Stock cubes, also known as bouillon cubes, are dehydrated concentrated sources of flavor that are used to prepare stock or broth. When dissolved in boiling water, stock cubes release flavors and gelatin that can add richness and body to soups, stews, gravies, rice dishes, and more. But how many stock cubes go into a typical cup of water?
Most recipes call for 1 stock cube per 1 cup of water. However, the number can vary slightly based on the brand and type of stock cube used. Some key points:
- Standard stock cubes are about 0.35 oz (10 g). Using 1 cube per 1 cup (8 oz) water creates a strongly flavored stock.
- Larger “jumbo” cubes may be twice the size at 0.7 oz (20 g). Only half a large cube is needed per cup of water.
- Low-sodium or reduced-sodium cubes tend to use less per cup to compensate for less intense flavor.
- Some recipes may use 2 cubes per cup of water for an extra rich and concentrated stock.
The instructions on the package will specify how much to use per cup of water or other liquid. Start with 1 cube per cup as the default amount, then adjust according to taste preferences and recipe needs.
The Purpose of Stock Cubes
Before going into more detail on cube-to-water ratios, it helps to understand what stock cubes are and how they are used in cooking. Stock cubes are an convenient pantry staple used to add flavor to dishes by creating an instant stock or broth.
Stock is a savory cooking liquid made by simmering bones, meat, vegetables and herbs in water. This extracts flavor, gelatin and nutrients into the water over several hours. The stock can then be used as a base for soups, stews, sauces, gravies and more. Stock cubes allow cooks to skip the lengthy process of making stock from scratch.
By dehydrating stock into a compact cube form, the flavors are concentrated and preserved. When needed, users simply drop a cube into boiling water, broth, wine or other liquids called for in a recipe. The cube dissolves and releases the concentrated stock flavors into the dish with minimal effort.
Compared to canned stocks or carton broths, stock cubes take up very little storage space and avoid the need to store large open containers in the refrigerator. They provide an affordable, long-lasting way to impart savory depth in cooking.
Standard Stock Cube Sizes
Stock cubes were traditionally produced in a standard size of about 0.35 oz (10 g) per cube. Some of the most popular brands such as Knorr bouillon cubes or Maggi cubes continue to be made in this size. This gives a moderate dilution ratio of 1 regular cube per 1 cup of water.
Here is an approximate breakdown of standard 0.35 oz stock cube sizes:
- Knorr – 0.35 oz (10 g)
- Maggi – 0.35 oz (10 g)
- Oxo – 0.35 oz (10 g)
Follow the guidelines on the packaging, but the typical amount is to dissolve 1 regular cube in 1 cup (8 fl oz) of boiling water. This size cube balances concentrated stock flavors and gelatin content with adequate dilution. The resulting stock will have a rich flavor perfect for many savory recipes.
Jumbo and Extra Large Stock Cubes
Some brands offer larger “jumbo” stock cubes, typically around twice the weight of regular cubes. Popular options include:
- Maggi Jumbo Cube – 0.7 oz (20 g)
- Knorr Professional Stock Pot Cube – 0.7 oz (20 g)
- Knorr Jumbo Cube – 0.7 oz (20 g)
With these extra large cubes, you need less per cup of water for the same strength. Follow package directions, but a good rule of thumb is to use half a jumbo cube per cup of water. The larger cubes offer convenience for big batches of soup or stew.
Low-Sodium and Reduced-Sodium Stock Cubes
Many brands offer low-sodium or reduced-sodium options for health-conscious cooks. These include:
- Knorr 25% Less Sodium Bouillon Cubes
- Maggi Less Salt Bouillon Cubes
- Oxo Low Sodium Bouillon Cubes
The low-sodium cubes tend to use a bit less per cup of water to account for the milder flavor. A typical ratio would be 3/4 to 1 cube per cup of water. But check labels for specific brand guidelines.
How Strong of Stock Flavor Do You Need?
The ideal stock cube-to-water ratio depends on the concentration of stock you want for your recipe. Here are some guidelines:
|Desired Stock Strength
|Cubes per Cup of Water
|Moderately flavored (default)
For most recipes, 1 cube per cup of water provides a well-balanced stock flavor. But you can adjust up or down. Use just 1/2 cube for more delicate dishes, or 2 cubes when you want an extra savory kick.
Factor in Any Other Liquid
The above ratios are based on using stock cubes in straight water. However, recipes may call for dissolving cubes in another liquid besides water, like:
- Broth or canned stocks
- Wine, milk, or juice
- Soups or sauce bases
In these cases, you would still use roughly 1 bouillon cube per cup of total liquid added. The stock flavors will blend with the additional ingredients. You may need to adjust ratios slightly for very strong or acidic liquids.
Tips for the Best Results
Follow these tips when using stock cubes for maximum flavor impact:
- Use boiling water – Hot water helps fully dissolve and integrate the cube.
- Crush cubes first – Breaking them into smaller pieces speeds up dissolving.
- Simmer stock after adding – Briefly simmer to develop flavors.
- Stir well – Whisk or stir vigorously to avoid clumping.
- Add salt carefully – Cubes already contain salt, so adjust other seasoning gradually.
Substituting Bouillon Powder
In addition to cubes, many brands sell dehydrated bouillon in loose powder form. The powder offers more versatility for seasoning, but how does it compare in ratios?
As a rule of thumb, use about 1 teaspoon of bouillon powder per 1 cup of water to equal a stock cube. However, read labels carefully for specific brand instructions. The concentration can vary. Start with less powder and adjust taste as desired.
Homemade Stock Cubes
For cooks who want to control ingredients, it’s possible to make DIY stock cubes at home. Homemade cubes may use less salt and preservatives. You can also customize flavors.
Start by making an unsalted stock using your preferred recipe and technique. Next, measure the stock then simmer uncovered to reduce down to a syrupy concentrate. Drain off any fat, then pour the concentrated stock into ice cube trays or molds. Freeze until solid cubes form, then pop them out and store in sealed bags.
Use about 1 homemade cube per cup of water. Adjust amounts based on the concentration of your reduced stock.
Cubes Provide Convenient Flavor
Stock cubes dissolve easily in hot water to provide an instant flavor boost for cooking. While 1 cube per cup is the typical ratio, adjust amounts based on recipe needs and personal taste. Follow package instructions for best results with any brand. With the right technique, stock cubes can transform the flavor of soups, stews, grains, vegetables and many other dishes.
In summary, most recipes call for using 1 standard bouillon cube (about 0.35 oz or 10g) per 1 cup of boiling water or other cooking liquid. This creates a moderately concentrated stock. For low-sodium cubes, you may need a bit more per cup. Large jumbo cubes use about half per cup of water. Beyond these guidelines, adjust cube amounts to achieve light, moderate or strongly flavored stock according to recipe requirements and personal preference. With the convenience of store-bought or homemade stock cubes, it’s easy to infuse dishes with rich, savory flavor.