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Nothing beats the boost of comforting flavor that chicken broth can add to a recipe. And while we do adore homemade, we confess we don’t always have gorgeous quarts of stock in the freezer. Boxed broth is both a convenient shortcut and a pantry essential. But the selection in grocery stores can be pretty overwhelming, not to mention the fact that broth comes in boxes, cans, cubes, jars of concentrate, and even little packets.
Chicken broth is such a foundational base in home cooking. We use it in everything from soups and braises to pan sauces, stews, and to cook vegetables and grains. Because we use it in so many recipes, we decided it was time to do a taste test here at The Kitchn of boxed low-sodium chicken broths. Without further ado, here are the results:
How We Tested the Chicken Broths
Our goal was to find easily accessible brands that were available in national chain grocery stores. With the exception of Swanson brand, we opted for organic chicken broth, which wasn’t much more expensive than the regular versions, and in some cases, was the only option available.
For consistency, we selected the 32-ounce box of each brand so that the packaging process and packaging itself were as similar as possible. We also chose products labeled low-sodium because we like to control the salt level in our cooking as much as possible.
Each broth container was shaken as recommended, then poured into little cups. After noting the sodium and fat levels and ingredients from each brand, we looked at, smelled, and tasted each broth. We sipped water and ate little bites of white sandwich bread between tastes to clear our palates.
Even though chicken broth is an ingredient, at its core, it should still taste good and be something that we can drink straight up.
The Best Boxed Chicken Broth: Trader Joe’s Organic Low-Sodium Chicken Broth
We had a bit of a discussion picking between our two favorites, Trader Joe’s and close runner up, Swanson. The salt levels were so different (something you should be sure to check on if you are sensitive to sodium since each brand varies) that we weren’t certain if that skewed how we tasted each one.
We ended up adding salt to the Trader Joe’s one until it seemed similar to the salt level in Swanson, tasting again, and then coming to the conclusion that Trader Joe’s still had the strongest, cleanest chicken flavor.
The fact that Trader Joe’s has such a small amount of salt is another positive, since you can control the amount in your cooking, especially for concentrated pan sauces. That’s the one we’ll be reaching for from now on!