Cook These 8 Foods in Broth (Not Water!)

published Oct 26, 2019
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Credit: Ghazalle Badiozamani; Food Styling: Cyd McDowell

When it comes to cooking pasta, boiling potatoes, and steaming vegetables, you probably start by filling a pot of water. But you may want to take a pause the next time: You can actually enhance the flavor of many dishes by swapping that plain ol’ water out for broth — chicken, beef, or even vegetable. 

“Cooking with broth is a no-fail way to add flavor to foods that may otherwise get lost in the background,” says cookbook author, registered dietitian, and certified athletic trainer Dana Angelo White, MS, RD ATC. “Broth also contains nutrients and, in some cases, protein and collagen that can give a nutritional boost to recipes,” she adds. 

You’ll mostly only get protein from chicken or beef broth, White notes. “Broths contain collagen if [they are] made with bones,” which wouldn’t be present in vegetable broths, she explains.

As for the type of broth and the flavor you can expect, it varies. “Veggie broth tends to be herbaceous and sweet, while chicken is deep and rich. All tend to be savory, though,” she says. 

So, the next time you’re making your famous al dente penne with pesto sauce or savory mashed potatoes to enjoy with some protein, add a little broth for flavor. Here are eight foods in particular that taste much better with broth. 

1. Quinoa 

Cook quinoa in vegetable or chicken broth and serve hot as a side dish or cold in a salad, says White. By using broth over water, you’ll make that quinoa super tasty and it blends the seasoning well. “It absorbs the flavors as it cooks, literally packing it with flavor of the broth,” White says. “It also helps impart seasoning instead of dumping salt on after it’s cooked,” she adds. 

Use this recipe: How To Cook Quinoa

2. Couscous 

Whip up some fluffy Israeli couscous for an easy side or grain bowl. “Couscous is an under-appreciated hands-off grain. Simply pour hot broth over the couscous, cover and allow the broth to be absorbed into the tiny grains,” says White. Fluff with a fork and stir in dried fruit, chopped nuts, and sprinkle of chopped fresh herbs. Yum!

Use this recipe: How To Cook Couscous

3. Potatoes

“Add a layer of depth and savory flavor by cooking potatoes in chicken broth, before mashing along with milk and a little butter or olive oil,” says White. You’ll likely need less salt, butter, and other ingredients “since the broth will add a ton of flavor,” she adds.

4. Pasta

Cooking pasta in broth helps the flavors to combine, infusing the pasta with savory flavors but also imbuing the broth with a starchy goodness that gives it body and thickness. This works especially well in soups, like this three-cheese tortellini in Parmesan broth. 

5. Rice

“I would always use broth, regardless of the dish, when cooking rice,” says John Manion, executive chef of El Che Steakhouse & Bar. “We make a veg stock to cook the la bomba rice at La Sirena. Broth adds more flavor and depth to the dish,” he explains. Of course, you can go with a beef or chicken stock, too. 

Use this recipe: How To Cook Rice

6. Grits 

“We use chicken stock in the grits to help add more richness and flavor,” says Aaron Cuschieri, executive chef at The Dearborn. “Chicken stock gives the grits a rich and fully rounded-out flavor that is much more fulfilling for the end result. It basically helps create multiple layers of flavor and a complexity to the dish that it doesn’t have if water is used,” he explains. 

Credit: Tristan Tan

7. Yuca

Poach yuca (not yucca) first in chicken broth to al dente texture before making fries, says Chef Paul Virant of Vie, Vistro, and Gaijin. “[We] poach yuca prior to frying because it incorporates more flavor into it,” he says. And then you don’t need to go heavy on salt and condiments!

Use this recipe: Yuca Fries

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman/Kitchn; Food Stylist: Brett Regot/Kitchn

8. Artichokes

Much like yuca, Virant recommends cooking artichokes in stock, too. But you don’t have to stop at artichokes. Vegetables are delicious when “braised in broth with mirepoix, aromatics, and white wine,” he says. “It’s fairly simple for the home cook. It’s really about creating layers of flavors in a dish.” 

Use this recipe: How To Cook Artichokes

Do you have other foods you like to cook in broth instead of water for a little flavor boost-up? Tell us!