Both the cubes and the instant are often little more than salt and some flavorings, with only some color added to distinguish one variety from another. I often use the instant in place of salt to add some extra flavor to homemade soup or stew. Knorr’s is a good brand that has much better flavor than most others and even some tiny parsley flakes. (You may need to look for it in the imported foods aisle.)
This is a product that has been used for years by professional chefs, and only recently available at regular grocery stores in small enough quantities to be practical for the average home cook. This isn’t powdered or granulated like bouillon is, it’s more like the consistency of the paste used for kiddie crafts. This is usually made from actual meat, and so the flavor is much better than even good instant bouillon. This is reflected in the price, which is several times more than the same quantity of the granulated stuff.
In most cases these aren’t much more than finely-powdered bouillon with some food starch for thickener. If convenience is your only concern, go for the canned stuff, which tastes better. The cost is another thing entirely. Gravy in the envelope costs far too much for me, and so if I need some gravy for something, say, the last round of turkey sandwiches after Thanksgiving, I cheat by using either granulated bouillon or soup base. You can really only get away with this if you’re using it right on meat. I wouldn’t try it on potatoes, it’s really not good enough to stand alone.
Sneaky Turkey Gravy
2-4 T flour
2-4 T butter or margarine
2 cups water
1 tsp each beef and chicken bouillon granules
Onion and /or garlic powder to taste
In 2 cup glass measuring cup, microwave butter and flour 30 seconds on High. With fork or wire whisk, stir until smooth. Gradually add water to the 2 cup mark on your measuring cup. Microwave in two minute increments, stirring well each time, until gravy is the consistency you like. Note: use the larger amounts of flour and butter for added thickness and richness.