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DIY Bouillon Cubes - yes, you CAN make them at home and avoid all the MSG and other nasties!

In celebration of the launch of my new book, The DIY Pantry, which hit bookstores everywhere on January 1, January is “DIY Month” here at Nourishing Joy. Today's featured DIY item is Homemade Bouillon Cubes, one that features truly all-natural ingredients.

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If you've ever purchased bouillon cubes from the store, you've likely noticed that it's extremely difficult to find brands that don't use MSG or other fillers and flavor enhancers, even those that are labeled as “No MSG added” or “all-natural.”

So, after I developed the homemade broth bouillon powder to include in The DIY Pantry and had been playing around with palm shortening to lengthen the shelf life of the homemade cake mixes in the book, I realized that the broth powder and the palm shortening just might work beautifully together to create homemade bouillon cubes.

And by adding in mushrooms, you've got a hearty, shelf-stable bouillon that can be used in nearly any dish that needs a bit of depth. I use these in everything from beef stroganoff to pasta sauces to drinking straight from a mug.

Oh, and one note about the long list of ingredients. This recipe is actually very simple and has only three ingredients: dried mushrooms, vegetable broth powder, and palm shortening. (Two if you're making plain vegetable bouillon cubes!)

The herbs and spices below comprise a minified version of the broth powder found in the book, so they make the recipe look longer than it really is. If you make a full recipe of broth powder and have it on hand, making these cubes is merely a measure-and-scoop endeavor.

DIY Bouillon Cubes - yes, you CAN make them at home and avoid all the MSG and other nasties!

 

Helpful Shroomin' Links

If you want to make these as homemade mushroom bouillon cubes, you may want more information:

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Homemade Bouillon Cubes

To make plain vegetable bouillon cubes, replace the 1 1/2 cups of dried mushroom powder with 1 1/2 cups broth powder, adding 1 teaspoon dehydrated bell peppers and 1/2 teaspoon dried lovage.

  • Yield: 42 1x

Ingredients

Scale
  • 32 grams / 1 ounce dried mushrooms – any variety – should yield 1 1/2 cups powdered mushrooms (see where to buy dried mushrooms)
  • 10 tablespoons palm shortening (see where to buy sustainable palm shortening)
  • 1/2 cup vegetable broth powder OR the following…

  • 1/3 cup nutritional yeast (see where to buy nutritional yeast)
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon dried dill
  • 1/4 teaspoon celery seed
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon powdered thyme
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley

Instructions

  1. Grind dried mushrooms in a spice grinder, coffee mill, or high-speed blender until they form a fine powder. Set aside.
  2. Mix the broth powder ingredients in a large bowl and stir well. Add in dried mushroom powder and whisk well. Add palm shortening and with a fork, smear the mixture together until homogenous. The mixture should easily hold its shape when pressed, so if the mixture is too crumbly, work in more palm shortening by half-teaspoons.
  3. To form cubes, scoop up the mixture by packed teaspoons and shape into flattened cubes, then wrap in 3×3″ squares of wax paper, laying the cube on diagonally (as if the paper were a diamond).
  4. Store in a cool, dry place for up to six months or in the freezer for up to a year.
  5. Use 1 cube per 1 cup of boiling water.

Notes

  • To make plain vegetable bouillon cubes, replace the 1 1/2 cups of dried mushroom powder with 1 1/2 cups broth powder, adding 1 teaspoon dehydrated bell peppers and 1/2 teaspoon dried lovage.

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35 Comments

  1. Is nutritional yeast the same a Brewer’s yeast? I have never used palm shortening, but, aren’t “shortenings” bad,.. like Crisco? Could I use Coconut oil? Thanks for you help!!

    1. Hi, Jaslyn! Great questions!

      First, nutritional yeast. NO, it is not the same as Brewer’s yeast. Nutritional yeast is a yeast that’s grown on molasses, then heated just enough to deactivate it so it doesn’t grow anymore. Brewer’s yeast is a product left over from brewing beer. You can find nutritional yeast at any health food store – it’s widely available.

      And while MOST shortenings are bad, palm is one of the “good” ones. 🙂 (Others may jump in here and decry palm shortening not from a health standpoint, but an environmental one, while that’s not the scope of this post, I say just know the companies you buy it from. There are sustainable ones that make palm shortening.)

      Most shortenings are “bad” because they are created by taking liquid oils and forcing them to be either semi-firm or firm – e.g. Crisco. But palm shortening is naturally firm – exactly the way it was created – so its molecules aren’t in odd configurations that our bodies don’t know what to do with.

      I hope that helps a little bit!

  2. just to note: I’m MSG sensitive, and after a few add’l headaches, went on to discover that mushrooms and other ingredients are high in glutamic acid/glutamates.. the may combine to form a (type of) MSG that’ll bring on that familiar ache.. so I have to be careful of what additives I use. Bragg’s aminos used to be fine but I became sensitized to it; it’s got glutamic acid.. So just a note of perspective from my own experience, if that’s useful to others. Though: for everyone else: this looks like a -great- way to control your flavors/options !!

    1. YES, thank you for that reminder! I mentioned the nutritional yeast above, but I hadn’t mentioned the mushrooms.

      Thanks for a great comment.

  3. This is exactly what I have been needing. I have had a really hard time finding broth or bouillon cubes without MSG. Even the ones that say “NO MSG” on the label deceptively DO contain MSG under the name “yeast extract’. Since I am extremely allergic to MSG in any from under any pseudo name, this really infuriates me that they are able to get away with this. So, Thank you so much for this!! I am thrilled to have this recipe!

    Also, wondering about using coconut oil versus Palm. Is that doable or is it too soft?
    Thank you!

    1. Yay! I’m so glad – I do hope these work for you. One word of caution, however, since you mention you are very sensitive to MSG. Any yeast, including nutritional yeast, has naturally-occurring glutamates in it – NOT monosodium glutamate and not in large amounts, but if you haven’t eaten nutritional yeast before, perhaps try a bit slowly just to make sure you don’t react. 🙂

      And as for the coconut oil – I suppose it might work, but the flavors might be odd with the salty-savory of the salt and herbs combined with the coconut, and you would have to be careful to keep them in the refrigerator or the freezer, as at 78F, you’d start having salty-savory puddles all over your pantry. Palm shortening is much more shelf-stable and flavor neutral. But if coconut oil is what you have on hand, give it a try before you spend the $10 on a big tub of palm shortening! 🙂

      I hope that helps.

  4. Thank you so much for this recipe. I think even just using the mixture of spices in a recipe would add the flavour you are trying to achieve. I, too, would probably not add the mushrooms. Is Palm Shortening and Palm Oil the same thing? I googled the palm shortening and it did say made from palm oil. I am definitely going to make up this recipe– maybe just a bit different, mixing all the spices and then maybe just add it in combination with some palm oil to my recipes. Thanks again for sharing

  5. I’m confused. how does one make the “vegetable broth powder”??? Or is this something one is to buy??

    1. The vegetable broth powder is made by mixing the nutritional yeast and all the herbs and spices listed. I’m sorry for the confusion!

    1. The vegetable broth powder I call for here can be made by mixing the ingredients listed or to make a larger batch, the recipe is in my new book, The DIY Pantry. Otherwise, the recipe will work with any store-bought vegetable broth powder too, but then you have the issue of food additives. 🙂

      I hope that helps!

    1. Well, I wouldn’t recommend it, for two reasons:

      1. You could only use them in applications where you would want a savory yet coconut-y flavor (like Coconut Fish Soup, for example). If that works for you, then go for it.

      2. Coconut oil changes from solid to liquid at 78F, so if your kitchen ever goes above that temperature, you would suddenly have puddles in your pantry (or in your jars – however you store them). It would also melt in your hands a bit while you’re forming them, so it might get messy. Again, if this works for, then don’t let it deter you, but palm shortening stays solid yet pliable for a much longer time.

      I hope that helps!

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    1. Hmmm… well, if you’re willing to store them in the refrigerator, that might be a good option, although you’d have to work quickly while you’re forming them to keep them from melting from the warmth of your hands. But yes, I think ghee could work very nicely – again, if you store them in the refrigerator.

  7. Just as a thought, lard or tallow might also work (but then you would want to do the fridge/freezer thing to prevent rancidity), you would have to melt the animal fat, add it to the powder, then chill before forming I would think. This might be a good local option, and if you get good quality grass fed animal fat it would even be healthy!

  8. Thanks for posting this. I watch my salt content, just because I don’t like salty that’s too salty. This will allow me to increase or decrease the salt and still maintain the other flavors. 🙂 Now to buy your book. 🙂

  9. I have a severe allergy to onions and garlic and homemade is the only way I can eat much of anything let alone a bouillon. I will try this without the onion and garlic and probably leave it as a powder. Any ideas as to anything that can replace onions or garlic.

    1. It works great as a powder too! 🙂

      I can’t think of anything to replace the onions and garlic, flavor-wise. I’m assuming you’re allergic to all alliums – is that correct?

      And what do you typically use for flavoring soups? Perhaps try those….

      Good luck and enjoy!

    2. I am also allergic to Alliums and wish to try this recipe. I usually just leave out any Alliums, and most recipes really don’t seem to be any the worse for their exclusion. You could always try dried capsicums (peppers) instead.

  10. SO EXCITED!!! So here is my question. I am on my quest to replace cream soups from our pantry, and have a great cream soup replacement powder that uses powdered milk and cornstarch (or a healthier alternative), and have been looking for a flavoring for mushroom soup! Is the palm oil just for binding for the cubes? If so, I am hoping to just dispel that and add the other components to the mixture to have a powdered bouillon.

    Thanks,
    Amanda

    1. Yup – you can totally get rid of the palm oil to make this a powdered bouillon. In fact, I sometimes prefer it that way. 🙂

      And obviously, adjust the seasonings to how you like it for your cream soups. Yum! Makes me want to go make some cream of mushroom right now…..

      (You can also make a homemade condensed cream of mushroom soup by following this recipe: https://nourishingjoy.com/real-food-green-bean-casserole/)

      Good luck!

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  12. I am so excited to try this!

    I have severe reactions to Disodium Inosinate and Guanylate, which are found in almost all bouillons. My hands swell and I get a super itchy rash all over that lasts for at least a week.

    Now I can make my own and don’t have to worry about eating any “death soup” 😉

    Thanks so much!

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  14. Hi! I love this recipe and I am so excited to try it. I was hoping you could recommend an alternative to the palm oil?

    1. You could likely substitute any fat that remains firm at room temperature, so lard or tallow could definitely work. However, keep in mind that each of those may impart a stronger flavor than palm shortening. But they should work, nonetheless!

      I hope that helps!

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