Home » Soups & Salads » Soup Recipes » Authentic Vietnamese Beef Pho (Pho Bo) Recipe

Authentic Vietnamese Beef Pho (Pho Bo) Recipe

by victor

Top down view of Vietnamese pho soup on a bowl garnished with bean sprouts, mint and parsley.

Beef pho, or pho bo, is the most popular pho in the West. You can find it in every Vietnamese restaurant. If you are a fan of pho, you have probably noticed how the taste and quality varies from place to place. What makes or breaks pho is the broth.  It takes time and quality ingredients to prepare. Authentic pho broth will captivate  you with its aroma and the taste that seamlessly combines salty, sweet, and umami all in one. Pho requires a methodical and complex preparation, but all that can be easily done at home and its so worth it. Once you try it once you will be making it over and over again.

When I make pho the aroma of beef, cinnamon, star anise, ginger, roasted garlic and onion fill the entire house, making everyone extremely hungry. The aroma is mind blowing.

This recipe makes a full-bodied broth with a rich, multilayered flavor and taste. The broth has a dark amber color but clear. The longer it simmers, the more intensely flavored it becomes. The broth will taste very good after a couple of hours, but if you let it simmer for 10-12 hours, you will be blown away by the rich taste. This will make the ultimate pho bo. It will be so delicious that you will be thinking of making more the next day.

I like making beef pho on weekends, starting early in the morning and allowing it to cook for about 9-10 hours. This way it will be ready just in time for dinner. Since I cook on the stove top, I like to be around to check on pho every now and again, so no overnight cooks. I would be more comfortable with overnight cooks if using a slow cooker.

Amber colored beef broth with a spoon lifting up star anis.

Beef pho assembly steps

Assembly of the pho bo starts with placing mounds of slipper rice noodles in a bowl, followed by paper-thin slices of raw beef eye round. Personally, I’ll take ramen over rice noodles any time, and that’s what I use in my pho. That’s the beauty of homemade pho bo – you can completely customize it to your taste and come up with a masterpiece.

A bowl with rice noodles and sliced beef.

The next step is to pour boiling hot broth over the noodles and the meat. The hot broth will cook the raw thinly sliced meat to perfection – deliciously flavored and tender. Just make sure to cover the meat with the broth. Note that if you follow the recipe below, the picture above should also have bits of meat from the bones and thinly sliced onions and scallions arranged over the raw beef slices before pouring the broth. Things happen when trying cook, style, and take pictures at the same time.

Pouring hot beef broth over raw beef slices in a bowl.

To enhance the finished dish, well-done flank, brisket, tendon, or tripe are sometimes added as well. The more meat the better, right?

Finish the dish by garnishing it with bean sprouts, greens and squeezing some lime juice over it.

a side view of a bowl of beef pho garnished with bean sprouts and greens.

If you like your pho spicy add some sriracha on the side. Traditionally, hot sauces are served on the side so as not to spoil the taste of the broth. Just dip a slice of meat into the sauce and eat it, followed by spoonfuls of delicious pho.

The recipe is originally from the Little Saigon Cookbook.

Authentic beef pho (pho bo) that will captivate you with its aroma and the taste that seamlessly combines salty, sweet, and umami all in one. The beef pho recipe comes from a restaurant that is famious for its pho bo. A must try. | ifoodblogger.com

Authentic Vietnamese Beef Pho (Pho Bo) Recipe

4.78 from 9 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Dinner, lunch
Cuisine: Vietnamese
Keyword: beef pho, pho bo
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 3 hours
Total Time: 3 hours 20 minutes
Servings: 6 servings
Calories: 645kcal
Author: Victor


For the pho bo broth:

  • 3 lbs beef knuckles or neck bones (with meat, see notes)
  • 2 lbs beef oxtail (see notes)
  • 10 cups water (or enough to entirely cover the meat)
  • 2 large yellow onions (peeled)
  • 1 fresh ginger root (½ size of a small palm, roughly peeled)
  • 4 whole star anise (with pods)
  • ½ Tbsp whole cloves
  • 1 Tbsp black peppercorns
  • 4 cloves garlic (smashed)
  • 1 daikon (peeled and cut into 3 pieces)
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 3 small shallots (peeled)
  • 1/2 cup fish sauce (see notes)
  • 1 Tbsp salt (plus more to taste, the original recipe calls for 2 Tbsp)

For pho bo assembly:

  • 12 oz flat rice noodles (pho noodles, see notes)
  • 1 pound sirloin or top round steak (sliced paper-thin against the grain)
  • 1 medium yellow onion (sliced paper-thin on a mandolin)
  • 6 scallions (chopped into rings)

For the garnish:

  • Sriracha chili sauce
  • Hoisin sauce
  • Fresh cilantro leaves
  • Green limes (quartered)
  • Mung bean sprouts
  • Thai basil leaves
  • Perilla leaves
  • Coriander leaves
  • Fresh whole red or green chiles


  • Place the beef bones and the oxtail in a large stockpot. Add the water. The bones should be completely covered with water. If not, add more. Bring to a boil and let the the bones boil while you are preparing the rest of the ingredients.
  • Cut two peeled onions in half. Char each half by holding it with tongs over open flame of a gas stove or place it under the broiler. This will bring out the aroma and deepen the flavor of the broth. Repeat the same with the ginger and set aside.
  • In a small skillet, lightly toast, frequently stirring, the anise pods. cloves, peppercorns, and garlic for about 5 minutes, or until fragrant. Set aside to cool.
  • Check on the boiling bones in the stockpot and skim off any scum that has accumulated.
  • Add the toasted spices and garlic, charred onion and ginger, daikon, cinnamon stick, and shallots to the stock. Boil for 15 minutes, then bring down to a gentle simmer.
  • Add the rock sugar (optional), fish sauce, salt, and stir well. Continue to simmer for 2½ hours, uncovered, periodically skimming off any scum or fat as they accumulate. The broth will be ready to eat after 2 1/2 hours,  but the longer you simmer the better it will become. Continue simmering, covered, for up to 10-12 hours in total for the ultimate pho bo.
  • When the broth is done cooking, remove the pot from the heat and set aside to cool a little. Remove the bones and oxtails and set aside. You can use the meat and the bone marrow in the soup. Strain the broth through a fine mesh strainer into a new stockpot. The broth should be richly colored but clear. Bring the broth back to gentle simmer.
  • Fill a large pot with hot tap water. Soak the rice noodles in the water for about 10 minutes. They should soften just slightly: the hot pho broth will cook them the rest of the way.
  • Drain the noodles and place them in six individual soup bowls. Arrange the sliced raw beef on top, followed by thinly sliced onions and scallions.
  • Slice the oxtail meat and add it to the bowl as well as any of the bits of meat and bone marrow taken from the bones.
  • Pour the boiling hot broth into the soup bowls, making sure it covers the raw beef. The broth will cook the beef as well as the noodles. Give it a few minutes to do so, then serve with the pho garnish platter. A squeeze or two of lime juice will help cut the richness of the broth. The sauces can be added to the pho bo or used as a dipping sauce for beef. Using them as a dipping sauce will prevent from spoiling the wonderful flavor of the broth.


I had a hard time finding beef knuckles of beef neck bones at local supermarkets and ended up buying what was called 'beef soup bones'. They worked really well.
Oxtails are not cheap. I've tried this recipe with and without oxtails, and both times the broth turned out fantastic. The difference was barely noticeable.
The original recipe calls for rock sugar - ½ cup rock sugar, roughly palm size. If you like sweetness in your pho, add this ingredient. I usually omit it.
The original recipe calls for 1 cup fish sauce, which I found to be a little too much for my taste. 1/2 a cup was just perfect for my taste. You decide for yourself.
Pho noodles or rice noodles are what's used traditionally, but they are a bit rubbery and quite tasteless. Personally, I like using ramen noodles. You can't go wrong with those.


Calories: 645kcal | Carbohydrates: 45g | Protein: 63g | Fat: 22g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Cholesterol: 200mg | Sodium: 3115mg | Potassium: 608mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 130IU | Vitamin C: 20.5mg | Calcium: 123mg | Iron: 8.9mg

This post was updated on December 27, 2018





You may also like

Leave a Comment



Debs January 24, 2020 - 6:49 pm

Hi! May I ask a question?
When simmering for 9-10 hrs, do you have to add more water to make up for lost in evaporation? If so, how many cups of broth should there be left in the pot to make 6 servings? Please let us know before I make this. Thank you so much! ☺

victor January 24, 2020 - 7:07 pm

I keep it covered so most water stays in. The lid has a tiny hole through which some steam escapes but that’s it. No need to add water. I never do. It should be a gentle simmer on one of the lowest settings on your stove so the evaporation is small to begin with.

Annie E December 29, 2019 - 6:44 pm

This pho is really good. Better than any restaurant nearby. It does call for too much salt though. I think 1-2 tsps is enough. I don’t understand how the original recipe could have called for 2 tbsp. I could understand 2 tsps. I love a lot of salt, but that’s just too much.

Ben Bruner October 5, 2019 - 12:02 am

Made this dish for my son. We both appreciate authenticity. This one is spot on. As stated it does take 8 to 12 hours for the magic to happen but soooo
worth it. Good things come to those who wait! Please note I’m note boasting on my skills but this recipe was the best I’ve tried

Brittney D August 26, 2019 - 5:20 pm

Pho has been one of my favorite dishes since I first tried it about 2 years ago ! I have NEEDED it in my life at least once every other week and have tried many restaurants. I have only Come across 2 or 3 that are really good. This pho recipe followed step by step and allowing the time to simmer for hours made an amazing broth ! I love it and I also did not use the oxtail .. although im not sure what using it would taste like But i can tell you I am not disappointed one bit with the outcome not using it …this is great .. thank you for sharing!

victor August 27, 2019 - 12:22 pm

You are very welcome. Glad you liked our pho recipe.

Bruce February 3, 2019 - 5:25 pm

Did my soup/stock base after cooking it for 9.5 hours, and made about 9 big bowls of pho from it, and very good. From my experience with chinese beef noodle soup, I added some baby bok choy for more veg content, and for my wife who doesn’t like beef replaced the tender beef slices with fish balls, and also came out good. If the stock is rich, then adding more flavour with sauces and sate makes it all worth the trouble. Next time I’ll pump up the stock with more spices – coriander and fennel – to deepen flavours. Thanks, Victor, with this preparation. Soo cool!

Ym February 2, 2019 - 8:35 pm

I made Phở Bò and sometimes I do make Phở Gà (chicken). I like your phở a lot. Just reading the ingredients I knew I got a righ recipe.
Thank you.

victor February 2, 2019 - 8:55 pm

Thank you. I get a lot of praises for it.

Jim December 17, 2017 - 6:26 pm

First time making “Fu”. This recipe did not disappoint! The family loved it as did I! My only draw back was, the noodles I used did not soften up from the boiling broth. I pre soaked them for 25 minutes. Maybe my water was not hot enough to tender them up. I ended up boiling them for a couple minutes and bam!

victor December 17, 2017 - 6:30 pm

Thanks for the feedback, Jim. I also had some problems with rice noodles. More so, I don’t enjoy them too much as they are quite bland. I now use pre-cooked Japanese ramen noodles and everyone loves them. It’s not authentic but very tasty.

Linda December 15, 2017 - 4:18 pm

This recipe was awesome. I made it without the ox tail and fish sauce and my husband said it tasted better than my moms! My mom is an awesome cook so that was quite the compliment. Also, my entire home smelled like a pho restaurant.

victor December 15, 2017 - 5:45 pm

Fantastic! So good to hear that and I am not surprised. I tried Pho at several restaurants and I can’t help but think that this recipe makes a much more flavorful and thicker broth. I like to simmer mine for 8-10 hours for best results.

Bruce January 20, 2019 - 12:41 pm

I think restaurants reflect the culture they are set up in? I have lived in Asia, but as a Canadian living in western Canada, I’ve tried about 20 Vietnamese restos in Calgary, and except for 2, they all offer bland pho with marginally okay broths, and big plastic bottles of sauces on the tables to counter the low quality flavour in their pho. Thanks, Victor, for the encouragement to cook the base broth for much of the day before making completing the soup. As I’ve already done spicy beef noodle soup Taiwanese style, I now know that the ingredients with patience helps make a soup that’s just as good as most restaurants. So now I will try a pho with a broth that from soup bones should make one’s ears stand up straight and dance all day….

Jen June 18, 2017 - 4:24 pm

OMG! That picture of the broth makes me so hungry!