Fresh Beef Pho Soup – Traditional Vietnamese Dish

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Embark on a culinary journey to Vietnam with our Beef Pho Soup, a fragrant and flavorful bowl of comfort that is rich in tradition. Delicate rice noodles swim alongside tender slices of beef in a spiced-infused broth, redolent with the aromas of cinnamon, star anise, and cloves. Garnished with fresh herbs, crunchy bean sprouts, and a squeeze of zesty lime, each spoonful is a symphony of textures and tastes that will transport you straight to the bustling streets of Hanoi.

Indulging in a bowl of beef pho soup is a soul-stirring experience. Originating from Vietnam, this traditional dish has taken the world by storm. Its delicate broth, simmered for hours, unites with tender slices of beef

Beef Pho Soup

Fresh herbs, rice noodles, and a dash of lime complete the symphony. Every spoonful is a journey through rich flavors and aromatic spices, all lovingly combined to tantalize the taste buds. 

Dive into this vibrant culinary adventure. Savory, wholesome, and steeped in tradition, beef pho soup is not just a meal; it’s an embrace of culture.

Experience this cherished Vietnamese treasure and let your senses dance in delight. 

Whether you’re a culinary novice or a seasoned food lover, beef pho will captivate your palate and warm your heart.

What Is Beef Pho Soup?

Beef pho soup is a traditional Vietnamese dish renowned for its aromatic broth made by simmering beef bones and spices like star anise and cinnamon.

Paired with thin rice noodles, thinly sliced beef, and fresh herbs such as basil and cilantro, it’s a comforting and flavorful meal. 

The combination of textures and tastes makes it a beloved choice for many, symbolizing the unique culinary tradition of Vietnam.

Beef Pho Soup

Can You Vary The Recipe With Other Ingredients? 

Beef pho soup can be modified to suit various dietary preferences and needs. Here are some variations for Keto, Paleo, Gluten-Free, Whole30, Vegetarian, and Vegan diets:


  • Replace rice noodles with spiralized zucchini or shirataki noodles (konjac noodles).
  • Use a sugar substitute like stevia or erythritol instead of white sugar.


  • Substitute rice noodles with spiralized vegetables like zucchini or sweet potato.
  • Replace white sugar with a Paleo-friendly sweetener like honey or coconut sugar.


  • Ensure the fish sauce and other condiments are gluten-free, as some brands may contain gluten.
  • Use naturally gluten-free rice noodles, but ensure they are not processed with gluten-containing products.


  • Use zucchini noodles or other vegetable noodles instead of rice noodles.
  • Replace sugar with Whole30-compliant sweeteners or omit it altogether.
  • Ensure fish sauce and other condiments are Whole30-compliant.


  • Replace beef bones and oxtail with a mix of hearty vegetables like mushrooms, carrots, and celery for the broth.
  • Use vegetable broth or water as the base.
  • Omit the beef sirloin and add tofu or additional vegetables like bok choy.


  • Follow the vegetarian variation and ensure all condiments like sugar and sauces are vegan-friendly.
  • Replace fish sauce with a vegan alternative, such as soy sauce or a vegan fish sauce made from seaweed or mushrooms.
Ingredients tips

Recipe Directions

  • Preparation: Place beef knuckle bones in a 9-quart pot. Add 2 gallons of water and vinegar. Simmer for 2 hours, skimming off scum.
  • Cooking: Add oxtail, radish, onions, spices in cheesecloth, sugar, salt, fish sauce. Simmer for 4+ hours.
  • Blending: Strain broth, discard spices and bones, reserve meat, and return soup to simmer.
  • Final Touches: Soak rice noodles for 20 minutes, cook in boiling water for 5 minutes, and drain.
  • Serving: Add noodles, raw beef to bowls, ladle broth over. Serve with toppings.
Recipe Direction

Variations, Add-Ons, And Toppings

Beef pho soup is incredibly versatile, allowing various variations, add-ons, and toppings to suit individual tastes and dietary needs. Here’s an extensive list:


  • Different Meats: Swap beef with chicken, shrimp, or a combination of meats.
  • Vegetarian/Vegan: Use vegetable broth, tofu, or mushrooms instead of beef.
  • Dietary Options: Adapt the recipe for Keto, Paleo, Gluten-Free, or Whole30 by following earlier provided guidelines.


  • Extra Vegetables: Add bok choy, spinach, or other greens.
  • Tofu: Add fried or soft tofu for more protein.
  • Eggs: Soft-boiled or poached eggs add richness.
  • Seafood: Incorporate shrimp, squid, or fish for a seafood variation.


  • Sriracha or Tabasco Sauce: For heat lovers.
  • Hoisin Sauce: Adds a sweet and salty flavor.
  • Thinly Sliced Onion: For crunch and sharpness.
  • Chopped Fresh Cilantro: Adds a fresh herbal note.
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Can I Make Beef Pho Soup In A Slow Cooker Or Instant Pot?

You can make beef pho soup in a slow cooker and an Instant Pot. Here’s how you can adapt the traditional stovetop recipe for these appliances:

Slow Cooker Method

  • Preparation: Follow the steps in the original recipe, including simmering the beef knuckle bones for 2 hours.
  • Transfer to Slow Cooker: Add the oxtail, radish, onions, tied spices, sugar, salt, and fish sauce to the slow cooker.
  • Cook: Set the slow cooker to low and cook for 6-8 hours or until the flavors are well developed.
  • Strain and Serve: Strain the broth, discard the solids, and follow the original recipe’s final touches and serving steps.

Instant Pot Method

  • Preparation: As with the slow cooker method, start with the preparation steps on the stovetop or use the Instant Pot’s sauté function to simmer the beef knucklebones.
  • Transfer to Instant Pot: Add the oxtail, radish, onions, tied spices, sugar, salt, and fish sauce to the Instant Pot.
  • Cook: Seal the Instant Pot and set to pressure cook on high for 45 minutes to 1 hour.
  • Natural Release: Allow the pressure to release naturally for about 20 minutes, then carefully use the quick release for any remaining pressure.
  • Strain and Serve: Strain the broth, discard the solids, and follow the original recipe’s final touches and serving steps.
Beef Pho Soup

Can I Use Store Bought Broth, Or Should I Make My Own?

Depending on your preferences, time constraints, and desired flavor profile, you can use either store-bought broth or make your own. Here’s a look at both options:

Using Store-Bought Broth

  • Convenience: Store-bought broth can save significant time and effort, making it a convenient option.
  • Quality Variations: Look for high-quality beef broth, preferably one labeled as organic or free from additives and preservatives. Low-sodium options are also available, allowing you to control the salt content.
  • Customization: You can still customize the flavor by simmering the store-bought broth with spices like star anise, cinnamon, cloves, peppercorns, ginger, and a bit of fish sauce, sugar, and salt to taste.
  • Quick Option: Great for a quick weeknight meal when you don’t have hours to simmer the broth.

Making Your Broth

  • Flavor Control: Making your broth allows complete control over the flavor, letting you create a richer and more nuanced taste.
  • Time-Consuming: Simmering the bones and other ingredients takes several hours to develop the full flavor.
  • Ingredient Quality: You can choose the quality of the beef and other ingredients, ensuring a cleaner and more wholesome broth.
  • Authenticity: For a truly authentic beef pho experience, making the broth from scratch is typically preferred.
Beef Pho Soup

How To Serve ?

Serving beef pho soup is an interactive and personalized experience that allows each diner to tailor their bowl to their preferences. Here’s how to serve it best:

  • Prepare the Broth: Keep the strained and seasoned broth on the stove until ready to serve. This ensures it’s hot enough to cook the raw beef when ladled over.
  • Arrange the Toppings: Set up a toppings bar with the options like Sriracha or Tabasco sauce, hoisin sauce, thinly sliced onion, chopped fresh cilantro, mung bean sprouts, chopped fresh Thai basil, thinly sliced green onion, and lime quarters. This allows guests to customize their bowls.
  • Prep the Noodles: Pre-cook the noodles according to the recipe instructions and have them ready in a separate serving dish or individual bowls.
  • Serve the Raw Beef: The partially thawed and thinly sliced beef sirloin is typically served raw. Place it on a platter so guests can add it to their bowls just before ladling the hot broth to cook it.
  • Ladle the Broth: Serve the simmering broth from the pot, ladling it over the beef and noodles in the bowls. The hot broth will cook the raw beef slices.
  • Encourage Customization: Invite guests to garnish their bowls with the toppings and condiments they like, adding freshness and personal flavor preferences.
  • Provide the Right Utensils: Traditionally, pho is eaten with chopsticks to pick up the noodles and meat and a deep spoon to scoop up the broth. Provide these utensils for an authentic experience.
  • Consider Dietary Preferences: If you have guests with dietary restrictions or preferences, ensure you have options available to accommodate them.
  • Serve with Complementary Sides: If desired, serve with additional sides like spring rolls or a fresh Vietnamese-style salad to complete the meal.
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Perfect Side Dishes

  • Fresh Spring Rolls (Gỏi Cuốn): Filled with shrimp, herbs, pork, rice vermicelli, and other ingredients, these are a fresh and light accompaniment.
  • Vietnamese Salad: A tangy salad with shredded cabbage, carrots, herbs, and a lime fish sauce dressing can offer a refreshing contrast.
  • Bánh Mì Sandwiches: These Vietnamese sandwiches can be served in smaller portions and provide a crunchy and savory complement to the soup.
  • Lemongrass Skewers: Grilled lemongrass beef or chicken skewers can offer a tasty protein-packed side.
  • Stir-Fried Vegetables: A simple side of stir-fried seasonal vegetables with garlic and soy sauce can add texture and color.
  • Papaya Salad: A spicy green papaya salad offers a crunchy and tangy counterpoint to the rich broth of pho.
  • Steamed Rice: Plain or jasmine rice can be neutral, especially if the pho is rich and flavorful.
  • Crispy Tofu: For a vegetarian option, crispy pan-fried tofu with dipping sauce can be a delightful addition.
  • Vietnamese Crepes (Bánh Xèo): These savory crepes are made with rice flour and filled with ingredients like shrimp, bean sprouts, and onions.
  • Pickled Vegetables: A side of pickled daikon radish and carrots (Đồ Chua) can provide a tangy and sweet contrast.
  • Chilled Seafood Salad: A cold salad with shrimp, squid, fresh herbs, and a zesty dressing offers a refreshing and light option.
  • Grilled Eggplant: Marinated and grilled eggplant adds a smoky flavor that compliments the deep taste of the beef pho.
  • Dipping Sauces: Additional dipping sauces like nuoc cham with sides can unify the meal’s flavors.
Beef Pho Soup

Storage And Make Ahead

  • Storage: Cool the broth quickly and store it separately from noodles and garnishes in airtight containers. The broth can be refrigerated for up to 5 days or frozen for up to 3 months. Store cooked noodles, sliced beef, and garnishes (like herbs and lime wedges) in separate containers in the fridge.
  • Make Ahead: For the best flavor, focus on preparing a rich, aromatic broth ahead of time. This allows the spices and seasonings to fully infuse, creating a deeper flavor profile. When ready to serve, simply reheat the broth, prepare fresh noodles, and slice the beef thinly. Assemble bowls with the reheated broth, fresh noodles, and beef, then let guests add their own herbs and garnishes. This method ensures that each component of the pho remains fresh and vibrant, closely mimicking the experience of freshly made pho.
Beef Pho Soup

What Can We Do With Leftovers? 

Leftover beef pho soup can be a versatile base for various dishes, ensuring nothing goes to waste. Here’s what you can do with the leftovers:

  • Reheat and Enjoy: Reheat the broth, cook fresh noodles, and assemble for another meal.
  • Stir-Fried Noodles: Use leftover noodles and meat, stir-frying them with vegetables and a splash of soy sauce.
  • Asian Salad: Toss leftover meat with greens, herbs, and a tangy dressing for a refreshing salad.
  • Broth Base: Use the flavorful broth as a base for other soups or stews, adding new ingredients.
  • Rice Bowl: Serve leftover meat over steamed rice with pickled vegetables and a spoonful of broth.
  • Sandwich Filling: Use the meat in a Vietnamese-style Bánh Mì sandwich.
  • Freeze for Later: Store leftover broth and meat in the freezer for future pho or other culinary creations.
  • Meat Wraps: Lettuce or rice paper wrap leftover meat, herbs, and dip in hoisin or peanut sauce.


  • Char Onions and Ginger: Char the onions and ginger under a broiler or over an open flame. This step adds a smoky depth to the broth, enhancing the overall flavor of the pho.
  • Use Quality Beef Bones: For a rich and flavorful broth, opt for high-quality beef bones, including knuckles and marrow bones. These contribute to the soup’s depth and richness.
  • Rinse the Bones: Before simmering, rinse the boiled bones under cold water to remove any impurities. This helps ensure a clear broth.
  • Simmer Slowly: Let the broth simmer gently for several hours. A slow simmer allows the flavors to meld together without clouding the broth.
  • Skim the Broth: Periodically skim off any foam and fat that rise to the surface during simmering. This step is crucial for achieving a clear, clean-tasting broth.
  • Spice Wisely: Add whole spices like star anise, cinnamon sticks, cloves, and cardamom pods to infuse the broth with traditional pho flavor. Toasting the spices beforehand can enhance their flavor.
  • Season at the End: Adjust the seasoning of your broth towards the end of cooking. This allows you to accurately gauge the soup’s flavor and add salt or fish sauce as needed.
Fresh Beef Pho Soup - Traditional Vietnamese Dish

Fresh Beef Pho Soup – Traditional Vietnamese Dish

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Beef Pho Soup is a Vietnamese culinary treasure, weaving a rich aromatic broth with beef bones and traditional spices. It’s served over tender rice noodles, thinly sliced beef, and garnished with fresh herbs.


  • 5 Pounds 5 Meaty Beef Knuckle Bones

  • 2 Gallons 2 Cold Filtered Water

  • ½ Cup ½ Vinegar

  • 2 Pounds 2 Beef Oxtail

  • 1 1 Daikon Radish, Peeled And Sliced

  • 2 2 Onions, Peeled And Chopped

  • Cup Whole Star Anise Pods

  • ½ ½ Cinnamon Stick

  • 2 2 Whole Cloves  

  • 1 Teaspoon 1 Whole Black Peppercorns

  • 1 1 Peeled Fresh Ginger Slice

  • 1 Tablespoon 1 White Sugar

  • 1 Tablespoon 1 Sea Salt

  • 1 Tablespoon 1 Fish Sauce

  • Pounds Dried Flat Rice Noodles

  • ½ Pound ½ Frozen Beef Sirloin

Step-By-Step Directions

  • Preparation Steps
    Place beef knuckle bones in a large 9-quart pot.
    Fill with 2 gallons of cold filtered water.
    Add vinegar
    Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat.
    Reduce to low, carefully spoon off the scum, and simmer for 2 hours.
  • Cooking
    Skim fat from the soup surface.
    Add oxtail, radish, and onions.
    Tie star anise pods, cinnamon stick, cloves, peppercorns, and ginger in cheesecloth and add to soup.
    Stir in sugar, salt, and fish sauce.
    Return to a simmer, and cook for at least 4 more hours.
    Taste and add more salt if needed.
  • Blending
    Strain the broth, discard spices and bones.
    Reserve meat from beef knuckle bones for another use.
    Return the soup to the pot, and keep it at a simmer.
  • Final Touches
    Soak rice noodles in warm water for 20 minutes, then drain.
    Bring a separate pot of lightly salted water to a boil, and add noodles.
    Cook until softened, about 5 minutes, then drain.
  • Serving
    Place some noodles into soup bowls.
    Top with a few raw beef slices.
    Ladle simmering broth over the beef and noodles.
    Serve with Sriracha, hoisin sauce, thinly sliced onion, fresh cilantro, mung bean sprouts, Thai basil, green onion, and lime quarters on the side.
  • Additional Options
    For a spicier kick, add sliced jalapeños or chili sauce.
    Serve with fresh lime wedges for added zing.
    Customize with preferred herbs and spices to taste.
  • Large Stock Pot
  • Cheesecloth
  • Fine-Mesh Strainer
  • Skimmer
  • Sharp Knife
  • Ladle
  • Bowls for Soaking and Cooking Noodles
  • Tongs or Chopsticks
  • Measuring Cups and Spoons
  • Serving Platters and Bowls
  • Slow Cooker or Instant Pot
  • Meat Slicer


  • Broth Quality: Spending time on the broth is vital; its flavor defines the dish.
  • Meat Choices: Different cuts of beef can be used, affecting texture and flavor.
  • Spices: Traditional spices like star anise and cinnamon are essential but can be adjusted to taste.
  • Garnishes: Fresh herbs and lime add brightness and are customizable.
  • Dietary Options: Variations exist for vegetarian, gluten-free, and low-sodium diets.
  • Serving Style: Served hot with toppings on the side, allowing each diner to personalize their bowl.
  • Leftovers: Storing and repurposing leftovers can create diverse subsequent meals.
  • Global Popularity: A staple in Vietnamese cuisine, Beef Pho Soup has gained worldwide admiration.
  • Pairing Options: Complements various side dishes for a complete and satisfying meal.

Nutrition Table 

Nutrition Table 

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