chicken pho Recipes

chicken phở

Last week, when the polar vortex, something that ought to be a frozen rum cocktail with an umbrella on top, but is sadly anything but, had begun to descend its icy grasp on all parts of the U.S., I made the best pot of soup of my life.

roasted onions and garlic
cooking the broth in a pot I forgot I had

I realize I said the same — well, I technically called it “the best thing I ate in December” — about last Monday’s soup and that you think I’m being a bit melodramatic and that I need to go to some sort of calm-down-it’s-just-soup rehab for superlative abuse, but you’re only thinking that because you haven’t made this yet. Because while Monday may have been all about the parmesan brodo, by Tuesday night, we were all, “brodo who?” as we dug into bowls of intensely flavored broth with huge tears of succulent chicken and a tangle of rice noodles, topped with everything from scallions to mung bean sprouts, slivers of jalapeno and crispy-fried shallots, basil and cilantro and heady splashes of lime juice, hoisin and garlic-chili sauce that nothing will ever be right without again.

chicken pickins'

Goodbye, Jewish grandmother chicken noodle soup; we had a good run.

a few of the things you will need
frying shallots, just do it

Hailing back to the early 20th century, phở is a noodle soup with meat and herbs that’s a popular street food in Vietnam, often eaten for breakfast. It’s commonly made with rare-cooked thin strips of beef (often cooked right in your piping hot soup bowl), but I was less familiar with chicken phở, which is not terribly unlike traditional chicken noodle soup if chicken soup was acidic and crunchy/sweet/spicy/herbal/fermented/complex all at once. Right, so basically what they have in common is chicken and noodles.

great big tears of succulent chicken
how it comes to the table

However, especially if you are new to pho, it’s important not to get overly distracted by the “fixins,” no matter how perfect of a contrast they provide, and this is because the broth of the phở is really the most essential thing. The rich and complex broth — often with flavors from charred onion and roasted ginger to star anise, Vietnamese cinnamon to even black cardamom, coriander, fennel and cloves — is the everything, and while it may take a bit of time, it’s the ideal too-cold-to-go-outside afternoon project and will pay you back tenfold, filling your home with the most outrageously warming aroma, making the wait for spring absolutely bearable.

chicken pho(mg)

T-Minus 2 Days: Smitten Kitchen Facebook Chat! Pull up a chair! This Wednesday, January 15th from 12 to 1 p.m. EST on the Smitten Kitchen Facebook Wall (a top post will announce it; leave your questions in the comments) we’re starting something new, regularly scheduled open-invitation Ask Me Anything-style Q&A sessions that I’m hoping will both help me ease up inbox strain (i.e. I could answer your question immediately, rather than letting it fall into an inbox queue) and give us some off-site time to chat as fluidly as possible. I hope you can stop by. Whee!

One year ago: Gnocchi in Tomato Broth
Two years ago: Buckwheat Baby with Salted Caramel Syrup
Three years ago: Pizza with Bacon, Onions and Cream [Tarte Flambee]
Four years ago: Barley Risotto with Beans and Greens
Five years ago: Squash and Chickpea Moroccan Stew and Almond-Vanilla Rice Pudding
Six years ago: Lemon Bars, Crunchy Baked Pork Chops, and Pickled Carrot Sticks
Seven years ago: World Peace Cookies, Salade Lyonnaise and Artichoke Ravioli<

Chicken Phở
Absolutely perfect as printed from Vietnamese Home Cooking, but with extra notes added

This is adapted from a cookbook I’m greatly enjoying by Charles Phan of the famed Slanted Door. I feel like it could take years to soak it all in; it’s transporting in all the ways that a good cookbook should be. But what makes it great is recipes like these, which are standing ovation material: every cooking time nails it; the seasoning is perfect, right as written on the page; and true to its book title [“Home Cooking”] it’s absolutely doable for a home cook. More than doable; prepare to put this on regularly weekend rotation all winter.

The broth here is fairly simple (wonderful for beginners) but you should feel free to add any of the extra spices that sound good to you. Star anise is considered especially fundamental to phở. It’s typically served with a plate full of fixings including lime wedges, Thai basil, cilantro, slivers of jalapeno, mung bean sprouts and crispy shallots. You will probably see some chili-garlic sauce, Sriracha and hoisin nearby. If this sounds overwhelming to procure, do not sweat it; just get what you can or what sounds good. The beauty of phở is that it’s all about the broth, and one as good as this will taste dreamy even without a single bean sprout on top. Besides, Phan himself advises that “The trick is to add a little bit of each item as you eat your way through the bowl, not to dump them in all at once. You want the herbs to maintain their fragrance, the bean sprouts to stay crunchy — it’s all about aroma and texture, and if you add too much too soon, you’ll end up with black herbs and soft sprouts, which defeats the whole purpose.”

Serves 6

2 unpeeled yellow onions, quartered
Three 1/2-inch-thick slices of unpeeled fresh ginger, smashed
4 quarts cold water
3 pounds chicken bones or chicken wings
One fresh 3 1/2-pound chicken, quartered
1 tablespoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons sugar
Additional spices (optional): Cinnamon, star anise, black cardamoms, coriander seeds, fennel seeds or cloves
1/4 cup Asian fish sauce
1 pound dried rice noodles, a linguine shape (bánh phở) if you can find them

1 large scallion, thinly sliced
1 pound mung bean sprouts
1/2 cup torn basil leaves, Thai basil if you can find it
1/2 cup cilantro leaves
2 limes, cut into wedges
2 jalapeños, thinly sliced
Asian chili-garlic sauce
Hoisin sauce
Crispy shallots, recipe follows

Char onions and ginger: Heat the oven to 400°F. Put the onions and ginger on a lightly oiled baking sheet and roast for 30 minutes, or until softened and lightly browned. [Alternate idea suggested in the comments: If you have a gas range, just char them a bit over a flame. It would save a lot of time.]

Cook the chicken: Fill a large stockpot with the water and bring to a boil. Add the roasted onions and ginger, and the chicken bones or wings, quartered chicken, salt, sugar and any of the optional spices and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to moderate and simmer until the chicken is cooked, about 30 minutes.

Remove the chicken and finish the broth: Using tongs, transfer the quartered chicken to a plate and let cool slightly. Remove the meat from the bones and refrigerate. Return the skin and bones to the stockpot and simmer for 2 hours longer. Strain the chicken broth into a large soup pot and cook over high heat until reduced to 12 cups, about 15 minutes. Stir in the fish sauce; adjust to taste.

*Prepare noodles: In a large bowl of warm water, soak the noodles until pliable, about 20 minutes. You can also prepare the noodles according to the package instructions, if they differ. Bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil. Drain the noodles, then add them to the saucepan and boil over high heat until tender, about 3 minutes. Drain well. Divide the noodles between 6 large bowls and sprinkle with the scallion.

Finish and serve the soup: Add the reserved chicken to the broth and simmer until heated through. Ladle the broth and chicken over the noodles. Serve with the bean sprouts, basil, lime wedges, jalapeños, chili-garlic sauce, hoisin sauce and crispy shallots.

* Note: Phan has you cook the noodles separately in water, so they can be drained and used as needed. I believe he’s concerned about them overcooking in the soup pot. Theoretically, you could of course save time by cooking the noodles in the broth pot while the chicken reheats, however, the noodles are likely to make the broth cloudy, when ideal pho usually has a pristinely clear broth. [Thanks to everyone who mentioned the clouding issue in the comments.]

Do ahead: The broth can be made ahead and refrigerated for two days, a great way to divide up this recipe.

Crispy Fried Shallots

Why make so many? Phan says they’re an essential crispy, salty and sweet condiment in Vietnam, where they’re used in soups, on salads, in meatballs and even sprinkled on dumplings as garnish. Phan recommends that you twice-fry them, once at a low temp and a second at a higher one. I fudged this and just did it at higher one for less time, but they burned easily and I know his way is better, so am sharing this instead. I made about a quarter-recipe of this in a small skillet and wished we had more.

2 cups thinly sliced shallots (about 4 large shallots)
2 cups canola oil

In a small saucepan or large heavy skillet, heat the oil over medium-high until it registers 275°F on a deep-fry or candy thermometer. Add the shallots and cook, stirring frequently as they’ll want to cook unevenly, until light golden brown, about 4 to 8 minutes, depending on their thickness. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to drain.

Increase the heat to high and place a fine-mesh sieve over a heatproof bowl. When the oil registers 375°F on the deep-fry or candy thermometer, add return the fried shallots to the oil and cook just until they are crispy and well-browned, about 5 seconds, watching carefully so the shallots don’t burn.

Pour the oil and shallots through the sieve to immediately stop the cooking, then transfer to shallots to a paper towel-lined plate to drain. Sprinkle with salt to season. Reserve the oil for another use. The shallots will keep, stored in an airtight container, for 1 day, but they’re best the day they are made.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

New here? You might want to check out the comment guidelines before chiming in.

261 comments on chicken phở

  1. Kim

    I have been looking for new soup to cure the winter blues and this had me interested until the fish sauce! Do you have any other ingredient ideas that this could be replaced with and how to you feel about the vegetarian version of fish sauce?

  2. Gil

    I love Chicken Pho and ate it in various places. I would love to try it at home, but I have unholy question…how bad it would be if I would use chicken stock and add the spices in?

    1. deb

      Quicker chicken stock/Gil — I think that there’s no such thing as wrong in cooking, there’s only what works for you. So, while I hope you can try the full-length incomparable version at some point, you might find that taking regular (a fairly plain, no sodium) chicken stock and simmering it with the roasted onions, roasted ginger and spices for a while before adding some fish sauce might give you something that would work for a weekday night. Good luck!

      Vegetarian fish sauce — I didn’t mention this because I figured anyone making soup with chicken wouldn’t have vegetarian eating concerns, but there are recipes on the web for vegetarian and vegan fish sauce, such as this one. There’s also this thread. I haven’t tried any of these as fish sauce doesn’t contain anything I have a problem eating.

  3. Kailee

    OMG. I love everything about Asian soups, pho especially. I’ve always been too intimidated to try it at home! But I’m going to give this a try. Thanks, Deb!

  4. Gloria

    I adore pho. I tend to prefer cooking the noodles separately; since you don’t really have to even boil them (just a soak in a bowl over which you pour boiling water from a kettle) I don’t find it to be too onerous. I find they get a weird texture if I cook them along with the pho. Also the broth seems cloudier if I cook the noodles in it, and if you somehow have extra soup with the noodles already in it, when you refrigerate it for later they get gross. :)

  5. Danielle

    This looks amazing and I can’t wait to try it. I made your gnocchi recipe last night. However, I used Yukon golds instead of Russets. Maybe not the best idea because it was beyond sticky and I couldn’t use enough flour. They’re not pretty, but their texture is light as promised and they taste incredible!

    1. deb

      Cooking the noodles separately — Good to hear the tips and extra confirmation of why this is better, thank you.

      Greg — Ha! I know. That was my husband’s serving. He likes the stuff; you can guess that mine omitted it. Curiously, he finds basil to taste like dirt (well, he uses another word) so I guess we’re even.

  6. Last week just called out for pho, as we enjoyed it in our house, as well. I added roasted butternut squash to our bowls for a little something extra. I personally prefer to cook the noodles separately — my new obsession, so much like cous cous, yet nothing like them at all – they reheat up really well and are a great starch for little ones who might not yet be into the spices of the broth. I finally returned a very overdue Vietnamese cookbook to the library this weekend. It was nice to see them take my most-wanted sign off the wall. All jokes aside, I’m happy to now have a new cookbook recommendation. Ordering it from the library right now.

  7. Melissa

    Deb, would you say using soy in place of fish sauce would be acceptable? I want to make it but cannot have fish sauce in my dish (allergy.)

    1. deb

      faye — Rice noodles should be naturally gluten-free. Rice doesn’t contain gluten.

      Sarah — If you have choices, I’d opt for a Vietnamese one. I find the Thai ones most readily available, however. I think the Thai one is saltier, but I cannot remember.

      Amber — I would start with just a pinch or two of any that you’d like; you can always use more next time if it felt it got lost.

      Kelsey — I definitely think there is potential. The main thing is that I wouldn’t want the chicken to get overcooked; that would be a huge downer as it’s so lovely when just simmered for 30.

  8. Kelsey

    I wonder if the broth can be fudged in a crock pot for an afternoon? I love Pho, and am unfortunately kitchen-less during a kitchen remodel. I have a hot plate on hand, but if I could throw this in a crock pot while tearing down drywall, that would be heaven. Thoughts?

  9. seriously, I think the only people who MIGHT not enjoy pho are those who tried it with all the “weird” cuts of meat in it… I think just about anyone could guzzle down the broth from a cup!! I always tell my (Vietnamese) boyfriends mother that I want to take her pho in a thermos to work so I can drink it all day, haha.

    I’ve never had chicken pho before though, might have to give this a try!

  10. jen

    Love this!! I have been missing my asian fix since moving from vancouver to quebec so this is going on the stove this weekend! one question – do you have any ballpark measurement amounts for the spices for the broth? also you said you could do the broth and picked a day ahead…what’s picked? thanks so much!!

    1. deb

      jen — I mentioned to Amber below, since many of these spices can be strong when cooked for a long time, I’d start with just a pinch or two of any that sound good. By picked, I mean removing the chicken from the bones before returning the bones and skin to the pot for a longer cooking time.

      Re, spices — You can also skip all of the optional ones. They’re not in Phan’s original recipe, but anything you read about pho in other books and articles will tell you they’re essential. You can still make an excellent stock without them, if you’re nervous or if you, like us, don’t think star anise is your thing.

      Amy — I think it would but I’d only add the noodles before serving.

      Kosher and vegetarian and other fish sauce requests — See my response in Comment #8.

  11. Amy

    Would this freeze well? I’d love to be able to make a double batch and have some ready to defrost when the next polar vortex freezes us inside!

  12. The link to crunchy baked pork chops is broken…

    Pho looks so yummy. I find star anise a little too nauseating but probably if I make my own I can customize it. Thanks for sharing!

  13. Phil

    Awesome recipe! I truly fell in love with Pho last year. All about the broth and this is done right. Also, small edit: The “Do Ahead” just above the crispy shallots says “the broth and picked” I think you mean “broth and chicken”?

  14. Pam K.

    Hi Deb,
    I see you’ve had a few comments about the fish sauce – well, I’m allergic to it entirely. My question is – can you just skip it? Or will the pho just lose way too much flavor without it?

  15. For the people who are asking about fish sauce; yes it does lose some flavour as the fish sauce does add a depth to the broth. However you can use tamarind paste with a bit more sugar (1tsp) or 1tsp sweet soy sauce with 0.5 tsp lime juice.

    Simply pho is the bomb and chicken pho is my fave; for some reason chicken poached in this way is the only way i can have it. Perfect monday meal!

  16. Steffany

    Last week during the polar vortex, I made 2 gallons of beef pho ! Great minds I guess (: I will definitely be trying this chicken pho recipe though too !!!

  17. Jessica vu

    Oh Deb I am such a fan! This looks amazing, but I would suggest going more traditional first and making a beef pho. Pho is like chili… every family seems to have a different recipe and claim theirs to be the best, and is most always beef. Being married into a Vietnamese family for 12 years, I can tell you that all the ‘fixings’ are pretty much to cover up poorly made pho, or to adjust someone else’s pho to taste more like your family’s recipe (in the most polite way). Get the broth right and skip the fixings! Steamy kitchen has a great beef pho recipe that is a good start, and pretty close to my mother in law’s (only she simmers hers for DAYS). Thanks for all you do at Smitten Kitchen!

  18. Deanna

    I absolutely love pho, but I’ve never made it, mostly because there is a pho shop less than a mile away that sells an amazing bowl for $3.50. I’ve never seen fried shallots in pho, even in Little Saigon (12 minutes away since Southern Californians have no idea how far a mile is)maybe I could get them to bring me some of the ones that come with the vermicelli dishes.

  19. Christina

    Oh, yum! We have a great Vietnamese restaurant nearby, and don’t really have the inclination to make the real stuff at home – traditional beef pho broth, from what I’ve read, can simmer for days! We have, however, made a quick version with homemade chicken stock and a few pinches of various spices, and some delicious garnishes. My husband calls it “Faux Pho.” But this recipe might be happening in our house soon!

    1. deb

      Edits — Thank you, fixed.

      John — I know, I tried so hard to do the correct accent but the ASCII codes made my head spin. It’s not enough to copy-paste it; it needs to be correctly rendered in HTML or it leads to dingbats.

  20. I have been dying to try a pho place near us, but just haven’t had the time. I need to give in and go because this sounds absolutely amazing! I definitely feel like I need to try the real thing before even attempting to make it…bookmarking this for the future!

  21. Jillian L

    Pho is my absolute favourite soup, I usually get the beef version, and I have been WAY too intimidated to try to re-create it at home, so I am SO excited to try this out over the weekend. Thank you so much for tackling this one! A note about the crispy shallots, I keep some in a container pretty much at all times, I use the recipe from serious eats, which is incredibly easy, you just need to watch the shallots: basically just toss the thin-sliced shallots into oil(not yet on the heat), then heat the oil until they’re brown (med-high heat). They get super crispy and keep really well.

  22. This looks AMAZING! I saw it on Facebook and just had to reach out and comment on how gorgeous it was! Soups are my fave too and I always ooohh and ahhh on the soup until i move on to the next one :)

  23. Kathryn

    Mmmmh…I love pho: beef or chicken. I can literally eat it morning, noon & night (I have been known to when on business trips to Vietnam & short of time). I’ve never had it with the fried shallots though – & believe me I’ve done extensive “market research”….;) I will certainly be trying this recipe as it doesn’t take so long as the beef variation

    1. deb

      Nick — Thank you. You have made this obsessive very truly happy. (I had Googled for it, and ended up on a page with sooo many “o”s with various accents, all very tiny, I just couldn’t this morning… or not in the minutes I had left to get this post up before I had to put it off until tomorrow. You save the day!)

      Vy — Thank you. This is very helpful, too.

  24. Julia

    I’m a college student and my school offers “vegetarian pho” every so often… In my opinion completely defeating the point! Looks delicious!

  25. Vy

    Hi All – just wanted to chime in as a Vietnamese reader. You can skip the fish sauce, you don’t need to substitute with a vegetarian fish sauce. You don’t have to use soy sauce – salt is fine. Star anise is a licorice-like flavor that might not float your boat – it’s generally in beef pho too. My mom uses a ‘palmful’ per pot so like 6-8 stars. Note that Saigon cinnamon (used in Vietnamese cooking) is different than cinnamon used in baking. Cloves are especially strong so I would recommend using very little of it if you use it in this broth because it will overpower the flavor. Fried shallots are generally only used in chicken or vegetarian pho – not beef pho. You cook the noodles separately because it makes the broth cloudy (which is a no-no for purists because the clearness of broth is an indication of quality, probably influenced from the French) if you cook many servings in the main pot. It’s not that big of a deal but if you plan to freeze it for later, cook the noodles separately. Hope that helps!

  26. Beautiful work on this soup! Here in Seattle it seems their are almost as my pho kitchens as there are starbucks! nothing beats the cold better than a massive bowl of pho. I always get mine with meatballs – I want to learn how to make them!

  27. This is awesome. I am certainly smitten with it! I’ll have to make it. But I don’t think I’ll use chicken. It’s just… wrong. This is an Asian recipe here, after all! I think I’d use at least Tilapia if I wasn’t feeling adventurous. If I was, I’d go with octopus.

  28. Megaera

    That looks delicious. However I do take exception to the concept that the arctic vortex covered the entire U.S. Nobody ever thinks of us on the west coast when it comes to weather…

  29. Melissa

    I’m just about done cooking the broth with the bones for the extra 2 hours…. My home smells delicious! Can’t wait to devour this a little later. I will note- it’s a lengthy process- I made more than the recipe called for- used a bigger chicken and a huge stockpot-I’ve been cooking for about 4 hours now, but there’s a lot of downtime in between-gotta have leftovers!

  30. Liz

    How large a stockpot did you start with? I usually don’t swear those details, but I don’t think I would have a large enough pot for all the ingredients.

    1. deb

      Liz — Great question, one I’d meant to mention from the outset. I only have a 6 quart. So, I could not fit all of the water in once the whole chicken was in. Don’t sweat it — once the chicken comes out, put in any water you couldn’t fit in the beginning. With a 6-quart, you should be fine.

      Stock pot — Does everyone have one of these but me? Sometimes I’m cooking and I’m just baffled that at this point I still don’t have a big roasting pan or stock pot. Maybe one day!

  31. Allie

    I love pho, no matter how its spelled or pronounced – its just damn good noodle soup! Thanks for pointing me toward how to make it!!

  32. Betty

    Any chance for a vegetarian version? I’ve been chomping at the bit to try my hand at pho, but as a vegetarian, I want to know the recipe will provide great results (like yours always do)

  33. Billie

    Hi Deb, first time poster but have just come back from a 2 week stint in Vietnam, which included an intensive cooking class where we made Pho (included making rice noodles from scratch). My hot tip: the chef told us that the best way to fry shallots is actually using cold oil, in a clay pot (i’m assuming you could use a small sauce pan or even better a dutch oven or something). It works so that twice frying happens in the one go – they are poached in the warm oil, and then become super crispy once it gets to temperature. I can attest that they were super crunchy and fragrant! We made beef pho, and the instructor had us grill raw beef bones, lemongrass, ginger and onion on a charcoal bbq before we made the broth – spices, sugar and fish sauce were added as well. It was one of the best things we ate the whole trip. Anyway, am sure that each Vietnamese chef/family has their own way but thought I’d add my two cents :)

  34. Mai-Vi

    Just a quick suggestion since I’m Vietnamese and my mom has and always will make the best pho in my totally unbiased opinion – try charring the onions by placing them directly on top of your stovetop’s flames (assuming you have a gas stove). It may not be as healthy, but it really adds that true smoky, charred flavor. The onion will pretty much be black on the outer layer, but it’ll be worth it! This is also quicker than putting them in the oven for 30 minutes.

  35. par_parenthese

    Any reason I couldn’t use some of the three or four gallons of homemade (plain chicken/onion) stock I have in my freezer for this?

  36. I have eaten pho but have never made it before. It doesn’t look that hard and I do love soup so I’ll give a try when I have made all the other recipes you posted. There are so may recipes and so little time… LOL.

  37. Nooooo. I just raided the freezer and dumped all of my chicken carcasses in a pot for the regular old brothy stuff earlier today. Oh well. It’s sunny and 75 here anyway–will pull this out in a couple of weeks when it’s back down in the low 60s. :)

  38. Cassie

    Hey Deb! I’m a long-time fan, but first time commentor. Just wanted to let you know that you can buy those crispy fried shallots ready made at the Asian grocery. They are usually near the dried herbs and spices. My mom puts them on all sorts of yummy things, from soup to cold tofu dishes, Bc they are SO GOOD and you should always have them ready and on hand without having to make them yourself!!

  39. This is one of my favourite soups. I’m just feeling annoyed with myself now though for throwing away a chicken carcass yesterday – I really should make the most of it and use the bones for a stock.

  40. KarenTheCondimentQueen

    I’ve always done beef but often fudge with canned chicken noodle soup. Pho is nothing short of a religious experience. Make as much as you can and freeze the broth. There are many good Vietnamese fried shallots by the jar. Trouble is once they are in your home, they are gone! I keep a jar in the freezer at my neighbor’s. Your recipe is spot-on yummo! Thanks!

  41. Cathy

    Another reader from a Vietnamese background chiming in!

    You can most definitely skip the fish sauce. Personally, I find it odd that fish sauce would be added to the broth when you use hoisin sauce and the sriracha chilli sauce later as condiments. It seems like a really odd mix to me. Though, if you insist on using fish sauce my mother always has been very particular about what brand she uses. We generally only use the three crabs brand. Sometimes the (cheaper and more inferior) Squid brand can be used in cooking. However, it is *never* ever to be used when making dipping sauces.

    The spices are what really make the broth a great pho broth. Some of the asian grocery stores where I live (Sydney) make up pre-made cheesecloth sachets of spices for pho – better than those boxed ‘pho spice’ mixes and great when I don’t want to buy five or six different packets of spices in one hit. I was always taught to add a dried mandarin peel to my spice mix as well!

  42. I have only had pho once before and it was the beef version you mentioned. It was absolutely amazing, but seemed way too complex to conquer as a recipe. There are just so many flavors happening at the same time — it’s intense (but a good, delicious intense)! I can appreciate what you have to say about not going crazy with the sides too. I have never had chicken pho before, but so happy to see a recipe for something similar to what I had — will definitely be trying this one. Thanks!

  43. Jennie B

    Made this last night and it was fantastic! I has to quarter the chicken (my first time cooking an entire chicken!) and the whole thing took about 3-4 hours, with very few breaks. However, it was delicious and I felt so proud of it once I was done! Thanks again for a great recipe and inspiration to make awesome food.

  44. Emma

    Pho is basically my favourite food of life, and learning how to make it at home is on my 30 Things To Do Before 30 so I’m taking this as a sign that I need to make this ASAP.

    Quick question: For the shallots, is there a comparable substitute for the canola oil? I’m not a fan of it and don’t have it in my house. Would coconut oil be OK?

    1. deb

      Emma — You could, though I personally don’t care for the coconut vibe in savory things. I use safflower and sunflower oils mostly these days instead of canola.

    1. deb

      Dan — Pho is often an intentionally rich soup, which is probably why it is not suggested here. However, there’s no reason not to skim. And, if you’re making the broth a day in advance, once it has fully cooled and set in the fridge, you will easily be able to remove all the fat. That said, I found I didn’t have much on top after all the next day, probably just a couple tablespoons for the whole pot.

      par_parenthese — I think so. Use the tips I suggest in Comment #8 to make your existing chicken stock more pho-like.

      Mai-Vi — Thank you; great suggestion, which I’ve now added to the first step.

      Rice noodles/cloudy broth — Thanks, too, for this heads-up. I add this note to the recipe as well.

  45. Erin (@bbburrow)

    Hey Deb- Thanks for sharing this. Pho is one of our favorite meals, but I’ve always been too scared to attempt it. But I know I can trust recipes that you’ve vetted, you have never steered us wrong! Now I know what I’m doing this Sunday on my day off. :) Working my way through your cookbook right now. We just made your incredible mussels and frites. Thanks again for our happy bellies and warm hearts! (Hubby loves the grapefruit pound cake so much)

  46. Esther

    Making this immediately. Any suggestions for measurements of the optional spices? Definitely want to experiment with them but a bit paranoid about overpowering such a lovely broth

  47. I have been hearing A LOT about Pho lately, but didn’t really know what it was until now! Yours looks delicious and I will have to try making it myself so I can see what Pho is all about!

  48. Michelle

    Regarding the comment about the fish sauce…I, too, am very cautious about anything fishy. I do not eat fish…EVER!!!! I avoided fish and oyster sauce for YEARS. But, my best friend is Thai, and she kept at me until I broke down and tried them. They add umami, but NOT a fishy taste. Especially in the quantities in which they are typically used. !/4 cup in so much broth should not add a fishy taste, but if you’d rather not try that – it would probably be best to leave it out rather than find a vegetarian version.

  49. Liz W

    Thanks Deb for this gorgeous recipe! I’m very excited to try my hand at making this favorite dish.

    Do you think that using the 3 lbs of chicken wings could provide a respectable amount of flavor for the broth, if I skip the whole chicken and replace it with a few chicken breasts, which I would poach in the broth? I’m thinking chicken breasts could be a nice timesaver for making this a weeknight meal, especially if I’ve prepped and frozen the broth ahead of time.

  50. Caroline

    Deb–what vegetable side dish(es) would you serve this with if you were to, say, organize a dinner party around this delectable-looking pho?

  51. Camille

    I’m nitpicking, but you’ve said to divide the noodles into 6 bowls twice… once in “prepare noodles”, and once in “finish and serve the soup”.
    That said, this looks spectacular. My husband loves pho, and since we just moved to my hometown, population 1130, we no longer have easy access to it. I think this will help to appease him. Thank you!

    1. deb

      Camille — Thank you, will fix.

      Liz W — Hm… hm… (I really did think about your question this long.) I would use extra wings, probably 4 pounds. For my favorite “perfect uncluttered” chicken stock, I use 1 pound of wings for each quart of water and it makes a wonderfully flavored stock, but it’s also cooked much longer (though in a slow-cooker). Anyway, since you begin here with 4 quarts water, I’d try 4 pounds of chicken wings if skipping the whole chicken, and cook it for as much time as you have to kill.

  52. NeNe

    Another pho-lovin’ Viet gal chiming in here. For a vegetarian broth, skip the fish sauce and use salt and dried shitake mushrooms plus a little sugar. Or you can use a little umami seasoning (like a little MSG or mushroom seasoning,

    To boost the umami, I think adding some kombu for the broth would work too, if you’re allergic to fungi.

    When I eat pho (either beef or chicken), I make a dipping sauce with equal parts hoisin, sriracha, and lemon/lime juice in a separate little dipping bowl. The meat and noodles get dipped into this mixture. I don’t add these things into the soup bowl because it turns the broth cloudy, and pretty much obliterates the flavor; which seems so wrong when you think about the effort and time that went into make this rich and clear broth.

  53. flynn

    I was just thinking that the winter food that sounded warming to me all seemed so heavy; this is the perfect antidote! I can’t wait to try this recipe.

    I’m familiar with all the spices but the black cardamom, though I have it and haven’t had a good reason to use it. However, I know it’s a crazy strong flavor, so I don’t want to mess up a good stock if it’s the wrong way to go. Has anyone tried the black cardamom? If so, any recommendations on the amount to use here? Thanks :)

  54. Emily

    Just wanted to say that I cheated a bit and used a rotisserie chicken with great results! I simply skipped the step where you cook the chicken in the broth and instead threw the bones and skin in the pot with the water, charred onion and ginger, and spices. Saves some time and eliminates the ick factor for people like me who dislike handling raw chicken. Such a delicious recipe!

  55. Oanh

    Long-time reader and fan, first-time commenter. I was SO pleasantly surprised to find a Vietnamese home staple on Smitten Kitchen! We often make chicken phở (aka phở gà) at home as an, ahem, ‘time-saving’ alternate to beef phở (which takes about 8 hours of simmering).

    I wanted to offer our family’s variation on this recipe: after poaching and shredding your chicken, you can saute the chicken in a pan with a little oil, thinly sliced shallots, black pepper and fish sauce (all to taste) before adding to your bowl. I prefer to use dark meat since breast meat can really dry out with this technique (though the soup will somewhat ‘rehydrate’ it). This gives a bit of textural contrast (especially if you go for more of a light pan-fry than saute, giving the chicken a bit of a golden brown color and crisp edges), and gives you that delicious shallot flavor without the work of having to fry them.

    P.S. Deb – if you’re ever in need of special Vietnamese characters again, I find this online Vietnamese ‘keyboard’ very helpful!

  56. Oanh

    I forgot to mention, another variation is to try fresh phở noodles (aka bánh phở tươi) which are available in the refrigerated sections of most Chinese or Vietnamese markets. They are a little wider and chewier than dried phở noodles, don’t require pre-cooking (though you can microwave them for a few seconds to warm them up before adding the broth) and extremely fun to slurp up if you can tolerate the bad Asian table manners. ;)

  57. Donna

    Oh…..oh….oh… was so worth it and so good. Those crispy shallots, basil, chili sauce, peppers, warm broth, crunch sprouts. Big hit with all the family. A big thank you for the recipe.

  58. May

    Thank you so much for posting a pho soup!! I asked for this on your fried rice recipe and gave up when you never responded! You just made my day!!!! Thank you again! Ps I made your fried rice recipe tonight!

  59. Made this with some variation tonight. So excellent!

    I loved the notion of this on reading, and wanted to make it right away instead of waiting for the weekend, so I need some shortcuts.

    I got a whole chicken and two quarts of chicken stock. I broke down the chicken and threw the wings and back in the pot with the chicken stock + 2 qts water and simmered for 2 hours with the rest. This gave the store bought stock enough body. (Still plenty of marrow there, so I stuck the carcass in the stock bag in the freezer still).

    I reserved the two breasts and did a quick pan fry with salt and oil. Then, after a rest I sliced it and laid it over the cooked noodles before adding the broth.

    I charred the onions, ginger and added 3 cloves of garlic in a cast iron pan left on high for 5 minutes. This is fast and cleaner than directly on the burner.

    Since I had the pan out I toasted fennel seed and coriander and tossed that in.

    Those shallots! They are now going to be a staple. So easy and so tasty! I just shallow fried them in about a quarter inch of oil.

    For serving I just put each garnish in it’s own bowl and let people grab what they wanted. All I dealt with was bowl – noodles – chicken – broth.

    I want to make a huge pot of this and freeze it to make it even quicker.

    As it was from start to finish took me 2.5 hrs. I think with better prep and pre-made broth, though this could be an easy weeknight pleaser. Heat the broth, boil the noodles, prep the garnish. Done.

    Thank you so much!

  60. seattlemolly

    i’m so excited to try this soup! I make lots of homemade stock in the slow cooker with leftover rotisserie chicken carcasses… I wonder if i could do the stock part in the slow cooker to make this a bit easier?

    also, where in the heck do you find 3 lbs of chicken bones? do you just buy a lot of whole chickens for other purposes and save the bones til’ time for stock… or do you buy these? i suppose I could find 3lbs of wings somewhere but not used to buying just those, either ; )

    thanks!! love this!

    1. deb

      seattlemolly — I think a lot of people save the carcasses from previous roast chickens or chicken dinners; you can freeze the bones and use them for stock later. Wings can usually be bought inexpensively in bulk, due to the buffalo wing market. ;)

  61. oh my GOD I officially want you to do a whole bunch of asian recipes now!! Especially Korean, Chinese, and Filipino.

    oh my gosh I can’t wait to try this recipe out!! =)

  62. Hi,
    I have loved your site forever (almost since you started actually ;), lurked constantly and posted infrequently.
    I am going to ask you for 2 things :

    1. Please suggest a vegetarian/eggetarian options, if possible, for your non-vegetarian recipes.
    2. Please please come up with a yogurt based frosting for your cakes, cream cheese is too expensive here. I use your swiss-buttercream usually and my hips never recover.


  63. Shelley

    Wow, this sounds amazing! My whole family loves pho and I can’t wait to try and make it at home. Any guidelines for a beginner on quantities for the “optional” spices? I’m a little intimidated to just play around with the star anise, black cardamoms, coriander seeds, fennel seeds, cloves, etc. and I don’t want to ruin the broth.

  64. I’m spending two months in Paris and the other day, chilled to the bone on a cold and blustery day (albeit nothing compared to what the East Coast in the States has been dealing with) all I could think about was pho.

    This might just have to be getting cooked up in my (TINY) Paris kitchen!

  65. After 1 wonderful month we only reached home last night – totally jet-lagged! Just before logging off here I saw your post. O – M – G, just what I need right now, and you never invited me to share. A deff. must on my menue plan. Thanks. Carina :)

  66. Christina

    Everything looks good, except that Chicken Pho (Pho Ga) utilizes a good amount of ginger as well. And if you could replace sugar for rock sugar that’s great. While the broth is reducing, skim the fat on top if you prefer less grease to your lips.

  67. Eryn

    I’m so happy to see you do a breakdown on this recipe! I have the Vietnamese Home Cooking cookbook and have been eager to try it. Your variation and pictures are very helpful for my first Pho attempt.

  68. HJ

    I used 1/2 a stick of Cinnamon, 2 whole star anise, 2 green cardamom pods, 2 Tbsp coriander seeds (harvested them this summer), and 4 cloves as additional spices. It smells delicious and reminds me of the one I usually order at a Vietnamese place we love to go to. Thank you for sharing.

  69. Whitney

    This looks scrumptious. I’ve filed some pho recipes away in my cooking queue, as the husband and I LOVE pho; but something about the beef knuckle bones and has always intimidated me. This chicken version seems my pace fora home-cooked version. We can continue to savor and enjoy the rich beef version when we venture out for an authentic Vietnamese meal!

  70. Amy R

    Long time reader and recipe user but first time contributor. I have been craving pho for the last few days as a cure for the winter sinus crud. Your recipe post was most timely. I coached my husband from the sofa to prepare this golden goodness. Pho is one of our utmost favorite dishes. I know that the condiments are tradition, but none is needed for this amazing broth. So rich and full flavored. Can’t wait for the leftovers tomorrow. Thanks, Deb! I am on the right road to recovery!

  71. lizzie

    Won t reducing the broth on high heat make it cloudy – would nt it be better to barely simmer for longer to keep the clarity…….

  72. Hi Deb!

    I made this DELICIOUS phở this week and it far exceeded my expectations (i.e. I’m not a pro when it comes to Vietnamese/Thai/Japanese/Chinese, etc cooking). The broth was so fragrant and multi-faceted, and the simple flavor of the chicken plus all the fixin’s made the whole dish sing!

    1. I used 6 star anise, 1 tsp of coriander, 1 tsp fennel, 1/8 tsp ground cinnamon, 1/8 tsp ground clove and it made the broth so flavorful, like I was used to at my favorite phở place!
    2. I personally am not totally used to fish sauce, so in the future I would put in 1/8 cup of it, and then add after that up to 1/4 cup. It definitely has a distinct taste!
    3. Wear a bib while eating! This is the perfect slurpy dish. I always dress down when I go eat phở, and forgot that I needed to change out of my work clothes because apparently I’m a messy eater!

    Thank you, Deb, for posting this phenomenal recipe. My husband and I are happily eating this all week!

  73. Jana

    Made this recipe last night. The plan was to cook the chicken and start the broth, then finish the soup next-day in the crock pot. But the chicken smelled so good during those 30 minutes that I couldn’t help but finish the soup all in one go! Husband and I ate dinner at 1am and it was completely worth it. We used ~6 cloves, ~4 anise stars, a teaspoon or tablespoon full of fennel, and added a couple bay leaves to balance the flavors.

  74. Kat

    Maybe I’m a purist, but pho shouldn’t be eaten with lime/lemon, or cilantro. The whole purpose of the broth is to remain “sweet” and savory. The cook tries very hard to keep the broth from souring. Bun bo hue, hieu tieu, mi hoanh thanh, mi ga tiem, etc. shouldn’t be eaten with lime because they are all “sweet” broths. I really think only bun rieu should be eaten with lime, because it has acidic elements. Possibly mi quang.

    Other than that, the 30 minute chicken thing is genius! Most chicken is dried out from the long simmering in the broth.

    I would love to see your take on other view dishes!

  75. Andre

    if you are on a low carb diet, instead of rice noodle, use the clear vermicelli as the noodle (mien or cellophane noodle). These noodles are made from soy bean/mung bean.

  76. SG

    I dove right in with the quartering. Might have butchered it a little, but I assume all is good. Next question, if I’m making the broth a day ahead, should I reduce and add the fish sauce on the first day, or wait until I’m putting everything together. Thanks so much — really excited to see how this comes out (it’s for dinner guests … eek).

  77. Deb,
    I am such a big fan of your website and I love all your recipes you have shared thus far! As a Vietnamese, I was very thrilled to see that you have introduced a Vietnamese recipe on your website. I would like to share my two cents on Phan’s cookbook from which you have adapted your recipe. I bought this book myself as the pictures seemed very promising. Unfortunately, after having a 2nd look at it, I realized that some of his recipes are not truly authentic Vietnamese. This also includes his Chicken Pho. There is certainly no doubt that he is a very renowned cook and excellent gastronomer, but some of his book reviews also say that his recipes don’t work sometimes. I believe that his recipes are somewhat influenced by his Chinese background, which is probably why he included a number of Chinese recipes in his book.
    I just started my own blog (The Curious Mommy), where I also share some Vietnamese recipes, including Chicken Pho. :) My Vietnamese recipes are all traditional family recipes, in case you are interested.

  78. amy

    Making your own pho is revelatory, no? I think I did it once (with a mushroom-based broth), and I’ve been dreaming of it ever since. You’ll never be satisfied with restaurant-grade (probably from a powdered mix) broth again.

  79. Lynn

    I agree about the vegetarian version. I’d love to make this but don’t know if I should substitute tofu, or just keep the other stuff and leave out the chicken (boring?), or maybe use mushrooms….? I’m not a confident cook, so I need some help here!

  80. Tran

    Born in Vietnam here and usually makes the traditional pho from scratch. Yes it’s an ordeal but you can freeze extra broth and have it whenever you want later. It amuses me that this website reminds me that I should make Pho Ga (chicken Pho) as a faster version. The fried shallot is the key here. Don’t skip it.

    I made it the way I make the traditional pho:
    1. Blanch the chicken and chicken parts first, bring to boil, discard the liquid then make the broth. This will give you a clearer broth.
    2. Don’t skip charring the onions and ginger. This gives it the nice amber color.
    3. I use 2 cinnamon sticks, 4-5 whole cloves, 4-5 anise stars, similar to the traditional beef broth. My daughter calls this faux “pho”. Smells like pho, but tastes like chicken noodle!

    Debbie, I bought your cookbook for my daughter in college. She loves it and tries just about every recipe. I know it’s the right cookbook for her since you describe how small your kitchen is and how all recipes are tested multiple times. Thank you.

  81. Cilantro is the devil’s weed, but with this recipe I’m hoping to finally be able to try pho! Sans the cilantro, of course. Can you recommend another herb I should pair with the basil, or should I do just basil?

  82. Laura

    I always am hesitant to ask you questions in the comments section because I know you are inundated with them, and also the same question is often asked several times. I wonder if a “search comments” feature is easily added to a blog? It seems it would save you tons of time and encourage lazies like me to check to see if our questions have already been answered before we ask them. :)

    1. deb

      Laura — Ha! I hope so. I’m working towards a possible redesign (eh, “facelift”) for the site this year and put that specific thing (a word-search field) on my wishlist for the designers. I don’t think that it will be difficult for them to add.

  83. Not being a natural-born cook, and hating recipes without detailed directions, I anyway ventured forth without ever having tasted or heard of Pho. At the moment, it is busy reducing, but I must put in my two cents before anyone else uses the combo of spices I used; 2 small black cardamons split open, 1/8 tsp each ground cinnamon, ground cloves, ground coriander, and 1/4 tsp fennel seeds. The cardamons have erased all other flavors, including the onions and the double dose of ginger, both of which I had carefully charred.

    I’ve read all the above comments and think there is a possibility I’ve not wrecked the broth entirely, since it does taste on the sweet side, but I expected the ginger and onion to predominate and the only flavor I can taste for sure is the black cardamons. I’ve strained the broth through a new dish towel, hopefully removing any shreds of the cardamons that might further increase that flavor. It’s not “bad” flavor, but I don’t like that it takes over the broth.

    But I’m crazy about Deb’s cookbook and haven’t had a failure yet.

  84. Louisa H

    Are 3 and a half pound chickens common in New York City? I find my Cook’s Illustrated recipes also maddeningly say “a whole chicken, 2.5 – 3.5 pounds”.

    I live in the suburbs of Philadelphia, and I have never seen a chicken that small. The ones at the big grocery stores are 5 pounds and up, if I go to Trader Joe’s and spend extra for an organic chicken I can sometimes get one as small as 4 pounds. Luckily in this recipe it doesn’t matter so much, but I’m only ever cooking for two so smaller chickens would be nice!

  85. This was delicious and making it a two day process made it seem easy.
    I made homemade hoisin easy and much better than bottled
    and also added fresh mint with the good.

    My local Asian market had everything and the noodles were marked
    small, medium, large, xlarge…depending on their width..interesting.

    So nice when people comment after making it instead of countless
    ‘looks good’..not so helpful.

  86. We absolutely love Pho, although we haven’t had chicken Pho. We’ve only had beef. Recently, while visiting FL, our Vietnamese friends took us to a restaurant for Pho. Oh, so good! NOT that it was our first experience with Pho, but it was our first experience having Pho WITH our Vietnamese friends and that made it more interesting. For instance, we learned that our friends don’t make the beef broth for Pho at home because it “takes too long” and also that, in Vietnam, it comes in a tiny little bowl (not the “swimming pool” sized bowl so popular in American shops). Still, our lives are not as busy as our friends, so I’m pretty sure home-made Pho is in our future.

  87. I made this yesterday, and it is amazing. I tend to hoard leftover chicken bones, so i just bought a whole chicken and used up bone reserves instead of buying wings, and it still came out delicious. When removed from the fridge, it is as gelatinous as any good chicken stock. Will definitely be making again!

  88. Andie

    I made the broth yesterday and just served this up for dinner tonight. Wow! My house smells like my favourite Vietnamese restaurant! I used 4 whole star anise, and very small (maybe 1/8 tsp) amounts of whole fennel and coriander seeds, with a large pinch of ground cinnamon. My butcher was out of chicken wings, so I just used a slightly larger chicken (about 4 lbs) and I still ended up with an incredibly flavourful broth. My partner said it was ‘restaurant quality’. Will definitely make again.

  89. Andie

    One more thing: I made with only Thai basil as I didn’t have any cilantro and it was still great. I’d suggest using at least one fresh herb (mint works too!).

  90. christine

    Just made this – it is great!!!! I was uncertain as not having made my own stock… Just now ventured into making my own soup in recent years. I highly recommend making this – not hard and tastes wonderful. I didn’t know that chicken stock could taste this good :-) Thanks for a great recipe with lots of good tips!

  91. Lizzy

    We made this tonight and it is excellent. We used 3 pounds of chicken thighs rather than a whole chicken because that’s easier. We skipped the wings. We still ended up with a really lovely, chickeny broth. For spices we used 2 star anise, about 6 cardamom pods, 3 whole cloves, and about 1/8 tsp fennel seeds. I thought I had coriander hanging around, but I couldn’t find it so I figured it’d be ok to skip. I think this was a good balance – the broth is spiced but it isn’t too much of any one flavor. I was hesitant to use an entire 1/4 cup of fish sauce, so I used about 2-3 tablespoons. I thought the flavor was good, but my husband thought it’d benefit from a little more.

    So, bravo! I’d definitely make this again. Thanks for this one!

  92. natasha

    Made this yesterday and it is so delicious, tastes just as good as getting takeout! Absolutely wonderful, thanks for sharing this!!!

  93. Joy

    I have a family of Pho addicts yet I have been too afraid to try making it myself until I saw it here. Made my first Pho AND my first try at chicken stock. It’s the next day and I am still patting myself on the back. SO FREAKING DELICIOUS. Also, not at all scary.

  94. Killed it! My house has smelled amazing since 11 this morning. My boyfriend doesn’t love soup and really prefers not to eat pho … but he gave this dish a 9 out of 10! You and me Deb, we make a great team ;)

  95. Angela

    Haha…I killed it too! I skipped the chicken wings because my chicken was already pretty hefty. (I added a couple buillon cubes at the end to make sure the broth still had enough flavor.) I only had fennel and cloves on hand, so I used those and it was delicious! Do NOT skip the crispy shallots…they made the soup for me! With the lime and cilantro and Siracha…SO much flavor!

  96. Annie

    I made this recipe yesterday verbatim. It is every bit as amazing as you promised. It’s better (and cheaper) than what we’ve gotten in our local pho shop.
    Frying the shallots made the house smell of hot, smoking oil, but a few open windows took care of that and it was all we could do not to just eat the resulting crispy shallots straight off the plate.

    Great recipe.

  97. I’ve been making versions of pho for years, favoring the offal-packed tripe and tendon additions in the beef version. Something that makes my pho a favorite in my house: chicken feet. They create a wonderful broth when cooked down with the chicken bones (or knuckle bones for beef). Be sure to remove the feet before serving. They aren’t meant to be eaten, just used for the deep, rich flavor. Your broth will gel beautifully in the fridge.

  98. Amy

    Ok, so I made this today/tonight and it was freaking amazing! It’s crazy-cold here in Texas – not North East cold, but cold by southern standards – and this soup was exactly what we needed tonight. I actually modified the cooking-of-the-chicken portion of the recipe so that I could put everything in the crockpot and have it mostly ready when I got home. It was so insanely full of flavor! Even my picky seven year old devoured an entire bowl! Thank you!!

  99. RE: Things never being the same without Sriracha again…

    I’ve been looking into it, just in case of a shortage (I consume the stuff like a drug, I tell ya!) And… there is HOPE! I thought I’d share, though I’m wondering if this is going to be lost in the sea of comments on here.

    Apparently. the original stuff is still produced in Thailand, no worry of factory shut downs! I’m interested to try it too, seems like it’s preservative-free, though looks a little on the thin side. I’m going to keep an eye out for it here in Montreal.

    Have you seen this in your area?

    (more info here)

  100. I have a very long comment, so get ready, haha!

    I made this yesterday, and it was GREAT. I followed the recipe exactly, and loved it. It tastes very authentic, and you’re right—the seasoning is spot-on. I added 3 star anise pods to my broth, but I quickly reduced it to 1 when the smell was too strong. I also added 2 cloves. I served mine with thinly sliced jalapeno, chile-garlic sauce, cilantro, lime and scallions. TO die for. I’ve had a lot of authentic Pho in my day (including standing on the street in San Francisco many weekends), and this recipe made it taste exactly like the real thing! Mystery solved!

    I was so amazed that the broth is so simple. Just chicken, onions and ginger is all that it takes to make my house smell like my favorite Pho restaurant!

    However, I must say: 1/4 cup fish sauce is too much. It TASTED fine, but the smell threw me. I made the mistake of smelling the fish sauce before adding it, and as a result, it’s all I could smell. I even got a little nauseous and it wouldn’t leave me all night. The broth tasted amazing, so I know it was a critical part, but I’m just saying One: don’t smell the fish sauce. Two: if you’re very sensitive to tastes/smells, lower the amount.

    Thanks for a fabulous recipe!

  101. Lorrie

    I made this yesterday and it was wonderful. Few comments. It’s pretty much an all day affair so be prepared. I bought all the chicken recommended but might substitute bone in breasts next time. Less tedious removing all the meat.( I’ll save the wings for your delicious clear stock) My stock reduced too much I think as I only had main course portions for three to four. I then halved the banh pho instead of using the whole package. I used a cinnamon stick then at my local Korean store I bought coriander seeds, anise seed and fennel seed. I used 1/2 tsp each…baby steps. To top it off I used bean sprouts.. different than mung beans?, scallions, lime wedges, Asian chili sauce and Hoisin. Bought regular basil and fish sauce but didn’t use. Next time. Oh, the crispy scallions were killer. I only had grape seed oil and it worked fine. Will definitely be making again.

  102. This is my first time commenting on this site. I’ve had pho often before but never loved it to be honest. I’ve made beef pho and that turned out really bland and uninspiring. There’s something about Deb’s descriptions and photographs, though, that have me salivating, and I figured I had to give pho another chance.

    No whole chickens around. I used wings and breast meat, and that made for an incredibly flavorful broth… um, okay, I cheated and used half a teaspoon of “chicken powder”. But I would definitely say you can make this out of chicken parts even if you don’t have a whole chicken.

    I’ve heard commenters mention gas-grilling the ginger and the onion, which I tried. The outside of the onion went totally black, and the ginger caught fire several times. And I have to say I’m very glad I did so, because only then did the broth turn into something recognizably “pho”. I’m pretty sure it’s the thorough charring that did the trick, as I haven’t done anything else different from the previous times I’ve made pho. Please, blacken your onions!

    The shallots are also tricky: I ended up burning them because I was freaking out that they weren’t crisping up and left them in the oil too long. When they turned really, really dark brown, I figured all was lost and drained them. Turns out, they look soggy in the pan but crisp right up when removed from heat. D’oh. So don’t fret if your shallots don’t go crisp in the pan, and don’t burn them like I did. (still taste good though!)

    Also, I never knew you weren’t supposed to use lemon/lime. I do enjoy it in my pho, but just a little.

  103. Amanda

    Praise be to all things holy. This is hands down the most labor intensive meal I have ever made. It truly has taken me all day. (Especially considering my whole chicken was still frozen this morning and required a cold water bath to defrost!) But as I wait for the water to boil for the noodles, and I’m dipping bits of chicken into the broth it is TRUE. This is the best thing I have ever made. Knocked it out of the park – all aces – fly me to the moon – I have conquered the recipe and IT! IS! GOOD!

    Deb, thank you. For this, for everything, really.

    Now let’s eat!

  104. Tiffany Bui

    Deb – as I “age”..cough..cough..I’m getting to enjoy chicken pho more than beef pho. It is such a comfort food for me. It’s what I make when I’m feeling unwell – physically or emotionally. Yes, as a beginner, it’s absolutely paramount not to worry too much about “authenticity”. Just cook it. My 22 year-old just made her first pot last week and I couldn’t be more proud. I would add a few things I’ve learned over my 20-plus years of making pho – I can do without cinnamon but star anise and cardamon together will add a depth to the broth that is sublime; be careful never to cook the broth at a rolling boil or it will cloud the broth, and lastly, chicken pho is only to be cooked until done. Then you should reheat what you are going to eat in a small pot. (Beef pho, you can cook for much longer and reheat in the main pot multiple times as it will only get better with each reheating.) Thanks, Deb, for all your wonderful recipes and great writing. :)

  105. April

    Hi Deb!

    I look forward to making this over the weekend! I visited Ho Chi Minh last December and the food was amazing! Their pho is phenomenal, especially if you get to taste the old-school/authentic ones. Thinking about it just makes me drool. :) Since it’s cold here, I believe this is a perfect excuse to cook something Vietnamese.

    Will be posting my feedback as soon as I can. :)

  106. Sadie

    I made this a couple weeks ago for my family and it was delicious. As were the leftovers, which could be transformed into different soups as the days and ingredients went by. This broth works well with many things. Thanks for the inspiration!

  107. Saskia Nollen

    Made this today. Delicous! Belly full of pho :-) I make chicken stock on a regular basis, but the addition of star anise, cinnamon sticks and coriander seeds really made this different. I was hesitant about the 1/4 cup of fish sauce so I started with 1/8 cup but then kept on adding more as it didn’t make the soup taste fishy at all. In the end I put in 1/4 cup or even a few splashes more.
    What I will not do tomorrow night when I have my next bowl of pho, is add lime juice and sriracha directly to the soup. It kinda ruined the delicious sweet flavour of the broth. One commenter mentioned little dipping bowls with sauces to dip the chicken and noodles in. Wish I’d read through all the comments before making it! I totally burnt my shallots because I don’t have a deep frying thermometer and I got the oil too hot. So I deep fried some thinly sliced onions instead. I used olive oil for deep frying as I try to stay away from canola oil. The onions were delicious!

  108. Danielle

    Deb, Thank you so much for this posting! Pho is one of my favorite comfort foods but I always thought it was too complicated to make. After viewing this post I decided to make it last weekend and it was INSANE!!! I made a few adjustments- I) used a slow cooker in 2 stages; the first stage to make the broth on the low setting for 8 hours the second stage, after discarding everything but the broth, I cooked the whole chicken on the high setting for 3 hours and 2) I used only 2 lbs of chicken wings instead of 3 as you describe.
    My boyfriend and I ate this all weekend. I highly recommend this recipe! Thank you. p.s. Siracha is a must for this dish.

  109. Sara

    My pho is boiling right now, smells delicious! I used Asian five spice powder. Can you somehow repurpose the chicken wings after they’ve done their duty for the soup?

  110. Celine

    We were so excited when we saw this recipe. Thank you Deb for the imspiration. In lieu of a whole chicken we used a packet of 4 bone-in thighs and two pounds of wings. More than enough chicken. My stock reduced too much in less than two hours and only ended up with 8 cups of broth but so flavorful nonetheless. Surprisingly easy and another one to add to our rotation of smitten kitchen mainstays.

  111. Aurora

    Hi Deb,

    I’m planning on making this next week and have been getting mixed responses about a question I have about chicken bones. If the soup is ultimately going to be eaten just by me and my boyfriend, can I use chicken bones that we’ve eaten from? Like fried chicken wings? I’ve just been rinsing them off after we’ve eaten and freezing them. Are these bones okay to use?

  112. Gina

    I made this two nights ago and it was delicious! I sped it up by using a rotisserie chicken and only simmering the broth for an hour, and it was still very rich. I also put the onions and ginger under the broiler to speed that up. So good! I will be making it again and again.

  113. Amy

    Aurora, I make chicken stock just about weekly (we raise our own and eat a LOT of chicken). I put bones in that we’ve eaten from all the time. Seems like a waste not to!

  114. Cam

    My husband made this tonight and it was AMAZING. We love pho but always thought it would be hard to make / difficult to find ingredients, but this wasn’t hard. And soooo good. This is going to replace Tom Kha Gai as our go-to chicken soup, I suspect.

  115. susan

    I am currently midway in making chicken pho.First time. Beef pho is one of very few things that gets me to buy beef. Please don’t be offended that I am making a slightly different version from a Vietnamese website. I found your website as I took a break! in the long process. I am of a similar mind as you when it comes to soup. Morning noon and night, soup delivers. So thank you for this recipe and thank you for your website. I’ll be back. Pho is sooooo good.

  116. Ashley

    You were right, this broth was out-of-this-world amazing. I made this for dinner last night, and we loved the rich chicken-y flavor. The ginger definitely made it wonderful, too. The toppings were fun, and not too hard to find. I completely forgot to add the fish sauce in at the end, and honestly, I couldn’t tell that it was missing (though I’m sure it would have made it even better!). I couldn’t find star anise, so I used a generous helping of Chinese five spice powder instead. Thanks for a great wintery meal!

  117. I’ve now made this recipe 3 times and keep changing the seasoning, wishing I knew EXACTLY the amounts for “traditional “Pho”, since I’ve never tasted that. Still, I am sooooo grateful for Deb introducing me to Star Anise, Black Cardamon, and Fennel seed because I now use them in other recipes, when I want a smooth, buttery, slightly sweet flavor. I put Black Cardamon in a stainer and hold it in the liquid for a couple of minutes, and the harshness disappears from dishes that have a chicken base.

    I bought the Pho add-ons that are supposed to be used at the table, but have yet to put them out for fear they will wreck the fabulousness of the soup as it comes from the pot. Even the rice noodles seem too risky, so they are still in my cupboard. Maybe some day I will have my fill of the bare soup and start adding the condiments at the table.

    Thanks, Deb. You’ve changed my cooking so much, my family asks, “Is this Deb’s?”, when I’ve served something they really love.

  118. Kris

    Hello Deb! Does the recipe serve six with the huge bowl servings typically found in restaurants, or does six servings work out to smaller (“normal”) sized bowls?
    Also, I love your cookbook, and am only disappointed that there wasn’t a new one to put on my Christmas list this past year (though I totally understand, because it was a lot of work!).
    Thank you!!

    1. deb

      Kris — I’d say 6 normal-sized bowls, but definitely well-filled. So perhaps 6 in-between bowls? Sorry I am not more helpful. And thank you. Sadly, no more books! I don’t think I will ever ever ever find time to write another. (Or, that’s just the way today feels.)

  119. Katie

    This was delicious. It was time consuming but not difficult, and definitely worth it. Followed the instructions for the crispy shallots but mine did not get crispy. Am wondering if the oil wasn’t hot enough. Highly recommend!

  120. Hayley

    My family of 6 (4 kids 6 and under) LOVED this soup. So simple (and yet complex). SO DELICIOUS!!!! We live in the Bay Area where Pho can be found as easily as water. This recipe should find its way into more restaurants…or not. I’m happy to keep making it myself. Thanks Deb!!!

  121. clb72

    Pho party! I made the vegetarian version of this for a few friends on Sunday night after raiding our pan-Asian but supposedly Korean supermarket and it was a big hit. The broth was tom yum, mushrooms and onions, five-spice tofu instead of chicken, and two kinds of noodles, rice and soba, chopped vegetables and peanuts. Everyone made their own bowl. Of course the fried shallots were the highlight. Thanks for an excellent idea!

  122. I made this this weekend, and it was delicious! I charred the onions and garlic and added them to the crock pot with 2 quarts of water, the bones and skin of a whole cooked chicken, and salt, clove, fennel seeds and cardamom. I cooked it on low for 8 hours. I agree with all the comments – the fried shallots are the best part. I don’t know if I’ll be making any other chicken soup for a while. Thank you!

  123. Justine Navarro

    I just pinned this without even reading the recipe first – that’s how much I trust you! Maybe that doesn’t mean much… some people are pin-happy, but to me it’s a big deal! Yummy.

  124. Patricia

    Hi Deb! Was browsing – this looks yums for upcoming winter. I did notice a typo in the fried shallots section. I assume one prepares a bowl, not a boil :-)). Good luck with the move!!!

  125. Erin

    Quick question, in the picture of the broth in the pot you forgot you had…what are the orange things floating in the broth? They almost look like yams or oranges. As I embark on this recipe today (pre-making the broth for Tuesday night dinner), I’ve got my fingers crossed I do it correctly.

  126. Erin

    Thanks Deb! Made the broth (yam & orange free!) on Sunday. Serving the dinner tonight to guests. As always, I appreciate your great recipes.

  127. Mary Ann M.

    My daughter made this tonite. Still in the 80s here in FL. It was so fantastic. We both were in amazement as it was identical to our favorite phó back home in Texas. Thank you! Can’t wait to make this again when it’s cold & blustery outside!

  128. DH Usually makes the soup but he caught the cold and I immediately went running to you.

    He’s the star chef in our house but he was really impressed with the flavour of the broth. “More broth next time,” he asked, holding out his bowl.

    It’s really flavourful.
    And I cheated a bit: half a pound of wings (to flavour the broth but ultimately tossed) and half a pound of breast meat.

    Thanks for sharing this!

  129. Rachel

    Has anyone tried making pho broth in the slow cooker? Perhaps I missed it when skimming through previous comments, but I am looking for tips and suggestions about making chicken pho broth in the slow cooker.

  130. Long time smittenkitchen reader, first time-commenter! This recipe brought me out of the cloak of anonymity to post my gratitude and praise for this incredible pho. I am a pho-reaking pho-addict and initially approached with caution as 1. I never had pho ga before this and 2. thought beef pho was perfection. I am so happy I was wrong.

    For the spices, I use 1 whole cinnamon stick, 7-8 whole cloves, 1 black cardamom pod, around 8-10 black peppercorns, and 1 dash (probably 1/4 teaspoon) of star anise powder, and I’ve found that it is absolutely perfect (after a TON of trial and error). I also try to use a little bit of palm sugar instead of regular sugar, and I use the 3 Crabs-brand fish sauce (by far the best and most flavorful). I’ve made this recipe now more than anything else I’ve ever made in the past year, and it just keeps getting better and better. I’ve even converted my boyfriend into a pho-fan, just because of this recipe. Fried shallot “shortcut” – the first few times I made this recipe, I made the deep fried shallots as shown above, but I found they are a bit cumbersome/tiring to prepare every time. We now buy pre-fried shallots sold in big jars that last for ages in the fridge, that stay just as crispy as if they were just fried. I found these shallots in an Asian food market and my Taiwanese friends tell me that they are a staple in Taiwanese cooking. It has become a total lifesaver, without compromising texture or flavor! Thanks, Deb! I didn’t expect to find the perfect pho recipe on your site, but so happy I did.

  131. Deb — if I was having a girl, we’d have to name her after you! I’m due tomorrow and have been deadly ill this week — norovirus — and the only thing keeping alive has been this pho. Bless you and thank you. I hate chicken soup and I dream about this beast all the time.

  132. Ashima

    Deb, I am a huge fan and pretty much love everything I make from your blog. And I especially love this recipe! It was my first time making pho and it was quite the scene in my tiny kitchen with multiple pots and bowls and the oven and chopping all the toppings. But it was so worth it, because the end result was nothing short of a party in my mouth! The only thing I will say is that I couldn’t tell whether or not you discarded the charred onions and ginger along with the spices when you drained the broth. So I took matters into my own hands, as I often do, and I kept the charred onions in the broth (minus the skins). The 3 different types of onions (charred onions, crispy shallots, and raw scallions) mingled quite wonderfully together. As an onion lover, I never think there are too many onions, but I’m sure many people will disagree. I also minced the ginger and added it at the very end with all the toppings and BOY did it brighten up the dish. I would highly recommend you try the ginger. Thank you for a wonderful wintery recipe, I will be making it many many more times.

  133. Karen

    I made this recipe last night and it was sacramentally sublime! If you were going to make a vegetarian version, how would you do it? I’m thinking maybe mushrooms instead of chicken? Would appreciate your suggestions about a vegetarian pho.
    Thanks so much!

  134. Alyssa

    Hi Deb, I haven’t been commenting lately – but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been using your recipes! I made this tonight and it was phenomenal. My husband took a spoonful and said, “this soup is spectacular!” And then basically another word wasn’t spoken on either of our sides until our bowls were finished. It really was fantastic! Thanks so much!!

  135. Marie

    We love, LOVE this soup! That said, I make a huge stockpot of soup that feeds about 20 people. When you have all the add-ins, this soup is so incredibly beautiful to look at that all your senses are brought to new level. Really, this soup is sheer poetry. I do, however, add in bruised lemongrass stalks to the broth. It has such a wonderful scent I could almost dab it on my wrists! As well, I make a fish sauce, chili, salt, sugar, lime juice, and water condiment that anyone can add to their soup at the table if they want more flavour. It truly is heaven in a bowl. Thanks for posting.

  136. Cici

    I’m making my second pot (and doubling it this time!) after finishing off the last of the leftovers from my first pot that I’d frozen. I live in Orange County, so no shortage of Pho restaurants here, but there is something about being able to dish it up without having to leave the house that makes this such a great recipe to have around. Since we’re coming up to the Super Bowl, chicken wings are outrageously expensive (nearly $5 a pound) so I went with a cheap giant family pack of legs and thighs for $4.

  137. John B

    Happy Valentines Day!
    My wife is sick with the flu, so I decided to make some good, soulful soup. Usually I would make miso soup, but I wanted something heartier so I chose this recipe.
    I have to admit that not only have I not made pho before, I’ve never tasted it. I followed your recipe exactly. It took a good part of the day, but was well worth it. The broth was deep and complex. My first bowl was simply rice noodles, chicken, green onions, and bean sprouts with the broth spooned over all. Delicious.
    However, when I stirred a spoonful of garlic-chili sauce into my bowl I was blown away. I can’t wait to have another bowl!
    Thank you so much for teaching me about pho and as a bonus I learned how to properly cook rice noodles.

  138. JB

    I live in the Adirondacks, and while nearly everyone else is warming up, we still, on March 29, have a foot of snow on the ground. Hence the nearly April soup-making festival. I made this broth a few weeks ago (5 gallons of it!) for the freezer, and find it’s the best chicken broth EVER. I did make one change: when I stewed the chicken bones/meat in the broth and because they came from my freezer-bag toss-them-in after a meal chicken stockpile, I didn’t keep the meat off the bones for soup after they gave their flavor to the broth (these remains/bones go into the carefully managed part of the compost pile to become garden spinach in 2017). Then I served it with chicken breasts or thighs sauteed in coconut oil/butter mixture and lime juice/salt/pepper and a squirt of fish sauce. When the chicken meat is cooked and slightly blackened, I serve it sliced on top of the broth and veggies. The caramelized tart chicken crispness sits in the soup brilliantly. The three rounds of chicken Pho from this broth have been my best soup-making ever in my, mmm, forty-plus years. Thank you SO much for my best broth EVER! love your blog.

  139. Novia

    Love me some pho but out here in Okinawa, it’s hard to come by, especially good pho! I happened to have all of the ingredients on hand. Thank you for sharing the recipe. The hubby and I loved it!!

  140. Even in Australia – for anow easy kosher substitute for fish sauce, you might just try some MSG. Maybe a few dried mushrooms? I’m pretty sure the biggest thing the fish sauce contributes is glutamate.

  141. nadira

    Crispy fried shallots is one of the first most garnishes that someone learns in the kitchen in my country (Bangladesh). We call it Beresta. My mother in law used to make tons of this and refrigerate in airtight container. They stay fresh for months if you can avoid snacking on them. Traditonally we use lots of oil so that when we add shallot slices temperature do not change drastically. And we stir all the way till it turns golden. Then we remove it draining as much oil as we can and spread it on a shallow dish. I personally spread them on a sieve/strainer; that way they have airflow from all side which prevents soggy beresta. Beresta finishes cooking on its own in the sieve with the restored heat and turns one shade darker and crispier on the sieve. We never fry them twice. And their use is so versatile. My mother in law used to make a paste of beresta and raisin, whenver she cooked comparatively bland chicken she used it as a fixing. We even use beresta and raisin paste in the demi-glaze of potroasts. For garnishes try having it on lentil soup, basmati or any fragrant rice, they are so good :)

  142. Wife To An Amazing Cook

    This is currently simmering on the stove and it smells AMAZING. I added a cinnamon stick, fennel seed, black peppercorn, whole clove, and cumin to the broth and am not sorry I did. I taste-tested it when I removed the cooked chicken and the flavor is rich, deep, and subtle. The addition of some of our favorite condiments (lime, sriracha, cilantro) is only going to push this over the top. We haven’t had our first bite yet of the complete meal and I already know it’s going to be a star. Thanks Deb!

  143. Ires

    So so delicious – thank you ! I never thought I could make pho! We used Fennel seeds, half a cinnamon stick, ground coriander, about 4 whole cloves. We split it over two days. Did up until I stripped the chicken from the bones on the stove. Then the next morning we put everything but the meat in the slowcooker on low for the day. When we got home, we strained and then added 1/8 cup of fish sauce and the meat to simmer.

  144. Meg

    Just finished making a pot of this. I only recently started cooking meat after seven years of vegetarianism, so I often feel a little out of my depth (when it comes to poultry especially), but this was super simple!

    Was able to buy 3 lbs of chicken bones from my local supermarket for basically nothing, and poached a few chicken breasts rather than breaking down a whole bird. I used a healthy pinch each of coriander seeds, fennel seeds, and whole cloves, a cinnamon stick, a couple of star anise pods, and a few cloves of smashed garlic for good measure. My apartment smells amazing. Thank you!

  145. Ellie

    Thank you for this! I am so happy that I attempted (and succeeded!) at making Pho! I found the comments very helpful in deciding what to add to my broth in way of spices, so I thought I would return the favor and report back what I did.

    I used 3 lbs of wings (which, I actually pulled the meat from after the broth was done and was pleased to find it moist and flavorful to be used elsewhere)

    I used about 3 lbs of bone-in chicken thighs for my soup meat.

    I charred my onions and ginger with a little veg oil in my cast iron skillet – it took no time at all.

    For the scallions: I followed another reviewer’s comments and started the scallions in cold vegetable oil on the stove so I could better monitor their cooking and before they were obviously crispy, I tossed them into a sieve to finish cooking. This process worked great!

    My spices:
    1 Star Anise
    1 Cardamom pod
    10 black peppercorns
    7 whole cloves
    1/2 tsp fennel seed

    Perfection and such an easier process than I had anticipated. Thank you again!

  146. Rachel

    We absolutely love this recipe! The past two years on the day after thanksgiving we’ve used our turkey carcass to make a super-size batch of the broth, and then, after cooling and skimming as much fat as possible off the stock, pressure canned it into quarts. We’ve kept it up to 6 months in the cupboard, and it makes weeknight pho only a few minutes away!