Oxo cube: good or evil?

I’ve never been a great traveller. On our honeymoon, we went to Jersey for 2 weeks. We couldn’t have gone abroad for our honeymoon like a lot of people do, as we had no money, and the Home Office had also kept my passport just to make sure that I wasn’t staging a fake marriage to a gullible white man.

After a week in Jersey, I was terribly ill. My body went into a complete meltdown due to a lack of rice in my diet. We had had a week of potatoes and pasta but no rice. My husband only realised then the high price of marrying a typical oriental, rice-eating wife. But it was too late for him.

Over the past 12 years, my body has slowly adjusted to a mixed diet with pasta, spaghetti, potatoes and rice. I’m almost weaned off rice now. When I took the plunge and visited my online friend Tilly (The Laughing Housewife) in Stockport, I was ready for anything thrown at me.

For 5 days, we had very interesting meals. Our first meal was minced beef with some sort of ready cooked rice and pasta. I think the meal was some sort of wet risotto, but I’m not quite sure. It could have been Tilly’s creativity worthy of a Master Chef challenge. Though the dish looked mysteriously browny to me, I had 3 helpings. (I was tired and hungry after nearly 6 hours’ journey.)

I found the family used quite a lot of Oxo cubes in their cooking — Oxo cubes in chicken, beef, vegetable flavours:

A small family would normally keep a small pack of the Oxo Cubes (in 12, 18 or 24). I was astonished to see that Tilly actually keeps a whole large tin of them. Their meals were tasty, rich with Oxo flavours. I also found out some facts about the Oxo cubes. They were part of the soldiers’ ration packs during the World War 1. In 1908, OXO was the official caterer of the London Olympics supplying an OXO drink to runners. The Oxo cubes have been a British icon since 1930s.

I’m not sure how healthy the Oxo cubes are. Perhaps I’m not used to their flavours, I felt they’re tasty but a bit too salty.

Do you use the Oxo cubes in your cooking? Are stock cubes common in your country?

Do you think Tilly should try prepare her homemade stock (broth or bouillon) as her 101/1001 Challenge?

Image by umami via Flickr

Perhaps Tilly should try make some homemade stock?
Image by umami via Flickr

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49 thoughts on “Oxo cube: good or evil?

  1. Colline

    Homemade stock is much better for you. The broth from Oxo may be tasty but, as you say, the amount of salt in it is not good for you. In this case it would be better for you, I think, to stick with the oriental diet.

    1. Janet Williams Post author

      Thanks Colline. Yes, homemade broths are certainly better, but not many people have the time or energy to do so these days, and so stock cubes are very popular. We have some in the cupboards too.

      I remember my mum used to make soaps with a whole chicken: chicken, carrot, onions and some dates. Wonderfully delicious!

  2. ShimonZ

    I have never come across these cubes, so I don’t know how appetizing they are. But I don’t see why you have to give up rice. I love rice, and though I don’t eat it all the time, it is always available here, and I prepare it in a number of different ways.

    1. Janet Williams Post author

      Hi Shimon,

      These cubes means that people don’t have to chop and mix various fresh ingredients anymore. They are handy for most people in their cooking.

      For example, instead of spending 3 hours preparing the chicken stock — boiling water, adding onions and vegetable and herbs, cooking a real chicken — people just throw in 2 cubes in.

      The website of Oxo Cubes says, the cubes are “individually foil wrapped cubes that dissolve easily to make delicious stock or crumble directly into your cooking to make your family favourites even tastier. For tasty stock dissolve 1 cube in 190ml of boiling water or crumble directly into your dish.”

      I’m wondering what short-cuts there are in Isreal to help people in their cooking?

    2. Janet Williams Post author


      Of course we still eat rice, but I can live without rice for a longer period of time these days.

      We eat Thai Fragrance Rice, or American Long Grain rice. If we eat sushi, then we use sushi rice. There’re at least 5 types of rice in this household.

      In the UK, you can also buy ready-cooked rice or half-cooked rice (and microwave to cook for a few minutes) from supermarket. They don’t normally taste very nice.

      Please share with us your rice dishes. Perhaps I’ll do one post just dedicated to rice one day.

    1. Janet Williams Post author

      I think my body couldn’t function anymore due to a lack of that staple food that I was so used to. As a Chinese, other starch products such as pasta and potatoes still couldn’t replace rice. When I don’t eat rice, I constantly feel hungry. A lot of Chinese people could support this statement.

      So, a week into our honeymoon without rice, the bride was feeling hungrier each day, though we had good food there. Not a good idea to starve your bride on her honeymoon.

  3. wordswithnannaprawn

    I always have a tin of Oxo cubes! though here they are as hard as bricks and not as crumbly as I remember theme being in the UK. I’ve made stock from scratch a lot, but you can’t beat an Oxo cube if you’re time poor, and making up the liquid with water vegetables have been cooked in is a good compromise. They are definitely richer and tastier than a lot of the shop bought liquid stock here.

    1. Janet Williams Post author

      I’ve used stock cubes before — normally in an emergency. At home, we also make lots of compromises in our cooking — using jar or ready sauce, and perhaps they’re even worse than stock cubes! Tilly must have done the right thing.

  4. misswhiplash

    can one exist without an Oxo cube?. It can be done but only if you are an excellent cook and make your own..but I was converted in the days of Oxo cube adverts on TV, and Bisto… I still use them today

  5. Ron.

    Tilly could boil shoes & serve them up with fried sawdust, with or without OXO for all I care. I’d be so deeply in awe of dining with her I don’t think I’d even notice.

    Hub’s got all the luck, Janet, living there full time. I envy your visit.

  6. anexactinglife

    Sometimes I use half a cube to reduce the salt. I have also bought bouillon powder instead of cubes. My spouse from the UK used to drink Bovril which is beef stock!

      1. anexactinglife

        I thought it was very strange, too. Like OXO, Bovril had an advertising campaign that convinced people that drinking beef bouillon was healthy and would make them stronger. Eesh!

  7. Ruby

    I like an oxo drink – especially if I am doing work outside like gardening. That’s a habit I inherited from my father.

    1. Janet Williams Post author

      I have never heard of this before — an oxo drink. Normally people drink water, coffee and tea, or beer, but how could an oxo stock be drinkable!? Tasty? I’ve been so ignorant about the British culture in food. Thanks for sharing this.

      1. Ruby

        A bit like making instant coffee really, but with a crumbled oxo cube instead of coffee granules! I’ve not heard of anyone else doing it, so maybe it is just my family. Sometimes when I go walking I will take an oxo cube and a flask of hot water to make a hot drink – an oxo cube is easy to carry.

        A maths joke for you: What value squared is a cube? 0 (0 x 0 = oxo (cube))

      2. Janet Williams Post author

        You really make me laugh.

        Oxo cube + a flask of water to make a hot drink? Next time I’ll bring my hot drink. Thank you very much.

        I like the maths joke.

        Disclaimer: OXO doesn’t pay me for mentioning their brand in this humble post.

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  12. Simon

    It seems strange to me that the thought of an oxo drink or Bovril drink seems alien to you.Bovril is sold mainly as a drink not stock and if you go to any football (soccer) ground both drinks are probably more popular than tea or coffee on a winters afternoon

    1. Janet Williams Post author

      Hi Simon,

      Thank you for your comment. Indeed, the idea of drinking these drinks is strange to me, as I don’t know of people drinking them. I’ll pay attention in the future. Now, I vaguely remember that as a child, in Malaysia, I used to add some paste in my rice porridge, and it could have been Bovril. Or, it could have been Marmite. As a grown-up, I never touch any of these.

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  23. Brian Fox

    Greetings from South Carolina, USA. I use OXO cubes for all my cooking. Have tried many other bullions but none have that richness of taste. Yes, can be salty but I balance that out by not using as much (or any) salt called for in recipe. My only complaint with OXO – expensive over here – but well worth it. In fact I am on the web ordering some as we speak. That’s how I came by your site.
    Have a safe day – Brian.

    1. Janet Williams Post author

      Thank you for sharing your love of Oxo cubes, Brian. I could form an Oxo cube club on this blog soon.

      I don’t think the Oxo cubes are expensive here, and I know that they are essential for many home cooking in the UK. Good luck with your cooking. Perhaps you could share your favourite Oxo cooking recipes?


  24. dkzody

    We call them bouillon cubes in California, and no I don’t use them. Umm sure they are loaded with preservatives.

    Thanks for stopping by my little place & visiting. Ways nice to have company.

  25. Gwwn

    I am 73 years old and live in Pinehurst, NC, USA but was born and lived in Brighton, England for 30 years. Oxo”s were the main staple in British homes, used for flavoring all kinds of beef or chicken recipes, and yes, as a drink. When I was a young and a struggling newbie to the work force and living on my own, many’s the time I would boil cabbage and flavor it with Oxo, that was my main meal of the day. I still use them, and buy from Amazon or get friends to bring some back with them from the UK. So, at 73 years old they have not done me any harm, only enhanced the flavor of my yummy meat and chicken dishes. BTW, I never added more salt when using in a recipe

  26. Dan

    The reason oxo’s are individually wrapped in foil is so you can crumble them before unwrapping, just squish between your fingers and then tear a corner to pour. A lot of people don’t know this because the TV ads always show it being crumbled after being unwrapped.

  27. Mary

    I find it amazing that no one’s mentioned the ‘nasty’ MSG Flavour Enhancer (621) in Oxo cubes – that causes a lot of health issues


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