This easy and streamlined recipe for Vietnamese Beef Pho is made in an Instant Pot pressure cooker. This classic Vietnamese noodle soup features a clear beef broth flavoured with toasted spices and charred aromatics paired with rice noodles, various cuts of beef and fresh herbs.
This recipe first appeared on Sift & Simmer in December 2017. Updated December 2021.
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What is pho?
Phở (pronounced "fuh") is a Vietnamese noodle soup dish consisting of a clear broth with rice noodles, herbs and meat.
Beef pho, also known as phở bò, and chicken pho (phở gà) are the most common types of pho.
Did you know that pho is considered Vietnam's national dish?
Why you'll love this recipe
This is my kids' ultimate favourite meal, so I make this all the time -- you know it's gonna be a good one if it passes their palate test!
This Vietnamese Beef Pho is straightforward to make and you'll be rewarded with a restaurant-worthy dish.
Using an Instant Pot or pressure cooker streamlines the cooking process, and cuts down the cooking time significantly.
Traditionally, pho broth can take hours to make, but by using the pressure cooker, we can extract all the flavour from the meat and bones in a shorter period of time.
Equipment you'll need
- Instant Pot (or pressure cooker): my Instant Pot is the 8 qt size
- large stock pot
- frying pan
- cheesecloth + twine
Ingredients you'll need
For this recipe, you can get most of the ingredients at Asian supermarkets.
For the broth
Spices (whole): (see below for visual)
- star anise: shaped like stars, has a licorice flavour
- cinnamon: whole sticks; comes from the bark of a tree and has a very aromatic flavour; used in many foods, including cinnamon buns
- fennel seed: appears as light green/beige small oval seeds; also has a licorice flavour; commonly used in Indian cuisine
- black and green cardamom: appear as pods; black ones impart a strong, smoky flavour; green ones are very aromatic, used commonly in Indian cuisine
- cloves: are from the flower buds of a tree and has a strong aroma; usually used in pumpkin spice
- coriander seed: are the fruits of cilantro and have a bright, citrus nutty flavour
- onion: halved
- ginger: 1" piece
- beef bones: short rib, oxtail, neck, shoulder, knuckles will all work -- I like to use marrow bones, so those produce lots of collagen in the broth; these bones can be labeled as "soup bones" in Asian supermarkets and are usually a mix of of marrow and knuckle bones.
- shank: you can use bone-in or boneless
- tendon: I love beef tendon so I've added it to the Instant Pot; if you don't like it, you can omit it
- sugar: or any sweetener
- fish sauce: use a good quality fish sauce for the best flavour
- sea salt: or kosher salt; to taste
- rice noodles: thin, flat; soaked in warm water and drained
- assorted beef cuts (see below)
- bean sprouts: lightly blanched or raw
- green onion: chopped; or thin slices of white onion -- soaked in ice water for a few minutes (to reduce its sharpness)
- fresh herbs: cilantro, basil, mint
- lime/lemon: cut into wedges
- chili: bird's eye or jalapeno, optional
- hoisin sauce: a sauce made from fermented soy beans; adds a little sweetness
- sriracha: a chili sauce that adds a little heat and spice, optional
Additions & substitutions
You can customize your Beef Pho to your liking by adding various cuts of beef.
The cuts of beef are thinly sliced, so that it quickly cooks in the hot soup.
Add the following to your noodle soup (and in your preferred doneness for the steak):
- sirloin steak
- fatty/lean flank
- brisket: cooked
- tendon: cooked
- tripe: cooked
- beef balls: in Vietnamese known as bo vien, cooked
How to make it
Make the broth
Heat a dry frying pan over low-medium heat.
Add all the whole spices and toast until fragrant, a few minutes.
Transfer the spices into a cheesecloth and tie it up with kitchen string.
Place the cheesecloth in to the Instant Pot liner.
Next, heat the same frying pan to medium-high heat and add in the onion and ginger.
Char the onion and ginger, until blackened.
Add the charred onion and ginger into the Instant Pot liner.
To speed up the process, you can use a kitchen blowtorch to carefully char the onion and ginger.
Add the beef bones to a large pot of water and bring to a rolling boil over high heat for 5 minutes.
Dump the beef bones into a colander and rinse well to remove the scum.
Place the cleaned bones into the Instant Pot liner.
Next, add in the beef shank, beef tendon, sugar, fish sauce, sea salt and top with enough water to cover.
Cover with the lid, set the vent to SEAL and press the MEAT function, HIGH PRESSURE for 50 minutes.
Do a quick release (or natural release if you wish) and remove the beef bones and meat/tendon to a plate.
Discard the bones and aromatics, and pick out any bits of meat.
Strain the broth through a sieve into a large pot.
Skim off the fat using a spoon and discard.
Season the soup to your taste with additional salt, fish sauce or sugar.
Keep the broth a simmer while preparing the rest of the ingredients.
Assemble the bowls
Soak the rice noodles in warm water for 20-30 minutes until soft and pliable, and drain.
Place the rehydrated rice noodles into serving bowls.
Add beef slices (flank, steak, shank), tendon and other cuts according to your liking.
Ladle hot soup broth over top of the noodles.
Garnish with fresh herbs, bean sprouts, lime, hoisin/sriracha sauce, chili and serve immediately.
How to serve & store
Serve the Beef Pho noodle soup immediately.
Keep all the components (soup, noodles, garnishes) separate until ready to serve.
Note: Once the soup broth hits the noodles, they will absorb the broth and over time, begin to swell.
Tips, FAQs & troubleshooting
For a more clear broth, strain the broth through a clean cotton cheesecloth.
To easily remove the fat from the broth, chill the broth in the fridge overnight and skim off the hardened fat layer with a spoon.
For the thin slices of beef, freeze the steak for 30 minutes and use a sharp knife to make cuts.
To add more char to the onions and ginger, you can use a kitchen blowtorch.
Can I freeze pho broth?
Yes, cool down the pho broth and transfer to a freezer-safe container for up to 3 months.
Be sure to leave enough headspace in the container to allow for the liquid's expansion after freezing.
To reheat the broth, defrost overnight in the fridge and heat it up in a pot on the stove prior to serving.
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Instant Pot Vietnamese Beef Pho
- Instant Pot (pressure cooker)
- large stock pot
- frying pan
- cheesecloth + twine
For accuracy and precision in baking recipes, use weight (metric) measurements when available.
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 8 star anise
- 6-7 green cardamom pods
- 3 black cardamom pods
- 2 tablespoon coriander seeds
- 2 tablespoon fennel seeds
- 8-10 cloves
- 1 large onion halved
- 1" piece ginger
- 3 lbs beef bones oxtail, short rib, knuckle, neck
- 3 lbs beef shank
- 1 lb beef tendon
- water to cover all the bones and meat
- ½ C fish sauce
- ½ teaspoon sea salt or to taste
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- 2 pkgs thin, flat rice noodles re-hydrated
- assorted beef cuts: beef tendon, shank, flank, beef balls, etc
- ½ white onion or green onion thinly sliced
- 1 pkg bean sprouts lightly blanched
- 2 limes/lemons cut into wedges
- Thai chili or jalapeno
- hoisin sauce
Toast the spices and aromatics:
- Heat a dry frying pan over medium-low heat.
- Add all the whole spices and toast until fragrant, a few minutes.
- Transfer the spices into a clean cheesecloth and tie it up with kitchen twine.
- Place the cheesecloth into the Instant Pot liner.
- Next, heat the same frying pan to medium-high heat and add in the onion and ginger.
- Char the onion and ginger, until blackened.
- Add the charred onion and ginger into the Instant Pot liner. Note: To add more char, you can use a kitchen blowtorch to carefully char the onion and ginger.
Make the soup:
- Add the beef bones to a large pot of water and bring to a rolling boil over high heat for 5 minutes.
- Dump the beef bones into a colander and rinse well to remove the scum.
- Place the cleaned bones into the Instant Pot liner.Next, add in the beef shank, beef tendon, sugar, fish sauce, sea salt and top with enough water to cover.
- Cover with the lid, set the vent to SEAL and press the MEAT function, HIGH PRESSURE for 50 minutes.
- Do a quick release (or natural release if you wish) and remove the beef bones and meat/tendon to a plate.
- Discard the bones and aromatics, and pick out any bits of meat.
- Strain the broth through a sieve into a large pot.
- Skim off the fat using a spoon and discard.
- Season the soup to your taste with additional salt, fish sauce or sugar.
- Keep the broth a simmer while preparing the rest of the ingredients.
Assemble the bowls:
- Soak the rice noodles in warm water for 20 minutes until soft and pliable, and drain.
- Place the rehydrated rice noodles into serving bowls.
- Add beef slices (flank, steak, shank), tendon and other cuts according to your liking.
- Ladle hot soup broth over top of the noodles.
- Garnish with fresh herbs, bean sprouts, lime, hoisin/sriracha sauce, chili and serve immediately.
The nutritional information provided should be considered as approximate and is not guaranteed. Please use your best judgment to ensure food is safely prepared and/or a good fit for your diet.