Where’s the Beef? A Review of Store-Bought Beef Stock

Where’s the Beef?


A Review of Store-Bought Beef Stock

A months has passed since my last review of store-bought stocks, so I figured it was time to summons up the courage to ask my husband to be my taste-test assistant once again. This is not easy, you guys. Stock tastes delicious in soup, when mixed with herbs and vegetables, but is much less appetizing sipped straight out of a coffee mug, one stock right after the other. Don’t believe me? Try it. (Or don’t, since we did the dirty work for you!)

Just like before, we based our review on taste, smell, nutritional value, availability, and price. With our chicken stock review we also took into consideration the color, but as you can see from the photo above, all five varieties are brown. So brown, in fact, that we chose not to comment any further.

Throughout our sampling, we discovered that store-bought beef stock often tastes like the vessel it’s packaged in. With the exception of two brands, we weren’t impressed. Below I’ve detailed our two “Recommended Stocks,” then lumped the other three into a “Meh, Not so Much!” category.

Recommended Stocks:

College Inn (top middle): This brand is very easy to find, affordable ($0.79 for a 14.5 oz.), and is the tastiest of the five stocks we sampled. It had a nice smell of roast beef, and although a bit salty, could almost stand on it’s own, much like an au jus. Sadly, the sodium count was higher than I like (990 mg per serving), but if you’re not worried about that, than College Inn is the stock for you.

Kitchen Basics (bottom right): Also a very easy brand to find, but a bit pricier ($2.69/32 oz.). This stock was somewhat bland, with little to no aroma, which after tasting the other three, is just fine. When added to a dish with aromatics and veggies, this stock could provide a simple base in which to build upon. With only 430 mg sodium/serving, it’s a much healthier pick than College Inn.

Meh, Not So Much:
I won’t go into too much detail about the remaining three stocks, other than to say they all had an unpleasant smell and taste – very much like licking the inside of a beef-flavored can. But for the sake of consistency, I’ll give you a rundown of their stats…

Swanson (top right): Price: $1.50/32 oz. Sodium: 400 mg/serving

Emeril’s (top left): Price: $2.62/32 oz. Sodium: 630 mg/serving

Rachael Ray (bottom left): Price: $1.98/32 oz. Sodium: 480 mg/serving

Next up…Vegetable broth and seafood stock.