Go Back
+ servings
Vietnamese Beef Pho Noodle Soup - learn how to make this traditional beef broth scented with star anise, cloves and cinnamon

Vietnamese Beef Pho Noodle Soup

Course Main Course
Cuisine Vietnamese
Servings 8
Author Jeanette


  • 2 onions peeled, halved
  • 4" piece ginger halved lengthwise
  • 3-4 pounds beef soup bones a mix of marrow bones and knuckle bones
  • 1 pound beef tendon
  • 1 pound beef outside flank
  • Vietnamese meatballs if desired (you can find these the frozen section of the Vietnamese market)
  • 5 star anise
  • 6 cloves whole
  • 1 3- inch piece cinnamon stick
  • sea salt to taste
  • 1/4 cup fish sauce or to taste
  • 1 tablespoon organic sugar or to taste

For Serving

  • 2 pounds dried or fresh rice noodles
  • 1 yellow onion thinly sliced
  • scallions minced
  • fresh bean sprouts
  • fresh Thai basil
  • fresh cilantro
  • fresh Sorrel Rau Chua
  • lime wedges
  • chopped Thai chilies
  • hoisin sauce
  • sriracha sauce


  1. Char onion and ginger on top of stove, placing them on a piece of wired mesh or a wire rack. You can also char it in a hot cast iron skillet or broil it in the oven for about 15 minutes. Peel off any charred ginger skin or onion skin.

  2. Toast cloves and star anise in a small skillet for a few minutes until fragrant.

Pre-Boil Bones

  1. Place beef bones in a big pot covered with water; bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium and let cook for 5 minutes; Pour everything into a colander and rinse well with cold water, rubbing off any bits and scum.

Pressure Cooker Method

  1. Place pre-boiled bones in pressure cooker, along with tendon, outside flank, toasted star anise and cloves, cinnamon, salt, fish sauce and sugar. Cover with water. Secure pressure cooker cover and cook for 40 minutes at high pressure; quick release pressure, remove cooked tendon and outside flank. Leave bones in the pot. If there is any extra uncooked outside flank, add it to the pot and bring the pressure cooker back up to high pressure and cook 40 more minutes. Quick release pan, remove cooked outside flank and place in of cool water.

Stove Top Method

  1. Place pre-boiled bones in pot, along with tendon, outside flank, toasted star anise and cloves, cinnamon, salt, fish sauce and sugar. Cover with water to within two inches of  top of pot. Bring to a simmer and cook for 1 1/2 - 2 hours until outside flank and tendon are firm but tender; remove outside flank and tendon and place in a bowl of cool water. Continue to cook pho broth for another hour.

What To Do With Cooked Broth and Meat

  1. Strain broth. Refrigerate pho broth overnight; use a spoon to remove the fat layer. Remove outside flank and tendon from bowl of water, and refrigerate.

Preparing Rice Noodles

  1. Soak rice noodles in cool water for 30 minutes. Bring a pot of water to boil. Drop in pre-soaked noodle and cook about 30 seconds until just tender (do not overcook - the hot pho broth will continue to cook the noodles in the bowl). Drain and divide among bowls.

Serving pho

  1. Place pho broth (dilute with water to taste if your pho broth is concentrated) in a saucepan and heat. Thinly slice outside flank and tendon. Heat meatballs in broth, if using.
  2. Place sliced meat on top of noodles in bowls, along with meatballs, if using. Top with sliced onions. Pour hot pho broth on top. Serve with garnishes as desired.

Recipe Notes

If you don't use tendon, double the amount of outside flank.
This makes a lot so just freeze the extra soup and meat in portions that suit your needs.
Adapted from Pleasures of the VIetnamese Table by Mai Pham.