This easy Vietnamese inspired Pho Soup includes rice noodles in a flavorful broth with your choice of meat, and topped with fresh herbs and vegetables. It’s my quick and easy adaptation that’s not authentic, but tastes amazing!

A bowl of Pho soup with chicken, cilantro, onion, basil, bean sprouts and a lime wedge.

Pho (pronounced “fuh”) is a Vietnamese noodle soup that’s made with broth, rice noodles, meat, and fresh garnishes.  Authentic versions take much more time and love than this recipe (here’s a great cookbook with authentic recipes from Andrea Nguyen, or check out this authentic recipe). But if you’re looking for a quick version with similar warm, fresh and comforting qualities, this is what I make my family at home!

Authentic Pho vs. this Quick Pho:

I love authentic pho soup, but I wanted to create a recipe that has great flavor, but doesn’t take hours to make or use hard to find ingredients.  This pho recipe is exactly that!

Vietnamese restaurants typically simmer their broth all day long in order to create that rich, traditional, cozy blend of flavors that we all know and love.  Rather than slow cooking bones for hours, in this pho recipe I use canned broth and simmer it with onion, ginger, and spices.

Ingredients in Pho:

Broth:

  • Chicken/beef broth: I recommend chicken broth if making chicken, shrimp or pork pho. Use beef broth for beef pho or vegetable broth for vegetarian pho.
  • Yellow onion and fresh ginger.
  • Spices: ground coriander, cloves, fish  sauce, hoisin sauce, soy sauce, red chili paste, cinnamon, salt and pepper.

Noodles: I use an 8 oz. package of dried rice vermicelli noodles, but you can use any kind of THIN rice noodles.

Meat– chicken, pork, steak or raw shrimp.  It’s important to slice the meat as thinly as possible, against the grain. Meat is much easier to slice when it’s slightly frozen so don’t be afraid to stick it in the freezer for an hour before slicing.

  • Beef pho (phở bò): ½ lb. sirloin steak, flank steak, brisket, or round eye, seasoned with salt and pepper
  • Chicken (phở gà): 1 or 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, sliced very thinly and seasoned with salt and pepper
  • Pork tenderloin. 1 lb. seasoned with salt and pepper and seared in a little bit of oil, over high heat, at the beginning, until browned on all sides (about 10 minutes). Allow to rest while broth cooks and then cut into very thin slices.
  • Shrimp: raw, shells removed.

Garnishes: these are what make pho soup really shine!

  • Green onions
  • Fresh jalapeño peppers or red Thai chili peppers
  • Fresh herbs (cilantro, basil leaves, mint leaves)
  • Fresh bean sprouts (if your grocery store doesn’t carry these check your local asian grocery store).
  • Lime wedges
  • Sriracha hot sauce

How to Make Pho Soup:

Make broth:

  • Place a large dry pot over medium heat add the onion halves and ginger pieces and cook for 4 minutes.
  • Add the broth, water, coriander, clove, fish sauce, hoisin sauce, soy sauce, chili garlic paste, cinnamon stick and a pinch of fresh cracked salt and pepper to the pot. Bring to a slow boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes or more.
Two process photos for cooking the broth for pho.

Prepare the noodles: prepare rice noodles according to package instructions. Once soft, drain, rinse and set aside.

Prepare the garnishes: Ready the garnishes in individual small bowls for serving: cilantro, basil, green onions, bean sprouts, lime wedges and sliced chilies.

Add meat to broth:

  • 1-5 minutes before the broth is done cooking, add desired meat to the broth to cook, just until done (2-3 minutes for raw, thinly sliced chicken or pork, 1-2 minutes for shrimp or thinly sliced steak).
  • Discard the ginger, clove, cinnamon stick and onion pieces from the pot.

Assemble: Add cooked rice noodles to individual bowls and ladle hot broth over the top. Pile high with your favorite garnishes.

A bowl of pho with noddles and broth surrounded by toppings to add on top.

For Instant Pot Pho Soup:

Cook noodles according to instructions. Assemble toppings. Turn IP to saute setting. Add onion and ginger and cook for a few minutes. Turn pot off. Add broth, coriander, cloves, fish sauce, soy sauce, hoisin sauce, chili garlic paste, cinnamon stick and a pinch of fresh cracked salt and pepper to the pot. Turn valve to sealed, apply lid and cook on manual/high pressure for 15 minutes with a controlled quick release after the timer beeps. Add cooked shrimp, steak or pork, or for chicken pho, add skinless chicken thighs and cook in slow cooker with broth.

For Slow Cooker Pho Soup:

Cook onion and ginger in a hot skillet, then add to slow cooker with broth, coriander, cloves, fish sauce, soy sauce, hoisin sauce, chili garlic paste, cinnamon stick and a pinch of fresh cracked salt and pepper. Cook on low for 6-8 hours or high for 3-4 hours. Discard the ginger, clove, cinnamon stick and onion. Prepare the noodles according to instructions. Assemble toppings. Add cooked shrimp, steak or pork, or for chicken pho, add skinless chicken thighs and cook in slow cooker with broth.

Adaptations:

To substitute leftover/cooked meat: This is a great recipe to use up leftover cooked meat like rotisserie chicken, shredded pork, or beef. Add cooked meat to the bowls with the noodles and ladle hot broth over it. Then add toppings.

Vegetarian/vegan pho: Substitute vegetable or mushroom stock, substitute sautéed mushrooms and baby bok choy for the meat, and omit the fish sauce.

MAKE AHEAD AND FREEZING INSTRUCTIONS:

To make ahead:  Make only the broth ahead of time!  Make the broth several days ahead of time and, after letting it cool, cover it and store it in the refrigerator.  Reheat on the stove when ready to eat and continue with step 4 of the recipe.

To freeze: Freeze only the broth.  Allow the soup to cool completely and store it in a freeze safe ziplock for 4-5 months.

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Recipe

A bowl of Pho soup with chicken, cilantro, onion, basil, bean sprouts and a lime wedge.
Prep 20 mins
Cook 40 mins
Total 1 hr
Save Recipe

Ingredients
 
 

  • 8 oz dried rice vermicelli noodles
  • Desired meat: chicken, pork, steak or raw shrimp* (See notes)
  • 1 large yellow onion , quartered
  • 2 (2-inch pieces) fresh ginger , unpeeled and halved, length-wise
  • 6 cups broth (chicken, beef or vegetable, depending on protein choice)
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/4 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 whole clove (optional)
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons fish sauce (or less, to taste preference)
  • ¼ teaspoon hoisin sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon soy sauce
  • ¼ teaspoon red chili paste (sambal oelek)
  • 1 stick cinnamon
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper

For garnish (this is where pho soup shines!):

  • 4 green onions , chopped
  • 2 fresh jalapeño peppers or red thai chili peppers , thinly sliced and seeds removed
  • 1 bunch fresh cilantro , chopped
  • 1 bunch Thai basil leaves
  • 1 cup fresh bean sprouts
  • 2 limes , cut into wedges
  • Sriracha hot sauce, or additional red chili paste , for heat, optional

Instructions
 

  • Place a large dry pot over medium heat add the onion halves and ginger pieces. Cook for 4 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Add the broth, water, coriander, clove, fish sauce, hoisin sauce, soy sauce, chili garlic paste, cinnamon stick and a pinch of fresh cracked salt and pepper to the pot. Bring to a slow boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, prepare noodles according to package instructions. Once soft, drain, rinse and set aside.
  • Ready the garnishes in individual small bowls for serving: cilantro, basil, green onions, bean sprouts, lime wedges and sliced chilies.
  • 1-5 minutes before the broth is done cooking, add desired meat to the broth to cook, just until done (2-3 minutes for raw, thinly sliced chicken or pork, 1-2 minutes for shrimp or thinly sliced steak).
  • Discard the ginger, clove, cinnamon stick and onion pieces from the pot.
  • Divide the noodles among bowls; ladle broth on top (and meat). Add desired toppings.

Notes

Protein: It’s important to slice the meat as thinly as possible, against the grain.
  • Beef Pho (phở bò): ½ pound sirloin steak, flank steak or brisket, sliced very thinly and seasoned with salt and pepper.
  • Chicken Pho (phở gà): Slice 1-2 boneless, skinless breasts into very thin pieces, against the grain. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Pork Pho: Season a 1 lb pork tenderloin with salt and pepper and sear in a little bit of oil in a very hot pan until browned on all sides (about 10 minute). Allow to rest while broth cooks and then slice into very thin slices.
  • Shrimp: raw, shells removed.
To substitute leftover/cooked meat: This is a great recipe to use up leftover cooked meat like rotisserie chicken, shredded pork, or beef. Add cooked meat to the bowls with the noodles and ladle hot broth over it. Then add toppings.
Vegetarian/vegan pho: Substitute vegetable or mushroom stock, substitute sautéed mushrooms and baby bok choy for the meat, and omit the fish sauce.
Make ahead instructions:  The broth can be made several days ahead of time. Allow it to cool, cover it and store it in the refrigerator.  Reheat on the stove.
Freezing instructions: Freeze only the broth.  Allow it to cool completely and store in a freezer safe bag or container for 4-5 months.
Instant Pot Pho: Cook noodles according to instructions. Assemble toppings. Turn IP to sauté setting. Add onion and ginger and cook for a few minutes. Turn pot off. Add broth, coriander, cloves, fish sauce, soy sauce, hoisin sauce, chili garlic paste, cinnamon stick and a pinch of fresh cracked salt and pepper to the pot. Turn valve to sealed, apply lid and cook on manual/high pressure for 10 minutes with a controlled quick release after the timer beeps. Turn to saute and add shrimp, steak pork, or chicken, cooking until done. Assemble bowls as directed. 
Slow Cooker Pho: Cook onion and ginger in a hot skillet, then add to slow cooker with broth, coriander, cloves, fish sauce, soy sauce, hoisin sauce, chili garlic paste, cinnamon stick and a pinch of fresh cracked salt and pepper. (For chicken pho, add skinless chicken thighs and cook in slow cooker with broth). Cook on low for 6-8 hours or high for 3-4 hours. Discard the ginger, clove, cinnamon stick and onion. Prepare the noodles according to instructions. Assemble toppings.

Nutrition

Calories: 178kcalCarbohydrates: 42gProtein: 3gFat: 1gSaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 1mgSodium: 1373mgPotassium: 131mgFiber: 2gSugar: 5gVitamin A: 591IUVitamin C: 12mgCalcium: 38mgIron: 1mg

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I originally shared this recipe February 2014. Updated April 2020 with process photos and instructions.

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Lauren Allen

Welcome! I’m Lauren, a mom of four and lover of good food. Here you’ll find easy recipes and weeknight meal ideas made with real ingredients, with step-by-step photos and videos.

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Comments

  1. 1 star
    I’m not trying to be rude but whoever commented on this recipe and scored it high definitely added their own flavors or they’re being nice. This was totally disgusting until I doctor it up with FLAVOR. I really don’t understand how anyone can say this was great. I literally almost puke and I said yeah no I’m going to add my own flavor. I really think this recipe must used To scam people. Maybe someone is getting money per click. Sorry not sorry.

  2. 5 stars
    WOW! I just made this recipe after a 12 hour shift and it was so easy and delicious! I had to add it to my cooking recipes. I also replaced the red chili paste for Sriracha and it was very very good! I’m definitely keep making it!

  3. 2 stars
    The kitchen smelled SO good making this so the fam had high expectations…however, the broth turned out weak despite all that ginger! Regardless, thanks for the recipe.

  4. 5 stars
    Holy cow. Made this tonight. I couldn’t find beef stock at the Asian market and I had already been to 2 other stores (literally found the recipe as I was shopping at the market) so I used a dash of pho base along with all the other stuff. This recipe was incredible. I’ll be making this alllllllll winter

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