MSG free stocks and bouillon cubes?

by katerina on April 4, 2006

If anyone knows of any msg free soup mix – as in bouillon cubes – I would REALLY appreciate it. I have recently starting reacting to msg, in an unpleasant way, and would love an alternative. Not that I necessarily advocate the use of bouillon cubes, but they make a weeknight risotto a viable option. :)

A small rant on the side, what is with MSG being in everything? Like doritos? Come on! I even made a special trip out to our gourmet food store. 5 different kinds of prepared stocks – dried concentrated and refrigerated. All of which had msg. Gourmet stocks with msg? Apparently.

{ 45 comments… read them below or add one }

Anonymous November 1, 2006 at 8:47 pm

It is frustrating that MSG is in just about everything prepackaged or “not made entirely from scratch!” It can be found in canned, boxed, bottled and frozen foods as well as mixes for many of these items — examples are flavored snack chips and crackers, dips, soups, sauces, marinades, gravies, smoked and cured meats, boxed meal kits, and many, many more. Also, MSG may be in items but not listed because in is an ingredient within another ingredient. Be careful of other wording on labels such as autolyzed yeast extract and natural flavoring. I know there are numerous more on a list I received from allergist (misplaced it when we moved.)

My reaction to MSG is like an asthma attack. There is a rising incidence of asthma in our country — is it any wonder with MSG in so much of our food supply!

Reactions to MSG are worse on an empty stomach because it enters your blood stream faster. You can sometimes stop or slow down a food allergy reaction by taking “Alkaseltzer Gold.” Any Alkaseltzer would help, but the Gold doesn’t contain aspirin.

Also, I have yet to come across a MSG-free boullion cube. Swanson does have a canned chicken broth that says no MSG but it does have the autolyzed yeast extract. I have been able to successsfully use it without reaction. I’m still searching for MSG-free beef broth.

Good luck!


ron odde May 14, 2013 at 10:39 pm

For MSG free beef broth, I cheat a little. Progresso’s Onion Soup does not contain MSG as far as I can tell. I use it as the base for my beef stew.


Curtis May 26, 2013 at 12:58 am

Kitchen Basics stocks are all safe, MSG free!


Connie October 13, 2013 at 1:55 pm

We have used kitchen basics for several years with very good results. I have been searching for an MSG-free bouillon for years!


Anonymous October 25, 2013 at 2:59 am

I thought it was MSG free too. It’s not. Concentrated vegetable stock has yeast extract in it which is also MSG. Also notice it says no MSG “added”


Ben November 20, 2013 at 7:07 pm

Then how come the box specifically states that they do not use yeast extract?

Susan Marie January 12, 2014 at 1:49 am

No they are not safe! “Chicken Flavor” is…
This is a great website to help us find the MSG they don’t want us to find:
The symptoms of MSG allergy are widespread, you would never even think to blame MSG. The thing that bothers me the most is that MSG excites the neurons in everybody’s brains when it touches our tongues so much so that they die off. That makes us more stupid. That makes our children stupid. Fast food places like Chick-fil-A and KFC lean very very heavily on MSG. They want to make sure that you found it so good you will return and poison yourself and your family some more. Who wants a nation of smart people anyway?
Avoiding MSG has become my new full time job and the bottom line, eat at home from scratch. Use spices.


Marguerite November 16, 2013 at 6:14 pm

I started getting migraines from MSG after a bad epidural with son #3′s birth. When I started reading labels every time I got a migraine, I quickly made the connection to msg. I’ve never heard of using Alka-seltzer to help, but it has aspartame in it, which makes me physically ill. If you go to you can get an idea of how many ways msg is hidden and places and foods that it is in. I don’t care how great something tastes; nothing is worth getting a migraine!


Anonymous November 21, 2006 at 10:24 pm

I have yet to find a beef broth without any MSG, but I have found chicken and vegetable broth that is MSG-Free. It is made by Swanson and is Certified Organic and it does not have any autolyzed yeast extract in it. My throat swells with any MSG, and I have not had any problems with either of these products.


Anonymous September 29, 2007 at 10:43 pm
Katerina September 30, 2007 at 10:43 pm

Thanks, thats awesome!


Anonymous January 3, 2008 at 2:39 am

Kitchen Basics is a brand that has msg free Beef Broth it is sold at Meijer and Rays –Hope you have One near you! It is really Good TOO! They also have Chicken Broth.


John Grice February 9, 2013 at 5:55 pm

We thought the Kitchen Basics was msg free but the label has changed (sometime in 2012, we believe). It now contains “beef flavor (beef stock, natural flavor)”.


Anonymous June 8, 2008 at 12:41 am

Trader Joe’s offers a chicken and vegetable liquid bouillon that is MSG free. It comes in individual packs and has a nice homemade flavor to it.


Anonymous September 7, 2008 at 3:17 am

Two more related ingredients to watch out for are disodium inosinate and disodium guanylate which are also flavor enhancers. They work synergistically with free glutamic acid and are essentially MSG. Free glutamic acid is in hydrolyzed protein and autolyzed yeast extract for example. I have learned this the hard way when I thought I had an MSG free product and still developed a massive headache. I have become a devoted label reader and do not buy anything containing these ingredients either. It has made all the difference for me.


Anonymous October 30, 2008 at 4:05 am

I could never find any msg free boullion either. I resorted to making my own and canning it. It’s a little more work, but I can do a few dozen quarts at a time if I use all of my stock pots.


Anonymous December 17, 2008 at 10:18 am

So agreed!
My husband gets migraines from MSG. If I have it, my mouth swells up! While we don’t know if it is a problem for our two kids, one son has ADHD, and we notice a diff there too. Interesting link that someone else mentioned in the asthma increase in this country. I believe it very well could be linked to all the MSG being dumped into so many packaged foods!

It is very hard to find anything without it. Note that HYDROLYZED VEGETABLE PROTEIN is also a form of MSG, so look for that on the ingredients as well.

I know since hubby’s allergic reactions to it, we have to read every label. It was like an instant removal of TONS of groceries from our buying list. We no longer buy most canned soups, no hamburger helpers, most boxed potatos (there are a few without MSG, but VERY few!), many chips as well. There are thankfully some potato chip brands (like Schnucks) that don’t use MSG, but the big companies all seem to. Now we know the secret behind “you can’t eat just one” – of course not! MSG triggers a feeding frenzy in most of us!

Homemade stock is the only absolute safe option. Maybe on a weekend, so a big pot of it, then cook it down further, add some roux, then freeze it in ice cube trays. Once frozen, you can pop it out and store in ziptop freezer bags, taking out only what you need. This has worked very well for us. (Note that I tried to just freeze a whole quart bag, and it ends up never being used! It takes too long to thaw out, fits into only one pan, and is a general pain. The cubes are much better!)

The other thing with bouillion cubes and granules is the salt factor. I can add my own veggies and seasonings, like Mrs Dash, and control the salt levels.


ron odde May 14, 2013 at 10:42 pm

I love Ms. Dash. I use it instead of salt on steamed vegetables and in both my beef stew and chicken soups. Not sure about making homemade stock. Do you have a good recipe?


katerina May 15, 2013 at 4:41 pm
Anonymous March 10, 2009 at 4:38 pm

I'm looking for bouillion that is both MSG & sugar free. I can't believe how many things have added sugar in them. Why??? I do use a broth I really like by the brand name "Imagine." It is the only chicken broth I have found that is sensitive diet-friendly. They make several varieties, not just Chicken.


Anonymous March 30, 2009 at 5:18 am

It is difficult to avoid MSG. So many of my favorite foods contain MSG. I am always looking for new msg free recipes for dishes that traditionally contained MSG.

I recently bought Lisa Kramer’s No MSG For Me Cookbook. It has great recipes and also includes a guide for avoiding MSG at the grocery store. I found it very helpful and full of wonderful recipes.

Check it out at


Anonymous June 30, 2009 at 9:46 pm

After searching high and low I have found organic bouillon cubes that are MSG free. They are by Harvest Sun and they taste great.

The only catch is they don't come in beef. I have seen them in health food stores in Canada but I don't know if they are available in the US.


Anonymous August 27, 2009 at 12:03 pm

I have migraines, so no MSG is very important to me also. Try Whole Foods Stores. They carry bouillon cubes in Garden Veggie, Chicken and Beef flavors. Google Whole Foods on the internet to find the closest location near you. I'm about 50 miles away, but it's a good excuse to find awsome fruits and veggies also. The brand name is Edward and Sons.


Sheri February 17, 2014 at 4:16 am

I love the flavor of Edward & Sons, but they sadly use Yeast Extract!!! :(


Hannah January 13, 2010 at 1:07 pm

How do you make bouillon cubes? Sounds like a good idea, but not sure how to go about it? Making it I mean.


katerina January 13, 2010 at 1:12 pm

I don’t know that you can make your own boullion cubes…


Siobhan February 23, 2010 at 3:23 pm

I found beef and chicken stock just yesterday in walmart that you can actually read almost every ingredient in it With NO MSG. it was called something like better than boullion and it is actual stock that is dehydrated or something.


Robin March 5, 2010 at 8:07 am
Carolyn November 10, 2010 at 5:13 am

Just looked up the Harvest Sun bouillon on the website and the only 2 that are MSG-free are the veg. and the miso. The others have yeast extract listed as their 2nd ingredient, which is essentially MSG. But at least there are 2 there. That is something! The other thing I wanted to note that if you make your own stock is to watch out for the chickens that are pumped/flavored with broth now. Harder to find chicken and turkey that is not these days!!!


LoveAndFun April 13, 2011 at 12:51 pm

It has been years since your original post, and I would suspect you may already have the answer(s) you needed.

If, however, you would consider making your own bouillon (and have yet to know of an option) please check out a recipe I posted just today

Have a great day!


Michelle July 9, 2011 at 9:34 am

I’m looking for a beef boullion cube or stock that is Dairy Free, Gluten Free AND MSG Free! HELP!


Julie July 18, 2011 at 7:52 am

I’ve been using Herb-Ox msg free bullion cubes for a long time. Safeway carries them. Recently I found that they contain soy, which I am also trying to avoid. Check out this website for info on soy:


Barb Healy July 27, 2011 at 4:39 pm

Any ingredient which is hydrolyzed has MSG.

Any ingredient which is autolyzed has MSG.

Any ingredient which is textured has MSG.

Any processed protein has MSG.

Whey, gelatin and malt all have MSG.

Any ingredient that you cannot buy in a grocery store (have you ever seen sodium caseinate for sale?) probably has MSG in it.

If you look at the ingredient list for Herb-Ox is is nothing BUT MSG:

Ingredients: with Other Natural Flavors Ingredients: Salt, Sugar, Flavor (Hydrolyzed Soy Protein, Salt, Partially Hydrogenated Soy Oil), Hydrolyzed Soy Protein, Silicon Dioxide (Anticaking Agent), Fat Flavor (Partially Hydrogenated Corn Oil, Flavoring), Natural Flavor (Autolyzed Yeast Extract, Salt, Sugar, Whey Powder [from Milk], Lactic Acid), Spice, Onion Powder, Dehydrated Cooked Beef, Caramel Color, Dried Beef Stock, Disodium Inosinate and Disodium Guanylate, Autolyzed Yeast, Flavoring. No MSG Added (Contains Naturally Occurring Glutamates).

Any food cooked for a long time will develop what they call ‘naturally occurring glutamates’ so even if you make it yourself it may have some MSG in it but there will be far less than what you find in any store-bought product. To reduce the amount in homemade broth do not let it simmer for long and then do not condense it. Freeze it in its ‘reconstituted’ state.


Janet V August 30, 2011 at 9:04 am

My husband gets migraines from MSG, too, but for the most part, he does not have a problem with “naturally occurring glutamates.” It may be a concentration/dose issue. Aldi stores have an MSG-free broth in chicken and beef, with some naturally occurring glutamates that he tolerates just fine, thankfully. But yes, you do need to be careful about hidden glutamates. My big issue these days is the broth added to meat you get from the meat department — allegedly fresh meat. We have to soak all flesh meat in filtered water to get rid of it, or my husband reacts just like he would to MSG. However, it does seem to help make the meat cook and taste better.


katerina August 30, 2011 at 9:09 am

@Janet – they SOAK meat in broth with MSG? I have never heard of this before, disturbing.


Wanda December 5, 2011 at 7:22 am

Better Than Bouillon does have msg in hydrolyzed soy protein, disodium onosinate and guanylate


linda hopkins February 22, 2012 at 4:37 pm

I read an informative book on the MSG subject years ago after discovering that my 63 year old mum had dementia. She also had had jaundice as a child and may not absorb B12 well. The book written by a brain doctor on the subject, Dr. Richard Blaylock, did hundreds of tests proving that MSG is an excitotoxin, as is carageenan, spices, natural flavor, calcium and sodium casseinate, hydrolized vegetable protein. While in the hospital I also spoke to a Neurologist who interned at Johns Hopkins and said that MSG has nothing to do with the taste buds on our tongue but it is strictly a chemical that over stimulates the firing of sinaps in the brain to the point of exhaustion and death. Hence my mum’s dementia. (She drank 5 cups of tea a day and downed a quart of fake cream weekly because of a high cholesterol level). Check out ”EXCITOTOXINS THE TASTE THAT KILLS”.


Anonymous April 22, 2012 at 2:05 am

MSG in many food, you say? That’s nothing compared to sugar. In the U.S. one would be hard-pressed to find ANY food without sugar. Most savory foods have sugar, adding needless calories to foods that don’t need it. For example, i haven’t found any bouillon cubes that don’t have sugar in them. Does anyone know of any? Surprisingly, sugar or its worse cousin, corn syrup, is often the second or third ingredient in savory foods… No wonder we are addicted to food: between the MSG and the sugar, the question is “how do we withdraw from all of these addictions when food companies keep adding the addictive substances that keep us hooked, like MSG and sugar”?


Anonymous May 18, 2012 at 9:01 pm

CelifibR claims they have no MSG, but I have yet to email them and ask them directly if their bouillon cubes contain “free glutamic acid”.
Truth in Labelling website has a 2-page printoff for foods that do, likely have, and possibly have MSG in them. It’s fairly widespread these days, and I am sharing this info with everyone. I react poorly to MSG in high doses, i.e. where processing increases natural MSG’s strength. By exploring freshly prepared foods, and avoiding MSG, I began feeling much improved within 4 days! No need to lie down every day to ‘rest’, clearer thinking, no headaches! I’m liking this. has a good article on MSG, “Food Industry Shoves MSG Down Your Throat”, referring to Dr. Russel Blaylock(neurosurgeon), whose knowledge has proven invaluable in the past. He describes MSG as a neurotoxin.
I will quickly add that the Weston A. Price Foundation website has good food prep videos (many topics, such as easily and cheaply culturing your own dairy and veggies and fruits, as our ancestors did, going back 200 years ago or so. Likewise telling how to break down phytic acid in grains prior to cooking them, so they don’t block uptake of essential minerals: iron, magnesium, calcium, etc.!)
If we try new (traditional, forgotten) ways of food preparations, and gradually weave them into our diets, I believe we will live stronger – and at less expense. It’s important to take in these changes slowly but surely, to avoid problems; for example, eating too much cultured dairy all at once will crowd out the UN helpful bacteria in one’s gut, which reacts by creating toxins. This process is called die-off, and can cause headaches, gassiness, bad skin, feeling poorly just when beginning to feel great.
So it’s worthwhile to implement changes thoughtfully. Finally, while sprouted grain breads can be healthy if stored cold, it’s nice to have familiar foods on hand that are gluten-free and junk-free. I advocate Udi’s frozen breads. Manna, a sprouted loaf kept frozen, is healther, so good to have in moderation. Most folks don’t need alot of grains, but have been led to believe otherwise. Good luck all, keep sharing!
And for gardeners, I’ll share that the video “Back to Eden” is fantastic for explaining clearly how to create a permaculture garden(any size, and anywhere). Since it emulates a forest ecology, it becomes almost self-sustaining over time. The video is free and online, so see for yourself-I won’t spoil the fun by giving details. Except to note that the terrific fellow in the film does get preachy about his spiritual views as gardener/religious man, his info is still “gold”. And it’s easy enough to substitute “Nature” for the Almighty, etc., if uncomfortable with religious references. Expressing our spirituality is a subjective, personal choice, in any event. I found the video enjoyable and informative, so am happy to mention it.


mark February 22, 2013 at 2:22 am

Watkins makes an msg free chicken broth powder.


Erin Jo April 7, 2014 at 1:50 am

This is the only one that comes close. No yeast, no maltodextrin or monoammonium glutamate BUT there is natural flavoring of chicken/lovage/parsley which could be iffy. I’m going to go with it because it seems the lesser of all of the alternative evils.

GoBio! Organic Low Sodium Chicken Broth Powder:

Hope that helps!


jasmin August 28, 2014 at 3:41 pm

Can I please get your recipe on how to make and store your broths??


James September 19, 2014 at 11:45 pm

Seriously people, I understand that some people have sensitivity to MSG, but I think everyone has blown the whole thing out of proportion. The Chinese Restaurant Syndrome that has is its roots in racist early America, is pretty sad, and still exists today (as seen by this blog)

The fact of the matter is that the flavor of “Savory” (AKA umami) is something that is found in almost all foods. Glutamic acid (what MSG becomes in our mouths) is a plant/mushroom/algae-based chemical which exists extensively in tomatoes, mushrooms, yeast, wheat, soy, seaweed, among many many others. Isocinate is the protein derivative that happens when the maillard reaction takes place (browning of meats) – no one has ever claimed to not like the savory taste of a steak (except maybe a vegetarian). When these two compounds come together they make a synergy of savoriness, which is why bolognese and steak with mushrooms are so amazing!

Im not saying sprinkle crystallized MSG on your food like chocolate sprinkles, but please understand what your eating.

Jeff Steingarten wrote a great piece about this – please read it.


jacinthe November 28, 2014 at 5:43 am

Im not sure if you live in canada or usa but here in manitoba canada there is a store called bulk barn, they may have them in the states too idk, anyway im sure I have seen a msg free sugar free beef bouillon. Maybe check out a bulk food store in your area or a health food store as well.


Liberty June 13, 2015 at 6:50 pm

I too try to avoid MSG after I saw what it did to my sister. Crushing migraines that entailed all kinds of medical tests, etc., but to no avail. Until she started keeping track of what she eats. Through trial and error she finally identified the culprit. She avoids MSG like the plague it is now, and has no more headaches. If people want to eat it, that’s their choice. But it angers me that it’s being foisted off on all of us, hidden under other names. Why do companies use it??


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