, 2015
I realize this question was asked four years ago, but for anyone looking it up now ... I like Kitchen Basics low-sodium. Honey is included in the ingredients, but it says there is less than one gram of sugar per serving. I have never noticed a sweet taste in the stock. I prefer to make my own stock, but when that isn't an option I find this a decent second choice.
Laura B. June 17, 2015
Pacific adds cane sugar, Imagine does not.
Dina July 22, 2014
If you're at whole foods, try Saffron Road. I don't think it has any sweeteners, and seems to me to have the best ingredients. It definitely tastes better than the Pacific brand.

But...if you're going to be here for six weeks and you use it a lot, why not just grab a chicken and make stock?
Dina July 22, 2014
Oh, well now I see your answer about making stock, and have to agree with whoever said screw it, you're on vacation.
CJ July 22, 2014
I'm trying to find a boxed chicken broth/stock that has no added sugar. All of the ones I've seen, whether organic, free range, low sodium, no salt added or whatever have cane sugar added (or other site e's of added sugar). I'm in Canada and I used to but Corso's Kirkland brand because it had no sugar in it but they've stopped selling it for some reason. Does anyone know where in Canada (Calgary, Alberta more specifically) that I can get sugar-free chicken or beef broth? I don't care about the sodium content.
CJ July 22, 2014
I hate my phone ... I used to buy Costco's Kirkland brand even
innoabrd July 22, 2014
CV, you might be better off starting a new thread. The original post is from three years ago and I think it just confuses people...
CaryNC June 20, 2011
I hate to admit it but I've been using Rachel Ray's brand in a box. The ingredients list convinced me to try it. Is it like homemade? No, but in a pinch it does just fine.
boulangere June 19, 2011
I've been underwhelmed by Penzey's also. Everything is dried, and way too dry. Moral: enjoy your vacation.
innoabrd June 19, 2011
Thanks for the further thoughts, guys. BTW, I'm in Denver, which now has a Penzey's and I have to admit I was pretty underwhelmed. My marker here is Savory, which started as a Denver company. I found the staff at Penzey's to be clueless (they seemed shocked that I wanted to taste some of the spices and told me I could only at my own risk. Also, bugged me that their 'Spanish-style smoked paprika was such a poor imitation of the real thing.
boulangere June 19, 2011
Good to know, Pierino. I've avoided it because of the name. Agree, Pacific sucks. And I wish I had a Trader Joe's at which to look down my nose.
boulangere June 19, 2011
P.S. Worry about something important, like global warming or Michelle Bachman, not chicken stock, and certainly not while you're on vacation.
boulangere June 19, 2011
You know, I take back my glib answer about how easy it is to make and freeze. Actually, if you're on vacation and in a potentially ill-equipped kitchen, it isn't easy. Buy whatever is available close to you, and enjoy your mother and your vacation. Bonnes vacances!
nutcakes June 17, 2011
I use Swanson's Low Sodium in can or box. I'm pretty sure it came first in a Fine Cooking Magazine test too (may have been the regular but that is too salty for some applications and reductions.). I often keep Better than Bullion jarred paste--it is very handy when small quantities are needed--you can just dig out a teaspoon and drop it in water. Penzy's also has a bullion paste, if you don't have one near, they specialize in mail order. Their spices are veryhigh quality.
pierino June 17, 2011
Pacific Natural absolutely fails every test---and I live in the Pacific region. Trader Joe's, they suck too. The best I've tasted from a box is actually Wolfgang Puck's. Okay, you can yuck at the brand name but it's a good product.
latoscana June 17, 2011
I think Better than Bouillon is a pretty decent substitute for the real thing.
the P. June 17, 2011
in my opinion the unsalted Kitchen Basics is the absolute only way to go. costs more than swanson/college inn, but well worth it--it's close to homemade.
Sam1148 June 17, 2011
I'm with you there. Sometimes the canned stuff is 'just fine' for home cooking and you suffer from freezer overload.
I only buy the box stuff when I need a lot of stock. The Swanson 'no sodium' or 'reduced sodium' is perfectly fine brand and widely available.
innoabrd June 17, 2011
Thanks, folks, I'll have a look at the Swanson. No Trader Joe's here, so not an option.

As for why I don't want to make my own? Well I often do at home, but I'm not in my own kitchen, with all the bits and bobs I use when I make my own. No scum skimmer, no vacuum bags, etc. Just not worth it. Do you stock the freezer in a vacation rental? Look, if I was making soup or something that really required a lot, I might, but I'm doing a bit of cooking and need a cup of stock here and there. Just too much bother for what I'm doing.
boulangere June 16, 2011
1. I'm with SKK. So easy to make and freeze.

2. To have seen Julia Child buying in person, how much better can it get!
SKK June 16, 2011
I know you said you don't want to stock your Mother's freezer with home made and my question is why not? Chicken stock is so easy to make - why consider store bought? Even Alton Brown has a recipe and there are many more in some great cook books. Why complain when you can make your own?
Sam1148 June 15, 2011
I use the Swanson low sodium. Tastes pretty good, no sugars. I get in cans unless making a very pot of something. Commonly available at mid-class supermarkets.
Some of the higher class brands just 'try to hard' and end up tasting too complicated. When you want a simple back note.

I really don't care for the boxes for 2 people as I end up tossing half of it after a week or so.

a S. June 15, 2011
I like Trader Joe's Organic Chicken Broth (not low/reduced sodium, that one had zero should still have plenty of "creative power" with seasoning using this variety, I feel you there). While not the same as homemade, it is full-flavored unlike many canned/boxed varieties.

If you want an ingredient list, I have a box right here.

lastmealmama June 15, 2011
One that I've always liked to use is College Inn. And I grew up in Cambridge, Massachusetts home of the famed Julia Child, and I once witnessed her in a Star Market buying the same brand so I've always felt confident in that. Though, more than anything that day, I was horrified to see Julia Child buying chicken broth at all...
hardlikearmour June 15, 2011
Cook's Illustrated did a taste test of chicken broths about 5 years ago. Their consensus on the best tasting brand was the Swanson's Certified Organic Free Range Chicken Broth. The other ones that got recommended were Better than Bouillon Chicken Base, Swanson Natural Goodness Chicken Broth, and Imagine Organic Free Range Chicken Broth.
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