Vietnamese Beef Noodle Soup (Pho Bo)


Over the years, I’ve posted about Chicken Pho and Vegetarian Pho, but not a Beef Pho. The wait is over.  Finally, the Beef Pho recipe is here.  Not too sure why it took so long, but here it is.

I love Pho and have been eating Pho all my life.  I’ve enjoyed countless bowls of Pho all over the United States and even a few bowls of Pho in Vietnam (The American Bowl of Pho is the best) . However, my favorite Pho will always be homemade Pho. I love the herbaceous and warm spicy smell of my house after simmering a pot of Pho for hours and I love piling on all my favorite thinly sliced meat and herbs to every bowl I eat.    Each bowl is customizable, so you prepare each bowl to each person’s preference.

When I started getting into cooking, I would watch my mom very closely every time she made Pho to see what ingredients she puts in the broth.  I started making Mom’s recipe, but after researching other Pho recipes online, and tasting Pho all over the place, I made a few tweaks and got my Pho recipe down to my liking.  Hope you get to enjoy making it as much as I do.

Ingredients for Broth:
6 quarts water
4 pounds beef bones
1  pound chicken bones
2 pounds beef brisket
1/4 cup star anise
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
1 tablespoon fennel seeds
1 tablespoon black peppercorn
1/2 tablespoon cloves
2 cardamom pods
1 cinnamon stick
2 medium yellow onions
1 4-inch ginger
1/4 cup Fish Sauce
1.5 tablespoons Salt
2 piece of Yellow Rock Sugar

Ingredients for Pho Bowls and Additional Garnish
3 Bags fresh small flat rice noodles (bánh phở), cooked according to package instructions (If the fresh is not available, you can always use the dry kind)
Top Round Beef, thinly sliced
1 package Bo Vien, halved
3 or 4 scallions, thinly chopped
1 bunch fresh cilantro chopped
Bean Sprout
Thai Basil
Jalapeno, thinly sliced
Lime, sliced
Black pepper
Hoison Sauce
Sriracha Sauce


Char onions and ginger.  Broil or grill whole onions and ginger over high heat until the exterior is charred.  Rotate as needed until all the sides are charred.  After it is charred, let it cool then remove the charred part and set aside.

Toast spices: Add star anise, black peppercorns, coriander seeds, fennel seeds, cloves, cinnamon, and cardamom pods to a small frying pan and toast over low heat until fragrant. Add toasted spices in a tea ball.  If you don’t have a tea ball, you can put it in a cheesecloth or make a foil packet and pierce a few holes in the foil packet.

Parboil Bones: Fill a large stockpot with water. Add beef bones and chicken bones in the stockpot and bring to a boil.  Simmer for ten minutes.  After boiling for ten minutes, dump the bones into a clean sink and wash and scrub all the scum and impurities off the bones.  If using the same stockpot to cook the broth, clean the stockpot thoroughly.

Make Broth: Fill a large stockpot with water. Gently add beef bones, chicken bones, beef brisket, onion, ginger, fish sauce, salt, and rock sugar to the stockpot and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer on medium-low heat. After two to three hours of simmering, remove the beef brisket, and then add the tea ball with toasted spices. Simmer for another 2-3 hours.  Total cooking time for broth should be at least 4-5 hours.

Assemble Pho Bowls: Add cooked noodles to a bowl.  Top with assorted meats, herbs, and garnishes and then pour boiling broth into the bowl.  Serve hot.


  • Parboiling beef bones and chicken bones are very crucial for a clear broth.
  • If the cinnamon stick is too big, just add directly to the broth.
  • Substitute beef brisket for oxtail or flank steak.  For an extra treat, add it all or leave out entirely.
  • Adjust seasonings at the end to taste.  If the broth is too salty for your taste, add more water.
  • If you don’t have all the spices and don’t want to spend a lot of money buying every spice listed in the ingredients list, the Asian grocery store sells Pho Spice Packets that you can buy and try out.  I’ve never used it before, but it looks like it has most of the spices I use.

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