Pho has been sweeping the US for the last couple of years and it might be the most photographed food on Instagram. What is great about pho is that you really can make it however you would like because it is extremely versatile. I was taught some great Pho recipes when traveling through Vietnam with some tips and tricks along the way! Unfortunately it is near impossible to make it as good as the real thing you’d get in Vietnam, especially when you want something quick… however this recipe is still great and will satisfy that craving!
Here is a how-to video for this recipe!
I also learned in Vietnam that pho is different whether you are in the south in Saigon or the north in Hanoi. With that said, the recipe itself has its own variations so don’t be worried about making it only one way… make it to what you love. If they can make it different in Vietnam surely you can add your own flair and make it how you want at home! Make it spicier, make it sweeter or saltier… have fun with it!
There is no doubt that pho recipes are intimidating. There are like 20 ingredients and 3+ you probably don’t have at home. This recipe is for people who aren’t experts in the kitchen. The goal is to dumb it down so anyone can make it. This is also a cost-efficient recipe giving you substitutes for many of the items you might not have already or if don’t want to spend $20+ for new spices. There are recipes out there of making your own chicken stock but here we don’t have time for that so go get yourself from chicken broth.
There are many variations of pho with the main ones being the original beef version called pho ba, the vegetable version called pho chay or my favorite, the chicken version called pho ga. Complete transparency myself and many people I know think most beef pho is too strong of a taste and opt for the chicken version. So if you are new to pho then this chicken version is the best option for you.
I honestly just make this recipe to be a superhero version of the standard 99 cent ramen noodles. Let’s take ramen noodles, which we all love, then add in some extra amazing flavors, toppings and enjoy ourselves!
Real talk… I do not like beef pho at all. People are on this pho bandwagon and I honestly am not a huge fan of the beef or pork versions as they often have a pretty harsh taste… however the chicken version or pho ga I am completely on board for. Thus made you a simple version that anyone at home can make! Furthermore, beef pho is also significantly harder to create and needs more TLC when creating it, where the chicken version you can get away with some shortcuts to still have a lovely tasting pho ga.
What makes this the most helpful and best/simple recipe is that I am watching after your bank account. Nothing is worse than wanting to make these fun dishes and realizing you need to purchase a bunch of random ingredients you won’t use for anything else. There’s a good chance you don’t have 3-5 of these spices or sauces at home and instantly this recipe costs $50 the first time… so let’s help that.
Cheap Ingredient Substitutes
As you hopefully know, this is a website to make dishes simple, easy and ideally cheap. With that said, you may want to substitute some things if you don’t want to spend a total of $25 on new bottles of coriander, cinnamon sticks, star anises, cloves, whole black pepper and fish sauce.
If you plan on making this dish often or can use the ingredients then definitely do the investment. However, if you don’t want to spend a ton on a few ingredients at this moment I am here to help. Ironically Whole Foods has little mini packs of these spices for $2 each vs. buying a whole bottle for $7+ (ironic because Whole Foods is never cheap).
Coriander substitute: You can substitute cumin, caraways seeds or fennel… or just don’t use it altogether. Again it helps the flavor and authenticity but isn’t a deal break to the average pho enjoyer. It is also a pain in the neck to get out of the broth if you don’t have a wire strainer.
Star anise and clove substitute: These bother are good replacements for each other. Thus, just buy one or the other if money is tight. Star anises can be used again in my Pumpkin Spice Eggnog Cocktail…
Fish Sauce substitute: If you don’t want to buy $5-8 fish sauce then you are in luck as you can substitute 1 tsp of Worcestershire sauce! Another substitute is 1 tsp of soy sauce with a little squeeze of lime juice… or even combine all three!
Cinnamon stick: Similarly here, it is annoying to buy a bottle of sticks for $8 to use one… so you can skip this if you need to. However… you can use these again if you are making my Espresso Martini recipe or Bourbon Eggnog Recipe…
How Do You Pronounce Pho?
Well as you probably know the real way to pronounce it is “fuh” and it actually refers to the rice noodles and not the soup itself. However, no need to feel silly for calling it “pho” and don’t be those “you know that’s not how you pronounce it” people.
Quick and Easy Chicken Pho Recipe
- 1 lb chicken thighs or breast
- 4 cups chicken broth
- 3 green onions
- 1 whole yellow or white onion quartered
- 2-3 inch piece of ginger
- 2-4 cloves garlic - lightly crushed I always extra garlic. I will add 2 full crushed to make broth, which I remove and also 2 minced into broth.
- 2 whole cloves Do double cloves or star anise and don't buy the other if tight on cash
- 2 whole star anise Do double cloves or star anise and don't buy the other if tight on cash
- 3 tbsp fish sauce See fish sauce substitutes in body of article
- 1 tbsp coriander seed See body of article for substitute
- 1 cinnamon stick broken in half optional, skip if tight on cash and don't have
- 1 tbsp sesame oil sub olive oil
- 8 oz rice noodles
- 1 cup bean sprouts
- 1 handful thai basil Sub regular basil if needed.
- 1 handful cilantro I don't like cilantro so I leave this out...
- 1/2 lime cut into wedges
- salt & pepper to taste
- Few sprigs fresh mint
- 1 fried or soft boiled egg
- Sriracha to taste
- 1/2 jalapeno thinly sliced
- 2-3 shiitake mushrooms
- 1 chile pepper
- 1 shredded carrot
- Heat oil in a large soup pot to medium-high heat.
- Peel and cut ginger into 2-3 pieces. Cut off 3-4 inch white stems of green onion to use now, save the rest for later. Add both to pot and press/crush both to express juices. Add quartered white/yellow onion. Cook 2 more minutes.
- Add in star anise, cinnamon stick, clover and coriander seeds and cook for 2-3 more minutes. Then add in broth, fish sauce and garlic and bring to a boil then reduce heat to low. Season with salt & pepper to taste.
- Add in chicken. If using chicken breast then cut it in half to help shorten cooking time. Cook chicken for 5-8 minutes. Broth will Simmer for a total of 25 minutes. After the 25 minutes remove onions, ginger and spices from the broth before serving.
- Cut chicken into thin slices or tear it. If chicken is not fully cooked you can add it back into broth at the end of simmering for the last 1-3 minutes to finish cooking.If soft boiling an egg cook it in broth for 5-7 minutes.
- Cook the rice noodles according to package directions.
- Prep toppings & garnish. Cut/trim lime, basil, green onions, mushrooms, bean sprouts, cilantro, peppers and mint.
- Divide noodles between bowls & top with chicken. Ladle hot broth over noodles & chicken. Finish by adding your favorite toppings and garnish.