Chicken Pho Recipe: A Step-by-Step Guide

Chicken Pho Recipe: A Step-by-Step Guide

Pho, pronounced “fuh,” originated in early 20th century northern Vietnam. It’s a quintessential Vietnamese dish known for its aromatic broth and delicate balance of flavors. Historians often link its development to the French colonial influence on Vietnamese cuisine. French pot-au-feu, a beef stew, likely inspired the use of slow-cooked broth in pho.

During the mid-20th century, pho gained prominence across Vietnam. Southern Vietnamese variations introduced additional herbs and meats, leading to regional distinctions in flavor and ingredients. After the Vietnam War, Vietnamese immigrants brought pho to global audiences, popularizing it in countries like the United States, Canada, and Australia.

Culturally, pho is more than just a dish—it’s a symbol of Vietnamese identity and culinary ingenuity. Street vendors often serve it, making it an integral part of daily life in Vietnam. Families gather around steaming bowls for breakfast or lunch. In Vietnamese communities abroad, pho shops serve as cultural hubs where displaced people reconnect with their heritage.

Pho also holds significant meaning during Tet, the Vietnamese New Year. Families prepare special versions of pho to honor ancestors during this important festival. The dish embodies the country’s history, blending indigenous flavors with colonial influences while reflecting the adaptability and resilience of Vietnamese culture.

By understanding the origins and cultural significance of pho, you’ll gain a deeper appreciation for every bowl you prepare and enjoy. Knowing its historical context and emotional resonance adds layers to the experience, making your homemade chicken pho not just a meal but a connection to Vietnam’s rich culinary tradition.

Key Ingredients for My Chicken Pho Recipe

Choosing the Right Chicken

Select high-quality chicken to ensure the best flavor and texture in your pho. Opt for organic, free-range chicken, which tends to be more tender and flavorful. Use both bone-in chicken breasts and thighs to create a rich, hearty broth. Chicken with skin adds extra depth to the broth.

Essential Spices and Herbs

Incorporate specific spices and herbs to achieve authentic pho flavor. Use whole star anise, cinnamon sticks, cloves, coriander seeds, and cardamom pods. Fresh herbs are crucial; include cilantro, Thai basil, and mint for garnish. Don’t forget lime wedges, bean sprouts, and sliced chili for additional freshness and heat.

Importance of Broth Quality

Create a high-quality broth to be the foundation of your pho. Start with the chicken bones and meat, then add charred onions and ginger for depth. Incorporate fish sauce and a small amount of rock sugar to balance flavors. Simmer the broth slowly for at least two hours, skimming any impurities for a clear, savory base.

Step-by-Step Guide to Making My Chicken Pho

Preparing the Chicken

Begin by selecting high-quality chicken parts like thighs and breasts. Rinse the chicken under cold water to remove any impurities. Place the chicken in a pot and cover it with water. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer for 10 minutes. Remove the chicken, rinse again, then set aside.

Simmering the Broth

In the same pot, add water till it covers the bones and chicken parts. Include key spices and herbs, such as star anise, cloves, and coriander seeds. Add ginger and onions, charred for enhanced flavor. Let it simmer for at least 1-2 hours to extract maximum flavor. Skim any foam or impurities that rise to the surface during simmering.

Assembling the Bowl

Prepare rice noodles by soaking them in hot water until they are al dente. Arrange the noodles in a bowl, add sliced chicken, and pour the hot broth over them. Garnish with fresh herbs like cilantro and basil, sliced jalapenos, and bean sprouts. Serve with lime wedges and hoisin sauce on the side for added flavor.

Personal Tweaks and Tips

Adjusting Spices for Personal Taste

Customizing the spice blend can enhance your chicken pho. Different spices create unique flavor profiles. If you’d like a sweeter broth, add a cinnamon stick or more star anise. For a stronger, more aromatic broth, incorporate cloves and cardamom pods. Remember, small changes to the spice mix can significantly alter the final taste. Taste the broth regularly and adjust the spices until you achieve your preferred flavor.

Making Pho in a Pressure Cooker

Using a pressure cooker can save time while still producing a rich and flavorful chicken pho. Start by sautéing the onions and ginger directly in the pressure cooker until fragrant. Add the chicken, spices, and water. Seal the cooker and cook on high pressure for 30 minutes. Once done, let the pressure release naturally. Strain the broth and proceed with your regular assembly process. This method intensifies flavors quickly and makes weeknight pho possible.

Health Benefits of Chicken Pho

Chicken pho offers multiple health benefits due to its nutritious ingredients and preparation methods.

Rich in Nutrients

Chicken pho provides a wealth of nutrients. The broth, made from simmering chicken bones, includes vitamins like B6 and minerals like zinc and magnesium. These nutrients support immune function and provide energy.

Low in Fat

Chicken pho contains minimal fat when prepared with skinless chicken. This makes it a heart-healthy option, especially if you remove any fat from the broth’s surface.

High Protein Content

The dish provides a significant amount of protein. A serving of chicken pho with one cup of cooked chicken offers approximately 38 grams of protein, which aids muscle repair and growth.

Gut Health

The broth supports digestive health. Collagen from the bones transforms into gelatin during cooking, which aids in gut health by repairing the intestinal lining.


Chicken pho helps maintain hydration. The broth’s high water content, combined with sodium and other electrolytes, assists in balancing fluids in your body.


Star anise and cilantro, common in chicken pho, contain antioxidants. These compounds help combat oxidative stress and inflammation, promoting overall health.

Low-Calorie Option

When compared to other noodle soups, chicken pho is lower in calories. One bowl typically contains around 380 calories, making it suitable for weight management.

Immune Support

Ingredients like ginger and garlic boost the immune system. Both have antimicrobial properties and contribute to the dish’s anti-inflammatory benefits.

Bone Health

The calcium and phosphorus in chicken broth support bone health. These minerals are essential for maintaining bone density and overall skeletal strength.

Blood Sugar Control

The high protein and low glycemic index in chicken pho help regulate blood sugar levels. This makes it a beneficial dish for those managing diabetes.

Essential Amino Acids

Chicken pho contains essential amino acids. These building blocks are vital for tissue growth, repair, and various metabolic functions.

Improving Joint Health

The glucosamine in the broth supports joint health by aiding cartilage repair and reducing inflammation.

Incorporating chicken pho into your diet offers a delicious way to gain these numerous health advantages.


Making chicken pho at home isn’t just about creating a delicious meal; it’s about embracing a rich cultural tradition. By following this recipe, you can enjoy the savory broth, tender chicken, and fresh herbs that define this Vietnamese classic. Plus, with the added health benefits, chicken pho is a nutritious addition to your diet. Whether you’re new to pho or a seasoned enthusiast, this recipe offers a flavorful and fulfilling culinary experience. So, gather your ingredients and enjoy the journey of making and savoring your own homemade chicken pho.

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