Pho (Vietnamese Noodle Soup)

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This unbelievably delicious Vietnamese pho recipe tastes just like the restaurant version, and it’s easy to make with your choice of beef, chicken, pork or shrimp.

Vietnamese Pho Recipe

Guys, it’s time we all start making homemade pho! ♡

I’ve been obsessed with this famous Vietnamese noodle soup basically all my life.  But up until this year, I had always just assumed it was one of those dishes that only restaurants could really make well.  And that any attempts at home would fall into the close-but-not-quite category, especially when it came to pho’s trademark rich and complex savory broth.  Turns out, I was wrong, which is great news for all of us pho lovers!  After testing and tinkering around with a variety of pho recipes these past few months, I’m happy to report that restaurant-quality pho is legit do-able at home.  And even better, it’s considerably easier than I expected.

So this week, I’m excited to finally share — not just one, but — two favorite homemade pho recipes with you.  Tomorrow we will get to the vegan version of this soup that is 100% plant-based (and 100% delicious).  But today we begin with classic pho soup, made with your choice of either beef, chicken, pork or shrimp.

For me, a winning pho recipe all boils down (quite literally) to the quality of its broth.  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.  But while most pho restaurants make their base beef broth 100% from scratch — which is delicious but requires bringing home lots of beef bones and extra veggies plus an extra 2-3 hours of simmering — I’ve tested out a shortcut using store-bought beef stock as the base for this broth instead.  And in side-by-side taste tests, I could hardly notice a difference.  So I’ve written this recipe using the store-bought broth shortcut, which means that this pho broth can be ready to go in a breezy 45 minutes.  And when simmered together with charred onion and ginger, a generous handful of warming spices, a hint of sweetener, plus a heaping pile of fresh herbs as garnish, I’m telling you, this homemade pho broth is absolute magic.

The other great thing about making pho at home is that it’s a really fun interactive meal, especially if you’re entertaining.  Just load up everyone’s serving bowls with noodles and their choice of protein, ladle in the steaming hot broth, then encourage everyone go to town piling their bowls high with lots and lots fresh garnishes.  It’s one of those favorite restaurant dishes that’s guaranteed to earn some ooohs and ahhhs when you pull it off at home.  And I’ve also included tips below for how you can do most of the prep cooking in advance to make entertaining stress-free.

Anyway, if you love pho as much as I do, you’ve gotta give this one a try.  It’s the perfect comfort food this time of year.  And I’m already certain you’re going to love it!

The Best Pho Recipe! | 1-Minute Video

Vietnamese Pho Spices -- Cinnamon, Cloves, Cardamom, Coriander and Star Anise

Vietnamese Pho Ingredients:

Alright, before we get to the actual recipe, let’s chat for a sec about the ingredients.  To make this pho soup recipe, you will need:

  • Steak, chicken, pork or shrimp: If you choose to use steak, chicken or pork, it will need to be super-thinly sliced in order to cook quickly in the broth.  To do this, I recommend popping the protein in the freezer for about 45-60 minutes, then slicing it against the grain as thinly as possible.  (Alternately, you can ask the butcher to thinly slice your meat for you, or add pre-cooked meat to your soup.)  Or if you choose to use shrimp, just be sure that it is peeled with the tails on or off.
  • Thin rice noodles: Traditional pho is made with thin rice noodles, such as these.  In order to prevent the noodles from overcooking in the broth, it’s traditional to cook pho noodles separately on their own.  Then the noodles will be added to each individual serving bowl, and the protein, hot broth and toppings will be added on top of the noodles.
  • Pho broth: To make the most delicious pho broth, you will need the following elements:
    • Fresh onions and ginger: Which we will briefly cook in a skillet (or you can pop them under the broiler in your oven) until they are charred, to add that classic smoky flavor to the broth.
    • Beef stock: In order to save us all a few hours of cooking meat stock from scratch, I’ve written this recipe using (good quality!) store-bought stock as a shortcut.  Vietnamese pho broth is traditionally made with beef stock, but you are also welcome to mix things up and use chicken or veggie stock instead if you prefer.
    • Spices: There are 5 important spices in pho broth — star anisewhole clovescinnamon stickscardamom pods, and coriander seeds.  I really recommend using the whole (not ground) spices, if possible, which we will briefly toast to bring out extra flavor.  But see notes below for ground spice substitutions, if needed.
    • Fish sauceIt’s traditional to add just a little splash to the broth.
    • Sweetener: I used brown sugar to sweeten my broth instead of traditional yellow rock sugar, but really, any sweetener you prefer would work.
    • Sea salt: As always, to season your broth.
  • Toppings, toppings, toppings: This is one soup recipe where the toppings are not optional — they’re the stars of the soup!  Feel free to pick and choose your favorites, but I recommend at least one from each category:
    • Fresh herbs: The more the merrier!  I recommend a combo of fresh cilantro, fresh mint and fresh Thai basil (or Italian basil, in a pinch).
    • Bean sprouts: You can find these in the produce section of your grocery store, or they are always available in Asian groceries.
    • Lime wedges: Essential for brightening up the flavors of the broth.
    • Chiles (optional): Either sliced Thai bird chiles, jalapeños, or serrano peppers are optional if you would like to add some heat.
    • Onions (optional): Either sliced green onions or very-thinly-sliced white onions as a garnish.
    • Sauces (optional): It’s also traditional to serve pho with hoisin sauce and/or sriracha, to use as a garnish if desired.

See the full recipe below for ingredient amounts/instructions.

How To Make Pho Soup

This is actually a double batch of the broth, which I highly recommend making while you’re at it!

How To Make Pho Soup:

Here is the basic overview for how to make homemade pho bowls!  (As always, see the recipe below for the full detailed instructions.)

  1. Prep the protein. In order to slice the beef, chicken or pork as thinly as possible, I recommend popping the meat in the freezer for at least 30-45 minutes to chill.  Then use a sharp knife to thinly slice the meat before adding it to the soup.
  2. Make the broth. Meanwhile, as the meat is chilling, char the onion and ginger (either in a skillet or under the broiler).  Meanwhile, briefly toast the spices in a large stockpot.  Then add in the onion, ginger, and broth.  Cover and let everything simmer together for at least 30 minutes so that all of those flavors can meld.  Strain out and discard all of the onions, ginger and spices.  Then stir in the remaining ingredients and season with salt.
  3. Prep the noodles. Meanwhile, as your broth is simmering, go ahead and cook the noodles al dente according to the package instructions.  Drain in a strainer, then toss briefly with cold water to prevent the noodles from continuing to cook, and set aside.  (I also recommend tossing the noodles with a drizzle of oil — such as sesame oil — to prevent them from sticking.)
  4. Assemble.  Once everything is ready to go, add a handful of noodles to each individual serving bowl, topped with your desired protein.  Then ladle the simmering hot broth into the serving bowls, being sure to submerge the meat so that it will get cooked.  Top with lots and lots of garnishes.
  5. Serve.  And serve warm, encouraging everyone to stir the garnishes into the soup so that they can flavor the broth, also adding in additional extra sauces if desired.

Pho Soup with Beef, Chicken, Pork or Shrimp

Possible Variations:

Want to customize your own homemade pho recipe?  Feel free to…

  • Use pre-cooked proteins: If you would rather not cook raw meat in the broth, you are welcome to use pre-cooked meat instead.  For example, feel free to shred a rotisserie chicken, or slice up leftover cooked steak, or add in some diced cooked pork to the soup just before serving.  Or if you are using raw meat and just want to be sure it is cooked well-done, feel free to stir the meat into the pot of hot broth, then ladle the broth and meat together into the individual serving bowls.
  • Use ground (instead of whole) spices: I really recommend using whole spices for this recipe if you can.  But in a pinch, feel free to substitute their ground equivalents.  Those substitutions would roughly be: 2.5 teaspoons ground star anise, 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves, 1.5 teaspoons ground cinnamon, pinch of ground cardamom, 2 teaspoons ground coriander.
  • Instant Pot pho: If you would like to make the broth in the Instant Pot (pressure cooker), first use the “sauté” setting to char the onions and ginger.  Then add in the spices and stock.  Cover, seal, and cook (manual high pressure) for 10 minutes, followed by a quick release.  Add in the remaining ingredients as directed in the recipe.
  • Crock-Pot pho: If you you would like to make the broth in the Crock-Pot (slow cooker), add the onion, ginger, spices and stock to the bowl of a large slow cooker and stir to combine.  (You are welcome to char the onion and ginger beforehand, if you would like, then add them to the Crock-Pot.)  Cover and cook on high for 3 hours or on low for 6 hours*.  Add in the remaining ingredients as directed in the recipe.  *If it seems that much of the broth has evaporated while cooking, just add in a cup or so of extra water.
  • Make it vegetarian/vegan: Here’s the link to my new plant-based vegan pho recipe.
  • Add fennel seeds: If you happen to have fennel seeds in your spice cabinet, add a teaspoon in along with the other spices for extra flavor.

Vietnamese Pho Soup

Pho FAQ:

A few final FAQs before we get to the recipe…

  • What is the proper “pho” pronunciation?  Popular question!  It is pronounced “fuh” (not “faux”).
  • How do you serve pho?  Pho soup is traditionally served in large bowls with chopsticks and a soup spoon.  But of course, use whatever dishes you have. ♡
  • How exactly are you supposed to eat pho? First, use your chopsticks to stir all of those garnishes into the broth to help give it extra flavor.  (You can later pick them out, if you don’t want to eat stems, chiles, etc.)  Then alternately, use your chopsticks to eat the noodles, protein and veggies, while using your spoon to eat the broth.  In Vietnam, it’s also encouraged to lift up your bowl to drink the last of the broth, if you would like.
  • Is pho healthy? I’d say it’s pretty healthy, especially if you use a leaner meat as your protein.  Feel free to also use brown rice noodles (instead of white rice noodles) if you would like to make this recipe a step healthier.
  • Is pho gluten-free? Yes, this pho soup recipe is naturally gluten-free.  (As always though, just be sure to double-check that all of your ingredients are certified GF.)
  • Is the meat in pho fully cooked? If the meat is very thinly sliced, the broth is boiling hot, and the meat is completely submerged in the broth right away — then yes, the meat should be fully cooked.  That said, if you want to be 100% sure that the meat is fully cooked, see instructions below for cooking the meat instead in the hot stockpot of broth and then adding it to the individual serving bowls.
  • Is pho traditionally made with beef broth? Yes. We start to blur the lines a bit with the traditional definition of Vietnamese pho if you start to sub in chicken broth, or use pork, shrimp, etc.  But for different people who prefer different kinds of proteins, I’m presenting some non-traditional options here.
  • Make ahead instructions?  Nearly all of the components of this recipe can be prepped in advance, if you would like.  (Which would make this recipe even easier if serving it to a big group.)  For example, the noodles and broth can be prepared and then refrigerated (separately) in sealed containers until ready to reheat and serve.
  • Storage instructions? I recommend refrigerating the broth, protein, noodles and garnishes in separate containers, so that the noodles do not soak up all of the broth.  But the cooked soup (with the ingredients stored separately or mixed together) can be refrigerated in sealed containers for up to 3 days.
Vietnamese Pho Recipe

Pho (Vietnamese Noodle Soup)

  • Prep Time: 30 mins
  • Cook Time: 45 mins
  • Total Time: 1 hour 15 mins
  • Yield: 2 large bowls or 4 medium bowls 1x


This homemade pho soup recipe can be made with your choice of steak, chicken, pork or shrimp (see notes below).  I highly recommend making a double batch while you’re at it!



Pho Broth Ingredients:

Pho Soup Ingredients:

  • 8 ounces raw steak, very thinly sliced (or chicken, pork, or shrimp — see notes below)
  • 7 ounces uncooked thin rice noodles
  • garnishes: fresh herbs (cilantro, mint, and/or Thai basil), bean sprouts, lime wedges, thinly-sliced chiles (Thai bird chiles or jalapeños), thinly-sliced onions (green onions or white onions), sauces (hoisin and/or sriracha)


  1. Char the onions and ginger*. Turn the oven broiler to high, and place the baking rack about 8 inches away from the heating elements.  Place the onion and ginger cut-side-up on a baking sheet, and brush with a bit of oil.  Broil for about 7-10 minutes, until the tops of the onion and ginger are slightly charred.  Remove and set aside.
  2. Make the broth. Meanwhile, heat the anise, cloves, cinnamon, cardamom and coriander to a large stockpot over medium-high heat for about 3 minutes until fragrant.  Add in the charred onion, ginger, stock, and stir to combine.  Continue cooking until the broth reaches a simmer.  Then reduce heat to medium-low, cover with a lid, and continue to simmer for at least 30 minutes.  Strain out (and discard) the onions, ginger and spices.  Stir in the fish sauce and sweetener into the hot broth.  Then finally, taste and season the broth with salt as needed.
  3. Prep the noodles. Meanwhile, as your broth is simmering, cook the noodles separately al dente according to the package instructions.  Drain in a strainer, then briefly rinse the noodles with cold water to prevent them from continuing to cook.  (I also recommend tossing the noodles with a drizzle of oil — such as sesame oil — to prevent them from sticking.)
  4. Assemble.  Now the fun part!  Add a handful of noodles to each individual serving bowl.  Portion the steak between each serving bowl.  Then ladle the still-simmering hot broth into the serving bowls, being sure to submerge the steak completely so that it gets cooked*.  Top each bowl with lots and lots of garnishes, and finish with a squeeze of lime juice.
  5. Serve immediately.  Encouraging everyone to stir the garnishes into the soup so that they can flavor the broth, also adding in additional extra sauces if desired.


To make beef pho: Use any kind of lean steak, very thinly sliced against the grain.  (I recommend freezing the steak for 30-60 minutes beforehand, to make it easier to slice.)

To make chicken pho: Use boneless skinless chicken breasts or thighs, very thinly sliced against the grain.  (I recommend freezing the chicken for 30-60 minutes beforehand, to make it easier to slice.)

To make pork pho: Use boneless pork chops, very thinly sliced against the grain.  (I recommend freezing the pork for 30-60 minutes beforehand, to make it easier to slice.)

To make shrimp pho: Use peeled and deveined (tails on or off) large shrimp.

Alternate charring option: Instead of broiling the onion and ginger in the oven, you can also just cook them cut-side-down in a sauté pan over high heat until charred.

Cooking the meat/shrimp: Again, it’s very important that the meat is very thinly sliced, the broth is simmering hot, and that the meat is completely submerged in order for it to cook fully.  If you have any doubts or would like to 100% ensure that the meat is fully cooked, see the option below.

Alternate meat/shrimp cooking option: Instead of cooking your protein (steak, chicken, pork or shrimp) in the individual serving bowls, feel free to instead stir the protein directly into the stockpot of simmering broth to ensure that it is fully cooked.  Then ladle the broth and protein together into the individual serving bowls.

Double batch: Again, I highly recommend making a double batch of this recipe while you’re at it!  To do so, you will need a large stockpot (at least 5 quarts) to handle the quantity of broth.

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Pho Recipe

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43 comments on “Pho (Vietnamese Noodle Soup)”

  1. Super excited to make this and I love your recipes so much. Just wanted to let you know that you’ve said “onions and garlic” a lot when I think you mean “onions and ginger.” No judgment just letting you know!

  2. I am anxious to try this recipe, but I keep seeing “garlic and onion” in places where I think you mean ginger and onion … is this correct … thank you for this recipe

    • Eek, my apologies for the confusion, those were typos. (I think I’m too used to onion and garlic being paired together — subconscious slip!) There’s no garlic in this recipe. :)

  3. Can’t wait to try this! I love pho but I’ve never had the patience to make the entire bone broth from scratch. This shortcut sounds excellent.

  4. This was DELICIOUS! I went the easy route and just added in some shredded chicken that we already had on hand, but wow that broth was amazing.

  5. Ali, I’ve been following your blog for about a year and made many of your recipes, but this one is so stellar I’m convicted to write my first review.

    The broth is SO flavorful and perfectly balanced. I used homemade chicken stock and three beef bouillon cubes in place of salt, and followed the other ingredients as written. I will probably make the broth again just to sip on this winter! So good. So satisfying. This recipe took more effort than I’d personally like to spend on a “one-night meal” (pho doesn’t make for easy leftovers), but this will be a great addition to my once-in-a-while special dishes. It would be great to triple or quadruple for a crowd!

  6. Haven’t made this recipe yet, but sounds super good. I wanted to give a few observations/corrections. First, it IS traditional to use hoisin sauce…but only in southern Vietnam. Chicken pho usually has a different broth, but of course would taste great in a beef broth. Lastly, and this took us a while to figure out in Vietnam, it’s pronounced Fa (as in Father). Hope this comes across as helpful and not snooty.

    • “Fuh” is correct :).

      There’s an accent on the “o” so it’s tonal and pronounced like an exaggerated question (on the “uh”, tone swings down and then up). To achieve the right pronunciation, a tip is to say “fuh” like you’re not sure you’re saying it right. Like this —> F’uhhhh???

  7. What type of beef broth do you like? I usually make this from scratch and cannot wait to try a shortcut version. It sounds delicious!

  8. Perfect broth!!! I’ve tried many times to get the broth right and failed, this was perfect!!! Thank you so much! My pho addiction can be met a ton home while saving money!

  9. Absolutely fantastic. My picky, pho-adoring husband said, “Holy sh*t!” High praise, indeed! He asked me to “keep it in my arsenal.” I added thin sliced white onions and green onions to the strained broth, quadrupled the amount of fish sauce, used coconut sugar (2 T) instead of brown sugar and added the juice of 1/2 lime. It tasted authentic, despite using “Better Than Bouillan” as the soup base!

  10. I was super nervous that this wouldn’t taste as good as the Pho I would get in Portland, but wow I am really really impressed! It satisfied my craving and I will definitely make again!

  11. Hi! I’m so excited to try this. Can I make a double batch of broth and freeze it? How long would it keep in the freezer? Thanks!

  12. I just made this, and it was absolutely delicious. It tasted just like the soup I get at a local restaurant. Now that I know how to make it, I’ll be eating it a lot more. I was so proud of myself. I put shrimp in mine.

  13. This recipe is outstanding! I had been looking for a way to make authentic Pho and this fit the bill. The only variation I added was to put 2 cubes of beef bullion in the broth while it was cooking to deepen the flavor just a bit. I also prefer egg noodles to rice noodles. Added spinach, scallion, carrots, snow peas, boild egg, cilantro and some sliced chili and it was perfection. My family said it is definitely a “make again”.

  14. Hi Ali! I am a certified Chef and your recipe is similar to mine. I wanted this tonight and decided to search out a new recipe just to change it up a bit and decided to make yours. I LOVE IT! The only thing I added was Hoisin sauce, as is tradition with Southern Vietnamese Pho. I have to have my Hoisin sauce, I am addicted to that taste. I even spread a little over my morning’s scrambled Eggs…I know, sounds strange. But, try it out and you might like it. I am trying to figure out how to follow your blog here, any help would greatly be appreciated. Thank you!

  15. Super easy and so good!

  16. Excellent! Just an FYI–in the directions #2, you forgot to add in the beef. Simmered this for a few hours. So delish. Thank you!

    • Traditionally the Beef is not added into the Broth
      The broth should be hot enough so that once poured over the beef it will cook it. Keeping it tender and juicy and not over cooked.

  17. Loved this recipe, was fantastic! Really brought the restaurant flavor home. I’ve tried multiple recipes but this by far the best, it’s my new “go-to” for pho. Would post a pic if I could :-)

  18. I want to make this for my family, but there are no whole star anises in my area. You mentioned listing ground portions in the notes, but I don’t see them unless I’m missing something.

    • Can you order from Amazon? I found fresh lime leaves there for a different recipe and they arrived fresh to my very isolated area. I have ordered whole star anise as well. Hope this helps :)

    • I know it’s been a while since you posted this comment but I thought I would help you out. Copied and pasted from above in blog.

      Use ground (instead of whole) spices: I really recommend using whole spices for this recipe if you can. But in a pinch, feel free to substitute their ground equivalents. Those substitutions would roughly be: 2.5 teaspoons ground star anise, 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves, 1.5 teaspoons ground cinnamon, pinch of ground cardamom, 2 teaspoons ground coriander.

  19. Hi Ali! I’m going to double the recipe. Would you suggest doubling the whole spices, as well? So excited to make this for family coming into town on a cozy winter Valentine’s weekend!

  20. I got my Bone Beef Broth from Whole Foods …brand name Bonafide organic beef broth and it is perfect for this excellent recipe!

  21. So… it has come to this. The time I say “nope only the people who made it can make the best” which is vietnam! But you are american so naw not the best but pretty good!

  22. Love this recipe. I prefer to add 1/2 to 1/3 of the amount of broth in water to make it more soupy. Also prefer zuchini to bean sprouts. To make it easier, buy the beef which is already shaved. To make it low carb, substitute Healthy Noodle by Kibun (Costco), 2 packages of it are only 100 calories and 8 carbs for the entire recipe!

  23. I don’t know if I’m looking over it but I have all the whole spices except coriander, which I have ground of. Do you think I could just use that? And how much would your recommend 1tsp?

  24. Best everrrr! This recipe is a blessing and curse because it totally ruined restaurant pho for me. My boyfriend hasn’t ever been a fan of pho.. when I told him I was making it he said he’d eat something else but he ate like 3 bowls of this! I made it last week and he’s already requesting it again. The broth is so flavorful! I’ll be making a double batch of the broth next time because we ate it all. When you make a double batch do you double up on all the ingredients? Thanks!

  25. This recipe is spot on!!! The broth is absolutely delicious. Thank you so much. It truly did taste like the restaurant version.

  26. Could you sub Chinese 5 spice for the aromatics? If so, how much would you recommend?

  27. Thank you. Great recipe! The soup tastes likeA the original pho soup. My whole family enjoyed it very much.

  28. So… I’ve had the best Pho experiences overseas in the US and UK, and my wife and I have it every chance we get when we are traveling since we don’t have good authentic pho in Sweden. So I took the matter into my own hands and scouted the internet and found your recipe (this was 6 months ago), today is the 6th time I’m making this according to your recipe and just wow!! Every guest we have are blown away, amazed and some won’t believe I made this myself. I never post comments on the internet, but this time it’s time to give praise where prise is due! So glad you shared this recipe, immensely appreciated! Your biggest fan // Hunblaker

  29. Thank you Ali, I just did a half-assed variation of this to use up wilting veg (chard and chinese cabbage, under lockdown), I couldn’t believe how delicious it turned out. I did have in onions and ginger, and all the spices for the broth, which is probs the important part, but used stock cubes and some miso paste. Whatever, I was proud of it, thank you for sharing, I’ll do again, it’s given me confidence.

  30. Hello, I’m excited to try your Pho recipe this week. My question is regarding the Fish Sauce. I abhor fish and am wondering if there is an alternate sauce you would recommend or should I just omit that ingredient? Thank you for posting such a detailed and thoughtful post.

  31. Tonight, Im making pho from scratch. Only thing, I ordered delivery for bones and meat. Shopper came back with beef round, beef bones, beef rib chops and PORK NECKBONES!! I asked for beef neck bones..ugh!! Decided to go ahead and use them. Will be an interesting combination!

  32. Absolutely delicious. Better than I’ve had in UK Pho restaurants. I used 2 x 500g Heston Beef Stock (Waitrose) + 2 x ordinary beef stock cubes with 900ml water. Aromatics are sensational. After charring the onion and ginger, I sautéed them for extra depth. I simmered for 2 hours then left overnight to maximise flavours. I used triple fish sauce and half the sugar. I served with king prawns (raw in bowl) and rib eye steak (quickly seared whole first, then rested, then sliced) plus other suggested accompaniments. THANK YOU.

  33. Love!

  34. Wow. Great recipe. I like flavour the gives a punch so I increaes the spices and then left them in the stock in my fridge and just drew off luquid when I needed it. This recipe is a winner. Easy & delicious.

  35. Great recipe! Thank you for posting this it was a home run in this house.

  36. It was a chilly rainy day in Portland today so I tried your Pho soup recipe. I used chicken and chicken broth instead of beef broth and it was Absolutely Scrumptious! I loved the aroma of the spices that filled the apartment too!
    I even licked my bowl. :)
    It was my first time charring onion and ginger and I was delighted by the depth and richness of flavor they contributed.
    I added a dash of coco aminos to the broth close to the end of the simmer in lieu of hot spicy.
    This is definitely going on my list of favs and I can’t wait to share it with friends!
    Oh, and thank you too for your precise instructions-I found slicing the semi frozen chicken much easier