What is Kitchen Bouquet and What Can I Use to Replace It?

There’s nothing quite as mouthwatering as a perfectly browned steak, glistening with the promise of bursting flavor and meat so soft it practically melts in your mouth.

Achieving the perfect browning, however, is no easy task and many end up overcooking their meat in an attempt to achieve it. Turning a delicious and juicy steak it something resembling dried up leather.

To avoid this fate and to ensure a perfect browning, many people have an ace up their sleeve.

Kitchen bouquet.

So what is kitchen bouquet and what are the best kitchen bouquet substitutes? Keep reading to find out.​

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What Is Kitchen Bouquet?

What Is Kitchen Bouquet

Kitchen bouquet is a browning sauce used to give more color and flavor to gravies, sauces and meats, such as beef and chicken.

This sauce has been around for centuries, being produced as early as 1873, and is made with caramel, a vegetable base (it can use carrot, onion, celery and more), colorant and sodium.

This gives foods not only a brownish, more appealing color but also a sweeter flavor that’s often sought after when it comes to BBQ ribs, gravy, chili and other foods.

While kitchen bouquet is mostly aesthetic (as it doesn’t change the flavor that notably) and made with perfectly natural ingredients, some people are a little wary of using it in their foods, choosing instead to use more natural substitutes that they can buy or, even better, make at home.

If you’re one of those who doesn’t want to use kitchen bouquet or you simply forgot to buy it and want to brown your food, don’t worry!

There are plenty of things you can use as a kitchen bouquet substitute and we’re going to cover them all.

Let’s get started!

Kitchen Bouquet Substitutes​

These are the good and easy to find substitutes for kitchen bouquet:​

#1. Gravy Master

Gravy Master

Gravy Master, as the name implies, is a browning sauce used specifically to add more color and flavor to gravies. It’s also more affordable and comes in small bottles, so if you’re just looking for a kitchen bouquet substitute for a meal or two, this is a good substitute if you aren’t interested in making your own browning sauce.

The flavor is also quite similar, so if you want minimal differences in looks and taste, Gravy Master is for you.

#2. Bragg

Liquid Aminos 16 oz. 16 Ounces

Available almost exclusively in Canada, Bragg is a soybean based sauce that’s used to add more flavor to various meals, particularly vegetarian dishes.

While it has some browning properties and will change the color of your food, there are better alternatives if you’re looking for something to brown your food.

So why are we including it?

Because Bragg is soy based, gluten free, non-GMO and kosher, so it can work as a kitchen bouquet substitute for people with particular dietary needs.

#3. Homemade Browning Sauce

kitchen bouquet substitute - instant coffee - Homemade Browning Sauce

Kitchen Bouquet is a browning sauce so why not make your own browning sauce at home? This way you can control exactly what goes in there and, with some tweaks here and here, you can thicken or water down the sauce so it has the flavor and texture you desire.

Making your own browning sauce is quite easy, but we’re including a recipe for you to follow.


  • Sugar, ½ cup
  • Water, 1 cup.
  • Beef broth.

Note: This recipe yields 1 cup, so if you think you’re going to need more just adjust this recipe accordingly. It shouldn’t be too hard, has you simply need to maintain a 1:2 ratio between the sugar and the water.


Homemade Browning Sauce

Step 1:

In a saucepan, add the ½ cup of sugar and heat until your sugar starts to brown, which should take anywhere from 5 to 10 minutes.

Step 2:

Once the sugar starts to darken, take out of the heat and very carefully add water.

This step should be done with extreme caution, as adding water to hot sugar will cause it to sputter.

Add the water slowly to minimize the risk of splashing. Do not, under any circumstances, add the entire cup of water on one go.

Step 3:

Once the water has been added to the sugar, add beef broth until you achieve the desired consistency.

Step 4:

Return the saucepan to low heat and stir until all the ingredients have been mixed thoroughly

Step 5:

Though you’ve created around a cup of browning sauce, chances are you’re only going to use a couple of tablespoons at most so don’t be afraid of storing your browning sauce in the fridge (if you’re going to use it through the week) or even freezing it, if you made too much and don’t know what to do with it.

  • Hot Tip: If you plan on freezing your browning sauce, consider freezing it in ice cube trays. This way you won’t have to thaw and freeze the entire batch, just a small portion; This is also a fantastic tip for oil and seasoning mixes. Just pour in the ice cube tray, freeze and use as needed!

#4. Maggi Sauce

Maggi Seasoning

Maggi sauce isn’t the best substitute for Kitchen Bouquet but it’s readily available and it’s a decent choice for when you literally can’t find anything else.

The reason why Maggi doesn’t work as well as other substitutes is because, while it does help brown your recipe, it also changes the flavor of what you’re cooking considerably, thanks to its high salt content.

If you don’t have Maggi at hand, try Worcestershire Sauce, but consider using a little bit at the start, doing a taste check and adding more if needed.

Do remember that neither Maggi sauce nor Worcestershire Sauce have the same thickening properties than Kitchen Bouquet (they’re much thinner) so they can also give a different texture to your food.

#5. Instant Coffee

kitchen bouquet substitute - instant coffee

Believe it or not, instant coffee can be used as a substitute for Kitchen Bouquet, and its availability (chances are you already have some at home) makes it a wonderful choice for when you’re in a hurry.

Coffee will have an instant and obvious browning effect in the food and it will give it a particular taste that can’t be matched by any of the other substitutes. Consider using it as a Kitchen Bouquet substitute in gravy and sauces particularly, as it’ll be easier to integrate them to the recipe.

Alternatively, you can also use cocoa if you don’t mind giving your food a chocolatey flavor. Of course, unsweetened cocoa works best.

Do remember that neither instant coffee nor cocoa will give your food the same flavor and texture than Kitchen Bouquet will, but they both work wonders as browning agents.

#6. Dark Molasses

kitchen bouquet substitute - Dark Molasses

Dark molasses works as a good substitute because, technically, it’s caramel which is one of the ingredients of Kitchen Bouquet and it has a thick texture that will allow you to coat meats with it.

If you need to water down the molasses or you want to approach the Kitchen Bouquet flavor, consider mixing your dark molasses with vegetable broth.

​Final Thought

And there you have it! Those are some good and easy to find substitutes for Kitchen Bouquet.

Did you see one that interests you?

If you know any other substitutes for Kitchen Bouquet you want to share with us or you want to tell us your results when using one of the substitutes suggested here, leave a comment! We’d love to hear from you.

Thanks for reading!

Emma Claire

I’m Emma, and I’m absolutely in love with food blogs. I’m a foodie at heart but being the mother of 3 kids, it’s not always easy to keep up with fancy dinners… so I rely on the support of other blogging moms like me to help along the way.

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