Vietnamese chicken pho recipe

  • Serves 8
  • 10 mins to prepare and 3 hrs 20 mins to cook
  • 417 calories / serving
  • Freezable
  • Healthy
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Traditionally served as a breakfast soup, pho is one of the national dishes of Vietnam. This chicken pho uses a whole chicken and plenty of aromatics to give the broth a really rich depth of flavour.

  1. Put the whole chicken in a very large saucepan. Add 5 litres of cool water and slowly bring to the boil. Turn down the heat and simmer for 10 minutes, then skim off any fat and scum from the surface. Turn the heat down further, to low, and simmer for another 35 minutes. 
  2. Meanwhile, make the spice bag. Put the spices in a small frying pan, then toast for 1-2 minutes on a medium heat, until fragrant and darkened, but not scorched. Lightly crush, tip into the centre of a 25cm muslin square and tie into a secure bundle with kitchen string. 
  3. For the aromatics, use the flame of a gas ring to scorch the onions and ginger all over. Using tongs, hold each item directly in the flame one by one, keeping hands away. Or use a hot grill, turning to blacken evenly. Cool on baking paper, then peel the blackened skin. Roughly slice. 
  4. Remove the chicken from the pan, leave to cool for a few minutes, then remove the meat from the bone and chilli. Put the bones and skin back into the cooking water along with the spice bag, onions, ginger and garlic. Simmer over a low heat for about 2 1⁄2 hours, skimming regularly. 
  5. When the broth has reduced by half, season with salt to taste, then carefully strain into a large bowl through a sieve or colander before returning to the rinsed-out pan. Bring to a simmer over a low heat, then add the fish sauce and brown sugar. 
  6. Shred the cooked chicken meat and divide among 8 large serving bowls along with the noodles, beansprouts, spring onions, chillies and half the coriander. Ladle over the hot broth. Serve with the remaining coriander, lime wedges, extra fish sauce and chilli sauce, to taste. 

Delicious spins

Seafood: Bring 3 litres fish stock to a simmer, then follow steps 2 and 3. Add 1 tbsp fish sauce and 1 tbsp sugar. Simmer for 20 minutes, then steep for 30 minutes. Strain. Add 1 x 350g pack defrosted Seafood Selection and 200g (7oz) scallops or diced haddock and simmer for 5 minutes. 

Pork: Simmer 1·4kg (3lb) pork ribs for the stock in step 1, for 2 hours. In step 5, add 250g (8oz) sliced pork tenderloin; cook through. 

Vegetarian: Simmer 3 litres (5 1/4pt) vegetable stock with the spice bag and aromatics for 20 minutes; set aside for 30 minutes to infuse. Strain, then simmer 2 x 160g packs tofu pieces until piping hot. Add 1 tbsp soy sauce. 

Expert tips

When simmering the stock in step 4, top up with water if it looks like it’s reducing too quickly.

By the end of the stock cooking time (step 5), the stock should have a rich, deep flavour. Taste, then leave to cook a little longer if it doesn’t. 

Use a metal spoon or ladle to skim the stock (step 4), sweeping it over the surface gently to remove excess fat and scum. Put the melted fat in a bowl and chill until solid before discarding.

Don’t skip the charring stage for the onion and ginger (step 3); it imparts a sweetness and extra depth of flavour to the broth.

You can carry out steps 1-5 in advance, then shred the chicken, cool and chill overnight, or for up to 48 hours. When ready to eat, reheat the stock and chicken gently until simmering, then serve as per step 6. 

Freezing and defrosting guidelines

The broth is suitable for freezing. Cook as instructed and allow to cool completely. Then transfer to an airtight, freezer-safe container, seal and freeze for up to 1-3 months. To serve, defrost thoroughly in the fridge overnight before reheating. To reheat and serve, place on medium heat, stirring occasionally until it is heated through.

See more World flavour recipes

For top tips on protecting you and your family when preparing raw meat and poultry, visit Food Safety in the Home and view the full Food safety at home video.

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  • Ingredients

  • 1·5kg (3lb) whole chicken
  • 1-2 tbsp fish sauce, plus extra to serve
  • 2 tbsp light brown soft sugar
  • 2 x 300g packs flat rice noodles
  • 75g (3oz) beansprouts
  • 5 spring onions, trimmed and finely sliced
  • 2 bird’s eye chillies, sliced
  • large bunch coriander
  • 2 limes, quartered, to serve
  • chilli sauce, to serve
  • For the spice bag

  • 7 whole cloves
  • 1 tbsp black peppercorns
  • 4 whole star anise
  • 1 small cinnamon stick, cut into pieces
  • For the stock aromatics

  • 3 onions, unpeeled
  • 6cm piece ginger, unpeeled
  • 1 garlic bulb, unpeeled
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  • Energy 1746kj 417kcal 21%
  • Fat 19.2g 27%
  • Saturates 4.9g 25%
  • Sugars 5.5g 6%
  • Salt 0.6g 10%

of the reference intake
Carbohydrate 35g Protein 26.9g Fibre 1.2g


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