Quick Chicken Pho

From Andrea:

"Great for pho beginners, this recipe is also terrific for cooks in a hurry. It involves less than 45 minutes, during which you’ll doctor up store-bought broth so it says, “I’m pho-ish.”

The keys to this streamlined approach include toasting spices and dry sautéing the ginger and green onion, which help to extract flavor fast. Poaching the chicken in the broth adds savory depth. You’ll practice some fundamental pho techniques that you can apply elsewhere, too. Choose a broth that tastes like chicken, such as Swanson brand, which is less fussed up and easy to manipulate. You need two 14.5-ounce (411 g) cans or one 32-ounce (907 ml) carton."

Reprinted with permission from The Pho Cookbook: Easy to Adventurous Recipes for Vietnam’s Favorite Soup and Noodles by Andrea Nguyen, copyright © 2017. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.

  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Cook time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 2


  • 3/4-inch (2 cm) section ginger
  • 2 medium-large green onions
  • 1 very small (.5 oz | 15 g) bunch cilantro sprigs
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons coriander seeds
  • 1 whole clove
  • 3 1/2 to 4 cups (840 ml to 1 l) low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 cups (480 ml) water
  • 6 to 8 ounces (180 to 225 g) boneless, skinless chicken breast or thighs
  • About 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 5 ounces (150 g) dried narrow flat rice noodles
  • 2 to 3 teaspoons fish sauce
  • About 1/2 teaspoon organic sugar, or 1 teaspoon maple syrup (optional)
  • Pepper (optional)
  • Optional extras: Bean sprouts, mint sprigs, Thai basil, cilantro leaves, lime wedges, thinly-sliced chili peppers


1 Prepare the broth ingredients: Peel then slice the ginger into 4 or 5 coins. Smack with the flat side of a knife or meat mallet; set aside. Thinly slice the green parts of the green onion to yield 2 to 3 tablespoons; set aside for garnish. Cut the leftover sections into pinkie-finger lengths, bruise, then add to the ginger.

Coarsely chop the leafy tops of the cilantro to yield 2 tablespoons; set aside for garnish. Set the remaining cilantro sprigs aside.

2 Toast the broth ingredients: In a 3- to 4-quart (3 to 4 l) pot, toast the coriander seeds and clove over medium heat until fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the ginger and green onion sections. Stir for about 30 seconds, until aromatic.

Quick Chicken Pho

3 Add the broth and bring to a simmer: Slide the pot off heat, wait 15 seconds or so to briefly cool, then pour in the broth.

Return the pot to the burner, then add the water, cilantro sprigs, chicken, and salt. Bring to a boil over high heat, then lower the heat to gently simmer.

Quick Chicken Pho

4 Remove the chicken from the broth once cooked: After 5 to 10 minutes of simmering, the chicken should be firm and cooked through (press on it and it should slightly yield).

Quick Chicken Pho

5 Continue to simmer the broth without the chicken for another 15 to 20 minutes (for a total of 30 minutes simmering time).

6 Shred the chicken: Transfer the chicken to a bowl, flush with cold water to arrest the cooking, then drain. Let cool, then cut or shred into bite-size pieces. Cover loosely to prevent drying.

[Emma's note: If the chicken isn't quite cooked through when you begin to shred it, just split it into a few pieces and put it back in the broth for another few minutes until cooked through. The split pieces will quickly cook through.]

Quick Chicken Pho

7 Soak the rice noodles in hot water until pliable and opaque. Drain, rinse, and set aside.

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8 Strain the broth: When the broth is done, pour it through a fine-mesh strainer positioned over a 2-quart (2-liter) pot; line the strainer with muslin for superclear broth. Discard the solids. You should have about 4 cups.

Season with fish sauce and sugar (or maple syrup), if needed, to create a strong savory-sweet note.

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9 Finish the pho: Bring the strained broth to a boil over high heat. Put the noodles in a noodle strainer or mesh sieve and dunk in the hot broth to heat and soften, 5 to 60 seconds. Lift the noodles from the pot and divide between the 2 bowls. [Emma's note: I didn't find it necessary to soften my noodles any further. I just added them to the bowls and poured the hot broth over top. However, dunking them in the broth would make them more flavorful!]

Lower the heat to keep the broth hot while you arrange the chicken on top of the noodles and garnish with the chopped green onion, cilantro, and a sprinkling of pepper. Taste and adjust the broth’s saltiness one last time. Return the broth to a boil and ladle into the bowls. Enjoy with any extras, if you like.

[Emma's note: I just left the broth at a low simmer during this last step, rather than bringing it to a boil again. I thought it was plenty hot!]

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  • Olympia

    This turned out deliciously! I added three cloves of garlic to the broth and 1/2 teaspoon of anise seeds. This is so good I don’t think I have to go for take out anymore.


  • Valerie

    Hi Emma, if I want to make beef pho instead, what adjustments should I make other than using beef broth and putting beef in instead of chicken? Are the broth ingredients the same? And should I soak the beef in the same way you said to soak the chicken in?

    • Emma Christensen

      Hi, Valerie! Andrea has a recipe for Quick Beef Pho in her book that is very similar. She uses half beef and half chicken broth, but otherwise the broth is pretty much the same. For the beef, she uses thin sliced roast beef or cooked steak. You might also want to check out this recipe for Easy Wok-Kissed Beef Pho — it’s very similar!

  • Kathleen

    Quite authentic tasting; husband introduced me to Pho years ago and this fits the bill for a homemade fix. I forgot the maple syrup and didnt miss it. In fact, I was surprised to see it in the ingredient list. However, I’d would caution everyone to make chicken ahead of time, if possible. Trying to shred chicken, and put together all the last minute touches made for a much later than planned mealtime. All in all, a very good recipe which I plan to keep.


  • Katie

    It says ‘1 whole clove’ in the ingredients list… 1 whole clove of what?

  • Lucas Van Antwerp

    Amazing thank u


  • Heather

    Even my 8 year old liked it!


  • Omar

    Hi, can we add star anise and cinnamon to this? any recommendations on when to add it and how much?

    • Sunniva

      I added a cinnamon stick in the first step of the recipe, then added one star anise after the chicken had cooked through. It turned out great!

  • Joycelyn

    Am wondering if you used green or brown coriander seeds as there’s a wee bit difference in taste between the two.
    Thank you

  • Jenna

    Thank you for sharing! I made this for dinner tonight! This is perfect easy recipe to get my pho fix without spending forever in the kitchen or going out to a restauraunt! I agree that adding the cups of water balances out the broth and makes it lighter! This was fabulous!


  • Lisa

    Loved it! Easy, healthy and delicious!!


  • Dave K

    Loved this recipe and thank you for sharing. First time making Pho and we agree it was terrific


  • Gayle

    This is a great soup, you can freeze you broth if you have some left over, but not the ingredients, when you reheat the broth, then add your ingredients, keep them on hand when wanting to make more


  • Rahul

    This is absolutely superb recipe. I followed the instructions as is and dish turned out to be absolutely ripper !! As part of my little customisation, I added some thai basil while making broth, this was to get some extra flavour in the broth itself.


  • Hannan

    I definitely added collard greens to this recipe ! I didn’t use fish sauce cause I had no clue where to purchase it at, but it’s so easy and healthy and tasted great!! Thank you!!! Don’t forget to garnish!!!! The more the better the taste


  • Ashleigh

    Hiya! I’m loving the flavours I see in this recipe am I able to use a whole chicken instead? Obviously I know the cooking time will be way longer than 45 minutes but I just enjoy the flavour of a whole cooked chicken instead. (I’m also commenting from Australia)

    • Emma Christensen

      Hi, Ashleigh! You can certainly make pho with a whole chicken, though if you do, I’d recommend just making a traditional pho — simmering the whole chicken with herbs and spices to make a from-scratch chicken stock, which you then use to make the pho. If you can find a copy in Australia, Andrea Nguyen’s book is phenomenal (PHO-nomenal! Ha!). I’ve made her whole-chicken pho recipe several times!

  • Nicole

    I made this tonight and it came out soooooo good. I’ll definitely pin and will make again!

  • Todd D

    About a month ago a friend brought me to a Vietnamese restaurant to try pho for the first time. I knew the place was legit when I saw a couple of robed Buddhist monks eating there. From the first time I was hooked and have been back at least 8 times. Thought I’d give it a try at home with this recipe and was very pleased. Took me longer to make the first time but I could see how after a couple of times making it you could get it down to 30-40 minutes time all in. Didn’t have coriander, clove or fish sauce so threw a little nutmeg in and it was still awesome. Thank you very much for posting this outstanding recipe.


  • Tina

    Thank you so much for the quick recipe. Love pho

  • Sandy S

    I have been waiting for a copy of The Pho Cookbook from my library since February! And they have 9 copies!?! I finally got my hands on it yesterday! Oh my! You are so right Emma! Get the book people! I was hesitating because I have a huge cookbook collection. But, it’s such a well written book that keeps me wanting to try that one, and that one and so forth! By the way, the library copy has obviously been well used! I could probably dip it in boiling water and have instant pho! Pho is such an easy way to shake me out of my weekly dining habits without throwing my diet under the bus. I’ve been enjoying the ‘Quick Chicken Pho’ and now really looking forward to new home made versions of Pho! My own copy of The Pho Cookbook is on it’s way!


  • Jorgia

    This was so good my husband and I couldn’t believe it. Better than any restaurant we’ve been to. I added extra chicken broth and vegetable broth. Also when serving added a little soya and fish sauce on top. I also put more of the green onion in the original broth as well.
    I will be making this more often.
    Thank you.

  • Marissa C.

    The best pho I’ve made! I love this recipe! I spent some time trying to find the best main pho recipe, and this one hits the good pho points! After I cooked this tonight, my husband couldn’t get over it, and I am definitely making it again soon. I pretty much followed the recipe, but added and tweaked a few things just guessing on past pho taste experience. So I tripled the recipe because pho does not last long in our house. My ingredients: 4 chicken breasts, 3 whole cloves, 2 inches fresh ginger. 7 green onion strips for topping. 6 green onion pinky strips added to 3 times ginger. I used culantro instead of cilantro, I just used what looked right for how much I liked cilantro (a lot). 3 and 1/3 teaspoon of ground coriander seed and 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, and 5 star anise, which was added during the addition of the chicken and broth. 8 cups chicken stock unsalted. 10 cups chicken broth, regular. 8 tsps of fish sauce, we added this at the end of the broth to check the taste. 1/2 onion, cooked in pan to remove moisture and added at the end in 2 bowls. Tons of Thai basil! Lime juice. Bean sprouts. Salt to taste as it goes, but more towards the end because the ingredients can be salty already. I salted lightly in the beginning with pink himalayan salt. And I used 2 layers of cheese cloth in a colander to drain the broth. This recipe is actually easy and tastes better than my favorite pho restaurant! P.S. I made this in a Le Creuset 28.


  • Brittany

    Hi would this recipe also work well in a Crock-Pot? And if so how long do you recommend and would you just throw in all the ingredients at once or what do you advise?

    • Emma Christensen

      Hi, Brittany! Hmmm…. yes, I think you could do it in the slow cooker. I’d probably throw everything (except the noodles and toppings) into the slow cooker and try cooking on high for 2 to 4 hours, or low for 6 to 8 hours. Give that a try and let us know how it works!

  • Julie

    I made this tonight for dinner. I have to agree that I found the layout of the steps confusing along with the headings to each step. BUT I thought the spices were very good. One thing I always add to my bowl of pho is Sri Racha sauce and a bit of soy sauce, along with the garnishes mentioned. After I added those things, I thought the soup tasted identical to the pho I’ve had at many restaurants. I should add that I didn’t have fresh ginger or a whole clove, so I used ground ginger about the size of a silver dollar in my palm and maybe three dashes of ground clove. This may have made it a bit spicier than the original recipe, but I have to say it was perfect to my family’s taste… I liked this recipe a lot, but a better layout to the recipe would be helpful.


    • Emma Christensen

      Thanks for the feedback! I’ve edited the recipe some more, so hopefully the order of steps makes more sense.

  • [email protected]

    Broth was bland and not very authentic tasting. Chicken needs more seasoning.


  • Mariah

    I was SO excited to find an easy pho recipe, as there was a Thai restaurant in the town where I went to college (and it closed every July for the family to go back to Thailand), and their pho was one of my favorite foods ever! So I was disappointed in the results of this recipe. It was just so bland, and we used double the amount of chicken the recipe called for! I guess I was expecting the flavorful bowl of soup I was used to.

    I think I’m the future, I’d use all broth instead of the water, and maybe have half of it be regular instead of low sodium. And then I’d maybe double the amount of fish sauce.

    Also, as a note to people who want to try this recipe: read the directions thoroughly beforehand. They aren’t in order of time necessarily. For instance, one step says to let the chicken and spices and broth simmer for 30 minutes, but two steps later, it says to take the chicken out after 10 minutes. Luckily, I caught this before we overlooked the chicken!

    I’m eager to try this again with a few tweaks to see if I can get the pho that I love so much!


    • Emma Christensen

      Hi, Mariah! Thanks for the feedback. Your adaptations sound great! Also, re-reading this again, I agree that the method steps are a little confusing. I updated the steps, so hopefully the recipe is a little easier to follow now!

  • Denice

    I made this and it was awesome! Will certainly make it again! Thanks so much for sharing!


  • Stacy

    Can’t wait to try this! We had Pho in a Vietnamese restaurant in Dallas recently and i absolutely loved it!

  • Sandy S

    Emma thank you for all of your insights. I made this recipe last night and am totally delighted with the results. Such a nice fresh flavor! A complete break from the celery/onion/carrot flavors I usually add to chicken, to say nothing of fats/butter/oils! This recipe will be taking me to new places with chicken. And that’s just for starters. I have placed a hold on Andrea’s book at our library. (All 9 copies are checked out!!) Can’t wait to see it!!


  • Blair

    How would you adjust this recipe if you used fresh noodles instead of the dried?

    • Emma Christensen

      Hi, Blair! No adjustments, really. Just soak the fresh noodles in hot water until pliable, and make sure your broth is steaming hot when you pour it over the noodles in the bowls. I’ve made pho with fresh noodles many times — it’s such a treat!

  • Regan

    This was a wonderful introductory phō recipe! Had to substitute fresh ginger for powdered and it still turned out really flavorful. Definitely a repeat recipe!


  • Louise

    I served this to my family last night and my husband who is a traditionalist when it comes to chicken soup declared ,”Photastic!”

  • Tanya

    Thank you for a truly authentic yet simple recipe. My family eats take out Pho once a week but with this recipe I am.sure i can make it for them. They loved it!! I added Star Anise and bay leaves to the ingredients and my husband and i added green chillies to the garnish for a spicy, sinus cleansing kick.

  • Hana

    Please, please do not put maple syrup into a Vietnamese Noodle Soup. And sugar isn’t strictly necessary either but if you absolutely must, try rock sugar (Asian stores have this)

    • Luna

      I agree. To make the pho sweet authentically, you can add a baked onion into the broth and remove it when serving.

  • eugeniakukla

    My husband called me at the office to tell me how much he liked this recipe. It must have been awesome because he seldom calls to compliment the Chef!! Thanks so much for the recipe. I really thought this would be more difficult than it was.

  • Adrienne

    I’ve been using Better Than Bouillon for a while now to substitute canned or carton broths. It comes in a little glass jar and a little goes a long way. It tastes much better. I think it would work well in this recipe. I’m also thinking using a rotisserie chicken would add more flavor.

  • Lyn

    Are is there any replacement for the fish sauce? Allergic to fish

    • Emma Christensen

      Hi, Lyn! In her vegetarian “chicken” pho recipe, Andrea uses nutritional yeast to give the broth its savory depth. You could give that a try! Her method is to mix 2 1/2 tablespoons of nutritional yeast powder (or 3 1/2 tablespoons if you have the flaky kind) into 2/3 cup hot water. Let stand until the solids separate from the liquid. Pour the liquid off the top and add to the broth; discard the solids.

      Another alternative is Bragg’s Liquid Aminos or Maggi Seasoning Sauce (Andrea uses 1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons in her vegetarian “beef” pho recipes).

      • Shannon

        Would you suggest adding the nutritional yeast technique along with the fish sauce or would that be “too much”.

        • Emma Christensen

          Hi, Shannon! I think it would still be pretty good if you’re using vegetable broth and want to amp it up. Not sure it would be necessary with chicken broth, but… I also don’t think it would hurt! Let us know how it goes if you try it!

    • Grace

      I use soy sauce or Worcestershire sauce! Preferably soy, then I add hoisin sauce and sriracha

  • Suzan Warnes

    I love pho and make my own version of it at least once a week. Currently I am on the FODMAP diet. Let me say my dietitian is not my friend this month. Anyway I will be trying this recipe as soon as I can. Here in Australia it is often served with the chilli sauce, chilli slices, Vietnamnese basil and hoisin sauce.

    • Gloria

      What is the Fodmap Diet? Have you been successful? Always looking for a new diet to try.

  • Karlette

    I made this a few days ago. We loved it! I never before considered making pho because I thought it would take too much time and have too many fussy ingredients. I’m so happy to have been proved wrong!


  • Sara | Last Night's Feast

    This recipe gives me confidence that I could actually make this in my own kitchen! Looks delicious

  • Supriya Kutty

    The Chicken texture & color is beautiful! Its Saucy & tempting. Thank you so much for Emma sharing this with us.

  • Michael Stone

    I put the spices in a large tea ball (3″diam), that I hang in the broth.

  • Natalie

    I absolutely love pho! It’s always so fresh and yet so comforting, I really need to check out Andrea’s book

    – Natalie