Pho, a fragrant and soul-warming bowl of noodle soup, is the heart of Vietnamese cuisine. Beloved worldwide, pho combines savory broth, tender meats (or hearty vegetables for vegetarians), rice noodles, and a medley of fresh toppings. This guide will walk you through the delightful process of making pho in your kitchen, inviting a piece of Vietnamese culinary tradition into your home.

pho bowl

Ingredients You'll Need:

For the Broth:

  • 4 quarts of beef or vegetable stock
  • 1 onion, halved and charred
  • 4 inches of ginger, halved lengthwise and charred
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 3-star anise
  • 3 cloves
  • 1 cardamom pod
  • 1 tablespoon coriander seeds
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoon sugar

For the Meat Version:

  • 1 lb of thinly sliced beef (flank, brisket, or eye round)

For the Vegetarian Version:

  • 1 lb of tofu or a mix of mushrooms

Additional Ingredients:

  • 1 lb rice noodles
  • Toppings: Bean sprouts, Thai basil, cilantro, sliced green onions, lime wedges, jalapeño slices, and hoisin and Sriracha sauce for serving.

Preparation Steps:

Preparing the Broth:

  1. Char the Onion and Ginger: Using an open flame on a gas stove or a broiler, char the onion and ginger until they’re slightly blackened. This adds depth to the broth’s flavor.
  2. Spice Toasting: In a dry pan, lightly toast the cinnamon, star anise, cloves, cardamom, and coriander until fragrant. Be careful not to burn them.
  3. Simmering the Broth: Bring the stock to a boil in a large pot. Add the charred onion, ginger, toasted spices, salt, fish sauce, and sugar. Reduce the heat and simmer, partially covered, for 1 to 1.5 hours. Strain the broth and keep it hot until serving.

Cooking the Meat:

  • For Beef: Briefly freeze the beef to make slicing easier. Slice it as thinly as possible. The beef will cook directly in the hot broth when serving.
  • For Vegetarian Proteins: Sauté your choice of tofu or mushrooms until cooked through and set aside.

Preparing the Noodles:

  • Cook rice noodles according to package instructions, being careful not to overcook. Rinse under cold water to stop the cooking process and set aside.


  1. Prepare Bowls: Place a portion of the cooked noodles in each bowl.
  2. Add Proteins: Arrange slices of raw beef or your vegetarian protein over the noodles.
  3. Ladle the Hot Broth: Pour the boiling broth over the noodles and meat, cooking the beef slices (for the meat version).
  4. Add Toppings: Invite everyone to top their pho with bean sprouts, herbs, lime wedges, and jalapeño slices as they like.


Serve the pho with additional sides of hoisin and Sriracha sauce so each person can season their soup to taste.

Enjoying Your Homemade Pho:

Sitting down to a bowl of pho you’ve prepared yourself is immensely satisfying. Whether enjoyed in quiet contemplation or shared with loved ones, the process of making and eating pho is a celebration of flavor, tradition, and the joy of cooking.

We’d love to hear about your pho-making experience! Share your stories, photos, and any personal twists you’ve added to this classic dish. Happy cooking!

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