The Best Healthy, Homemade Substitute for Cream of Chicken Soup

Make a healthier substitute for cream of chicken soup. It takes less than 10 minutes, and it's tastier than the original.

There’s no doubt about it: store-bought cream of chicken soup is convenient, and it makes soups and casseroles taste great. Unfortunately, it’s not that healthy; a single can contains a ton of fat and calories, not to mention over 2,000 mg of sodium (that’s 95% of your daily value, in case you were wondering). Our healthier substitute for cream of chicken soup can be made in about 15 minutes with ingredients you likely already have on hand.

We’ve already shown you how to make homemade cream of chicken soup and gluten-free cream of chicken soup, but we wanted to give you a recipe for the concentrated version. Essentially, we’re making a flavored roux that you can use as a true substitute for the stuff in the can. As a bonus, it tastes better than the original because it’s made with wholesome ingredients!

How to Make Cream of Chicken Soup

Use this recipe as a direct swap in for a recipe that calls for one (10.5-ounce) can of cream of chicken soup. You can easily use this base recipe to make cream of mushroom or cream of celery soup by adding 1/2 cup finely chopped, cooked mushrooms or celery to this base. You can also spice it up with additional herbs and spices, like garlic or paprika, if you like.


  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon celery salt

Editor’s tip: You can use any type of milk for this cream of chicken substitute. Keep in mind that the soup base will taste creamier and richer as the fat content of the milk goes up. Skim milk has the least amount of fat, but the soup will be thinner and less flavorful. Heavy cream or half-and-half will be the richest, but it’s also the least healthy. If you want to meet in the middle of health and flavor, whole milk is your best bet.


Step 1: Make the roux

In a small saucepan, melt the butter over medium-high heat. When the butter is melted and bubbling, reduce the heat to medium and add the flour. Cook, stirring frequently, until the mixture is thick and foamy, about 2 minutes.

Step 2: Add the liquid and seasonings

Slowly whisk in the chicken broth, stirring the mixture to break up any floury clumps. Add the milk, onion powder, and celery salt. Cook, stirring frequently, until the mixture becomes nice and thick, about 5 minutes. The mixture will continue to thicken as it cools. If you’re not ready to use it immediately, store it in the refrigerator.

Can you substitute chicken broth for cream of chicken soup?

Cream of chicken soup has a quality that chicken broth does not: it’s thick and creamy. Substituting chicken broth would give you a similar flavor, but it could water down your soup or casserole. Your best bet is to pick up a can of cream of chicken soup or make our roux-based substitution above.

Can you substitute sour cream for cream of chicken soup?

If you’re short on time and you don’t have a can of cream of chicken soup, sour cream works just fine! It won’t have a chicken-forward flavor, but one cup of sour cream creates the same texture and body as a can of cream of chicken soup.

What recipes work with this substitute for canned cream of chicken soup?

There are so many great ways to use this substitute cream of chicken soup! Add about 1 1/4 cups of milk, chicken broth or water to the base to turn it into soup. From there, you can add shredded chicken, vegetables or other toppings to make it a complete meal (like Chicken Noodle Soup or this tasty White Bean and Chicken Enchilada Soup). It also makes a great addition to casseroles, such as Chicken and Rice Casserole. We also love it for entree dishes, with Creamy Italian Chicken or Chicken & Mushroom Alfredo.

Give it a try with these recipes that start with a can of cream of chicken soup.

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Lindsay D. Mattison
Lindsay is a professional chef, recipe developer, writer and developmental editor. After years of working in restaurant kitchens, she turned to writing to share her skills and experience with home cooks and food enthusiasts. She's passionate about using local, organic ingredients and teaching others how to incorporate seasonal food into their diet. Lindsay still cooks professionally for pop-up events, writes for several publications and is the co-author of two books about Ayurveda.